Difference Between Nationality and Citizenship

By : Neha Dhyani

Updated : May 17, 2022, 8:28

There is a Difference Between Nationality and Citizenship, though both the terms reflect the individual's relationship to the state. Citizenship is the legal recognition of membership in a nation-state, whereas nationality is the hereditary membership of the same.

Citizenship does not always imply nationality because one can obtain it through naturalization, registration, or other means.

Citizenship, as opposed to nationality, is a legal status. It determines the rights and obligations of an individual. The term "nationality" refers to the lineage of an individual and ancestral connections to a specific country.

Citizenship is, furthermore, the ability of an individual to be a full member of a nation-state with rights such as voting.

What is the Nationality?

Nationality is the status of an individual belonging to a country. The nationality of an individual is determined by where they were born. Therefore, it is essentially an ethnic and racial concept. However, nationality is a fundamental human right.

According to the "United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights" (1948), "everyone has the right to a nationality," and "no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of their nationality."

What is the Citizenship?

Being a member of a political community, a citizen actively participates in its affairs. An individual can earn the citizenship of a nation by completing the legal requirements of a national, state, or municipal authority.

Citizens of a country are entitled to a variety of perks and privileges. Moreover, citizens shall respect the rules and regulations and defend the nation in times of crisis.

The value of citizenship is different in different countries. Citizenship can entail a variety of rights in various countries, including the capacity to vote, hold government posts, and receive unemployment benefits, to name a few.

Important UPSC Topics
UPSC Online ApplicationIAS Age Limit
IAS SyllabusUPSC Question Paper
UPSC Cut OffUPSC Mains Exam
UPSC BooksUPSC Exam Analysis
UPSC Admit CardUPSC Prelims Exam

Major Difference Between Nationality and Citizenship

Here are the Major Differences Between Nationality and Citizenship:



A person born within the territory of a state and subject to its authority obtains nationality by birth. An individual can also “inherit” nationality from one or both parents.

The government will award citizenship to someone who meets the necessary legal requirements.

Nationality refers to the legal part of the identity of an individual

Citizenship is the political party of the identity of an individual. It allows them to live, work, and vote in a specific country.

The nationality of an individual can neither change nor can they denounce.

Anyone can acquire citizenship of any country after complying with the legal formalities. Also, anyone can denounce their citizenship.

Nationality represents the place of birth or the ancestry of an individual.

Citizenship represents the place of registration.

It is necessarily an “ethnic” or “racial” concept

It is a “legal” concept

An individual cannot be a national of more than one nation-state.

An individual can possess the citizenship of more than one country.

☛ Also Read: Weekly Current Affairs PDF

In ordinary language, people use the phrases nationality and citizenship interchangeably. They do not, however, relate to the same concept. There are Differences Between Nationality and Citizenship.

According to international law, nationality is the membership in a nation or sovereign state acquired through birth or descent. It should not be confused with citizenship - a narrower phrase commonly used to denote persons with full political rights.

More Current Affairs Topics
Atomic Energy Regulatory Board [AERB]AP Reorganisation Act 2014
Difference Between Polity and Political ScienceArms Trade Treaty
Difference Between Philosophy and PsychologyArmy Aviation Corps
Article 356Army Design Bureau
Article 35AArticle 370

FAQs on the Difference Between Nationality and Citizenship

Q1. What is the main Difference Between Nationality and Citizenship?

The Main Difference Between Nationality and Citizenship is that Nationality is a legal identity obtained by birth or descent, while citizenship is a political identity obtained by meeting the legal requirements of being a citizen.

Q2. Is the Difference Between Nationality and Citizenship relevant?

Yes, the Difference Between Nationality and Citizenship is relevant. The difference is relevant because the law may not treat all nationals as citizens. Before the passing of the Indian Citizenship Act in 1924, American Indians, for example, were “noncitizen nationals.” Furthermore, not all citizens are nationals, as those who meet the legal requirements can become a citizen.

Q3. Where does the Difference Between Nationality and Citizenship get blurred?

The Difference Between Nationality and Citizenship gets blurred because the concepts overlap in India, where birth and descent determine nationality and citizenship. In India, a national is a citizen till they renounce their citizenship, acquire citizenship of another country, or if the government deprives them of citizenship.

Q4. What is the Difference Between Nationality and Citizenship in terms of its scope?

The Difference Between Nationality and Citizenship in terms of its scope is that Nationality has a wider scope than citizenship. For instance, in ancient Greece, only adult free men enjoyed citizenship. That is, only 20% of the nationals were citizens.