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 dictates which conditions and documents are necessary for applying for 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 fewer 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 labor market, meaning you no longer need a work permit.
Certain social and civic rights are only available to those that become Dutch citizens, such as voting. Foreigners typically must renounce their own citizenship before they can become a Dutch citizen. Dual nationality is allowed in certain cases.
How to get Dutch citizenship
There are two principal ways to acquire Dutch citizenship:
- Option procedure
- Naturalization 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.
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 naturalization 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 naturalization application.
To apply, you must firstly hold a valid residence document. Then you must belong to one of the following categories:
- You 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’re 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.
The alternate citizenship procedure is to apply on the basis of naturalization. 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 €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 naturalization 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.
- 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 naturalization 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 naturalization. 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 naturalization requires you to demonstrate that you have integrated into Dutch society. This means being able to speak, read, write, and understand Dutch reasonably well. It also includes being able to successfully live in Dutch society.
The language level required is A2, which would allow you to have conversations with neighbors, 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 naturalization 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 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 program in the Netherlands.
- any form of secondary education, vocational education, professional education, or university course, as long as the teaching was in Dutch.
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’re married to or are the registered partner of a Dutch citizen.
- You’re a recognized 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’re a national of a state that the Netherlands does not recognize.
- 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: €179 per person
- by naturalization: €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 naturalization ceremony
If your application is successful, you can only become a Dutch national once you have attended a naturalization 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’ll receive a declaration of your 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.