Expats who have been living in the Netherlands for several years may be eligible to apply for Dutch citizenship (Nederlandse nationaliteit).
How to obtain Dutch citizenship
There are three ways to gain Dutch citizenship:
By means of naturalisation (naturalisatie)
You have lived in the Netherlands (or the Dutch Caribbean) for an uninterrupted five year period and you meet other conditions that are mentioned below.
By means of the option procedure (optieprocedure)
If you have continuously lived in the Netherlands since birth or early childhood, or if you meet other requirements that qualify you as eligible for the option procedure.
By law (by birth or family relations) (van rechtswege)
Dutch citizenship by naturalisation
Naturalisation is a way of gaining Dutch citizenship by means of an application process which takes approximately one year. The naturalisation procedure is the most common way for expats to apply for Dutch citizenship.
Requirements for Dutch citizenship by naturalisation
To be eligible for Dutch citizenship by naturalisation you must meet these conditions:
- You are more than 18 years old.
- You have lived legally in the Netherlands or the Dutch Caribbean (Bonaire, Saint Eustatius, Saba, Aruba, Curaçao or Saint Martin) for an uninterrupted five year period (some exceptions apply, see below).
- You hold a valid Dutch residence permit, or a residence permit for a non-temporary purpose.
- You can speak, read, write and understand Dutch. To prove this you must have passed the Dutch Civic Integration Exam at the A-2 level. Exceptions to this requirement are possible if you have already received an equivalent diploma such as the NT2 State Exam.
- You have not received a prison sentence, community training or fine of 810 euros or more in the last four years.
- You are willing to give up your current nationality (some exceptions apply, see section on dual nationality below). If you do not do this your new Dutch citizenship may be revoked.
- You must attend a citizenship ceremony at which you must declare your allegiance to the Netherlands.
Exceptions to the five year requirement
There are some exceptions to the five year residence requirement for naturalisation. You do not need to have lived in the Netherlands for a continuous five year period if one of the following applies:
- You are married to a Dutch citizen and you have been living together continuously for at least three years either in the Netherlands or abroad. This exception is also possible for unmarried partners.
- You are officially stateless and you have been legally living in the Netherlands for three years or more.
- 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.
- You previously held Dutch citizenship.
- You meet other parent-related requirements.
Dutch citizenship and dual nationality
When gaining Dutch citizenship internationals often have to give up their original citizenship(s) (afstand doen) because in many cases the Netherlands does not permit dual nationality. There are however, a number of exceptions to this rule, where dual citizenship is possible.
Cases when Dutch citizenship with dual nationality is possible
You do not need to give up your current citizenship if one the following applies:
- If you are married to, or a registered partner of, a Dutch citizen.
- If your country of origin does not allow you to cancel your citizenship.
- If your country of origin has rules that cause you to automatically lose your current nationality when you gain Dutch citizenship (by Dutch requirements you can only renounce your citizenship after you gain Dutch citizenship).
- If you are officially recognised as a refugee.
- If you have to pay a lot of money to authorities in your country of origin to renounce your citizenship (proof required).
- If you will lose certain rights, such as inheritance rights, in your country of origin (proof required).
- If you must complete or buy out your military service before being permitted to renounce your nationality (proof required).
- If you were born in the Netherlands or Dutch Carribean and you’re still living there when you apply for Dutch citizenship.
- If it is not possible to contact the authorities in your country of origin.
- If you object to renouncing your nationality for special and assessable reasons.
- If your country of origin is not recognised by the Netherlands.
If one of the above categories applies to you then it is essential to make it known when you submit your application. It is not possible to claim one of the exceptions after you have received Dutch citizenship.
Renouncing your nationality
If none of the previously mentioned categories applies to you then you will be required to give up your current nationality after you acquire Dutch citizenship. You will need to sign a declaration that you agree to renounce your current citizenship.
After you gain Dutch citizenship you must then submit an application to renounce your nationality or register a declaration of renunciation with the authorities in your country of origin (for example via a consulate or embassy). After this process is complete you must send a copy of the official declaration to the IND.
Application process for Dutch citizenship
If you want to apply for Dutch citizenship (Nederlanderschap aanvragen) and you fulfil the necessary requirements then you can visit your local municipality (gemeente) to submit an application and pay the application fee.
The application will be reviewed by the gemeente and then forwarded to the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND), accompanied by a recommendation. The entire application process can take up to one year.
If you have children under the age of 18 and you want them to have Dutch nationality then you must include them in your own application for Dutch nationality.
Documentation for Dutch citizenship application
The documents that you must provide for an application for Dutch citizenship by naturalisation are:
- Your valid travel document such as a passport.
- Your valid residence permit.
- Your birth certificate. This document may need to be legalised or bear an apostille stamp. If the certificate is not in Dutch, English, French or German then it will need to be translated.
- Your Civic Integration Exam certificate or other diploma (such as NT2).
Some additional documents may be required depending on your situation.
Dutch citizenship application costs
An application for Dutch citizenship by naturalisation for a single person costs 855 euros. A naturalisation request for multiple people (such as a family) costs 1.091 euros. Applying for Dutch citizenship via the option procedure has lower fees.
Outcome of the citizenship application
After they have considered your application the IND will send you the outcome via mail.
Dutch citizenship granted
If your application is successful then the IND will send confirmation of your citizenship. You will also receive 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 then you can also apply for a Dutch passport.
Dutch citizenship application rejected
If you do not fulfil the requirements then the IND may reject your citizenship application. You will receive a letter explaining the reasons. It may be possible to request the IND to review their decision if you think there are legal grounds for objection.
Proposed changes to Dutch naturalisation laws
Since 2013 the Dutch government has been considering changing the Dutch Citizenship Act. The amendments would extend the required residency period from five to seven years before being able to apply for citizenship by naturalisation.
As of December 2016, this amendment has not yet been approved and is currently being debated in the Senate. Unconfirmed reports suggest it may be introduced in April 2017.
An interim law would apply to migrants already legally living in the Netherlands for three years (uninterrupted) when the new law is introduced. These people would still fall under the old requirement term of five years to be eligible for naturalisation.
What rights come with Dutch citizenship?
When you become a Dutch citizen your status will be changed in the Basisregistratie personen (BRP). As a Dutch citizen you will gain the following rights:
- The ability to enter the Netherlands freely.
- The right to a Dutch passport.
- Ability to vote in Dutch national and provincial elections and to stand for election.
- The right to join the Dutch armed forces.
- Your children are also eligible for Dutch citizenship.
- Automatic EU citizenship.
- The ability to move and reside freely within the European Union.
- Ability to vote for the European Parliament.
Permanent residency in the Netherlands
If you do not want to give up your original citizenship but want to continue to live in the Netherlands then you may be able to apply for permanent residence instead. Permanent residence allows you to stay indefinitely in the Netherlands, with a number of conditions:
- You will need to renew your residence permit every five years.
- You are not permitted to vote in Dutch national or provincial elections (however you can vote in municipal elections).
- Your residency may be revoked if you move abroad or spend too much time outside the Netherlands.