Fact Checked

What is State Citizenship?

Pablo Garcia
Pablo Garcia

Under the US Constitution, state citizenship is citizenship under one of the states of the US that confers rights protected under the constitution of that state that cannot be taken away. Any person born or naturalized in the US is a citizen of the US and the state in which she resides. Being a citizen of a state gives the citizen certain rights and privileges but also imposes legal obligations particular to that state.

The Constitution permits US citizens to travel freely between states and to reside in any state they choose. Becoming the citizen of a state is mainly a matter of a person’s intent to reside there. State citizenship requires that a person has a residence in a particular state and intends to use that residence as her home. Property ownership or mere physical residence in a state does not make a person a citizen of that state.

The Constitution permits US citizens to travel freely between states and to reside in any state they choose.
The Constitution permits US citizens to travel freely between states and to reside in any state they choose.

For instance, a person leaving the State of California for the purpose of a summer job in the State of Utah does not become a citizen of Utah by virtue of residing there for her summer job. However, if she decides this state is where she wants to live, residing there the amount of time specified under Utah law will make her a Utah citizen. The required length of residency necessary to become a state citizen will vary by jurisdiction.

There is no legal status of “dual” state citizenship. In the US, a person who resides in one state may own property in another where she spends time part of the year. However, a person’s residency is where she considers her home to be, the place to which she returns after an absence. Legally, this is where she is “domiciled.” A person can only be domiciled in one place at a time.

State citizenship confers many rights and benefits. Among them are the protections of the state constitution, the right to vote in state elections and run for public office, access to public education and to public benefits like food and housing assistance. State licensure is available to practice a chosen profession within a state.

With state citizenship comes the obligation to obey the laws of the state, which can vary dramatically from those of other states. For instance, a citizen of the State of New Mexico can carry a handgun. A citizen of the State of New York cannot. Civil laws also vary among states. For instance, state tax laws are different in each jurisdiction, as are marriage and family laws.

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Discussion Comments


I find it to be real interesting when there are instances along the state line in which someone gets sent over to another state, as the line changes, and they have to change their residency and adjust to all the differences in state aid.

I know this seems like a really odd occurrence, but in reality it does happen every so often, most particularly with single houses near the state line, but once in a while it happens to an entire community.

I heard of a town of about one hundred people in North Carolina that had to become residents of Virginia, due to a mistake with the state line that had been in place for two hundred years.

These types of mistakes make it tough on a person because state residency changes can greatly affect people and cause quite a bit of paper work in order to figure out the appropriate changes that need to be made.


@cardsfan27 - I really do not know how to answer that question, but I would say that it would be totally unfair for someone to have to pay both, so I am sure that there are federal laws in place that cover that type of situation.

I will say, as far as other professions go, I know that there are some states, particularly California, that if you are a professional athlete, they have to pay state taxes, based on their yearly salary for the games they played in the state.

These types of situations are really quirky and I really have to think that there are a lot of contradictions in laws that constantly conflict with each other at the state level.


@titans62 - I know exactly what you are talking about. I work in Illinois, but live in Indiana and I am forced to pay both state taxes and I receive the Illinois portion back at the end of tax season.

If I were to work in another state, and still live in Indiana though, I would not have to pay both of these taxes.

This shows the differences between the state citizenship laws in regards to residency. But, one question that I really have is if I were to have a residence in both of the states will I still have to pay taxes in both states at the end of the year and will I be able to reclaim any?


With the last part concerning hand guns I know for a fact that people have gotten into a lot of trouble for owning a hand gun after they have moved to a state where they are illegal from a state that was not as strict on their gun laws.

However, despite some serious differences, such as this, there are not a whole lot of differences as far as residency goes between the states other than a variation of the laws that someone will simply have to learn to abide by if they were to move.

The same goes for working as a person will have to adjust to the laws of their residency if they were to work in one state and live in another state. I know in my state that one has to pay both state income taxes and they will get what they paid back at the end of the year for the state that they do not live in.

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    • The Constitution permits US citizens to travel freely between states and to reside in any state they choose.
      By: milosluz
      The Constitution permits US citizens to travel freely between states and to reside in any state they choose.