Nationality vs Citizenship: Difference and Comparison

Nationality and Citizenship are the terms that are related to the birthplace of a person and the current living status of a person.

Both this term denotes the place a person is born and the place a person is currently living in.

A person’s nationality symbolises the place, county, or culture a person is born into. This is by birth which cannot be either changed or replaced.

This is a more culturally and racially related matter which have nothing to do with what place a person moves on to or lives currently.

Citizenship is more related to official records and documentation. The government of every country keeps a record of the people living in that place.

Citizenship gives you proper documentation, which proves that a person has the right to stay politically and socially active in that particular place.

Key Takeaways

  1. Nationality indicates an individual’s membership to a specific nation based on birth or heritage, while citizenship refers to the legal status granted by a country, with accompanying rights and responsibilities.
  2. Nationality is inherent and less subject to change, while citizenship can be acquired, changed, or renounced.
  3. Nationality reflects cultural and ethnic identity, while citizenship focuses on political and legal rights within a country.

Nationality vs Citizenship

Nationality refers to the status of belonging to a particular nation or country and is determined by a person’s place of birth, ancestry, or legal status. Citizenship is a legal status that grants a person certain rights, privileges, and legal obligations in a particular country.

Nationality vs Citizenship

Nationality, as we can understand by the name itself, is something that is related to the nation you are born into.

A person born in India will have a Nationality as Indian, while a person born in Pakistan will have the Nationality as Pakistani.

This section of the information can never be changed and is permanent even when a person leaves that particular country and settles somewhere else.

Citizenship comes into existence when a person gets official government documentation and legal proof of being an active member of that particular place he or she is currently living.

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A person’s citizenship status gives him or her proper legal rights to participate in political and social activities.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonNationalityCitizenship
Status Place of birth is shown in thisPlace where a person is politically and judicially active 
Rights Ethical, cultural and racial Political and judicial 
Changes Cannot be changed Can be changed
Use It is used to denote a person’s origin and place of birth It is used to denote a person’s right over political and legal participation
Area of interestTells us which nation the person belongsTells us which country or state or district the person lives currently
QuantityA person can have only one nationality in his or her whole lifeA person can have history of more than one citizenship but at current situation it can be only one.

What is Nationality?

Nationality is mainly noted to express where a person is born. This is one of the inheritances that a child gets from his or her parents.

The process of inheriting Nationality from parents is also known as a Natural phenomenon.

Nationality is used to prove where a person was born and where the ancestral history of that person comes from. It also tells about the past of the family by declaring where it resided at a certain point in their life.

Nationality can be used to get Citizenship gradually of a person, but on the other hand, a person cannot use Citizenship to change his or her Nationality.

Nationality is irreversible, which comes by birth, just like our parents, skin colour, the race we belong to, etc. 

Nationality by name we can understand mainly shows the nation we belong to, which is the name of the country.

A person born in Born in one of the districts of India of a particular state have his or her Nationality as Indian and not the name of that particular district.

It doesn’t precisely state the particular district of a particular state but rather tells the name of the country in which the person is born.

nationality 1

What is Citizenship?

Citizenship mainly expresses where a person holds the legal right to participate in political and official affairs.

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To gain Citizenship, a person must stay in that area and be officially listed on the government citizenship list. 

To become a citizen, a person must apply to an official government program through a proper legal process. This can be achieved by the birth of that particular nation and fulfilling all the criteria to become a citizen.

Many countries give Citizenship after staying there for a number of years. 

In India, to become a citizen, a person has to live in India for more than 12 years. People coming from neighbouring countries with religious issues can gain Citizenship after6 years.

The rules or duration may differ for other countries but are almost the same.

A person’s citizenship gives him or her a legal right over the public rights in that area. A person’s political and judicial activities are practised in the area of which he is a citizen and nowhere else.

A person’s citizenship status doesn’t always tell about his or her Nationality. Citizenship can be changed.


Main Differences Between Nationality and Citizenship

  1. Nationality comes by birth, while on the other hand, Citizenship is gained by a proper official process. 
  2. Nationality can be changed, while Citizenship can be changed.
  3. Nationality is related to the racial and ethnic status of a person, while on the other hand, Citizenship gives a person its legal and juristic rights.
  4. Nationality denotes the birth and inheritance of a person, while Citizenship can cover the topics of birth, inheritance, marriage and naturalization as well.
  5. A person born in America is called an American by his or her birth and roots, but when a person from India goes to America and gains citizenship rights is not American by Nationality.
Difference Between Nationality and Citizenship

Last Updated : 13 July, 2023

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3 thoughts on “Nationality vs Citizenship: Difference and Comparison”

  1. The comparison table effectively illustrates the contrasting parameters of nationality and citizenship, shedding light on the rights and changes associated with both.

  2. The key takeaways provide a comprehensive understanding of the difference between nationality and citizenship, focusing on the cultural and political aspects.

  3. The article provides a clear distinction between nationality and citizenship, highlighting the aspects of birth and legal status of a person.


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