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Main Differences Between National and Citizen

Generally, people consider the term national as a synonym for the term citizen, and vice versa. However, the two terms have different meanings. The main difference between national and citizen is that nationality relates to the place you are born, and citizenship relates to title given to you by the government of a state after you fulfill the legal formalities.


The term national relates to where you were born. You automatically become a national by being born in that country. Thus, nationality has to do with the relationship you have with your place of birth and is frequently viewed as racially or ethically linked. Your nationality cannot be changed because it is innate. 


The term citizen is related to the title given by the government of a state to you after you fulfill the required legal formalities. You can become a citizen through marriage, inheritance, birth, registration, and naturalization. Thus, citizenship can be viewed as a political status in many aspects because it represents which country acknowledges you as a citizen. Citizenship can change as you can be a citizen of numerous countries at the same time, as well as being able to give up your citizenship to a country.

Main Differences Between National and Citizen

  • Citizen is the political status which recognizes an individual’s citizenship of the country. National is the status a person acquires by being born in a country.
  • Citizen is a legal or juristic concept. While national is an ethnic or racial concept.
  • A citizen is a person who has been registered under the laws made by the government of the country while the term national indicates his/her place of birth.
  • An individual can become a citizen of a country through various ways, that is, by birth, marriage, inheritance, naturalization, and registration. On the contrary, an individual can be the national of a country by inheritance or by birth.
  • The citizenship of a person can be changed while nationality cannot be changed.

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