Difference between Naturalization and Citizenship
By Theydiffer - April 25, 2017

Immigration is a much-discussed issue nowadays. People are free to travel all over the world and move to the countries they feel most at home in, or where they feel they have the opportunities they need to thrive. This leads to discussions of naturalization and citizenship. Do you know what the differences between them are? Take a look at this article.


Getty Images/Moment/Alexander W Helin

Naturalization is the legal procedure by which a person born in a different country becomes a citizen of the country he/she migrated to. Rules and requirements vary from country to country; however, naturalization must typically be applied for. The applicant must prove he/she has lived there for several years (usually around 5-6 years), must pass a test and must swear to obey the rules of the adoptive country.

Citizenship represents the status by which a person is recognized as being a member of a specific state. There are different types of citizenship:

  • Citizenship by birth: a person born in a country to parents who are citizens
  • Citizenship acquired by birth: a person born in a country but to parents who are not citizens
  • Citizenship by marriage: a person who marries a citizen gets citizenship
  • Naturalization

A person can even have several citizenships throughout his/her life, provided that none of the adoptive countries have specific rules forbidding them to be citizens of any other countries.

Naturalization vs Citizenship

So what is the difference between naturalization and citizenship?

Naturalization is one of the methods through which people get the citizenship of a different country. For a person who was not born to parents who are nationals, born in the country, or marrying a national, the naturalization process comes with certain requirements.

Citizenship is naturally granted to people in specific situations, while you need to apply for naturalization.

Comparison Chart

One of the methods of becoming a citizen of a stateMeans being a citizen of a state
You must apply for itIs granted in specific situations
Is a process with requirementsCan be more easily obtained if you are born to parents who are citizens, born there, or if you marry a citizen