Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Citizenship Definition:

The status of an individual as owing allegiance to, and enjoying the benefits of, a designated state.

Related Terms: Alien, State, Citizen Informant, Denaturalization

Legal status of an individual who enjoys the benefits of, and must respond to, the allegiance of a state. Citizenship is often acquired by birth within the territorial limits of the state.

There are many benefits of citizenship, one of the most basic being the right to move freely within, and to re-enter if they leave, the state which has recognized citizenship.

But there are also responsibilities as implied by Jean Jacques Rousseau in his book Social Contract (1762) when he wrote:

"We begin properly to become men only after we have become citizens."

Citizenship is typically evidenced by a passport issued by the state.

Citizenship obliges the individual towards a state in the payment of taxes and the provision of military duty. Citizenship benefits the individual in access to the state and public services it provides.

In Lavoie, Justice Wetson quoted these words:

"Citizenship is a juristic and political status in which an individual enjoys full, legally sanctioned membership in a state and owes full allegiance to it. All free and democratic states at all times have established a unique status of this kind and all such states have always accorded some special rights and privileges to their citizens. In all free and democratic states of which I am aware, citizens enjoy certain exclusive rights and privileges; these include the right to vote in national elections, the right to enter and reside at will, and preferential treatment in access to employment in the federal public service. Other rights and obligations that are commonly but perhaps not universally tied to citizenship concern jury service, military service, treatment under the tax laws, travel documents and procedures, access to public services, and immigration privileges for family members."

In Taylor, Justice Martineau wrote of the history of the legal term citizenship:

"[C]anadian citizenship represents a sharing of sovereignty and a social contract between individuals and our society as a whole. Citizenship is no longer viewed as a privilege. Practical benefits flow from this status, such as the right to vote, the right to enter or remain in Canada, and the right to travel abroad with a Canadian passport. Canadian citizens also enjoy privileged access to the Federal Public Service....

"In its original sense, the term citizen referred to a member of a free or jural society, who possessed all the rights and privileges that could be enjoyed by any person under its constitution and government....

"The concept of citizenship was revised during the later Middle Ages and the Renaissance to include membership in a free town or city ... the basic distinctions between citizens and others remained. Only citizens could participate fully in all aspects of community life."


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