I am a nomad (traveler), where is my home?

9/17/2019 11:38:16 AM

This question is almost impossible to answer properly since specific information needed is missing and therefor must be assumed to give in answer at all.

If you are not interested in any of the legal MomboJumbo

  • skip down to Question 2


  • Citizenship of person
  • Country that it applies to


  • homelessness is Voluntarily
  • Context is for visa purposes
  • Tax regulations do not apply
    • Tax Authorities define these to suit their needs an not the needs of a citizen

At this point it should clear that this is primarily a question about law and only secondary about travel.

Question 1

What is considered (in a legal sense) a Home or Residence?

The answer to this will differ greatly from country to country.

In continental Europe it is well defined, in Anglo-Saxon areas almost non existent (other than for taxes, which we are ignoring). For other areas I have no practical experience.

For this topic I will use Germany as the main sample since the concept is well defined and because I am familiar with it.

For translations I will use the official ones where they exist, otherwise the Google Translate (Android) where only minimal corrections are needed.

The main residence laws are based on § 7 BGB, which Wikipedia, (German only) terms as Gewillkürter Wohnsitz.

Der freigewählte (gewillkürte) Wohnsitz einer Person befindet sich dort, wo sie sich ständig und willentlich niederlässt (§ 7 BGB).

oder die Aufgabe eines Wohnsitzes, ohne einen neuen zu begründen (Obdachlosigkeit).

The freely chosen (gewillkürte) residence of a person is located there, where they constantly and willingly [have] settled (§ 7 BGB).

or the abandonment of a residence without establishing a new one (homelessness).

Both Voluntarily and Involuntarily homelessness should be understood here.

Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch (BGB) (Wikipedia in English)
§ 7 Wohnsitz; Begründung und Aufhebung
Section 7 Residence; establishment and termination

(1) Wer sich an einem Orte ständig niederlässt, begründet an diesem Ort seinen Wohnsitz.
(2) Der Wohnsitz kann gleichzeitig an mehreren Orten bestehen.
(3) Der Wohnsitz wird aufgehoben, wenn die Niederlassung mit dem Willen aufgehoben wird, sie aufzugeben.

(1) A person who settles permanently in a place establishes his residence in that place.
(2) There may be a residence in more than one place at the same time.
(3) Residence is terminated if the person abandons the place of residence with the intention of giving it up.

(1) and (2) form the base of the concept Primary and Secondary residence

  • but soly within Germany itself (cannot be in different countries)

Voluntarily homelessness is based on a right definded in the Grundgesetz which Wikipedia, (German only) terms as Freiwillig Obdachlos

Freiwillig obdachlos ist, wer selbstbestimmt und in voller Absicht ohne „ein Dach über dem Kopf“ lebt.
Nach der herrschenden Rechtsauffassung ist diese Lebensweise bei Erwachsenen ein zu tolerierender Zustand. Die Entscheidung einer Person, ununterbrochen im Freien zu leben, ist Ausdruck der Wahrnehmung des nach Art. 2 Abs. 1 Grundgesetz geschützten Grundrechtes jeder natürlichen Person auf allgemeine Handlungsfreiheit. Allerdings ist dieses Recht zumeist nur eingeschränkt wahrnehmbar, da viele Gemeinden in Deutschland das Übernachten, Zelten oder Wohnen im öffentlichen Raum mittels Polizeiverordnung reglementieren und mit Bußgeldandrohungen für Zuwiderhandlungen versehen.
Unfreiwillig obdachlos

Voluntarily homeless is [when a person] who lives self-determined and intentionally without a “roof over his head”.
According to the prevailing legal view, this way of life is a tolerable condition in adults. The decision of a person to live continuously outdoors is an expression of the right of every natural person to general freedom of action protected by Artical 2 (1) of the Basic Law. However, this right is usually only partially discernible, since many communities in Germany regulate overnight accommodation, camping or living in public spaces by means of a police ordinance and provide for threats of fines.
Involuntarily homeless

Conclusion: every person has the right not to have a residence.

Registration of Residence

The Bundesmeldegesetz (BMG)

which Wikipedia, (German only)

die gesetzlich vorgeschriebene Pflicht, sich an seinem neuen Wohnort im Einwohnermeldeamt anzumelden (Rechtsgrundlage: Bundesmeldegesetz vom 3. Mai 2013, aufgrund der Reichsmeldeordnung vom 6. Januar 1938)

the legally required duty to register at his new place of residence in the registration office (legal basis: Federal Law on Registration of 3 May 2013, on the basis of the Reichsmeldeordnung of 6 January 1938)

Further details of this law .

The relevant paragraphs of § 17 Anmeldung, Abmeldung are

(1) Wer eine Wohnung bezieht, hat sich innerhalb von zwei Wochen nach dem Einzug bei der Meldebehörde anzumelden.
(2) Wer aus einer Wohnung auszieht und keine neue Wohnung im Inland bezieht, hat sich innerhalb von zwei Wochen nach dem Auszug bei der Meldebehörde abzumelden. Eine Abmeldung ist frühestens eine Woche vor Auszug möglich; die Fortschreibung des Melderegisters erfolgt zum Datum des Auszugs.

(1) Anyone moving into an apartment must register with the registration office within two weeks of moving in.
(2) Anyone who moves out of an apartment and does not receive a new apartment in Germany must log out of the registration office within two weeks of moving out. A deregistration is possible at the earliest one week before moving out; the updating of the registration register takes place on the date of the extract.

Note: This does not apply for foreign visitors in Hotels or Pensions

Conclusion: Persons who intend to become Voluntarily homeless must de-register and are not required to register anywhere else.

Legally, Citizens who have left the country permanently and homeless persons are in a similar situation after de-registering.

Passports and Identity Cards are regulated in the Personalausweisgesetz, PAuswG (Act on Identity Cards and Electronic Identification) and § 1 Ausweispflicht; Ausweisrecht defines the requirements to have one.

In present day law, this delt with in § 8 PAuswG:

Section 8 Local responsibility; lack of local responsibility

(1) In Germany, the identity card authority in the district in which the identity card applicant or holder is required to register his/her residence or main residence shall have local responsibility. If the applicant does not have a place of residence, then the identity card authority in the district where the applicant is temporarily staying shall have local responsibility.

(2) Outside Germany, the diplomatic missions abroad designated by the Federal Foreign Office in the district in which the identity card applicant or holder is usually resident shall have local responsibility. Identity card holders shall provide proof of their usual place of residence.

Conclusion: Voluntarily homeless allthough are not required to register anywhere can nevertheless get a Passport or Identification Card with all privileges that come with it such as

  • health insurance
  • social assistance

Thus the situation is relatively straightforward in the country where the Voluntarily homeless has the right to abode

Question 2

What rights to persons who do not have right to abode have in those countries?

Very few. Although exceptions exist, basicly each country can deside for themselfs under what conditions a Foreigner can enter and reside in their country.

In the past (1960-70’s) it was difficult for a country to determine beforehand who they were letting in, so entering a country was relatively easy.

Nomading in Western Europe was relatively easy and as long as they didn’t get into trouble nobody really cared that much. I knew some who, after about 5 years, wanted to settle down and bothered about getting a residence permit (which they then often got).

Today, with modern communications where information is stored centrally and can be assesed almost from everywhere, more is being asked than I was ever asked in regular travels through Warsaw Pack countries.

This poses a big problem for today’s Nomaders of good intentions.

Most countries insist on some form of anchor that visitors will return to.

Visitor’s are expected to provide the verifiable proof that such an anchor exists.

In the German case of Voluntarily homeless this will most likely fail due lack of a residence

  • which may be legal, but is not the anchor the host country is looking for when sizing up their vistors

In your case, giving an address where nobody there know who you are, should not be considered an option.

Giving your parents address is an option since, when asked, they can confirm that they know you and can get in contact with you

  • mayby a weak anchor, but an anchor never the less
    • proof of tax returns being sent there strengthens that anchor

Financial status was not meantioned in the question, but is an important aspect that should not be ignored.

In the end a compromise must be made between your desire to live as a Digital Nomad and the conserns of the host country.

But in the end it is the viewpoint of the host country that matters, not yours.

10/10/2019 9:31:41 PM

Your goals when filling any visa application are a) to be truthful and b) to not raise undue attention. In your case, these conflict a bit, so the best way out is to write an address through which you are theoretically contactable in your country of citizenship (the passport you’re using). This can be a parent, a friend, really anybody who knows who you are — and while it’s not your home, it’s truthfully the closest you have to one.

For what it’s worth, I was also a “digital nomad” of sorts for a few years, and the address I used was the friend who had a few boxes of my stuff in storage and whose address I used for tax purposes.
Realistically speaking, I’ve never heard of any kind of validation of what you write as your home address, much less attempts to contact it (what are they going to do, send a postcard?) — my handwriting is usually a near-illegible scrawl and nobody has ever asked me to clarify what I wrote.

Finally, I did occasionally register at hotels with an address of “homeless” or “no fixed abode”. The reactions were sometimes mildly amusing, but I really wouldn’t recommend this for visas or at immigration.


About me

Hello,My name is Aparna Patel,I’m a Travel Blogger and Photographer who travel the world full-time with my hubby.I like to share my travel experience.

Search Posts