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Supreme Court ruling on the position of married women in Dutch nationality law before 1964

On 8 September 2023, the Dutch Supreme Court ruled in a case that is relevant for (some) descendants of Dutch women who want to become Dutch citizens through an option procedure. They are called ‘latent Dutch citizens’.

Who are ‘latent Dutch citizens’?

Latent Dutch citizens are persons born before 1 January 1985 of a Dutch mother and a foreign legal father. Before 1985, a married Dutch woman could not pass on Dutch citizenship to her children. To repair this historical injustice, an option procedure was introduced into Dutch law in 2010. Through this procedure, descendants of these Dutch women can still become Dutch citizens.

What does the Supreme Court judgment say?

Before March 1, 1964, a Dutch woman who married a foreign man could automatically lose Dutch citizenship if she acquired the same nationality as her husband through or during the marriage. Unfortunately, children of these women cannot benefit from the option procedure for latent Dutch nationals.

The Supreme Court’s ruling concerns a situation in which the Dutch woman already had her husband’s nationality before marriage. She had emigrated to the newly established state of Israel after the Second World War and had automatically acquired Israeli nationality on the day of her arrival and retained Dutch citizenship. Only then did she marry her Israeli husband. The Dutch state argued that the woman lost her Dutch citizenship as a result of this marriage, because she ‘followed’ her husband’s nationality. Everaert Advocaten has argued – on behalf of its clients – that the loss provision in the old citizenship act did not apply to Dutch women who already had their husband’s foreign nationality at the time of marriage. The Supreme Court confirmed this in its ruling and deviated from the opinion of the Advocate General. This means that our clients – who were born before 1985 from the marriage of their Dutch and Israeli mother and their Israeli father – can finally become Dutch citizens.

Who can rely on this ruling?

The Supreme Court ruling is not only relevant for descendants of Dutch- Israeli women. It happened more often that a Dutch woman already possessed her husband’s foreign nationality before marriage, for example in countries where a nationality was automatically acquired by birth on the territory of that state (such as South Africa or the United States) or if the Dutch woman was naturalized as a minor child independently of her parents (for example in Canada).

Do you think this ruling could possibly apply to your situation? Or do you have other questions about the latent Dutch citizenship procedure or Dutch nationality law in general, please contact Mirjam den Besten or Hermie de Voer.

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