Citizenship, Definition & Methods of Acquiring Citizenship

Citizenship can be defined as the total of all the right and principle accorded to all members of a given state. Membership of any state carries with it some right, duties and obligations of its members who are then referred to as citizens. Any other resident of the state who is not included in this category is regarded as an alien.


One can acquire the citizen of a state through two major ways namely by birth and naturalization.


This is the commonest methods of acquiring citizenship. Acquiring citizenship by birth can be categorized in two different ways namely,

By law of blood and descent:

This means that any child whose parents are citizens of a particular state whether or not, he or she is born within the territorial jurisdiction of that state is a citizen of that state e.g. child born by Nigeria parent’s resident in United State.

By law of soil or place:

In this case, any child born within the territorial jurisdiction of a state is automatically a citizen of that state irrespective of the citizenship of the parents of the child.


Naturalization can be defined as the process of acquiring citizenship through formal legal process. There are four types of naturalization.

Direct naturalization:

In this case, an individual acquire the citizenship of a state after complying with and fulfilling the specified legal process of that state.

Derivative naturalization:

Here a child becomes citizen as a result of the parent’s direct naturalization.

Collective naturalization or incorporation of territory:

In this, a group of persons occupying a definite territory acquire the citizenship of a state by either a treaty or statute consequent upon a cession of that territory to that new state.

Formal registration of spouse:

In this case, some states insist that a spouse must first of all renounce the citizenship of her birth before assuming that of her husband.



Many state would require the applicant to have domiciled in the territory for a certain number of years, e.g. in Britain, it is one year, in United States of America it is five years and in Nigeria it is fifteen years.


Some states insist that the applicant must have good command of the language of their citizens.

Moral character:

Most states are mostly concerned about the moral character of the applicant.

Oath of allegiance:

Almost all state insists that the applicant must take an oath of allegiance to the state.



This is the voluntary loss of citizenship on the part of the citizen himself.

De-naturalization, deprivation or revocation:

This is the process by which the state revokes, cancels or withdraws the legal recognition of a naturalized citizen.

By marriage:

Many people especially women lose their citizenship through marriage.


The obligations of citizens includes prompt payment of taxes

Obedience to the law of the state

Defense of the state against internal and external enemies

Upholding the honor and dignity of the state

Paying supreme sacrifice for the state when the need arises


Freedom of worship/religion

Freedom of movement

Right to life

Right to private and family

Freedom of association

Right to vote and be voted for

Right to own moveable and immovable property anywhere in Nigeria

Freedom of expression and the press

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2 thoughts on “Citizenship, Definition & Methods of Acquiring Citizenship”

    1. Citizenship by Birth
      Citizenship through marriage
      Citizenship by naturalization
      Citizenship by investment

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