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Difference Between Nationality and Citizenship

July 15, 2016 By Surbhi S Leave a Comment

nationality vs citizenship

Nationality and citizenship are one of the most misconstrued terms, in the world. For a
layman, the term nationality works as a substitute for citizenship and vice versa. But in
reality, the difference between nationality and citizenship is quite evident, that we
cannot ignore it. The nationality of a person, reveals his/her place of birth, i.e. from
where he/she belongs. On the contrary, citizenship is granted to an individual by the
government of the country, when he/she complies with the legal formalities. So, have a
glance at this article if you want to know more about these terms thoroughly.

Content: Nationality Vs Citizenship

Comparison Chart


Key Differences


Comparison Chart


Meaning Nationality is the individual membership that shows a person's relationship
with the state. Citizenship is the political status, which states that the person is
recognized as a citizen of the country.

Concept Ethnic or racial. Legal or juristic.

Represents The place or country where the individual has taken birth. Individual is
registered as a citizen by the government of the country.

Ways Birth and Inheritance Birth, Inheritance, Marriage, Naturalization, etc.

Can it be changed? No Yes

Can it be reversed? It is innate. It can be reversed.

Can it be possible to have nationality/citizenship of multiple countries? No, a person

can be national of only one country. Yes, a person can become a citizen of more
than one country.

Definition of Nationality

Nationality is the legal status, which represents the country from which an individual
belongs. An individuals nationality denotes, the country where he/she is born and are
the legal citizen. The status is acquired by birth, inheritance or naturalization. On the
basis of constitutional provisions, every state sets the criteria which determine who can
be the nationals of the country. It provides the country, rights over the person. Further, it
provides the person, protection of the nation from other nations.

Based on international conventions, every sovereign state is entitled to determine its

nationals, as per nationality law. One has the right enter or return to the country; they
came from.

Definition of Citizenship
Citizenship is a status acquired by becoming a registered member of the state by law.
Any person can become a member of the state by satisfying the legal requirements of
the respective country. In simple terms, the virtue of being the citizen of the country is
called citizenship.

By inheritance, marriage, birth, naturalization are the ways to become a recognized

citizen of the country. Every state grants some legal rights and privileges to its citizens,
and they are also bound to follow the rules and regulations framed by the government of
the respective country.

Once the person becomes a citizen of the state, he has the right to vote, work, reside,
pay taxes and take an active part in the country. Every person is a citizen of the country
where he/she is born, but to become a citizen of some other country, one needs to
apply for it.

Key Differences Between Nationality and Citizenship

The differences between nationality and citizenship can be drawn clearly on the
following grounds:

The status arising out of the fact that a person is the origin of a particular nation is called
Nationality. Citizenship is the political status that can be obtained by meeting the legal
requirements set by the government of the state.

The nationality is an ethnic or racial concept. On the other hand, citizenship is a legal or
juristic concept.

The nationality of a person indicates his/her place or country of birth while the
citizenship of a person shows that the individual is registered as a citizen by the
government of the respective country.

A person can become a national of a country by birth or by inheritance. As against this,

there are a variety of ways through which an individual can become the citizen of a
country, i.e. by birth, inheritance, marriage, naturalization or registration.
The nationality of a person cannot be changed. However, his citizenship can be

The nationality of a person cannot be taken back, once acquired while the citizenship of
a person can be taken back.

A person cannot be a national of more than one country. In contrast, a person can
possess citizenship of more than one country at a time.


Nationality, as the name suggests, is something in connection with the nation, which a
person obtains by birth and is innate. On the other hand, citizenship is a bit different,
which requires a person to fulfill the legal formalities to become a recognized member of
the state. Further, nationality is a subject of international dealings while citizenship is a
matter of countrys internal political life.

To acquire full citizenship, nationality is an essential condition but not the only condition
to be fulfilled. It allows a person full civil and social rights along with political rights. The
person who are national but they are not granted full rights of the country are known as
a second-class citizen.

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