In Law, what is Situs?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Situs refers to where something is physically located. In law situs, refers to the location of property for the means of determining which laws apply to the property. For example, the location or situs of a house in California could subject it to certain laws regarding home ownership, ways of using the property, and so on. In medicine, situs can refer to the location of a body part, as in situs inversus, where the heart is flipped to the wrong side.

Woman standing behind a stack of books
Woman standing behind a stack of books

Situs is valuable in law because it dictates lex situs, which are literally laws regarding the area in which property is located. In order for lex, or law, to be applied, situs must be determined and recognized. For example property located in an unincorporated area of a city might be subject to different laws and privileges than property located inside city limits.

Situs can also refer in law to the place where someone lives, as for example, someone who owes money or who has committed a crime. In fact situs is invaluable in interpreting how much punishment fits a crime. A crime committed in one state may not be considered as the same offense as that committed within another.

Situs of crime is essential to determining punishment. As well, situs of crime is more important than the person’s residence. A person committing a crime in other than his or her home state answers to the state in which he or she committed the crime.

Situs can also refer to copyrights, patents or intellectual property, or to the area in which ownership of copyrights, patents or intellectual property are respected. Thus situs of intellectual property in one country might not be enforceable in another country.

Situs may also need to be established in order to determine laws regarding property that can be or has been moved, like a car. If a person abandons a car in a certain area, the place where the car is situs or located, will determine what fees or fines would be levied against a person attempting to recover the car. Even if the car was abandoned out of state, the fees, fines or tickets would be issued by the state in which the abandoned car was located.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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We got stung by the situs of our house when I was a teenager.

We lived on a couple of acres and kept some chickens and a rooster and some pigs, which were pets more than farm animals.

Our male pig managed to get through the fence one day and the neighbors complained. When someone came to investigate, it turned out that we were just within city boundaries. Literally, right on the border, so we weren't allowed to keep pigs or roosters.

It was really annoying because we had to give them away.

The neighbor who complained was on the town side of the boundary and they had a rooster too! But I guess we were too classy to complain about it.


@anon14606 - Hey Fatima. I'm not an expert on taxes, but I think I can answer your question a little bit. You should probably double check this in your text books though.

Situs means the same thing when it comes to taxation as it does in law. It is usually concerned with the location of a property.

So, for example, the situs of a house determines who is allowed to tax the people who own it, whether it is a city council, or the country, or someone else.


hi im fatima.. im a marketing student... and i have a taxation subject.. i would just like to ask... what is situs when it comes to taxation? thank you!

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