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Last updated date: 29th Feb 2024
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What is Citizenship?

A relationship between a person and a state to which the person owes full allegiance and, in turn, is authorized to its protection. Furthermore, citizenship implies the status of freedom with related responsibilities. As a result, citizens have specific rights, duties, and responsibilities that are refused or only partially extended to other noncitizens staying in a country. Normally, full political rights, consisting of voting and holding public office, are established upon citizenship. Most importantly, the basic responsibilities of citizenships are taxation, allegiance, and military service. A citizenship example is someone being born in India who has access to all the same freedoms and rights as those already residing in India.

Who is a Citizen?

To understand the whole meaning of citizenship, you must understand about a citizen. If you’re wondering who is a citizen? A citizen of a country is a person recognized within the custom or law as a legal member of a sovereign nation or allegiance to a government in exchange for its protection, whether in that country or abroad. No doubt, citizenship is one of the most privileged types of nationality. 

This inclusive term signifies multiple relations between a person and a state that don’t consequently grant political rights but do implicit other privileges, especially protection abroad. It’s the term utilized in international law to respect all individuals whom a state is entitled to protect.

Origin of Citizenship 

The concept of citizenship first surfaced in towns and city-states of ancient Greece, where it was typically enforced on property owners but not to slaves, women, or the poorer members of the community. All the citizens in a Greek city-stay were entitled to vote and were accountable to taxation and military service. 

Moreover, the Romans first employed citizenship as a way to distinguish the residents of the city of Rome from those individuals whose territories Rome had conquered and incorporated. As their empire continued to expand, Romans permitted citizenship to their allies throughout Italy and then to individuals in other Roman provinces. This happened till 212 CE, when citizenship was further extended to all free inhabitants of the empire.

Types of Citizenship

There are several ways to gain citizenship. Thus, here are some of the major types of citizenship along with their requirements:

Family Citizenship: Jus Sanguinis

One of the most popular ways to citizenship is jus sanguinis, which is a Latin term translated into English as ‘right of blood’. It explains a person whose parent, grandparent, or other family members are already citizens of a different specific state from the country in which the individual was born. Some counties which offer this citizenship outright are Greece, Japan, Turkey, France, Romania, Thailand, and Italy. 

Moreover, rules associated with jus sanguinis differ based on the nation in question, especially regarding whether a person can apply for citizenship to their mother’s state of origin.

Citizenship by Birth: Jus Soli

Another common form of citizenship is called jus soli, a Latin term for ‘right of soil’. It basically refers to the rule of allowing citizenship to a person who is born in a country. Although it doesn’t apply in each country, specific legal regulations may limit individuals in a few nations under what is called lex soli law. Most of these countries are New Zealand, Australia, Egypt, and South Africa. 

However, in some jurisdictions like Israel, Greece, or Canada, jus sanguinis and jus soli are mixed together into a single model. Thus, it offers individual citizenship to their birth country along with that of one or both parents.


Naturalisation is also a common way to citizenship and generally applies to people who have entered the country through legal means like political asylum or having lawfully lived there for an authorized period. For those turning into new citizens, it’s customary to take a test that showcases an understanding of the nation’s culture, tradition, laws, and language. In some countries which don’t offer dual citizenship, new citizens are also asked to reject their old citizenship. For instance, in Indonesia, people with several citizenship should give one of them up by the age of 18.

Citizenship by Marriage

Known legally as jus matrimonii, becoming a naturalized citizen by marrying a person with citizenship has become a normal practice as the concept of citizenship like this was introduced during the second world war. Most importantly, rules differ worldwide in terms of how long a couple will need to be married before citizenship will be allowed, and other nations also extend this right to couples in civil partnerships.

Economic Citizenship

Lastly, for people who can’t gain citizenship in more traditional ways, economic citizenship can be a feasible path. Moreover, citizenship by investment (CBI) programmes offer investors a method of obtaining citizenship through making a meaningful monetary contribution to a certain country’s economy.

Is Everyone a Citizen of Somewhere?

Even though Article 15 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights says that everyone has the right to nationality, there are still some loopholes. Per se, these loopholes have left about twelve million individuals stateless, meaning they are not considered citizens by any country. Yes, it can be lead by anything from discrimination based on gender, religion or sexuality, to conflict in nationality laws. 

In the past few years, citizenship has come to take various shapes and forms, even while its centric value has stayed the same. The connections born from the concept of citizenship remain eminent today, as are the rights and freedoms related to it.


Thus, in this article we have covered the basic concepts of citizenship. It simply refers to the relationship between a person as well as the state. Where the state gives protection and social security to the citizens of the country, the citizens enjoy the rights and perform the duties and responsibilities given to them by the Constitution.

FAQs on Citizenship

1. What is the difference between citizen and citizenship?

Citizenship is basically a legal status in a political institution like a city or a state. Whereas, a person becomes a naturalized citizen of a state only when s/he is allowed into that nation's model, and then legally his/her nationality has changed by international law.

2. Does citizenship actually mean nationality?

Nationality implies the status of an individual as affiliated to a state. In contrast, citizenship means holding a bunch of civic rights, mostly including the right to live and work in the territory of the state concerned. 

3. What are the three major elements of citizenship?

T. H. Marshall (1950) stated citizenship as ‘full membership of a community’. According to him, citizenship is composed of three elements; political, civil, and social.