AbstractThis article challenges the concept of de facto (by fact) statelessness, often conceptualised as ineffective citizenship, from being included within the statelessness discourse. This is done by considering the nexus between de jure (by law) statelessness and de facto citizenship. The argument that if someone can have citizenship that is so ineffective they are de facto stateless is extended to consider if a person can receive such effective ‘citizenship’, despite de jure statelessness, that they should be considered a de facto citizen, thus not stateless. By drawing upon the example of the stateless Estonians of Russian origin, the dangers of not recognising the centrality of the legal bond of citizenship, seen in attempts to incorporate de facto statelessness into the statelessness debate, are reflected upon. De facto ‘statelessness’ is shown not only to underutilise the plethora of human rights conventions available, but also to threaten the statelessness conventions themselves.