All you need to know about becoming a Dutch citizen
Wondering how you can obtain your Dutch citizenship in the Netherlands? Read our summary below!
There are lots of questions circling the subject of Dutch citizenship and for a good reason. The process is not easy and there are tons of things to keep in mind, documents to fill out, and decisions to make. In this article, we summarize the process of obtaining Dutch citizenship.
Pros & Cons
First things first! Becoming a Dutch national has plenty of perks, but there are also some less pleasant aspects that you should keep in mind. While gaining citizenship means that you will receive one of the best passports to hold, which allows you to cross all the exotic destinations on your bucket list and travel to 187 different countries visa-free, chances are, you will be required to renounce your current nationality in exchange for a Dutch one. There are some exceptions to this rule, for example, if you get married to a Dutch citizen or if you are already a citizen in the Kingdom of the Netherlands, but in most cases, you will have to renounce your former citizenship. The reason behind this is that the Dutch government wants to limit dual nationalities since rights and obligations in two different countries might conflict with each other.
A great advantage you might gain as a non-European national is that you will no longer need to have or deal with residence permits anymore. As a Dutch national, you will be able to stay and live in countries outside the Netherlands for long periods of time without negative consequences on your residence permit in the Netherlands. On the other hand, the application for obtaining Dutch citizenship is a lot more costly than simply extending a residence permit. Of course, there are other perks you will get as a Dutch national, including the right to vote in the Netherlands and European elections and if your lifelong dream is to become a mayor or police officer, you will be able to do just that!
Ways to obtain citizenship
There are a few ways through which you can obtain Dutch citizenship: through naturalization, by means of an option procedure, or by birth or family relations.
#1 Becoming a Dutch citizen through Naturalization
Naturalization is the most common way of obtaining citizenship as a foreigner and it's the first thing that comes to mind for most people when thinking about changing citizenship. Naturalization is a process by which citizenship is legally granted to a permanent resident, once the requirements imposed by the government have been met.
To apply for naturalization, you need to have lived in the Netherlands with a residence permit, as an EU national or live in one of the Dutch Caribbean countries for at least 5 consecutive years. Next to that, there is a number of conditions you need to meet in order to apply for Dutch citizenship, among which we count two very important ones: passing the civic integration exam and signing the declaration of solidarity.
The civic integration exam is probably the most challenging part of this process, as you will have to test your Dutch language skills in reading, listening, writing, and speaking, as well as complete an exam of knowledge of the Dutch society and another exam of orientation on the Dutch Labour Market.
In addition, the municipality will send you a letter comprising information about the main virtues in the Netherlands. These include statements such as "Everybody in the Netherlands is equal", "Everybody may choose their own religion", "Everybody is allowed to go to school" or "We take care of ourselves. But we also take care of each other. The government helps when needed". After receiving this letter, you will have to sign a so-called Participation statement, which shows that you are aware of and will actively participate in Dutch society and will show respect for what is important in the Netherlands.
Once your application has been approved, you have passed all exams, and have sent your Participation statement, you will be required to attend the naturalization ceremony. You can become a Dutch national only after attending this ceremony, where you will celebrate, together with the municipality, that you now have Dutch nationality. The crazy part is that if you don't attend this ceremony within 1 year of receiving your application approval, you will lose your Dutch citizenship. Keep in mind that the process can cost anywhere from €688 to €1,206, depending on your situation.
#2 Becoming a Dutch citizen through Option
Quicker than naturalization is obtaining your Dutch nationality by means of an options application. It's important to note that this option is not open to everyone, and is intended only for people with a certain living situation. For example, you can apply for citizenship through this option only in special cases, such as you were born in the Kingdom of the Netherlands, you are a minor, or in the case that you are an adult, things get more complicated. In this case, the options application can be used if you have lived in the Netherlands from a very young age (4 years old), or you have lived in the Kingdom of the Netherlands for a period of 15 years consecutively and are aged 65 or older, you are a former Dutch national or in the case that you are in a marriage with a Dutch national for at least 3 years and have lived in the Kingdom of the Netherlands for at least 15 years, of course, with a valid residence permit. In addition to your situation, you will also have to meet certain conditions to be eligible to apply for this option.
The costs for choosing to become Dutch through the options application can vary from €22 if you are minor to €342 in case you choose this option together with a partner.
#3 Becoming a Dutch citizen through Family relations
The last way you can become Dutch is through family relations. You can make use of this option only in certain cases, as such if one of your parents was a Dutch citizen at the time of your birth, or if you were adopted and one of your parents is a Dutch citizen.
All information about this process can be found directly on the website of the Immigration and Naturalisation Service in the Netherlands.