Dutch citizenship

How to get Dutch citizenship

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Here is our guide to obtaining citizenship in the Netherlands, and the conditions required to apply for Dutch citizenship.

There are several conditions under which a foreigner can claim Dutch citizenship. In general, many foreigners are eligible to apply for Dutch citizenship after living in the Netherlands for at least three or five years – depending on their individual situation – or less if they have close family ties in the Netherlands. A person's individual circumstances will dictate which conditions and documents are required for applying Dutch citizenship.

If you don't qualify for Dutch citizenship you could consider Dutch or European permanent residence, also available to foreigners after five years of residence (or less in some cases), which allow you to live indefinitely in the Netherlands without requiring a work permit, although with less rights than Dutch citizenship.

Permanent residence versus Dutch citizenship

Both Dutch citizenship and Dutch permanent residence allow you to stay in the Netherlands indefinitely, although a permanent residence must be renewed every five years. Similar to Dutch citizenship, with a Dutch permanent residence permit you are free on the Dutch labour market, meaning you no longer need a work permit.

Certain social and civic rights are only offered to those that become Dutch citizens, for example voting, although foreigners are typically required to renounce their own citizenship before they can become a Dutch citizen, although dual nationality is allowed in certain cases (see below).

How to get Dutch citizenship

There are two principal ways to acquire Dutch citizenship:

  • Option procedure
  • Naturalisation procedure


If you have birth or family ties to the Netherlands – such as you were born in the Netherlands or have a Dutch parent (including adoptions and children born abroad) – you can also qualify for citizenship if you meet the IND's requirements.

Option procedure

The option procedure is the easiest way, so it is worth initially seeing if you qualify for this process. Applying for citizenship via this route has certain advantages over the naturalisation procedure, such as:

  • there are less requirements to apply;
  • the process is usually quicker, taking up to three months instead of one year;
  • fees are cheaper than the naturalisation application.


To apply, you must firstly hold a valid residence document. Then you must belong to one of the following categories:

  • You have lived in the Netherlands or a Dutch territory for all or the majority of your life.
  • You have been married to or lived with a Dutch citizen for at least three years and have lived in the Netherlands for 15 years continuously.
  • You are over 65 and have lived in the Netherlands for at least 15 years.
  • One of your parents or legal guardians is Dutch and you have lived with them in the Netherlands for at least three years prior to your application.


Read the full list of the IND's requirements. The option procedure typically takes around three months.

Naturalisation procedure

The alternate citizenship procedure is to apply on the basis of naturalisation. Again, you must have a valid residence permit, but must also meet the following conditions:

  • You must be an adult (18 years and over).
  • You have either: lived in the Netherlands for an uninterrupted period of five years with a valid residence permit; been married to a Dutch national or lived with a Dutch national for three continuous years (including abroad); or you have resided in the Netherlands with a valid residence permit for a period of 10 years, with at least the last two years continuously.
  • You are sufficiently integrated in Dutch society and are able to read, write, speak and understand Dutch. You must prove this by taking a civic integration examination, and must pass the A2-level. If you have attained another diploma or degree (in Dutch) you can be eligible for an exemption.
  • In the last four years you have not been subject to a custodial sentence, training order, community service order or large financial penalty (more than EUR 810).
  • You are prepared to renounce your current nationality. If you do not do this your Dutch citizenship may be withdrawn (although some exceptions exist for dual nationality).
  • You have a valid permanent residence permit or a valid residence permit for a non-temporary purpose, for example, family reunification.


Applications on the basis of naturalisation take approximately one year.

Applying for Dutch citizenship

Applications are made via your local municipality, where you will have to pay the fees upfront. The municipality will check your details and send your request with a recommendation from the mayor to the IND. The IND then investigates whether you can become a Dutch citizen.

Documents required:

  • Passport
  • Residence permit
  • Birth certificate and those of your children (if applicable)
  • Marriage certificate (if applicable)
  • Civic integration certificate or other diploma.


Dutch citizenship for children

If you have children who are under 16, they can become Dutch citizens upon naturalisation if they have lived in the Netherlands for the previous three years and held a valid residence permit. You must include their application with your own.

Once a child reaches 18 they must request naturalisation. This should be taken into consideration for children aged 17 whose application might be void if they turn 18 before their citizenship is approved, as processing time is estimated at one year.

Civic Integration examination

Acquiring Dutch citizenship via naturalisation requires you to demonstrate that you have integrated into Dutch society. This means being able to speak, read, write and understand Dutch reasonably well and being able to successfully live in Dutch society.

The language level required is A2, which would allow you to have conversations with neighbours, purchase items in shops, be able to understand the majority of news reports and write a short business letter. Once you have passed the examination you will receive a Civic Integration Certificate, which you can submit with your naturalisation application.

Almost everyone who wishes to become a Dutch citizen must take the integration examination. There are some exceptions to this, namely those who can demonstrate that they have attained sufficient knowledge of Dutch.

You might be exempt if you have a undertaken:

  • a state examination – this is an examination at a higher level than the integration examination, which provides access to university or higher professional education.
  • upper senior vocational education with language skills provision – this is language support for people who take an upper senior vocational educational programme in the Netherlands.
  • any form of secondary education, vocational education, professional education or university course, provided the teaching was provided in the Dutch language.


You can read the IND's full requirements and exemptions here.

Renouncing your nationality

You will usually have to give up your current nationality in order to become a Dutch citizen, although there are some exceptions in the following situations:

  • Your country’s legislation does not allow you to give up your nationality.
  • You are married to or are the registered partner of a Dutch citizen.
  • You are a recognised refugee.
  • You cannot be expected to contact the authorities in the country of which you are a national.
  • You have special and objectively assessable reasons for not renouncing your nationality.
  • You are a national of a state that is not recognised by the Netherlands.  
  • In order to renounce your current nationality you will have to pay a large sum of money to the authorities in your country. You must be able to demonstrate this.
  • By renouncing your nationality you would lose certain rights, which would cause you serious financial losses. This could include consequences in terms of inheritance law. You must be able to demonstrate this.
  • Before you can renounce your nationality you have to fulfill (or buy out) your military service. You must be able to demonstrate this. 


Costs of Dutch citizenship

Fees for 2016:

  • by option: EUR 179 per person
  • by naturalisation: EUR 840


Lower fees apply for children, multiple requests and refugees.

Application fees are typically reviewed at the beginning of the year and/or mid-year. You can check the latest fees.

Successful applicants: the naturalisation ceremony

If your application is successful, you can only become a Dutch national once you have attended a naturalisation ceremony that includes a solidarity declaration. This states the freedoms and rights of Dutch citizenship and also the obligations and duties, and you need to declare (in Dutch) your allegiance to uphold Dutch law.

It is compulsory to attend the ceremony – those who fail to do so will have to apply for citizenship all over again. The ceremony is an annual event, held on 15 December. At the ceremony, you will be handed a declaration of your approved Dutch citizenship, after which you will use to apply for your Dutch passport.

Outcome of Dutch citizenship

You will also be recorded as a Dutch national in the Municipal Administration (BRP). You can then vote for parliament and obtain a Dutch passport, thus allowing you to travel freely throughout the EU and Schengen countries.

Unsuccessful applicants: Filing an appeal

If your application is rejected you can register an objection with the IND.

 

Expatica

The information is for guidance only and you should seek specific advice from the Dutch embassy or consulate in your home country.

Expatica Ask the Expert
Need advice? Post your question on Expatica's Ask the Expert service to see if we can help. 


Updated 2016.

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18 Comments To This Article

  • Sara posted:

    on 22nd October 2016, 00:17:38 - Reply

    Hi, I have a question about naturalisation. I am studying in the Netherlands. There is no interruption in my residence permit but I was outside the Netherlands for few months for field work. Does this interruption affect my naturalisation process?
    Thanks

    [Moderator's note: You can also post questions on our Ask the Expert free service.]

  • Bianca posted:

    on 27th July 2016, 17:45:59 - Reply

    I am South African, my husband is Dutch and we reside in the UK. I thought I could apply for Dutch Nationality after 3 years however I see one of the requirements is "You have a valid permanent residence permit or a valid residence permit for a non-temporary purpose, for example, family reunification." If we reside in the UK, I wont have a Dutch residence permit. Does this mean I can no longer apply from abroad? I swear this was different last year as I was told I could apply from the UK

    [Moderator's note: You can also post questions on our Ask the Expert service.]

  • Carolina posted:

    on 12th April 2016, 10:26:27 - Reply

    Hi, I have just received the confirmation from the gemeente that the King approved my naturalisation application and they have invited me to come to the gemeente to do some paperwork? However they also stated that the naturalisation ceremony is held in December which is 8 months from now.. would I be getting the nationality before that???!! I'm really worried.Thanks for the advice

    [Moderator's note: You can also post questions on our Ask the Expert free service.]

  • ousama posted:

    on 21st October 2015, 09:44:33 - Reply

    I was born in the hage, The Netherlands. However both my parents are sudanies and we've lived in holland about three years . I am interested in applying for a citizenship in holland, how hard is the process if I was born there?

    [Moderator's note: You can also post questions on Ask the Expert service]

  • ousama posted:

    on 21st October 2015, 10:44:05 - Reply

    do you Received any replay about this issue
  • Roxanne posted:

    on 25th September 2015, 10:45:30 - Reply

    Hello everyone.. I would like to ask about my situation. I am an aupair and have a Dutvh boyfriend. We are planning to get married before my temporary residency expires Feb 2016. Can we apply to get married and have to apply for a change of purpose of stay for me? Or first is change my pupose of stay and get married? btw I will finish my aupair contract so is this possible to get married?
    Pls someone enlighten me. Thank you =)

    [Moderator's note: Please post questions on our Ask the Expert service]

  • Riana posted:

    on 19th August 2015, 14:53:57 - Reply

    DUTCH CITIZENSHIP/PASPORT
    Good afternoon

    I have been searching the web for answer but arenow more confused than ever.
    1. I am a SA citizen, married, born in 1964. My farther is a Dutch ciziten and resides inHoevelaken(pension). He was born in the Netherlands, came to SA with his parents after World War 2. They went back to the Netherlands in the 90's were he worked for the Evangelishe Omroep and other institutions untill retirement at approx 72. He is now 76. Both him and my mother- now also a Dutch citizen- are still alive. I also have a brother and sister inthe Netherlands. Both obtained citizenship.

    2. Will I be able to obtain perminent residence or citizenship for myself and my husband. If possible what is the application procedures.

    Motivation:
    1. Both my parents are frail. My farther is diagnosed with cancer and advanced MNS.
    2. Myself and my husband has a registered business in SA (Ri Ri Foods) and feel that our skills as caterers and tourism guides may be of use.
    3. My parents have 5 children...all born in SA. I am however the only one still in SA.

    Due to the state of my parents health...distance from my family and feelings/fears of insecurity in SA both myself and my husband Douglas Wagner are weighing our options.

    Currently we reside in Graskop, Mpumalanga.

    Your assistance will be greatly appreciated. Directing me to the correct persons or channels I should follow.

    Kind regards
    Riana Wagner

    [Moderator's note: Please post questions on our Ask the Expert service]

  • Pranav posted:

    on 21st July 2015, 03:35:21 - Reply

    I was born in Heelen, The Netherlands. However both my parents are indian and we've lived in the US 95% of my life. I am interested in applying for a citizenship in holland, how hard is the process if I was born there?
  • Expatica posted:

    on 14th May 2015, 16:37:44 - Reply

    The Dutch regulations for qualifying for citizenship have changed slightly, but the 10-year condition is still offered under the naturalisation procedure, according to the IND.

  • Chris posted:

    on 9th May 2015, 19:13:34 - Reply

    I can't find the condition "You have lived in the Netherlands for 10 years, the last two continuously" anywhere in the latest information from the IND. https://ind.nl/Documents/5013.pdf

  • Camilo posted:

    on 21st April 2015, 15:10:05 - Reply

    After living in the Netherlands for 10 years it's not an examination required or in other words to speak and write Dutch?
  • Elly posted:

    on 5th August 2014, 03:52:58 - Reply

    Does anyone know what hoops I have to jump to move back to the Netherlands. All my family lives there. I was born in Amsterdam and left in 1967 with my Mom and Dad also born in the Netjerlands. I would like to move back and be with my family. I speak fluent Dutch am 59 and dont intent to work there. I will be retired. In 1974 I finished my Havo 4.
  • Daniele posted:

    on 22nd May 2014, 10:21:24 - Reply

    What about EU citizens? I hold Italian passport and I lived in Netherlands for 8 years. Can I get Dutch passport? Thanks

    [Moderator's note: You can post questions to our 'Ask the Expert' service]

  • Kevin posted:

    on 4th April 2014, 18:50:40 - Reply

    Hi there I am living there almost 8 year and I have living together with my girl since 5 year and I applied my citizen but they refuge what to do now any suggestion me?

    [Moderator's note: You can post questions to our 'Ask the Expert' service]

  • Liandra posted:

    on 3rd May 2013, 21:40:20 - Reply

    Best off with the Blue Card- it gives you access to all social benefits anyway, and indeed it will stop the Dutch tax from haunting you to death. Besides, who wants to end up living in the country where it is apparently completely legal to 'bully' anybody who is an expat, even when they are highly skilled. Ever checked on our beloved Mr Wilders with his expat bullying website polenmeldpunt.nl ? You would be surprised how mainstream his thoughts are. To the point that you stand virtually no chance to ever make it to managerial level, even after you are naturalized AND speak fluently Dutch. The fact that you aren't BORN Dutch is the sole criterion on which your entire promotion will be based. Consider reading the Xenophobe's guide for Holland on expatica website, it will surely let you appreciate places like the UK with its relaxed expats approach. Good luck! [Edited by moderator]
  • Roy posted:

    on 10th April 2013, 12:55:37 - Reply

    Yes, there is usually an 'exit tax' for the country you give up your citizenship.

    But more importantly, there is an 'exit tax' too for the Netherlands, and new passport holders: any dutch (including naturalized ones) who die both inside, and, outside the netherlands, and hold -worldwide- assets when they die will be liable for steep Inheritance tax. Now, many don't know, but if you retain your french or usa passport, and only request the Blue Card of EU (instead of requesting a passport), then the dutch tax man is NOT ALLOWED TO HAUNT you down for inheritance tax :)

    It is unfair, but an english man who dies outside Netherlands (he could be retired in thailand) is NOT taxed by the dutch....whereas a dutch national IS taxed (even after leaving the netherlands)

    I never requested a dutch passport, because it will cost me and my future generations way too much inheritance tax money. The Blue card already gives you plenty of entitlements - including the social system access - so why request a passport of a country that will drain your family financially?

    so, hold on to your expat status. At least you can 'get out' without too much bills to pay on your way out :)
  • MM posted:

    on 6th February 2013, 23:31:34 - Reply

    "In order to renounce your current nationality you will have to pay a large sum of money to the authorities in your country. You must be able to demonstrate this."

    Aha, haven't realized it before but this means Americans should be able to get dual citizenship, since 2008 there's been an exit or expat tax if you do renounce your citizenship, based on all your assets up until the point you want to renounce.

    I wonder if anyone's tried it.
  • D. Gibbs posted:

    on 6th February 2013, 16:18:23 - Reply

    I have never heard of the 'option method' - is this new?
    Naturlisation costs 810 euro - that is for a 'request' - it is in theory possible that now might be excluded for whateverreason,