What Does the Term NATIONALITÉ Mean in the French Passport – Nationality or Citizenship?

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Reading Time: 4 minutes


On December 20th, 2022, Georgian-language Facebook users and the Facebook account of the “Georgian Times” published a fragment of the “Timely Questions” program aired on December 5th. In the program, Rezo Mishveladze, writer and a member of the Parliament of the 5th convocation of Georgia, talked about the process of recording nationality in identity documents, including the passport, noting that Georgia is the only country whose nationality has been revoked in passports and other documents, because “Georgian nationality” is not indicated in any of them. The guest further claimed that the passport of other countries, for example, France, includes both citizenship and “French nationality.”

The claim that nationality and citizenship are two different columns in the French passport is false. In the passport of France and other EU countries, there is indeed a column – “Nationalité/Nationality”, although this term legally has the same meaning as “Citizenship” used in the Georgian passport. According to the GLOBALCIT dictionary, the terms nationality and citizenship refer to the same status and are, therefore, often used interchangeably.

The website of the European Council entails information and samples of visual materials about various documents valid within the member states of the European Union, including a photo of the first page of the French passport. One of the columns indeed features – Nationalité/Nationality, below which is indicated – Française or French. However, it is wrong to claim that the citizenship column is found separately in the passport.

Identical entries can be found in the passports of other EU countries. For example, next to Nationality in German and Italian passports, Staatsangehörigkeit and Cittadinanza, which also mean citizenship, are indicated in the original languages.

When it comes to the Georgian passport and identity card, the citizenship column is indicated by the term “Citizenship”, although legally, the Nationality written in the passports of France and other European Union countries has exactly the same status and meaning as the Citizenship used in the Georgian passport.

Photo: Legislative Herald of Georgia

მიგრაციის ევროპული ქსელის მიერ შემუშავებულ “ევროპაში მიგრაციასა და თავშესაფართან დაკავშირებული ტერმინების ლექსიკონში” “country of nationality” შემდეგნაირად არის განმარტებული: ქვეყანა (ან ქვეყნები), რომლის მოქალაქეობაც კონკრეტულ პირს აქვს მინიჭებული. ლექსიკონში ასევე აღნიშნულია, რომ შესაძლოა, პირის მოქალაქეობა (country of nationality) და წარმომავლობისა ან/და დაბადების ქვეყანა (country of origin, country of birth) ერთმანეთისგან განსხვავდებოდეს, მაგალითად, როცა ისინი მიიღებენ იმ ქვეყნის მოქალაქეობას, რომელშიც არ დაბადებულან.

The EMN Asylum and Migration Glossary defines country of nationality as follows: “The country (or countries) of which a person holds citizenship.“ The glossary also notes that a person may have a different country of nationality from their country of origin and/or country of birth owing, for example, to the acquisition of citizenship in a country different from their country of birth.

GLOBALCIT Glossary on Citizenship and Electoral Rights notes that citizenship is a legal status and relation between an individual and a state or other territorial polity (such as the European Union, a federal province, or only partially recognised states) that entails specific legal rights and duties. Citizenship of a state is generally used as a synonym for nationality. GLOBALCIT notes that “where citizenship is used in a meaning that is different from nationality, it refers to the legal rights and duties of individuals attached to nationality under domestic law. In some national laws, citizenship has a more specific meaning and refers to rights and duties that can only be exercised by nationals after the age of majority (such as voting rights) or to rights and duties that nationals can only exercise in the national territory.”

In addition, GLOBALCIT does not cover nationality in a non-legal sense, i.e. membership in a nation sharing a common history, culture, language or descent (which does not necessarily coincide with the totality of persons holding the nationality of a country in the legal sense defined above), or with nationality as referring to membership of a national minority living within a state and/or culturally linked to an external kin-state.

The issue of “nationality” in the Georgian identity documents

The issue mentioned by Rezo Mishveladze dates back to 1997, when the Parliament supported the abolition of the column ‘nationality’ in the Georgian citizen’s identity card. In the order of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, published in the Legislative Herald of Georgia, dated August 12th, 1997, it is mentioned that the column “Nationality” in the ID card would no longer be filled.

The column denoting nationality was removed from the identity documents by the amendments adopted on October 14th, 1998.

Rezo Mishveladze was one of those who opposed this decision and demanded the return of “nationality” in the ID card.

The far-right “Georgian March” party has been demanding the restoration of the nationality entry in the identity card for years. In 2018-2020, the members of the “Georgian March” held rallies and collected signatures for this request. In September 2020, they also applied to the Parliament for consideration of the draft law on the mentioned topic.

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Topic: Politics

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