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Denizen vs. Citizen: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Updated on December 13, 2023
A denizen is an inhabitant or occupant of a particular place, while a citizen is a legally recognized subject or national of a state or commonwealth.

Key Differences

A denizen refers broadly to any person, animal, or plant that lives or is found in a specific place, indicating residency without implying legal status. In contrast, a citizen specifically denotes a person who is legally recognized by a state or nation, with associated rights and obligations.
The concept of a denizen encompasses a wider range of inhabitants, including temporary residents or even wildlife, without any legal connotations. Conversely, citizenship is a legal status, often entailing the right to vote, work, and receive government services and protection.
Denizenship is a more inclusive term, applicable to all living entities in a locale, emphasizing presence rather than legal status. Citizenship, however, entails a legal bond between an individual and a state, often accompanied by specific civic duties and privileges.
The term denizen does not inherently imply nationality or legal rights, but rather, a presence or residency in a place. Citizenship, on the other hand, is a legal identity, often acquired by birth, naturalization, or descent, defining a person's relationship with a state.
Denizens can be considered members of a community or ecosystem, without the necessity of legal recognition. Citizens, in contrast, are members of a political entity, with rights and responsibilities defined by the laws of the state.

Comparison Chart


An inhabitant or occupant of a particular place.
A legally recognized subject or national of a state.


Broad, includes people, animals, plants.
Limited to people with legal status.

Legal Status

Does not imply legal rights or obligations.
Implies legal rights and obligations.


Can be temporary or permanent, not legally bound.
Legal bond, often permanent, with specific obligations.


Not related to nationality.
Often related to nationality and legal identity.

Denizen and Citizen Definitions


An occupant or frequenter of a particular social or physical environment.
She became a familiar denizen of the downtown art galleries.


A legally recognized subject or national of a state.
As a citizen of France, she could vote in the national elections.


A resident or inhabitant of a particular place.
The kangaroos are natural denizens of the Australian outback.


A person who legally belongs to a country and has the rights and protection of that country.
Citizenship granted him the right to work and reside permanently in the country.


A foreigner allowed certain rights in their adopted country.
As a denizen in Canada, he enjoyed many civic amenities.


A native or naturalized member of a state or other political community.
After years of residence, she became a naturalized citizen of her adopted country.


A person who regularly frequents a place.
He was a denizen of the local coffee shop, known by all the baristas.


An inhabitant of a city or town, especially one entitled to civic privileges.
The citizens of the small town banded together to clean up the park.


A plant or animal naturalized in a region.
Tulips are denizens of many European gardens, despite their Asian origin.


A person considered in terms of their contribution to their society or community.
He was a good citizen, always helping his neighbors and participating in community events.


An inhabitant; a resident
Denizens of Buenos Aires.
Turtles and other swamp denizens.


A person owing loyalty to and entitled by birth or naturalization to the protection of a state or nation.


One that frequents a particular place
A bar and its denizens.
Denizens of the deep sea.


A resident of a city or town, especially one entitled to vote and enjoy other privileges there.


Can denizen status lead to citizenship?

Not directly; denizen status doesn't confer legal rights towards citizenship.

Can a denizen be a non-human entity?

Yes, denizens can be animals, plants, or even inanimate objects occupying a space.

Are the rights of denizens and citizens the same?

No, denizens don't have the legal rights and protections that citizens do.

Is citizenship always permanent?

Generally, yes, but it can be revoked under extreme circumstances.

Can tourists be considered denizens?

Temporarily, yes, as they are inhabitants of the place they visit.

Are children born to foreign parents in a country automatically citizens?

This depends on the country's laws; some grant citizenship by birth, others don't.

Are refugees considered citizens or denizens?

Refugees are usually considered denizens until they obtain citizenship.

Does a citizen need a visa to travel abroad?

It depends on the destination country and the agreements with the citizen's home country.

Does a denizen pay taxes?

It depends on their legal status and the country's laws.

Does being a citizen automatically make one a denizen?

Yes, a citizen, by definition, is also a denizen of their country.

Can a person be a denizen without being a citizen?

Yes, one can be a denizen (resident) of a country without having citizenship.

Do all denizens have a right to work?

No, the right to work is usually a privilege granted to citizens or specific visa holders.

Can denizens own property?

In many countries, yes, but there may be restrictions compared to citizens.

Can denizens serve in the military?

This varies by country; some allow it under specific conditions.

Can a person have dual citizenship and denizenship?

Yes, a person can have dual citizenship and be a denizen in multiple places.

Is a driver's license proof of citizenship?

No, a driver's license only proves identity and the ability to drive, not citizenship.

Do citizens have an obligation to serve on juries?

In countries with jury systems, this is often a civic duty of citizens.

Can a citizen lose their status by living abroad?

Typically, no, but long absences can affect certain civic rights like voting.

Can a denizen vote in elections?

Usually, no; voting rights are typically reserved for citizens.

Is passport ownership exclusive to citizens?

Generally, yes, as passports are issued by national governments to their citizens.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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