How to get Dutch citizenship in 2023: becoming a Nederlander

Thinking about becoming a Dutch citizen? How do you become a true Dutchie — one with the papers to prove it? 

So, you’re looking to become Dutch and wanna know how to get Dutch citizenship? Good choice!

But how do you become Dutch, do you ask? We’re sorry to tell you this, but biking, eating a load of cheese and growing to over 6 feet tall isn’t going to make you legally Dutch. You’re halfway there though, don’t sweat it. 😉

How to get Dutch citizenship

The good news is that if you are a foreign national and have been living in the Netherlands for five years, then you will be able to apply for a Dutch passport/obtain Dutch citizenship. How does that work?

Well, you can become a Dutchie in three different ways:

  • By option: If you have lived in the Netherlands continuously since childhood and are now an adult.
  • By naturalisation: If you have lived in the Netherlands for five years straight (or are eligible for an exception).
  • By birth: If one of both of your parents are Dutch (this includes adoption), depending on when you were born.
A man and a woman holding a young child and cuddling it.
You automatically become a Dutch citizen if one of your parents holds Dutch citizenship when you are born. Image: Depositphotos.

The most complicated of them all is Dutch citizenship by naturalisation — which is most likely what you are looking to learn about. So let’s discuss the process in more detail!

What is citizenship by naturalisation?

Naturalisation is just what it says on the tin you’re slowly naturalising, or integrating, into Dutch life while living in the Netherlands. To apply for citizenship in this way, there are many different conditions you need to meet:

  • You need to be an adult over 18 years of age.
  • You need to have a valid residence permit.
  • You need to have legally lived in the Netherlands (or Dutch Caribbean) for five years continuously.*
  • You can write, speak and read Dutch, as demonstrated by passing the Dutch Civic Integration Exam at A2 level (this may change in the future to B1 level, but a date hasn’t been confirmed as of yet)
  • You are not a danger to public order or national security.
  • You are willing to renounce your nationality and declare an allegiance to the Netherlands at a compulsory citizenship ceremony.

*If you’re reading this and thinking “Aw shucks, I’m way off the five-year mark” — well, keep reading.

What if I haven’t been in the Netherlands for five years?

It hasn’t been five years!? Don’t worry, we have this section covered. You can thank us later if you want.

There are a few exceptions to the five-year rule, like:

  • You are stateless (e.g. officially a refugee) and have lived in the Netherlands legally for at least three years.
  • You’ve held Dutch nationality in the past.
  • You are married or in a registered partnership with a Dutch citizen and have lived together in the Netherlands for three years or more with a valid residence permit.
  • Parental requirements deem it necessary.
  • You have cumulatively lived in the Netherlands for at least 10 years legally (the final two years need to be continuously living in the country).

Can I be a dual national in the Netherlands?

This is a controversial one because, for most people, you can’t. This means that you need to give up your nationality in order to become Dutch (a big and sometimes risky move).

Once you renounce your nationality, you need to submit an application and declaration signifying leaving your country and entering another.

Becoming a dual citizen in the Netherlands is not as easy as in other countries. Image: Depositphotos.

However, there are exceptions to this rule, and you must declare and prove them during your application. You can be a dual national if:

  • You are not allowed to give up your nationality in your home country.
  • You are officially registered as a refugee.
  • You are the married/registered partner of a Dutch citizen.
  • It’s impossible to contact the authorities in your home country.
  • You cannot revoke your nationality for a special reason — but this needs to be accepted.
  • If your nationality is not recognized in the Netherlands.
  • If you will lose important rights in your country if you were to give up your nationality.
  • If you were born in the Netherlands or Dutch Caribbean and you’re still currently residing there.
  • If you have to complete military service to give up your nationality.
  • If you have to pay a considerable amount of money to give up your nationality.

So what do I get out of becoming Dutch?

It’s probably best to read this bit several times over and see if it’s worth it 😉 although we can’t promise once you’ve transitioned that you’ll be any more knowledgeable on cheese and bikes.

Anyway, once you are a Dutch citizen, you gain these rights:

  • A Dutch passport;
  • Ability to vote in all Dutch elections and stand for election too;
  • Your children can become Dutch citizens;
  • EU citizenship — freedom to travel and live in the EU (good for you Brits);
  • You can vote for the European Parliament;
  • Enter and travel throughout the Netherlands freely.
Holders of a Dutch passport may freely live and travel anywhere in the Schengen zone. Image: Depositphotos.

What is the application process for getting Dutch citizenship?

Fair warning: to get that snazzy Dutch passport, it can take up to a year. Here’s how it goes:

  1. You need to visit your gemeente (municipality) if you want to apply for Dutch citizenship. There is a fee for submitting this application (€970 for citizenship by naturalisation in 2023, with some discounts available).
  2. Your application will then be reviewed, and if all is well, it will be given to the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND). You will need the usual valid documents, such as a passport, residence permit, birth certificate and Civic Integration Exam certificate to apply.
  3. If all goes to plan, you will be sent a confirmation in the post and an invite to your citizenship ceremony (compulsory).
  4. After this, you can officially apply for a Dutch passport.

If things don’t go to plan (sorry to hear that), you will also receive a letter saying why. You can reject the decision if you have a strong case.

Nah thanks, can I just have permanent residency in the Netherlands instead?

Of course you can. Not everyone wants to give up their nationality and in those cases, a permanent residency is a great option.

This means that you can stay in the Netherlands indefinitely, however, you cannot vote in Dutch elections (apart from municipal elections),

However, this can be revoked if you spend too long outside of the Netherlands and you need to renew your permanent residency every five years.

Are you applying for Dutch citizenship? Or have you already completed the process? Tell us your experience in the comments below!
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in March 2018 and was fully updated for your reading pleasure in January 2023.

Feature Image:Depositphotos
Emma Brown
Emma Brown
A familiar face at DutchRevew. Emma arrived in Holland in 2016 for a few weeks, fell in love with the place and never left. Here she rekindled her love of writing and travelling. Now you'll find her eating stroopwafels in the DutchReview office since 2017.

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  1. My hubby & I were living together for 4 years, and we’ve been married for 8 months of those 4 years. He has a dutch passport, and I have a South African passport. Is it possible to apply for a passport?

    • You have to apply for Dutch citizenship first.
      Inorder to do that you have to pass the Inburgerings exam.
      AFfter that you have to provide all evidence of your having lived together continuously for 3 years without any gaps in the dates. E.g rental agreement and/or bankstatements with both of your names on them OR showing that you had the same address continuously for 3 years. If any dates at all cannot be accounted for they will reject it. The Netherlands does recognise living together like marriage. You just have to prove it. I applied via marriage so I know the process. You cannot really escape doing the Inburgeringsexam unless you come from a Dutch speaking country or you are over the age of pension or some serious medical reason.

      • Hi Suziee ,

        We are together for 5 years , 4 years living together and 1 year married .
        Now they are saying I have to wait for 3 years marriage ,I do not understand why they do not count those 4 years living together ! so complicated and nobody has a clear answer unfortunately.

        • They are wrong! Even not married . As long you lived together for three years you can already applied for citizenship as long as you already have an inburgering diploma . Like me now im waiting for the result

          • Hi Mashel,

            This is great ! but nobody tells me what to do and they all say wait after 3 years marriage . Basically I even cannot make an appointment … I am confused 🙁 how did you do that ?

      • Hello Suzie.
        Thank you for that answer. I have a dutch passport. We to live here in this country in 2018. I am 75 and my hubby is 85 South Africa.
        My husband applied for Naturalisation after 3 years were told at the last interview that he was not exempted to do the taal exams.
        Are you sure this the right info??

  2. I have the right to the citizenship by law (by birth since my father is Dutch) but I’ve way too many questions that I cannot find an answer for online. Can someone reply back to me so I can ask?

  3. My husband and I have been married 2 years, 1.5 years of it living in Ireland, I’m South African and he’s got a dutch passport. does this mean in 1.5 years I can apply for my own Dutch passport? as we are not living in our home country?

    • First of all you have to be living together continuously for total of 3 years ( can be married or unmarried) and be able to prove it via a combination of rental agreements and bank statements with your names and the addresses being the same for that period and maybe your marriage certificate too.
      Go to the Dutch embassy in Ireland and tell them you want to apply for Dutch citizenship on that basis. They will tell you what you need to do. You will have to sit the Dutch Inburgerings exam. You cannot really escape this unless you are from a Dutch speaking country like Suriname or over retirement age in the Netherlands or some serious medical condition etc. Unfortunately South Africa it not one of those.
      After you pass the exam. You can then submit your application for Dutch citizenship with the evidence of living together to the embassy and they will send it to the Netherlands to be processed. If everything is okay you will receive an approval letter and then an invite to attend the Citizenship ceremony which is where you will get your Citizenship certificate. Only after that you can apply for Dutch Passport. Good Luck learning Dutch !!

      • Thank you so much for the reply. It’s now 2.5 years living married in Ireland so I will start getting ready documents, learning for exam etc.

    • Hi Angie
      As I have understood you will have to live in Netherlands for those 3 years not outside.
      In our case we got married for 6 years and lived together in Nepal and now we are moved back here, those years didn’t count.
      Ya inburgering exams must be passed within 3 years (if someone can’t, there are still some exemption to live here and keep trying exams, have seen someone with that situation.)
      Incase couples have babies then one don’t need to go through exams till babies turn 18 years old(one of friend have that situation).

  4. I have two Dutch grandparents but my South African mother never applied for citizenship. Am I eligible for a Dutch passport?

    • No. Only the UK and Ireland allows for Dutch citizenship through grandparents.
      Your mother must have applied for Dutch citizenship before she died. Read this government website.
      You can try though. Go talk to your gemeente. Also I think your grandparents could have lost their Dutch citizenship as a result of living away from the Netherlands for a long time , if they lived in South Africa most of their lives and never renewed their Dutch passports. You can also lose your Dutch citizenship if you live away from the Netherlands for a long time and never renewed your passport.

  5. Hi, I have a question:-

    If I lived in the Netherlands continuously for 5 years in the past and then left the Netherlands, am I still eligible to apply for Dutch citizenship if I have a Dutch residence again after the gap?

  6. I was born in Amsterdam, my father and grandfather were born in Rotterdam. I came to US as a baby and my father became US citizen 2 yrs later. Do I qualify for Dutch citizenship?

  7. Hi,

    Im a bit confused. Ive done some reading online but never really got an answer. I am a foreign adult and my dutch father is going to acknowledge me as his son. As an adult, will i be able to stay or acquire the citizenship? Thanks

  8. I did have dual citizenship here in Australia but then I got a letter saying it was canceled because it only lasted for 10 years and I should have gotten a Dutch passport which they never told me about. I was so proud but now sad. I like to get it back again but not sure how as we live 200 km from Sydney.

  9. i’ve lived in Holland continuosly for 6 straight years can l be permament resident? by the way i am a member of diplomatic staff…

  10. My parents came to South Africa in 1948/9. I was born in South Africa. I got a Bewijs van Nederlanderschap before I turned 21 but never applied for a Dutch Passport(unfortunately) My parents continued to renew their passports. All my family are in the Netherlands. Only my brother and myself are in SA. I have visited the Netherlands twice. I have all the documentation required (birth certificates, marriage certificates, copy passports,etc.) I am able to speak read and write Dutch. I made an appointment last year, and the ladies at the counter advised me not to waste my money as I was not eligible because I had “waited too long” and had not applied during the “window period” before 2013 (which I was not aware of). My parents have passed away.
    What do I need to do and would it be advisable to submit my application?

  11. Please i have some questions regarding the:” Continuously living for 5 years”

    1- Does the orientation year Count? During the orientation year i have been working and paying taxes??
    2- Does the study years count as 100% or 50%?
    3- During the 5-year residency : is there a limit of months i have been outside the Netherlands for Work/tourism??

  12. Hi , I was born in Holland to a Dutch mum and UK dad 1967 .. my birth was registered in Amsterdam and I have both UK and ‘overseas Dutch birth certificate . We lived in Holland until I moved to UK when I was 5 years old … I wondered if I could get a Dutch passport , as the thought of brexit sucks ! Any advice very welcome ! Thank you !

  13. Hallo
    I am married from a Dutch woman for 1.5 years .we are living together in Germany . I have not lived in Nederland.
    We have got a new baby and she has also the Dutch pass .
    Can I apply for the Dutch citizinship after 1.5 years , although I haven’t lived in Netherland at all ?

  14. I am not living in the Netherlands yet, only because I believe that one must have a job offer to apply for a work permit and when I apply for jobs it appears as if they want you to first have a work permit…. very confusing. Is there a specific place where one can establish exactly what my options are. I am 100% committed to becoming completely Dutch and can already speak and understand the language. How can I make my dream come true?

    • Hi Melissa Low, yes you do need to have right to work in Netherlands or EU or you have to be lucky to find an employer that would get a work permit for you. Unless you have skills in a sector that has a shortage of supply of workers like IT, this is going to be difficult. You may then have to go down the route of maybe opening a business within Dutch Law/Rules. Migration is becoming increasingly difficult in Europe. But there is always a loophole somewhere. You have to find it 🙂 The fact that you speak Dutch would be an advantage but you need to be able to legally reside here. Most Dutch are quite well educated and already speak Dutch and English so there is alot of competition for jobs.

  15. Hi my mother -in law was born in Netherlands in 1942 and came to South Africa in 1953 . My husband was born in 1971 . How /where can he find out if he qualify for Dutch citizenship? Not sure if my mother in law continued to renew her passport

  16. Hi. My family immigrated to Canada in 1957’, I was born in Nederland in 1944 but after we became citizens here, my Father did nod continue dual citizenship for us kids. Is it now too late for me to have dual citizenship?

  17. Hi. I was born in the Netherlands. Had a Dutch passport. Became dual citizen with Switzerland. Lost my Dutch citizenship due to non-renewal of passport. I now live in the USA. Can I get my Dutch nationality back? I still have my Swiss passport.

  18. Hi I lived in Holland for 13 years & my son was born there! I left when he was 1, he is now 7 & I want to return, is this possible?

  19. This section on dual Nationality exceptions is inaccurate.

    ( If you were born in the Netherlands or Dutch Caribbean and you’re still currently residing there ) This only applies if you have a Dutch parent.

  20. Hi , I was born in New Zealand in 1963 , my father was Dutch and emigrated to NZ after the war sometime in the 1950s and maried a Kiwi . My family returned to the Netherlands in 1970 where we lived with my grandmother and I went to the local school . We returned back to NZ where my father died I was 12 so never had a chance to discuss Nationality, I think my father was encouraged to become a natrulised New Zealander but not sure of the date whether he did this before I was born or after . Am I eligible to apply for a Dutch Passport or not , Thanks .

  21. Hi, Is my husband eligible for Dutch permanent residency when I become eligible and apply for it? We’ve been married for many years, much longer than 10 years 🙂

    Or vice versa, if my husband is eligible to apply for permanent residency, can I apply for it at the same time together with him?


  22. hi!
    I was born in the philippines but was not acknowledged by my dutch father wen i was a minor. now that he wants to do the acknowledgement , I am already above 18 years old. Will i still be able to get the citizenship after having recognised by my father in the gemeente and having provided the DNA results with in 1 year ? I see so much rules and laws but doesnt have a direct anwer really. Thanks!


  23. Hi
    I have been living in the Netherlands for the past nine years with my wife She has Dutch citizens ship. I have done a2 but not to all Writing is hard for me. I’ve tried many times and failed Is there any way to avoid doing a written exam? please reply me a thank-you

  24. good day, we live in South Africa. My husband and two daughters have Dutch passports but have never lived in Netherlands. My daughter who is 18 wants to move to Netherlands for university study(medicine) in 2021. Will she qualify for same tuition fees, student grants and loan as Dutch national – even if we don’t live in the Netherlands? Please reply if you can?

  25. The limit has been 7 years since a decision sometime mid-2016.
    Just before the bastards STOLE 3 years of lower income tax from expats.

    It’s like they want to get rid of the working immigrants. Maybe it’s better to have only slacking ones…

  26. My mother is married to a Dutch national for more than 40 years and have lived in South Africa at that time. When she asked about applying for a Dutch passport she was told NO as she had never lived in Holland. So how is this suddenly possible?

  27. Important to mention, that the rule of “5 years” doesn’t apply to temporary visa, especiall the student visa. So if you have been a student here in NL for 5 years straight or more, your year count will only start from the moment when you receive a long term visa (working visa).

  28. Hello I have a question, maybe you can help.

    Did you go through the process of naturalization?
    My only confusion is with the inburgeringexamen. I have signed up for the reading, writing, speaking, listening, and knowledge of dutch society. Are those the only exams you took? I am confused about the ONA and the portfolio, do I need to do that as well or is that just for people who HAVE to interate?

    Thank you.

  29. I have been living in The Netherlands for about four years.My husband has two passports one from Bulgaria and the other from Turkey.He registered here with the Bulgarian one as it is an EU country.Because of his EU nation citizenship I got my residence and work permission for 5 years.I want to be a Dutch citizen; do I have to wait for one more year to complete 5 years or is 3 years of residence enough in my case?

  30. Hi. I am a Dutch citizen, my wife is a British citizen and we are living in the UK. Brexit has made us think that we would rather live in the Netherlands, but it is not very clear which rules apply altogether when my wife wants to become a Dutch citizen. Apparently you don’t have to have lived in the Netherlands for 5 years if you have been married to a Dutch citizen and lived together (in NL or abroad) for three years or more. However, according to information from the IND, you should then not be living in the country of which you *are* a citizen. That would mean, according to me, that no British citizen currently living in the UK and married to a Dutch national is eligible for Dutch citizenship (other than moving abroad or waiting 5 years in NL). Can anyone here confirm this or perhaps provide some further info? Many thanks.

    • Hi Peter ,
      My husband is Dutch and I am non EU , and we both living in Spain. I have been at IND in Holland and also contacting the Consultant of Holland in Spain , they all confirmed , 3 years after marriage anywhere you are , you can apply for Dutch passport .
      I hope this helps

  31. How do we apply for permanent residency? Is it the same process as getting citizenship? Do we also have to stay 5 years or longer or less?

  32. Hi. I’m Nia. I live together with my boyfriend in the Netherlands for 1 year, and I’m getting married next month. I have a diplomatic residence now. I live here for 3,5 years. Can I change my residence permit with my condition? Anyway my resident permit as a diplomat only until next December. I hope you can help me with some information about my case. Thank you

  33. Hello, I’m Indonesia citizen. I live here for 3,5 years as a diplomat. So I live here with the diplomatic ID. I met Dutch Boyfriend and already live together for a year. Next month we are going to marry in the municipality. Unfortunately, my contract will be ended at December 2020. I’m searching information about my unique condition. I need your opinion about my case. Thank you

  34. Hi there,

    How would one apply for Dutch citizenship if their grandmother was from the Netherlands? Is their specific forms to fill out? Also, would the daughter of the grandmother have to obtain their dual first before the daughters son could apply?

    Any clarification would be greatly appreciated!

    Thanks, and stay safe during COVID!

  35. I have been living and working here for the past 5 years and two months. I am about to apply for the Nationality but I am afraid. They said you should not have committed a crime in the last 5 years. During the Lockdown in April, I was stopped by the highway police for driving without a valid license. I was then fined 360 Euro two months later. Will this prevent my ability to request the nationality? NB: I passed the inburgring exam and I have all other documents ready. Only issue is the fine for driving without a license.

  36. My husband will be applying for Dutch citizenship this year since he has been living in the Netherlands for 5 years now. I have been living with him in the Netherlands since the past 3 years. Assuming he gets the Dutch citizenship, can I immediately apply for the Naturalization procedure? Since I would then be married to a Dutch citizen and we have lived together in the Netherlands for 3 years. Or do I have to wait for 5 years too? Any info would be appreciated 🙂

  37. There is one very important thing that is missing here. You need to register your birth certificate with the gemeente. I am still waiting for this, even though I have all the other documents.

  38. Is there someone specifically who i can call to discuss the options for my children. I had a Dutch passport but did not renew timeously. Is there some way they can apply for their dutch passports or what are potential options for them, if any?

  39. I am from China and I plan to go to the Netherlands to study for a Ph.D. It will take about 4-5 years to do a Ph.D. I don’t know if I can apply for permanent residence after I study. If possible, I really hope to immigrate to the Netherlands.

  40. Practical question: when you apply for naturalisation at the gemeente, do they just take a copy of your passport, or the actual passport? So question is can you travel while they process the application?
    Many thanks

    • Hi Mo, thanks for your question! When you apply for naturalisation, they only take a copy of your passport and you should still be able to travel while they process your application given that your passport isn’t expired and you have any necessary visa requirements.

  41. My great-dad was born Dutch from Dutch parents and their parents in Curaçao. My grand-dad, his son died without claiming citizenship. Can I apply for citizenship as a great child? My great-dad died in The Dominican Republic in 1950s.

    I asked the embassy in England where I live but they could not say clearly. I hold Spanish citizenship.

  42. I am in a relationship with a Dutch native, I was born in the Netherlands. I did not attend 5 years consecutive the basis school in the Netherlands but did get Dutch schooling in South America and approximately 2 years in the Netherlands. My parents immigrated and I had to become an American for my work in 1969. Lost my Dutch citizenship but always travelled to the Netherlands. The 90/180 day rule. I would love to get dual citizenship but it seems impossible. Like to find out how and where I can apply for the process so I can stay in The Netherlands longer than 3 months with my Dutch partner. Do I need to see a jurist or lawyer (advocaat) ?

    • I have question regarding naturalization process. I will complete my 5 years in October 16 2023. I have booked appointment for applying naturalization on same day. Is that alright or I can only apply from 17 October 2023?

  43. Can someone direct me to a more orderly official explanation of the subject? I am USA born of Dutch parents and live in The USA. I previously believed I could only claim Dutch citizenship through my parents before an age deadline after I became an adult. I thought I had missed my chance but this article suggests otherwise. This article may have only confused us.


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