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Home Dutch News Who are you and can you prove it?

Who are you and can you prove it?

Published on 10/12/2004

Most people who have watched Dutch television recently will have seen the ad in which a mature man, dressed in a rain coat and walking a cute little dog, spells out C-O-C-K to a police officer. Some expat viewers may have dismissed this as yet another example of the liberal and slightly whacky Dutch attitude to matters that are considered profane in many other countries around the world.

The Dutch government hopes — on the other hand — that most viewers will understand the gentleman in question is actor Piet Römer, who plays Detective De Cock in the hit crime series Baantjer. The character seems to have mania for spelling out his name to illustrate it isn’t spelled K-O-K.

Taking a break from solving murder mysteries, Römer, aka De Cock, is spearheading the government’s campaign to inform the public that everyone, aged 14 and above, will be obliged to carry official identification in the Netherlands from 1 Janaury 2005.

The government claims that the new identity law (Identificatieplicht) is essential for authorities to be able to perform their job, fight crime and public nuisance and create a safer environment.

Which ID will do?

The form of acceptable identification depends both on the situation, and on your nationality. In general, accepted identification is defined as: a valid passport, Dutch or European ID card, or residence permit. In some cases, but not all, a valid Dutch driver’s license will do.

For Dutch citizens, any of the above will be accepted, with the exemptions of the driving license when visiting the tax office, or requesting a SoFi number or social security benefit (uitkering). For Dutch nationals above the age of 14, but not yet able to drive or still included on a parents passport, a Dutch ID card is available for around EUR 30 from the citizens affairs desk at your local city hall.

The Dutch ID card is not available to non-Dutch nationals.

Inclusion on a parent’s passport is no longer considered acceptable identification for any child over the age of 14. Also, for the past two years all non-EU/EER citizens above the age of 12 have been obliged to have their own residence permit.

For immigrants and nationals from countries outside the EU/EER, you will be required to carry a valid residence permit (verblijfsdocument), as a passport will not be acceptable if the matter being investigated concerns your legal status in the country.

EU/EER nationals may use a valid passport, or a residence permit. Although it is not required as an EU/EER national to have a residence permit, the current policy of the identity law states “all immigrants must be able to show [their] immigration documents”.

Forgotten expats

Reading the comprehensive website (in Dutch) did not clear up this apparent conflict between needing a residence permit and not being required to get one by EU law. Technically, residence permits are still not required as EU/EER nationals can show a valid passport to comply with the new ruling.

At this time it is also unclear whether any sort of alternative to the Dutch identity card will be available for those not wanting to carry their passports, or for parents concerned about children aged 14 and older carrying their passports.

When the question was put to the gentleman behind the information desk at the Amsterdam Citizens Affairs Office in City Hall (as a parent, not a journalist), his final suggestion in a long line of whimsical answers was to make my son “Dutch” so he could get an ID card. He was also interested when his boss offered me a brochure (Identificatieplicht – Nederland Veilig), because, as he told me, he was unaware of which brochure covered the issue.

Who can ask?

The police, as well as immigration and customs officials, tax officials, forest rangers, labour and environmental inspectors, will all have the right, under certain circumstances, to request to see your ID. At this moment, there are no plans to do spot checks on ID and the reasons for requesting identification by police and other authorities will have to have a legal basis.

Specifically cited reasons include: traffic violations, investigation of criminal acts, identification of witnesses or victims of an accident or crime, creating a public disturbance, truancy, a check for illegal workers, the attempted removal of animals or plants from a nature reserve or illegal dumping.

If you are asked for identification and are unable to provide it, you will be taken to a police station until your identity can be proven. You might also be fined up to EUR 2,250, although according to their website ( it is “expected” that in practice many simple cases will be fined less.

[Copyright Expatica 2004]

Subject: ID + The Netherlands