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New law establishing statelessness and Dutch citizenship

On October 1, 2023, the Law on Determination of Statelessness entered into force. One of the reasons for this new law is criticism from the Advisory Commission on Aliens Affairs (ACVZ) on the Dutch approach to statelessness. Before this law entered into force, the Netherlands did not have a procedure in place to determine statelessness. This law is aimed at providing safeguards for the interests of stateless people. Currently, there are about 5000 people registered in the Personal Records Database (BRP) as stateless and 26.000 with the code “nationality unknown”.

A request for the determination of statelessness can be submitted to the civil court in The Hague. This procedure offers foreigners with legal residence in the Netherlands who are registered in the BRP with the municipality with the code ‘nationality unknown’ the possibility to be registered as ‘stateless’. People who do not have legal residence can also use this determination procedure. However, with the determination of statelessness you do not obtain a legal residence permit in the Netherlands.

In addition to the new petition procedure through the civil court, someone who is obviously stateless can still have statelessness determined by the municipality or IND. This is possible in the following situations:

  • The government or court of another country has determined that you are stateless. You have an original document of this;
  • You were born stateless in the Netherlands. Your parents are both stateless;
  • You were born in the Netherlands and your father is stateless. Your mother is stateless or cannot pass on her nationality;
  • You were born in the Netherlands and have no father according to the law. For example, because your father died before your birth or is unknown. Your mother is stateless or cannot pass on her nationality;
  • You only have the nationality of a state that the Dutch government does not recognize.

For minors and young adults who are registered as stateless in the BRP, the Dutch Citizenship Act (RWN) offers a new option right. This option right offers minors and young adults the possibility to become Dutch citizens if the following conditions are met:

  • You are not yet 21;
  • You were born in the European part of the Netherlands, Aruba, Curaçao, St. Maarten or the public entities of Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba;
  • You have had a stable main residence there for a continuous period of at least five years immediately preceding the option request;
  • You have been stateless since birth;
  • You cannot reasonably obtain another nationality;
  • There are no serious suspicions that you pose a danger to the public order, morals or security of the Kingdom;
  • You are prepared to make a declaration of commitment.

The law establishing statelessness will be evaluated after five years. Only then something can be said about the effect of the law and whether more people are actually determined to be stateless.

For more information on statelessness and nationality, please contact us.

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