Difference Between Nationality and Citizenship - Nationality vs Citizenship

By K Balaji|Updated : January 23rd, 2023

The main difference between Nationality and Citizenship is that Citizenship is the legal recognition of membership in a nation-state, whereas nationality is hereditary membership; though both terms reflect the individual's relationship to the state.

Difference Between Nationality and Citizenship PDF

The term "nationality" refers to the lineage of an individual and ancestral connections to a specific country. Citizenship, as opposed to nationality, is a legal status. It determines the rights and obligations of an individual. Here, we will explore the conceptual difference between Nationality and Citizenship to understand these in depth.

Table of Content

Difference Between Nationality and Citizenship

The difference between nationality and citizenship occurs with the possibility of change. A nationality can not be replaced with another country's nationality, whereas citizenship can be updated, changed, or reversed.

Nationality vs 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 in any country after complying with the legal formalities.

Also, anyone can denounce their citizenship.

The primary difference between Nationality and Citizenship is that Nationality represents an individual's place of birth or ancestry.

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 citizenship in more than one country.

Nationality and Citizenship

The word Nationality indicates where an individual is born. A country’s administration presents citizenship when distinctive legal necessities are fulfilled. Citizenship can be witnessed as a political position because it reveals which nation identifies an individual as a citizen.

What is 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 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 various rights in various countries, including the capacity to vote, hold government posts, and receive unemployment benefits, to name a few.


Key Difference Between Nationality and Citizenship

In ordinary language, people use the phrases nationality and citizenship interchangeably. They do not, however, relate to the same concept. Nationality vs Citizenship key differences is as follows.

  • 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.
  • Citizenship is, furthermore, the ability of an individual to be a full member of a nation-state with rights such as voting.
  • Citizenship does not always imply nationality because one can obtain it through naturalization, registration, or other means.
Important Topics
Difference Between Capf and ParamilitaryDifference Between Gandhara and Mathura School of Art
Difference Between Army and BSFDifference Between Green Card and Citizenship
Difference Between Battle and WarDifference Between Historians and Archaeologists
Difference Between Empire and KingdomDifference Between History and Prehistory


write a comment

FAQs on 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

  • Nationality is the personal membership that indicates an individual connection with the state. Whereas, Citizenship is the political status which declares that the individual is identified as a citizen of the country.

  • 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.

  • The nationality and citizenship on a passport represent the essential details about the person, such as the country they were born in and the country which recognizes them as their citizen. Both can be the same, but it is possible to have different countries granting nationality and citizenship to a candidate.

  • 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 citizens.
  • Indian is a nationality. It is because the Nationality of an individual stays the same throughout their life after they inherit it.

    • In contrast, an individual legally acquires citizenship after fulfilling the eligibility of becoming an Indian citizen.
    • If a person moves to a different nation, their citizenship can be changed, unlike Nationality.
  • 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.

Follow us for latest updates