Difference between Nationality and Citizenship

Nationality vs. Citizenship

What is Difference between Nationality and Citizenship? Citizenship and nationality are terms used to define the status of a person within a particular country or nation, however, although many believe that they mean the same thing; the truth is that they have different meanings.

The confusion between the meaning and use of these two words is often due to the fact that most people share both; that is, their nationality and also their citizenship. But although this applies to most, it is good to keep in mind that this is not always the case; there are times when you are a citizen of a country, but not a national of the same.

Difference between Nationality and Citizenship

If you have doubts about it or just search for a little more information that complements what you already know, then continue reading, because below we explain everything you need to know about this interesting topic.


Citizenship is a more political and legal concept. It is associated with the recognition of the rights, duties and freedoms that the government of a country grants to a resident of the same. Basically, it refers to the characteristic of being a citizen in a particular country.

For example, a person who is a citizen of the United States might consider his or her nationality to be Native American, perhaps Cherokee; but that does not change the fact that she is a citizen of that country. The same is true for someone whose nationality is Tibetan; you will be considered a citizen of China.


On the other hand, nationality is more associated with cultural identity. It can also be related to the place of birth, the place where the parents were born, the place from which the ancestors came or the place to which the person feels ethnically connected.

Nationality is more permanent in comparison with citizenship; it is more rooted in the person; although it is certainly legally possible to change nationality. For example, someone who moves from one country to another, even after becoming a citizen of the new country, continues to retain his nationality. Imagine the case of someone from India who moves to the United States, there could become a US citizen; but remain of Indian nationality.

Finally, both nationality and citizenship denote a sense of belonging. Both concepts define a group of people who have something in common, whether the ethnicity, the place where they were born or the country to whose government they are subject.