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What’s Your Expatriate Definition? shares the best travel insights, facts, and photos. When you use our links, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.

Seems like a simple enough question. What is an expat? It doesn’t really sound that complicated. What is the definition of expatriate?

Expatriate Definition

Who is an Expat?

A reader asked this question:

“Why are people who simply choose to live another country called expats? A true Expat is an individual who has renounced their citizenship from the country in which they where born? Am I correct?”

What’s Your Expatriate Definition?

Good question. Does an expat have to renounce citizenship to actually be one?

For the last number of years, we have been describing ourselves as expats.

But I remember thinking of expats as people who actually abandon their citizenship and claim/receive it in another country.

Are You An Expat? Well, Do You Live Abroad?

In expat communities (that is, communities of foreigners – either actual or social) the foreigners refer to themselves as expats.

Seldom do they call themselves a foreigner – they are usually expats or gringos. Is Gringo offensive? In Spanish, though – expats are either called extranjeros or gringos.

It seems that some want this term to be for members of an exclusive club. As if only those who have renounced citizenship can call themselves expats. According to the definitions we found, it is one of the correct meanings. But it isn’t the commonly used one – at least among expats themselves.

According to Wikipedia, an Expatriate is:

An expatriate (in abbreviated form, expat) is a person temporarily or permanently residing in a country and culture other than that of the person’s upbringing. The word comes from the Latin terms ex (meaning: out of) and patria (meaning: country, fatherland).

According to Merriam Webster’s entry for Expatriate:

 to leave one’s native country to live elsewhere; also : to renounce allegiance to one’s native country

I like Wikipedia’s entry the most – it seems to sum up the common understanding of the word.

Expatriate definition

What’s your expatriate definition?

What Does It Take to be an Expat?

Is something else required to be an expat? Is it just a legal status? Or the fact of living in another country? Maybe the better question is:

What Makes a Successful Expat?

What do you think? What factors are involved in an expat being successful?

How is success as an expat defined? Is it just that they stay in their new country? Or does integration and happiness come into play?

Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

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