How to get a Dutch citizenship
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) .
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.
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:
• 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.
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 2020:
• 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.
The Dutch Passport
A helpful guide to the Dutch passport application process, the types of Dutch passport available to internationals and more.
Find out all you need to know about Dutch passports for expats. If you’ve moved to the Netherlands and have taken Dutch citizenship, you will be eligible for a Dutch passport and will be able to travel around the world as an EU citizen. You will need to follow specific procedures to obtain your Dutch passport and this guide will take you through the key steps, as well as explaining some key facts about Dutch passports.
There is also a further information section at the end of the guide with links to useful websites and web pages containing more detailed information about Dutch passports.
The Dutch passport
Dutch passports are issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs within the Government of the Netherlands to citizens of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Since 2006, all Dutch passports have been issued as biometric passports containing a chip with the holder’s biographic data including fingerprints.
The standard Dutch biometric passport is a small burgundy booklet containing 34 pages as well as the biometric chip. The main page of the passport will feature the passport holder’s photograph, key personal information and unique passport number. They will also contain your Dutch Citizen Service Number (BSN) if you have one.
Other types of Dutch passport available are:
• Business passport – special passport for business use, containing 66 pages
• Diplomatic passport – passport for government representatives travelling on official business and offering diplomatic immunity. Contains 66 pages
• Service passport – the same as the diplomatic passport but without offering diplomatic immunity
• Emergency passport – special temporary Dutch passport with a pink cover issued in emergency situations
• Alien’s passport – special Dutch passport for foreigners with a green cover issued to residents of the Netherlands without citizenship who are unable to obtain a passport from their home country
Those who make regular trips abroad for business purposes can apply for a second passport which is valid for a period of two years.
Dutch passport benefits
The Dutch passport is one of two main types of ID available to Dutch citizens. The other form of ID is the Dutch national ID card. This will enable you to travel around the EU and can be used as a general identity card and proof of citizenship, but a Dutch passport is needed for worldwide travel.
Dutch passport benefits include:
• enabling you to leave and re-enter the Netherlands as many times as you wish while the passport is valid
• allowing you to travel worldwide as a Dutch and EU citizen
• the ability to travel to 155 countries either visa-free or getting a visa on arrival. Netherlands is currently ranked 15th in the world on the Passport Index
In certain circumstances, you may also be entitled to dual nationality and have two passports. The Dutch government aims to limit dual nationality as much as possible, so most people acquiring Dutch citizenship are required to renounce the citizenship of their home nation, but dual nationality is permitted to spouses/registered partners of Dutch nationals, refugees, and nationals of certain countries (e.g. Greece, Iran and Morocco) where giving up your nationality is not legally possible.
Dutch passport eligibility
Anyone who is a citizen of the Kingdom of the Netherlands has Dutch passport eligibility. Foreign residents wanting to become Dutch citizens can do so after living in the Netherlands for five continuous years (three years if married to a Dutch national) if they have sufficient knowledge of Dutch language, can pass the civic integration examination and have no serious recent criminal record.
See our guide to Dutch citizenship for more information.
Applying for a Dutch passport
You can apply for a Dutch passport at either of the following:
Any Dutch embassy or consulate abroad.
Municipal offices of these towns and cities – Bergen op Zoom, Bergeijz, Breda, Echt-Susteren, Enschede, Haarlemmermeer, Maastricht, Montferland, Oldambt, The Hague, Venlo
You need to attend in person and bring along a completed Dutch passport application form, a photograph that meets the Dutch passport requirements and proof of your Dutch nationality (e.g. Dutch ID card or citizenship papers). Children applying for a Dutch passport will need to be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.
You can download both Dutch and English language versions of the Dutch passport application form here. The English form is a translation to be used as reference but you will need to fill in the Dutch version of the form.
Dutch passports usually take several weeks to issue. You will need to collect them from the municipal office, Dutch embassy or consulate where you made the application. If you are unable to collect your Dutch passport (e.g. due to mobility issues), you may be able to arrange to have the passport posted to you.
Renewing a Dutch passport
Dutch passports are valid for 10 years (5 years for children aged under 18). It is not possible to make a Dutch passport renewal. Instead, you must apply for a new passport in the same way as you would if you were getting a first passport. You can use your old/expired passport as proof of Dutch nationality. If you hold dual nationality, it is important that you apply for a new passport before your current passport expires otherwise you risk losing your Dutch nationality.
If your Dutch passport gets lost or stolen either in the Netherlands or abroad, you should report it to the local police as soon as possible and contact either your local municipal office or Dutch embassy/consulate abroad about getting a replacement Dutch passport. If you need a replacement passport urgently, you may be issued with an emergency travel document – either an emergency Dutch passport or a Laissez-Passer, which is an 8-page emergency travel document with a blue cover.
There is a 24-hour Emergency Documents helpdesk at Schiphol Airport which can be reached by phone on +32 (0) 20 603 8692.
Dutch passport costs
Dutch passport costs are:
• Adult passport issued within the Netherlands – 99.08 EU
• Child passport issued within the Netherlands – 85.84 EUR
• Adult passport issued abroad – 128.44 EUR
• Child passport issued abroad – 115.20 EUR
• Emergency passport/Laissez-Passer – 46.61 EUR
The Dutch passport fee is for processing your application so is non-refundable, even if your application is rejected.
• Link to Dutch and English language versions of the Dutch passport application form
Is getting dutch nationality worth the effort
Does getting Dutch nationality make a difference? From the minute you get your Dutch passport, says Kenyan expat Caroline, who survived the bureaucratic chaos – and would do it again.
You know in your heart of hearts there’s a shift when you get Dutch nationality as soon as the passport officer at your local city hall asks for your resident permit and, with one of the warmest ear-to-ear grins you’ve ever seen, hands over your brand new Dutch passport as if to say, ‘There child, you are now one of us’. The earth has moved a little in your favour and you feel something akin to light tremors rippling through a region.
Maybe that’s because a huge weight has rolled off your back. Suddenly everything seems brighter. Your vision is clearer; the grass seems greener, the air smells fresher, the skies are more blue and your body weight seems lighter. You have a spring in your step and a new found confidence that things are getting better.
Things indeed should get better. You’ve won a document, you’ve been granted Dutch nationality – after years of scraping by, begging and cajoling the immigration department to ‘pretty-please-with-a-cherry-on-top’ let you stay. When they said jump, you asked how high; you spent years learning Dutch, took the inburgering exams (integration tests), watched kiddie shows in Dutch, hired immigration lawyers to strengthen your argument for residence when they wanted you to leave, you attended court sessions and even debated with them…in crisp Dutch!
When they asked for documents – for proof of this, that and the other – you went to your basement, dug out and dusted old files, you made many trips to the internet bureau to fax, to copy, to print and probably had to rely heavily on translators because, though you’ve passed all your dutch exams with flying colours, writing in the language is still a bit of a challenge.
It’s just a small red booklet, but the Netherlands passport carries weight.
It still may not mean that you have a big slice of the pie that is the Kingdom of the Netherlands or that you can pick out any piece of land and claim ownership; nah ah – you still have to roll up your sleeves and work as hard as you did before, or even harder now because having Dutch nationality means you have the opportunity to do so.
Dutch nationality grants you the ability to study in a Dutch university or any European university at an incredibly low annual fee rate. It grants you the permission to live and work anywhere within the European Union without the strain of applying for a work permit each time.
Having Dutch nationality also means you have the chance to partake in the decision-making of the country; with Dutch nationality you can vote and choose leaders in this part of the world where things actually work. It means that if you are in trouble abroad, you can actually be spoken for by your adoptee government.
Having Dutch nationality means that you can hop onto a plane to the US or Canada, to UK or Australia, to Japan or the United Arab Emirates, or to some 143 countries in fact, and breeze through immigration like a westerner – albeit a chocolate-coloured one – by virtue of the red book. Dutch nationality means that if you have the desire you can actually stay there comfortably for three months without being branded an ‘alien’; it means you can take trains within Europe at will without being stopped and interrogated at borders, in a fashion that implies you are trespassing.
Having Dutch nationality means you will avoid lining up for visas; you will avoid the glares of immigration officers behind glass walls who bark out orders for you to show proof of income, residence, ownership, employment, study, sponsorship, family, friendship, business, connections, assets – things that essentially say you are not headed to first world countries to set up camp, but rather you have enough wealth and ties to draw you back home.
So ridiculous are the questions that they fall short of asking for your grandfather’s identity card, your niece’s enrollment certificate, proof you went to nursery and the names of your ‘yet-to-be-born-sometime-in-the-future’ grandchildren. For anyone who has travelled on an African passport, they would know what I am talking about.
Being a European citizen gives you the steam and ability to go further, faster. For the travel blogger, dual nationality is a sweet dream that awakens you to African countries sans visa applications on one hand, and access to western countries on the other.
Long-term residence in the Netherlands for Croatian nationals
Croatian citizens who want to live in the Netherlands long-term must apply for verification against EU law and request a certificate of lawful residence.
As Croatia is a newer EU member, some restrictions apply for living and working in the Netherlands.
If you’re a Croatian citizen, you can apply for verification against EU law and obtain a certificate of lawful residence (proof of legal residence) if you want to stay in the Netherlands for more than three months. Before you apply you must register with the personal records database (BRP) in your local municipality and get a citizen service number (burgerservicenummer or BSN), which is needed to register with the tax authorities and you may also be asked for it by your GP, in hospitals and pharmacies.
There are also work restrictions for Croatian citizens: you may only work in the Netherlands if your employer has a work permit for you for the first 12 months. After 12 months’ continuous, legal employment, you can work freely in the Netherlands without a permit. These restrictions will be reviewed in 2018 and may remain in place until June 30, 2020.
Conditions for obtaining a certificate of lawful residence
You can apply for verification against EU law if you:
• work as an employee;
• are self-employed;
• work as a service provider/recipient (eg. lawyer);
• are a student;
• are not earning an income (but have sufficient financial support).
To request a certificate of lawful residence, you must:
• be a Croatian citizen;
• hold a valid passport/travel ID;
• be registered in the Dutch Municipal Personal Records Database (BRP);
• have health insurance;
• have sufficient funds for your stay, for example, a single person must have EUR 1,135.40 per month – however, this will be reviewed mid-year, so check the latest figures here;
• have a work permit (if applicable) organised by your employer for the first 12 months of your stay.
How to apply for verification against EU law
You have to apply in person at your local IND office. Make an appointment by calling the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND) on 088 0430 430 from within the Netherlands or +31 88 0430 430 from abroad. The IND will tell you which documents you need to bring along and where to go.
You will need to take your passport/travel ID, proof that you fulfil the conditions, and other documents related to what you intend to do in the Netherlands, for example:
• a signed declaration from your employer;
• a work permit (or the application for one);
• information relating to self-employment, such as a business plan or bank statements;
• proof that you’ve enrolled in a course as a student;
• proof of means of support and a health insurance policy.
Any copies need to be legalised or authenticated and in Dutch, English, French or German. For information about legalising documents and translation, read how to prepare supporting documents for Dutch visa and permit applications.
You have to complete the form called ‘Application for Verification against EU Law (certificate of lawful residence)’.
It currently costs EUR 53 to apply, and if your application is refused, you won’t get a refund.
The IND can take up to six months to make their decision.
Once you have the EU certificate of lawful residence Working
There are still some restrictions on Croatian nationals working in the Netherlands. For the first 12 months of your stay, you may only work if your employer has a work permit for you. After working 12 months of continuously working with a work permit, you can work freely in any sector without a work permit.
How long does the certificate last?
The certificate is valid for five years. Shortly before it expires the IND will inform you that you can apply for an extension. Find out how you can extend your residence permit.
After five continuous years of residence, you may be eligible to apply for permanent residence for EU citizens. You can find more information in our guide to Dutch permanent residence in the Netherlands.
Permanent residency in the Netherlands
After living in the Netherlands for five years, foreign nationals and their family members can apply for a Dutch permanent residence permit.
Once you have lived in the Netherlands for five continuous years, depending on your nationality and circumstances in the Netherlands, you can be eligible for either Dutch or European permament residence.
Citizens from the European Union (EU), European Economic Area (EEA – EU plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) and Switzerland are eligible for European permanent residence, as well as their family members regardless of nationalty.
Non-EU/EEA/Swiss citizens are also eligible for permanent residency, although they will be assessed for either long-term resident-EC status or ‘regular’ Dutch permanent residency, depending on which conditions they fulfil.
Certain foreign residents in the Netherlands are also eligible for Dutch citizenship after five or 10 years (three years in certain cases, such as marriage to a Dutch citizen). Read more about getting Dutch citizenship.
What are the benefits of Dutch permanent residence?
Dutch permanent residence status allows you to stay in the Netherland indefinitely. Your residence permit document is valid for five years, and can be renewed.
With a Dutch permanent residence permit you are free on the Dutch labour market, meaning you do not need a work permit.
Your application will be processed by the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND).
Permanent residence for EU/EEA/Swiss citizens and family members
If you are an EU/EEA or Swiss citizen and have lived continuously in the Netherlands for at least five years, you can apply for a permanent residence permit for ‘citizens of the European Union and their family members’.
This also applies to family members who are non-EU/EEA/Swiss citizen, such as spouses, dependent children or relatives of EU/EEA/Swiss citizens regardless of their own nationality.
This five-year term can be shorter if you have been working in the Netherlands but have retired, become unfit for work or are a cross border worker, while living in the Netherlands. There are different conditions in each of these cases.
How to apply for permanent residence as an EU/EEA or Swiss citizen
You must complete an application form and submit it to the IND with a passport/ID card and accompanying documentary evidence.
You’ll need to show evidence of your personal circumstances. For example:
• evidence that you’ve lived in the Netherlands for the entire five-year period (for example, an employment contract or a health insurance policy providing five years of coverage);
• if you’re a family member of an EU/EEA or Swiss citizen, the residence document which granted you permission to stay in the Netherlands on the basis of that relationship;
• if you’re retired, you’ll need evidence that you were working for at least one year before your retirement;
• if you’ve been declared unfit for work, evidence that you worked for two years in the Netherlands beforehand;
• if you’re a cross border worker, proof that you stayed and worked in the Netherlands for three years before getting a job in another EU state, that you still have your home in the Netherlands, and that you return at least once a week.
You have to pay a fee for the IND to process your application, which is non-refundable if your application is rejected. This is currently EUR 50 (2016 fee), although prices are reviewed each year.
The IND aims to decide on applications within eight weeks. For non-EU/EEA/Swiss family members, the processing time is a maximum of six months.
What happens next?
Once the IND has processed your application, you will be sent a letter with the decision. If you are granted permanent residence, you will be invited to collect the document about two weeks later at a regional IND desk.
When your permanent residence expires
After five years, you need to renew your Dutch permanent residence permit if you want to stay in the Netherlands. Find out how to extend your permit.
Civic integration exam preparation no longer free
From 2013, migrants with regular residence permits who are obliged to sit the civic integration exam will have to pay for the necessary preparation.
If they lack the means, they qualify for a soft loan to pay for their courses and examination. This only needs to be paid back once their earnings have reached a set level. Migrants from the EU and Turkey also qualify for such loans if they undertake civil integration voluntarily. The government will ensure that there are sufficient accredited courses available.
This is one of the changes to the Civic Integration Act affecting the compulsory integration of migrants that has just been approved by the Senate. One of the most significant changes is that the practical examination and various modalities for testing civic integration are being replaced by a single central exam.
Migrants who – through their own fault – fail to pass their integration examination within three years can have their temporary regular residence permit withdrawn. If their permit cannot be withdrawn, for instance because they are recognised asylum seekers, a fine can be imposed for not passing the examination on time.
Local authorities will be allocated €1,000 per person for initial support for asylum seekers admitted to the Netherlands. Gerd Leers, Minister for Immigration, Integration and Asylum Policy, has earmarked over €5 million for this purpose.
Local authorities will continue to be responsible for the civic integration of migrants who started the integration process before 1 January 2013, and will be given funding for this purpose into next year.