Nationality vs Citizenship – Difference Between Nationality and Citizenship

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: November 14th, 2023

The difference between Nationality and Citizenship is that Nationality is hereditary membership, whereas Citizenship is the legal recognition of membership in a nation-state. However, both terms reflect the individual’s relationship to the state. Citizenship does not always imply nationality because one can obtain it through naturalization, registration, or other means.

Difference Between Nationality and Citizenship PDF

The term “nationality” refers to the lineage of individuals 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.

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

Difference 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 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.

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.

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.”
  • Nationality should not be confused with citizenship – a narrower phrase commonly used to denote persons with full political rights.

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.


Nationality vs Citizenship – Key Differences

The key Difference Between Nationality and Citizenship is that according to international law, nationality is the membership in a nation or sovereign state acquired through birth or descent. In contrast, Citizenship is, furthermore, the ability of an individual to be a full member of a nation-state with rights such as voting.

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