As with the terms citizenship and residency, citizenship and nationality are used fairly interchangeably. However, again, there is a clear difference between the latter two concepts, legally speaking:

  • Citizenship is a term used to the status of a person recognised under the law or custom of a sovereign country as belonging to or being a member of that country. This status generally carries with it recognition of rights and privileges not afforded to non-citizens, including civil, political and social rights, although of course there are some exceptions to this.

Each sovereign country is free to determine the criteria for recognizing individuals as its citizens, even within political unions such as the EU, along with the criteria for when this citizenship status can be withdrawn.

Gaining citizenship status in a country generally carries with it the right to vote, the right to a passport of that country, as well as the right to live there, work there, and access the country’s health services, if such are made available to citizens.

  • Nationality generally covers the same criteria, with the key difference that the above rights are attributed to a person on the basis of them having been born in that country. Somewhat paradoxically, then, a person holding dual citizenship is frequently referred to as holding dual nationality, although the term dual citizenship is technically more correct.

The term nationality is also frequently referred to group people in terms of their origin, traditions, race or religious background.