relationship between an individual human and a state

The nationality of a person is that person's legal relationship with a state, for example a Swedish person's legal relationship with the kingdom of Sweden.[1] Nationality is not identical to citizenship but in the majority of states most of the population are also citizens. Dual nationality means that the person has a legal relationship with two different states at the same time, for example the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland. The rights and duties of individual people and the states they belong to vary from country to country.[2]

"Nationality" can take on different meanings depending on the country, language and culture in question. For example, in the United States, someone of Italian descent may be called "Italian" even if the individual, a member of the Italian diaspora, has no right to an Italian passport and citizenship. In cases such as in airports, when immigration officers ask your "nationality," they are asking for you to show them the passport you use for your travel to foreign countries.


  1. Vonk, Olivier. Dual Nationality in the European Union: A Study on Changing Norms in Public and Private International Law and in the Municipal Laws of Four EU Member States. Martinus Nijhoff Publishers; 2012-03-19 [cited 17 August 2012]. ISBN 9789004227200. p. 19.
  2. Weis, Paul. Nationality and Statelessness in International Law. Brill; 1979 [cited 19 August 2012]. ISBN 9789028603295. pp. 29–61.