Are you national, citizen or domicile of India? 8 Unexpected Differences

Are you national, citizen or domicile of India? 8 Unexpected Differences

Although the words nationality, citizenship, domicile, and residence are seemed alike and synonyms to each other but actually, these words are quite different. In this article, “Are you national, citizen or domicile of India? 8 unexpected Differences”, all these terms are defined and discussed to make differences clear with the help of following headings and sub-headings such as: How are Differences between Nationality, Citizenship, Domicile, and Residence Unbelievable?, Undeniable Differences between Nationality and Citizenship, Important Differences between Domicile and Residence, What does mean by domicile?, Definition of Domicile, History of Domicile, Differences between domicile and residence in national & international context, What are the differences between NRIs, PIO, and OCI?, UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Kalpana Chawla, Citizenship Act 1955, Citizenship Amendment Act 2019, etc.

How are Differences between Nationality, Citizenship, Domicile, and Residence Conclusive?

Undeniable Differences between Nationality and Citizenship

How can a person be citizen of one country but national of another country?

In general, the nationality of a person is denoted by one’s citizenship, however it is deeply related to the place of birth, and basically, it is an ethnic and racial concept of belonging.

“Nationality is as an inalienable right of every human being based on the psychological status of their belongingness having a common origin, tradition, culture, ethnicity, language, and region like Bihar within India or, India in the world.”__ Dr. Md. Usmangani Ansari

The UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) states that “everyone has the right to a nationality” and that “no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality.”

“Nationality is a group of people who share the same history, traditions, and language, and who usually live together in a particular country.” __ English Leaner’s Dictionary

“Nationality is related to people having a common origin, tradition, and language and capable of forming or actually constituting a nation-state.” __ Merriam Webster Dictionary

Thus, nationality can also be double layered, one within the country and another in global context, for example— Reshma is settled in Delhi but she belongs to Bihar and she feels a deeply connected with her state’s culture, language, and traditions as a nation-state in India.

Likewise, an individual person can be citizen of one country but national of another country, for examples— Sultan had gone to USA on work visa, but after some times he settled there by taking citizenship. Now, he is the citizen of the USA but still an Indian national. Another such examples, Sunita Williams (Indian origin) and Kalpana Chawla by birth.

What is Citizenship?

The term citizen is derived from Anglo-French ‘cite’ i.e. ‘city’ and entered English in the 14th century that simply designated a resident of a city or town. However, the practice of granting citizenship to residents, especially property owners, first arose in towns and city-states of ancient Greece. The Romans adopted the practice as a bestowal of privilege that could be conferred on, or withheld from, conquered peoples; in time, citizenship was granted to all of the empire’s free inhabitants. The spread of the ideals of citizenship suffered a setback in Europe during the feudal era, but they were revived during the Renaissance, and then crystallized during the American and French Revolutions.

In modern era, mainly in democracy, citizenship refers to a person’s allegiance to a country’s government in exchange for its protection at home and abroad. In addition, full political rights, including the right to vote and to hold public office, and civil liberties are typically granted to a native-born citizen under ‘jus soli’, a Latin legal term literal meaning, ‘right of the soil’ or other types of citizens as in India under the Citizenship Act, 1955 and The Citizenship Amendment Act 2019, such as acquired by descent, registration, naturalization, and incorporation of the territory.

What are differences between nationality and citizenship?

There are various important differences between nationality and citizenship, for examples,

  • Nationality can’t be changed while citizenship can.
  • Citizenship can also be reversed while nationality can’t.
  • A person can be a national of only one country while he can hold citizenship of various countries by surrendering of one and acquiring of another.
  • Nationality is acquired by birth whereas citizenship is acquired by law.
  • Nationality shows psychological, cultural, and regional relationship between the nation and the individual, while, citizenship denotes the relationship between the person and the state law.
  • By nationality the civil and natural rights of a person may come under international law and by citizenship it is the sole concern of the state law.
  • It is possible that all the citizens may possess the nationality of a particular state, but it is not possible that all the nationals may be the citizens of that particular state.
  • Citizens possess full political rights in a state, but a national may not possess such rights.


Link for detail knowledge: How are work, job & career different?


What is Difference between Domicile and Residence?

In general domicile is the place where you maintain a permanent home. Your intent to remain in this place indefinitely makes it your domicile. Thus, domicile is a legal term used to determine where you vote, file lawsuits, pay taxes, claim benefits, and oblige governmental authority. It can be further elaborated as,

“At birth, Henna’s domicile of origin is the home she shares with her parents. This location remains her domicile until she reaches the age of majority and acquire a domicile of her choice or, her spouse. This domicile of choice remains her domicile until she abandons it by relocating to a new domicile with the bona fide intent to make the new domicile her fixed and permanent home.”

What does mean by domicile?

The word ‘domicile’ traces to Latin ‘domus’, meaning ‘home’, and English speakers have been using it as a word for “home” since the 15th century. In the eyes of the law, a domicile can also be a legal residence, the address from which one registers to vote, pays income tax, takes government’s benefits. Wealthy people may have several homes in which they live at different times of the year, but only one of their homes can be their official domicile for all legal purposes.

Thus, domicile, in law, a person’s dwelling place as it is defined for purposes of judicial jurisdiction and governmental burdens and benefits. The domicile is the country which a person officially has as their permanent home, or has a substantial connection with.

Definition of Domicile

The term domicile is easier to illustrate than it is to define because, the concept and legal system are not uniform all over the world. However, the Oxford Advance & Learners Dictionary and the Black Law Dictionary define domicile as given below:

“Domicile is the place where somebody lives, especially when it is stated for official or legal purpose.” __ Learners Dictionary

“Domicile is a person’s legal home. That place where a man has true, fixed and permanent home and principal establishment, and to which whenever he is absent he has the intention of returning.” __ Black Law Dictionary

History of Domicile

Roman law is considered to be the mother of the concept of domicile in common law. As it is derived from the Roman law and the usus modernus through the Canon law. According to the modern Canon law (laws made within certain Christian churches),

“The term domicilium is derived from domum colere, to foster or inhabit the home. Domicile is not any place of residence but a place of habitual residence.”

In the ancient times, the ordinary man’s Diocese had authority over him in the Consistory Court in England and a man’s domicile in a Diocese was established by his habitual residence. Diocese was an administrative territorial unit governed by a bishop. The Bishop of the Diocese of the domicile had jurisdiction in religious causes and in England this included probate and matrimonial jurisdiction even before the Matrimonial Causes Act 1857 and the Court of Probate Act 1857. English statutes dealing with marriage characterise the place where a man dwells, of his dwelling place; and domicilium is a habitation or a dwelling.

Therefore domicile is a place of residence in a Diocese in Roman Canon law and in the English Canon law from which the English notion of domicile has evolved.

However, when domicile is taken as synonym of citizenship, then the concept of citizenship dates back to the ancient Greek era where a special status was granted to property owners. They were given a right to vote and were also liable to pay taxes. Since then citizenship has evolved several folds and is the form we see it today. A citizen of a country has special rights and privileges over the non-citizens of that country. Each country has provided its own criteria to grant citizenship to people.

Differences between domicile and residence in national & international context

The concept of domicile in national context is the relation between an individual’s permanent home and his/her state, i.e. province based on intention to keep it as dwelling place for ever. While residence is a temporary place where an individual live either for work or any other purposes without the intention to be there permanently. A person can be domicile of only one state in India but he/she can have residences in many states.

However, in international context domicile is considered as citizenship of a person belonging to an independent country where he/she acquired it either by birth or by any other legal procedures.

As per the US law a residence is a dwelling place you expect to live there for a temporary period, whereas a domicile is a home you plan to live in for an indefinite period. Any place you own property or live for a prescribed period can be your residence. But only the one place or state where you intend to make your permanent home and remain indefinitely can be your domicile. Thus, you can have many residences, but you can have only one domicile in the USA1.

What are the differences between NRIs, PIO, and OCI?

NRIs: Non-resident Indians (NRIs) are the citizens of India who live in another country.

PIO: Persons of Indian origin are not citizens of India but have ancestors who are Indian citizens. This status was merged with OCI.

OCI: Overseas citizens of India (OCI) are non-Indian citizens who are holding citizenship of another country but have ancestors with Indian origin.

Link for related topic: Do you know which 5-categories of citizenship you are in India?


Copyright © Writer (Dr. Md. Usmangani Ansari)  

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