Becoming a Dutch Citizen – How to Apply for Dutch Citizenship6 min read
Individuals who have resided in the Netherlands as ex-pats for a number of years might qualify to request Dutch citizenship (Nederlandse nationaliteit).
Acquiring Dutch citizenship can be accomplished through one of three methods.
One way to obtain Dutch citizenship is through naturalisation, which involves meeting specific requirements. These requirements include having lived in the Netherlands or the Dutch Caribbean for a consecutive five-year period and satisfying other conditions, which are described below.
Another option to gain Dutch citizenship is through the option procedure (optieprocedure). To qualify for the option procedure, you must have lived continuously in the Netherlands since birth or early childhood or meet other requirements that deem you eligible for the procedure.
Dutch citizenship can also be acquired by law (van rechtswege) through birth or family relations.
If you were born to a Dutch mother or father, if your Dutch father recognizes paternity, or if you were adopted by Dutch parents, then you are eligible to apply for Dutch citizenship by law.
Dutch citizenship can also be obtained through the process of naturalisation.
This involves submitting an application, which typically takes around one year to process. The naturalisation procedure is the most popular route for expats seeking Dutch citizenship.
Obtaining Dutch citizenship through naturalisation requires meeting certain eligibility requirements.
These include being over 18 years old, having legally resided in the Netherlands or Dutch Caribbean for an uninterrupted period of five years, holding a valid Dutch or non-temporary purpose residence permit, and being able to speak, read, write, and understand Dutch at an A-2 level, which can be proven by passing the Dutch Civic Integration Exam. Exceptions to the language proficiency requirement are possible if you have an equivalent diploma such as the NT2 State Exam. Additionally, applicants cannot have received a prison sentence, community training, or a fine of 810 euros or more in the last four years, and must be willing to give up their current nationality, unless exceptions apply. Finally, applicants must attend a citizenship ceremony where they declare their allegiance to the Netherlands.
There are several exceptions to the five year residence requirement for naturalisation in the Netherlands.
If you fall under any of these categories, you may not need to have lived in the Netherlands for a continuous five year period:
- If you are married to a Dutch citizen and have been living together continuously for at least three years either in the Netherlands or abroad. This exception may also apply to unmarried partners.
- If you are officially stateless and have been legally living in the Netherlands for three years or more.
- If you have lived in the Netherlands for a duration of 10 years with a valid residence permit, of which the last two years were continuous.
- If you previously held Dutch citizenship.
- If you meet other parent-related requirements.
Dutch law generally does not allow dual citizenship, meaning that when someone becomes a Dutch citizen, they are required to give up their original citizenship. However, there are a few exceptions to this rule. These include:
There are certain cases in which you may be eligible for Dutch citizenship with dual nationality, and you would not need to give up your current citizenship. These cases include:
- If you are married to or in a registered partnership with a Dutch citizen.
- If your country of origin does not permit you to renounce your citizenship.
- If your country of origin has regulations that automatically cause you to lose your citizenship upon gaining Dutch citizenship, and Dutch law requires you to wait until after gaining Dutch citizenship before renouncing your previous citizenship.
- If you are officially recognised as a refugee.
- If renouncing your citizenship would require paying a substantial sum of money to authorities in your country of origin (proof required).
- If renouncing your citizenship would result in losing certain rights, such as inheritance rights, in your country of origin (proof required).
- If renouncing your citizenship would require completing or buying out military service in your country of origin (proof required).
- If you were born in the Netherlands or Dutch Caribbean and are still living there when you apply for Dutch citizenship.
- If it is impossible to contact the authorities in your country of origin.
- If you have compelling reasons to object to renouncing your nationality.
- If your country of origin is not recognised by the Netherlands.
It is important to note that you must indicate that you fall under one of these categories when submitting your citizenship application, and you cannot claim an exception after receiving Dutch citizenship.
If you do not meet the exceptions mentioned earlier, then obtaining Dutch citizenship will require you to relinquish your current nationality. This involves signing a declaration stating your agreement to renounce your current citizenship.
Once you have acquired Dutch citizenship, you will need to apply to renounce your nationality or register a declaration of renunciation with the relevant authorities in your country of origin, typically through a consulate or embassy. After completing the process, you must send a copy of the official declaration to the IND.
If you meet the necessary requirements and wish to apply for Dutch citizenship (Nederlanderschap aanvragen), you can visit your local municipality (gemeente) to submit an application and pay the application fee.
The gemeente will review your application and forward it to the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND), along with a recommendation. The entire application process typically takes up to one year.
If you have children under the age of 18 whom you want to have Dutch nationality, you must include them in your own application for Dutch citizenship.
To apply for Dutch citizenship by naturalisation, you need to provide certain documentsincluding a valid travel document (e.g., passport), a valid residence permit, and your birth certificate. The birth certificate may require legalisation or an apostille stamp, and if it is not in Dutch, English, French, or German, a translation will be necessary. Additionally, you will need to provide a Civic Integration Exam certificate or another diploma to demonstrate proficiency in Dutch. Depending on your circumstances, you may also be asked to submit additional documents.
The cost of an application for Dutch citizenship by naturalisation for a single person is 970 euros (2023), while the cost for a naturalisation request with a partner is 1,238 euros (2023). However, the fees for applying for Dutch citizenship via the option procedure are lower.
After considering your application, the IND will notify you of the outcome via mail. If your application is successful, you will receive confirmation of your Dutch citizenship and an invitation from your gemeente to attend a compulsory citizenship ceremony where you will receive your Dutch nationality certificate (bewijs van Nederlanderschap). At the ceremony, you must declare your allegiance to the Netherlands in Dutch. Once you have Dutch citizenship, you can also apply for a Dutch passport.
In the event that you do not meet the requirements for Dutch citizenship, the IND may reject your application, and you will receive a letter explaining the reasons. If you believe there are legal grounds for objection, it may be possible to request the IND to review their decision.
What are the entitlements and privileges associated with Dutch citizenship?
If you are granted Dutch citizenship, your status will be updated in the Basisregistratie Personen (BRP), and you will be entitled to the following rights:
- The freedom to enter the Netherlands without any restrictions.
- The right to obtain a Dutch passport.
- The right to vote in Dutch national and provincial elections, as well as to run for office.
- The right to join the Dutch armed forces.
- The possibility for your children to acquire Dutch citizenship.
- Automatic European Union (EU) citizenship.
- The freedom to move and reside freely within the EU.
- The right to vote in European Parliament elections.
If you prefer to keep your original citizenship but still wish to reside in the Netherlands, you have the option to apply for permanent residency. With permanent residency, you can stay in the country for an unlimited time, provided that you meet certain requirements:
- You must renew your residence permit every five years.
- You cannot participate in national or provincial elections but you are allowed to vote in municipal elections.
- Your residency may be terminated if you relocate abroad or spend too much time outside of the Netherlands.