Citizen vs National: Difference and Comparison

National and citizen are two very misunderstood phrases in the world. Generally, people consider the term national as a synonym for the term citizen, and vice versa.

But actually, the distinction between national and citizen is very clear and it’s difficult to overlook it.

Key Takeaways

  1. Citizenship is a legal status that gives an individual the right to live in a country, whereas nationality refers to the individual’s country of origin.
  2. Citizens have more rights and privileges than nationals.
  3. Nationals may need more access to social services and job opportunities in some countries.

Citizen vs National

Citizen refers to an individual who is a legal member of a particular country and has certain rights and responsibilities associated with that citizenship. National can have a broader meaning and can refer to a person who is a member of a particular nation, ethnicity, or culture.

Citizen vs National

The term national relates to where you were born—your birthplace. Nationality has to do with the relationship you have with your place of birth and is frequently viewed as racial or ethnically linked.

It cannot be altered since it’s innate.

When particular legal conditions are met, a country’s government bestows the title of a citizen to a person. Citizenship can be viewed as a political status in many aspects because it tells which country acknowledges you as a citizen.

Citizenship can change as you can be a citizen of numerous countries at the same time and give up your citizenship to a country.

Comparison Table

Parameter of comparisonCitizen  National
MeaningIt is the political status, which recognizes an individual’s citizenship of the countryNational is the status acquired by birth in a country  
ConceptLegal or JuristicEthnic or racial
RepresentsAn individual is registered as a citizen by the government of the countryThe place or country where the individual has taken birth
WaysBirth, Inheritance, Marriage, Naturalization, etc.Birth and Inheritance (depending on the rules prevalent in the country)
Can be changed?YesNo

What is Citizen?

A citizen is a person who acquires this status by being a registered member of the state by law. Anyone who meets the legal conditions of a particular country can become a member of the state.

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In layman’s terms, citizen refers to the privilege of having citizenship of a country.

The means to become a recognized citizen of a country are through marriage, inheritance, birth, registration, and naturalization.

All states offer their citizens certain legal rights and benefits, and they are also required to observe the legislation and norms established by the authorities of the specific country.

When an individual becomes a citizen of a country, he gains various rights like to work, vote, reside, pay taxes, and participate actively in the country.

Every person automatically acquires the citizenship of the country where they took birth. But to become a citizen in some other country, legal formalities have to be done.

To become a citizen of India, a person must have lived in the country for at least 12 years. Persons with religious concerns who come from neighboring nations can become citizens after six years.

Other countries’ laws and lengths may differ, although they are nearly identical.


What is national?

National is the legal status given to a person. It identifies the country to which a person belongs.

A person’s nationality tells about the country in which he or she took birth and is a legal citizen. The status can be obtained through birth, inheritance, or naturalization.

Every state establishes the standards that define who can be a country’s nationals based on constitutional laws. It gives the country authority over the individual.

Furthermore, it protects the individual with national safety from other nations. According to global accords, every sovereign state has the right to decide its nationals under nationality law.

A person’s Nationality can be utilized to progressively gain Citizenship, while Citizenship cannot be used to alter a person’s Nationality.

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Nationality, the same as our parents, skin color, race, and so on, is irrevocable and is bestowed onto us at birth.

We can grasp nationality by word since it displays the nation to which we identify, which is the title of the country. An individual born in either of the districts of India of a given state has Indian nationality rather than the name of that district.

It does not mention the exact district of a certain state, but rather the name of the country in which the person was born.


Main Differences Between citizen and national

  1. Citizen is the political status, which recognizes an individual’s citizenship of the country. National is the status a person acquires by being born in a country.
  2. Citizen is a legal or juristic concept. While national is an ethnic or racial concept.
  3. A citizen is a person who has been registered under the laws made by the government of the country while the term national indicates his/her place of birth.
  4. An individual can become a citizen of a country through various ways, that is, by birth, marriage, inheritance, naturalization, and registration. On the contrary, an individual can be the national of a country by inheritance or by birth.
  5. The citizenship of a person can be changed while nationality cannot be changed.
Difference Between Citizen and National

Last Updated : 13 July, 2023

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8 thoughts on “Citizen vs National: Difference and Comparison”

  1. I find the insights provided in this article to be absolutely enlightening. It is sure to evoke a paradigm shift in the understanding of these terms for many readers.

  2. This article is a valuable resource for individuals interested in legal studies and political science. The distinction between citizenship and nationality is presented with remarkable clarity.

  3. This article breaks down complex political and legal concepts in easily understandable terms. It’s required reading for anyone trying to understand the nuances of citizenship and nationality.

  4. The article is a testament to the expertise of the author in articulating intricate legal and political concepts. The juxtaposition of citizenship and nationality will undoubtedly prompt intriguing discussions.

  5. The detail in this article is commendable. The in-depth comparison and contrasting of the two terms make it an informative and worthwhile read.


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