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Dutch citizenship

  • Becoming a Dutch citizen

    There are 3 ways to obtain Dutch nationality: through naturalization, through an option procedure or through birth from a Dutch father or mother.

    The Dutch Citizenship Act is complicated; whether and how you may acquire Dutch nationality is different in each individual case. Many rules and exceptions must be taken into account. Our nationality desk lawyers are experts in matters like naturalization, dual nationality and option procedures. They can advise you, assist with the application for Dutch citizenship or represent you during an objection appeal or confirmation procedure.

    To diplomats, employees at a consulate or at an international organization (summarized as the privileged) other rules apply.  

  • Brexit and dual nationality

    Are you a Brit living in the Netherlands or are you a spouse or (registered) partner of a Dutch citizen and would you like to know if and how you can acquire Dutch nationality without losing your British nationality? In this article you will find information about naturalisation, Brexit and dual nationality.

  • Call for former Dutch citizens

    Have you lost your Dutch nationality because you have dual citizenship and lived outside of the Netherlands and the EU for more than ten uninterrupted years without a Dutch passport? You might be able to regain your Dutch nationality.

  • Calling parents with a residence permit to live with a minor Dutch child (Chavez)

    Recently the IND published the following text on its website under the conditions for further applications after a residence permit for staying with a minor Dutch child.

  • Can you regain Dutch nationality after automatic loss?

    By Elles Besselsen and Danielle Snaathorst

    On 12 February 2020, the Council of State, the highest administrative court in the Netherlands, ruled in six cases of former Dutch nationals with dual citizenship who lost their Dutch nationality, because they had resided outside of the Netherlands and the European Union for more than 10 uninterrupted years and had not renewed their Dutch passports during that time. The Council of State determined that if the consequences of the loss of Dutch nationality are disproportionate from an EU law perspective, former Dutch citizens should be able to regain their Dutch nationality with retroactive effect. What does this mean in practice?

    Dutch Citizenship Act

    The Dutch Citizenship Act (Rijkswet op het Nederlanderschap (RWN)) stipulates that Dutch citizenship is automatically lost, if a person, in addition to Dutch citizenship, has another nationality and has had their main residence outside of the Netherlands and/or the European Union for an uninterrupted period of 10 years. This loss does not occur if this person has obtained a declaration of Dutch citizenship or a (renewed) Dutch travel document/identity card within that period of 10 years. A minor child may lose their Dutch citizenship together with their parent.

    With these rules, the Dutch legislator aims to guarantee the effective bond between its citizens and the Netherlands. If someone stays outside of the Netherlands or Europe for a long period of time and did not need a Dutch passport at that time, the idea is that there will no longer be an effective bond with the Netherlands. In practice, however, it appears that many people are not aware of this ground for loss. They only find out when it is too late, but they still feel Dutch.

    Until now, when applying for a passport or a procedure to establish Dutch citizenship in these cases, it was simply established that the person in question was no longer Dutch. In the six cases brought before the Council of State, the former Dutch citizens argued that the automatic loss of their Dutch nationality in their case was disproportionate and therefore contrary to EU law. The case prompted the Council of State to submit questions to the Court of Justice of the European Union in a preliminary ruling proceeding.

    Is automatic loss of Dutch citizenship contrary to EU law?

    On 12 March 2019, in the Tjebbes judgment, the Court of Justice answered that, in principle, EU law does not prohibit the automatic loss of Dutch nationality (for reasons of public interest), even if this also leads to the loss of EU citizenship and the associated rights of free movement and residence within the EU.

    However, the Court also stated that the automatic loss of these EU rights may be disproportionate. The national authorities must examine the consequences of the loss of Dutch citizenship and therefore also EU citizenship for each individual concerned and their possible family members.

    The ruling of the Council of State

    The RWN does not provide room for such a proportionality test and the retroactive regaining of Dutch citizenship. For this reason, the Council of State considers the RWN to be contrary to EU law. An amendment of the law is therefore necessary. To bridge the time between the ruling and the amended law entering into force, the Minister of Foreign Affairs' authority to return Dutch citizenship follows directly from EU law.

    The Council of State explains that in the case of a Dutch passport application, the Minister must determine whether the applicant has Dutch citizenship (similar to the civil court procedure for determining Dutch citizenship) and they must check whether the loss of Dutch citizenship does not have disproportionate consequences 'that are in the sphere of EU law'.

    Which consequences of the loss of Dutch nationality are relevant?

    Only the EU law consequences are relevant for this proportionality test. Like the Court of Justice, the Council of State refers to the rights guaranteed by the EU Charter, such as the right to respect for private and family life, the exercise of the right to move and reside freely within the territory of EU Member States and the possibility to pursue professional activities there, and the best interests of the child.
    Moreover, the consequences of the loss must have materialized or be reasonably foreseeable. For example, the Council of State considers it reasonably foreseeable that a former Dutch citizen of almost 18 years of age would go to study in a EU Member State.

    The Council of State emphasizes that the strong connection a person feels with the Netherlands, the contacts they maintain with friends in the Netherlands and the command of the Dutch language do not have to be taken into account. After all, these consequences are not related to the loss of EU rights.

    At which moment must the proportionality test take place?

    In the Tjebbes judgment, the Court of Justice did not explicitly determine the moment that the consequences must be reviewed. The Council of State however explained in its ruling that when reviewing a case, the Minister must determine the EU law consequences that were relevant at the time of the expiry of the ten-year period, which therefore effectively manifested themselves or could reasonably have been foreseen at that time. Consequences occurring after that time do not need to be included in the assessment.

    By doing so, the Council of State wants to avoid the need to examine all of the consequences that have occurred in the life of a former Dutch national and to prevent repeated applications to have the proportionality of that moment assessed. According to the Council of State, this would be to the detriment of legal certainty.

    And now?

    Over the next four months, the Minister of Foreign Affairs will have to assess, on the basis of the documents and information provided, whether in the six cases in this ruling the loss of their Dutch nationality has disproportionate consequences from an EU law perspective.
    If, following the Minister's assessment, it appears that the loss of EU citizenship is disproportionate, the individuals in the six cases will regain their Dutch citizenship with retroactive effect.
    The legislator will also have to amend the RWN in order to provide room for the assessment of the consequences and regaining Dutch citizenship. That much is clear.

    But there is also still a lot that is unclear. For example, the Council of State did not discuss the relevance of a situation where a person cannot renounce their other nationality or cannot obtain consular protection. Do these elements not play a role in the assessment?

    Which consequences should be assessed if the moment of loss only becomes clear much later, for example because someone had been issued a Dutch passport for several years on the wrong grounds?

    Nor is it clear how the consequences under EU law relate to the effective link with the Netherlands. Does someone who is about to start working in Germany have more right to retain Dutch citizenship than a Dutch-speaking elderly woman who wants to return to her home country to go through her final phase of life there?

    And what does this ruling mean for people who have automatically lost their Dutch citizenship by acquiring another nationality?

    In the coming months and years many former Dutch citizens will turn to the Minister and it will become clear how the proportionality test will work in practice.

    Have you lost your Dutch citizenship due to the ten-year period and do you experience disproportionate consequences? Please contact Elles Besselsen, Hermie de Voer or Vera Kidjan.

     

  • Changes in civic integration exam for naturalization from abroad

    From July 1st 2019, the Dutch regulations concerning the naturalization exam from abroad have changed. These changes affect those who want to apply for Dutch citizenship from abroad and are planning to take the civic integration exam for naturalization at the Dutch consulate or embassy in their country of residence.

  • Dual citizenship possible more often than you might think

    Recently our firm has finalized several different cases successfully concerning dual citizenship.

  • Dual nationality, privilege or choice?

    Dual nationality gets a fair bit of media attention lately. In recent news several Moroccan-Dutch citizens asked political support for their right to renounce their Moroccan nationality. At the same time a majority of the House of Representatives proposed a Brexit-emergency law that will allow Dutch citizens in the UK to keep their Dutch nationality in case they obtain the British nationality. How does that work?

  • How not to lose Dutch nationality

    Loss of Dutch citizenship can occur automatically and in certain situations, you may not be immediately aware of it. Dutch citizenship can also be revoked.

    Automatic loss of Dutch nationality may occur if you:

    • obtain another nationality voluntarily
    • live abroad for 10 years or longer with dual nationality and fail to timely renew your Dutch passport (e.g. within 10 years of the date of issuance of your last passport)

    We urge you to contact one of our expert nationality lawyers for advice if this happened to you. Recovering Dutch nationality is a laborious process at best; in some cases, it may be impossible.

  • Judgment of the Court of Justice of the EU in Tjebbes case

    The judgment of the European Court of Justice in the case Tjebbes and Others/ Minister for Foreign Affairs concerning automatic loss of Dutch citizenship has been published.

  • Naturalization without documents

    Everaert Advocaten is starting a procedure for naturalization without documents. We invite you to take part in this procedure if you have a 'pardon' (Ranov) residence permit and want to apply for Dutch citizenship but are unable to provide the required identity papers such as a passport or birth certificate.

  • Naturalization, not with a Chavez-Vilchez residence permit?

    Today, 4 April 2019, the Dutch Government Gazette published an amendment on the Handbook for the Dutch Citizenship Act 2003.

  • Obtaining dual nationality

    As a result of our partnership with IN Amsterdam (formerly known as the Amsterdam expat center), we recently published an article about obtaining dual nationality on the I Amsterdam Living portal. A subsection of the official Amsterdam municipality website, this English-language portal offers all kinds of practical information for expats.

  • Once Dutch, always Dutch: a successful ‘Tjebbes-case’

    Recently, it was decided that one of our clients, who was presumed to have lost Dutch citizenship in 2019 and had concrete plans to settle in Belgium at the moment of loss, has retained Dutch citizenship and has therefore always been Dutch.

  • Once Dutch, always Dutch: a successful ‘Tjebbes-case’

    Imagine that you automatically lost your Dutch citizenship after you have been misinformed by the Dutch embassy: it happened to the 29-year-old Jan (not his real name) from South Africa.

    Jan was born in 1991 from a Dutch / South African mother and a South African father and obtained both Dutch and South African citizenship at birth. Jan retained Dutch citizenship as a minor and went - before the ten-year loss period in article 15 paragraph 1 under c of the Dutch Nationality Act 2003* passed - to the embassy to apply for a Dutch passport. He was told that he was not entitled to a Dutch passport and when Jan went to the Consulate General a few years later, he received the same message. However, Jan always remained convinced that he was Dutch and contacted our firm in 2019. Unfortunately, we came to the conclusion that he had lost his Dutch citizenship only three weeks earlier because of the ten-year loss period.

    Proportionality test

    After the Dutch Council of State issued a judgment in the cases Tjebbes ea. (more information can be found here) regarding the automatic loss of Dutch citizenship, we assisted Jan with preparing an application for a Dutch passport which he submitted at a border municipality in the Netherlands. In his application he argued that the loss of his Dutch -and therefore EU- citizenship was disproportionate from the perspective of EU law, because at the time of loss he had concrete plans to settle with his partner in Belgium and was also living there at the moment he filed his passport application. Jan was able to prove -with documentary evidence- that he and his partner wanted to develop professional and/or study activities in Belgium and that the loss of EU-citizenship not only had far-reaching consequences with regard to the exercise of the right to move and reside freely in the EU (because as a South African citizen he had to meet much stricter conditions in order to obtain legal residence in Belgium and to work/study there), but also that this loss was caused by incorrect information provided by the Dutch representations.

    The advice of the IND

    After the municipality had submitted the case to the Immigration and Naturalization Service (IND) for advice on whether or not the loss of Dutch (and therefore EU) citizenship was proportional, the IND came to the conclusion that this loss could not be maintained and that and that article 15 paragraph 1 under c of the of the Dutch Nationality Act 2003 could not be applied, because this provision conflicted with article 20 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU). The municipality, which adopted the advice of the IND, then immediately issued a positive decision on Jan's passport application.

    Once Dutch, always Dutch

    Jan is Dutch again. In fact, since he never lost his Dutch citizenship, he has always been Dutch! The outcome of his passport application procedure offers hope for former Dutch citizens who automatically lost Dutch citizenship after 1 November 1993 and who can demonstrate with documentary evidence that- at the time of loss- they were disproportionately affected in exercising their rights as EU citizens (see also here).

    If you are in such a situation and you would you like to get assistance with your passport application please contact Mirjam den Besten or Hermie de Voer.

    * this provision reads as follows: 1. a person who is of full age shall lose his or her Netherlands nationality: (..) c. if he or she also has a foreign nationality and, after coming of age and while possessing both nationalities, has his or her principal place of residence for a continuous period of ten years outside the Netherlands, the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba, and outside the areas to which the Treaty on European Union applies (…)
  • Option and Naturalization Fees 2020

    From 1 January 2020 new government fees will be applicable.

  • Podcast: Hermie de Voer on Dutch citizenship

    Nationality law expert Hermie de Voer spoke to Eelco Keij of SNBN (Dutch Outside The Netherlands Foundation) in the first podcast of a new series. 

  • Podcast: How to become a Dutch citizen

    In this podcast, live since 9 January 2019, our partner and Dutch citizenship expert Hermie de Voer explains different ways to obtain Dutch nationality and dual citizenship. As a little nugget to conclude, there's a Brexit related case!

  • Privileged individuals

    Individuals who come to the Netherlands to work for a diplomatic mission or an international organisation, such as the United Nations have special consideration and are extended privileged residence status.

  • Proportionality test in the event of loss of Dutch citizenship due to acquisition of another nationality

    On 20 May 2020, the Administrative Jurisdiction Division of the Council of State determined that the consequences of the automatic loss of Dutch citizenship due to the acquisition of another nationality must also be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.