Difference Between Nationality and Citizenship

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.

The Nationality of a person symbolizes the place or 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 move 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.

Nationality vs Citizenship

The main difference between Nationality and Citizenship is that one is by birth while another is by choice. A person cannot change his or her Nationality in the course of a lifetime but can change Citizenship.

Nationality and 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 an Indian, while a person born in Pakistan will have the Nationality as a 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 living currently.

The citizenship status of a person gives him or her proper legal rights to participate in political and social activities.

Comparison Table Between Nationality and Citizenship

Parameters of Comparison NationalityCitizenship
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 is the ancestral history of that person come 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 rather tells the name of the country the person is born in.

What is Citizenship?

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

To gain Citizenship, a person has to be staying in that area and have to be officially listed in the government citizenship list. 

To become a citizen, a person has to apply in a proper legal process to a government official program. This can be achieved by being by the birth of that particular nation of 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.

For other countries, the rules or duration may be different but is almost the same.

The Citizenship of a person 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. The 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


Nationality and Citizenship are both sometimes can be very confusing, which may lead to a replacement of one with another.

It must be kept in mind that sometimes in official documentation, this can be used as a synonym, but these are very few countable situations and are not atoll common.

A person should know its differences and proper use. 

Nationality and Citizenship are very different. One denotes the past of a person, while the other shows the present status of a person.

Nationality shows the past of a person by declaring his or her birth nation. On the other hand, Citizenship discloses the prese3nt status by disclosing the present living nation of a person.


  1. https://elibrary.ru/item.asp?id=32692293
  2. https://www.ceeol.com/search/article-detail?id=131776
  3. https://heinonline.org/hol-cgi-bin/get_pdf.cgi?handle=hein.kluwer/cmlr0032&section=27
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