Difference Between Nationality and Citizenship

Nationality and Citizenship are one of the most misunderstood terms in the world. For ordinary folk, the term citizenship works as a substitute for nationality and vice versa. But both are distinct concepts with different meanings.

The purpose of this article is to explain the difference between Nationality and Citizenship within the context of the IAS Exam.

Difference between Nationality and Citizenship - UPSC 2021 Polity

The difference between Nationality and Citizenship is given below:                                                                                                                                                                  

Differences Nationality and Citizenship



Nationality denotes where an individual has been born or holds citizenship with a state. Nationality is obtained through inheritance from his/her parents, Citizenship is a legal status in a political institution such as a city or a state. The relationship between a citizen and the institution that confers this status is formal,
Ethnic or Racial Legal or Juristic
The place or country where the individual has taken birth The individual is designated as a citizen by the government of the country
Birth and Inheritance (subject to the rules prevalent in the country) Birth, Inheritance, Marriage, Naturalization,
Nationality cannot be changed Citizenship can be changed
An example of nationality is Armenian to a person with Armenian roots born in the United Kingdom An example of citizenship is an Indian being conferred US Citizenship upon clearing a citizenship test

To conclude, nationality, as the name suggests, is something in connection with the nation, which a person obtains by birth and is innate. On the other hand, citizenship is a bit different, which requires a person to fulfil the legal formalities to become a recognized member of the state.

You can find read the following articles to know how nationality and citizenship is used in India

To know what are the topics generally asked in the polity segment of the UPSC Exams, aspirants can download free Indian Polity notes PDFs at the linked article.

Difference Between Nationality and Citizenship – Download PDF Here

Frequently Asked Questions on Difference Between Nationality and Citizenship


Q 1. How are citizenship and nationality different?

Ans. Nationality indicates the place where a person or his parents are born and Citizenship is legally acquired after fulfilling the eligibilities of becoming a citizen of any country.

Q 2. Are citizenship and nationality interrelated?

Ans. A person’s nationality remains the same throughout his lifetime as it is inherited. However, a citizenship can be changed.

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