What Are the Duties of Citizens?

Updated April 17, 2017

The duties of a citizen vary widely from country to country and depend as well on the basic political structure of the country. For example, in India it is one of the duties of a citizen to promote women's equality; this is not considered a duty in Great Britain, however. The duties of citizens are usually outlined in a country's constitution along with the rights of the citizens. Despite some variations, there are five duties that apply to most citizens no matter what their country of origin. These duties include conscription, paying taxes, serving as jurors, voting and obeying the laws of the country.


Citizens of most countries are expected to serve in their country's military in times of need. It is considered a fundamental duty to protect your country and fellow citizens. This has been a basic duty of all political arrangements for thousands of years. Some countries, such as the United States, only require military service during times of war. Other countries, such as Israel, require citizens to serve in the military for a certain period of time during both war and peace time.


Another fundamental duty of all citizens is to support their countries financially. This is generally done through the paying of taxes, often a percentage of one's paycheck, or a tax levied on certain goods and services. Taxes pay for things that benefit all citizens such as military defence, transportation or education. Like military service, the concept of taxation is very old. Although many citizens grumble about paying taxes, it is to everyone's benefit.

Jury Duty

Jury duty requires those of legal age to serve as jurors during criminal and civil trials. Jurors help decide the fates of their fellow citizens who may have harmed someone or otherwise broken a law. Jury duty is generally mandatory; however, there are exceptions, especially for those who are unable to serve due to health or financial reasons. As with taxes, many citizens complain about jury duty. For many countries, however, being judged by a jury of your peers is a fundamental right of citizenship. To keep this right, serving as a juror is something every citizen must do.


Voting to choose your leaders is both a duty and a freedom for citizens. Being allowed and encouraged to choose political leaders is a relatively new concept and voting for these leaders is a necessity in order to maintain this right. Many people fought and died in order to promote this right, and voting in all elections, both big and small, local and national is the duty of every citizen of a free country.

Obeying Laws

The final duty of most citizens is to obey the laws of their countries. For most people, this is only natural and right, and laws that cover basic issues such as the right to private property or the right to live without fear of physical harm go uncontested. Occasionally, however, citizens realise that some of the laws of their country are immoral or unethical and they will knowingly break those laws in order to force a change. This was the situation in the 1960s in America, and many citizens of the United States broke laws based on racial inequality in order to get those laws repealed.

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About the Author

Rebecca Grieser has been writing both fiction and nonfiction since she was in her teens and began writing professionally for eHow in 2009. She is currently completing her doctorate in English literature and holds a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Arts, both in English. She has also taught college-level writing courses for over five years.