Natural person: concept, characteristics, example

natural person, also called a natural person, is a term that refers to every human being with real and material existence, who has certain responsibilities and rights according to the Constitution and the laws. Examples of natural persons are a professional taxi driver, a teacher, a teenager, a child, a doctor, or a shop owner.

On the contrary, the figure of the moral or legal person is a group of natural persons that the law considers to act as a single person, being also a subject of law. Individuals can join together to form a legal person for the same purpose. Examples of legal entities are a commercial company, an NGO, a trust, or a capital investment company.

On the other hand, natural persons can not only proceed in their own name but also by representing a legal person or another physical person. Both natural and legal persons have the right to sue other parties and sign contracts. They may also be on the receiving end of a lawsuit.

Every natural person is qualified to carry out commercial nature activities, provide professional services, work for a salary, own or lease real estate, get married, etc.

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Difference natural person-legal person

The fundamental difference between a natural person and a legal person is that the physical person has:

  • A physical body.
  • A name.
  • Their obligations exist since they are of legal age.
  • You can have one or more nationalities. For example, a Mexican person could acquire US citizenship.
  • You are registered with the Mexican Tax Administration Service or equivalent for other countries.

On the contrary, the legal person:

  • It has a business name.
  • It contracts obligations from the moment it is created.
  • It does not have a physical body.
  • You can only have one nationality. For example, a Mexican company can only be Mexican; it cannot also be from the United States.
  • It is registered as a commercial company or the figure that its trainers decide.


Regime of the natural person

The natural person can be classified in different regimes according to their economic activity:

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  • Wage-earners: in this scheme, people are taxed who receive a salary from an economic unit.
  • Business activity: people who receive income from the sale of products (commerce), offer of services, or industry.
  • Leasing: the people who receive rent houses or premises and receive income.
  • Fees: people who offer their services to other people, the government, or companies.
  • The fiscal incorporation regime: people who carry out economic activities of offering services or selling products in an unprofessionalized way. In each country, there is an income limit for this scheme. In Mexico’s case, people with an income of 2 million pesos in the year are found here.

Regime of the legal person

In the case of legal entities, there are two types of regime:

  • Non-profit purposes: legal entities whose objective is different from economic benefit. For example, a union, an NGO, or a civil association.
  • General Regime: legal entities that carry out activities with the aim of receiving economic benefits. Examples are investment companies, a commercial company, a leasing company, or a cooperative.

Characteristics of the natural person

Natural persons have a number of characteristics:

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Alive and real

A natural person can only be classified as a real and living human being, a breathing individual with a personality of his own.

Generally, you can make your own decisions and have your own opinions, although an individual who is not capable of good judgment will remain a natural person.

Limited in time

A natural person lives for a finite period, which means that at some point, they will die. It generally does not live longer than about 80-100 years.

On the other hand, a legal person can last longer than a natural person because the descendants of its president could inherit a company, or a trust could be extended for the benefit of generations of people.

Trusts or corporations can continue to function long after the natural persons who established them have passed away.

It can also be a moral person

A natural person could also be considered a legal person, being able to exercise both figures’ functions. On the other hand, a legal entity may only carry out its functions through natural persons.

Acquisition of rights and obligations

The distinctive of a natural person is obtained at the moment in which one is born alive, after having produced the complete detachment of the mother’s womb.

That is, from birth, the human rights of a natural person are acquired. However, the legal duties or obligations of a natural person are obtained from the majority’s age.


By the simple fact of being born and existing, a human being is granted a series of attributes granted by law, which in turn end with his death. Therefore, in a state of law, it is enough to be alive to be protected by the law.

Physical persons are individuals of material and real existence with capacity and personality. In addition, they have a set of attributes of their own, such as:

  • Name.
  • Civil status.
  • Address.
  • Capacity.
  • Heritage.
  • Nationality (they can have more than one).

Extinction of natural rights

The main reason for removing a natural person is due to the individual’s own death. In addition, it may occur that the rights of a natural person are extinguished on the presumption of death by accident or absence of the individual.

Human rights

By considering the basics, a natural person is guaranteed a set of basic human rights, including life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Of course, a natural person’s human rights also include the ability to marry, vote, or hold public office.

Most of the human rights of a natural person come into effect when the person reaches the age of 18. This is an easy place to see the difference between a natural and a legal person since a legal person does not have the right to marry, vote, or run for office.

Natural person and fetal rights

The question of whether an unborn fetus is considered a natural person, with all the protections and rights associated with that status, has been a hot topic for a long time.

This problem is commonly known as fetal rights, and it addresses not only the right to life or anti-abortion issues, but also protections related to the health and safety of the child from conception to birth.

This is a complicated problem, as some people try to establish a fetal age at which the baby can be considered “viable.” Others claim that the baby has the right to life and protection from the moment of conception.

Example of natural person

In the 1970s, Azzam Rahim immigrated to the United States and eventually became a country citizen. In 1995, while visiting the West Bank, Rahim was arrested by Palestinian Authority intelligence agents. He was imprisoned in Jericho, where he was tortured and eventually killed.

The following year, the US State Department issued a report that concluded that Rahim had died while in the custody of the officers.

In 2005, Rahim’s relatives filed a lawsuit against the Palestinian Authority and the Palestine Liberation Organization, citing allegations of torture and extrajudicial executions under the 1991 Torture Victims Protection Act (TVPA).

The district court granted the motion to dismiss the organizations, holding that the authorization of this type of claim only subdued natural persons’ responsibility so that these organizations, considered as legal entities, could not be sued.

The appeals court for the District of Columbia Circuit upheld the district court’s decision for the same reasons.

Appeal and conclusion

Rahim’s relatives presented a review order, which was granted by the Supreme Court, to question whether the TVPA could really authorize the filing of lawsuits against organizations that could not be defined as natural persons.

The United States Supreme Court finally agreed with both lower courts and held that the term “individual” only refers to natural persons. Furthermore, the Court held that TVPA does not allow liability to be imposed against any organization. Specifically, the court wrote:

The ordinary, everyday meaning of “individual” refers to a human being, not an organization, and Congress does not use the word differently.

The Dictionary Law defines “person” to include certain legal entities, as well as individuals, thus marking “individual” as distinct from legal entities.



    1. Legal Concepts (2020). Physical person. Taken from: legal
    2. Legal Dictionary (2017). Natural Person. Taken from:
    3. Javier Sánchez Galán (2020). Physical person. Economipedia. Taken from:
    4. Billin (2020). What is a natural person? Taken from:
    5. Click Balance (2020). What is a natural person. Taken from:


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