Many are failing or skipping the Dutch civic integration exam

Many are failing or skipping the Dutch civic integration exam

The Dutch government has recently expressed concern about the low number of new arrivals to the Netherlands who take and pass the required inburgeringsexamen.

Out of the 53.000 people who became inburgeringsplichtig (required to pass the civic integration exam) in 2013, 2014 and 2015, 47.000 still need to pass the exam.

Among other things, it is necessary to pass the civic integration exam (or achieve an equivalent diploma) to be eligible for Dutch citizenship.

Dutch Minister for Social Affairs Lodewijk Asscher has informed the Tweede Kamer that the issue needs to be investigated, the Volkskrant reports. One measure he wants to take is to create stricter guidelines for the providers of inburgerings courses, the preparatory class that is supposed to make people ready to pass the exam.

The invitation letter to the exam, which is in Dutch, will soon also be posted online in 34 languages.

Three years to pass inburgeringsexamen

Once you become inburgeringsplichtig in the Netherlands, you have three years to pass the exam. For those who reached that status in 2013, that period has or will soon pass.

40 percent failed to pass exam

Half of the people who were required to pass the test by the first quarter of 2016, had not done so by April 1, according to Assher. Out of this group, 40 percent took the exam but failed. The rest did not take the test.

The worst-performing demographic are asylum seekers, mainly due to lack of sufficient support. Migrants with family already in the Netherlands typically do better on the exam.

Consequences for not passing the test

Malik Azmani of the VVD has asked Asscher to look into punishing those who wilfully do not take the civic integration exam. Options include withholding unemployment benefits or not extending temporary residence permits.

Peter Heerma of the CDA wants to take it one step further and kick out the people who by their own fault don’t pass the test.

Ahmed Marcouch of the PvdA calls for more active guidance of newcomers and a more comprehensive process of integration that extends beyond just an exam.

Thomas Lundberg


Thomas Lundberg

Born as a Swede in the Netherlands, this life-long expat has spent his time in Belgium, the United States and Amsterdam. He began his professional career as a regional news...

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Umair Ahmad 16:54 | 4 April 2018

You don't get unemployment allowance if you are not citizen nor you can claim any other funds. The whole A2 level integration exam is a joke, especially the writing test. I think govt need to adopt their procedure according to level of people. DO highly educated people really benefit from learning " how to write a letter to dentist or to their boss when they are working for a multinational"

TerryAdams 14:24 | 6 November 2018

I am an American, living in the Netherlands on a temporary resident permit expiring in Feb. 2019. I am now married to a Dutch man, however understand this has no bearing on taking the Inburgering courses. I also own a Dutch company. I have already paid a 1200 euro fine for not taking the exam in 3 years. In February 2019 I will need to renew my permit. I am currently waiting on schedule my Exams. I know I can pass the listening and reading exam, however I also know that I will not be able to pass the speaking and writing as our business in International and I speak, read, and write English all day. Does anyone know what will happen in this case if you can not pass all of the test before my resident permit expires? Any advise would be greatly appreciated.

Ashley Bess-Bishop 11:55 | 14 January 2019

Where you able to find an answer to this?

TerryAdams 12:25 | 4 March 2019

No answers yet. I did indeed pass all but my speaking exam with 9's and 10's, but a 4 on my speaking exam. I just received my test results last week and now waiting to sign up for the 2nd time, however it is not possible at the moment as it appears that they are currently setting up a new schedule. My expiration date is the end of April, so I'm not sure if they will fine me again if I don't pass. My permit was renewed for another 5 years, so that one is done. Now it's just a matter of my last exam and how I can get through it without more fines! Do you have any experience with the DUO fining system? Thanks, Terry

ManoranjanMishra2 20:56 | 14 November 2023

Can someone help in answering? As I understand if you’re obligated to integrate then you have 3 years to pass the exam. If you can not pass then you get a fine decided by DUO which also gives 2 years extra time to pass exam. What if you still did not pass in these 2 years?