How to get Dutch Citizenship in 2021: Becoming a Nederlander

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

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? I’m sorry to say, biking, eating a load of cheese and growing to over 6ft isn’t going to make you legally Dutch. You’re halfway there though, don’t sweat it πŸ˜‰ With this DutchReview guide, you will learn everything you need to know to become as Dutch as you can be (by law anyway).

How to get Dutch citizenship

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. But what is the process of getting Dutch citizenship? And can I even apply anyway? WELL:

  • You can apply via option procedure β€” lived in the Netherlands continuously since childhood
  • If you have lived in the Netherlands for five years straight β€” naturalisation
  • If one or both of your parents are Dutch (this includes adoption).
The most complicated of them all is Dutch citizenship by naturalisation and most likely what you are looking to learn about. So let’s discuss the process in more detail.

What is naturalisation?

Naturalisation is just what it says on the tin β€” you’re slowly naturalising to Dutch life. There are many different conditions you need to meet before you can apply in this way:

  • You need to be an adult β€” over 18 years of age (you know the score).
  • You need to have a valid residence permit.
  • You need to have lived in the Netherlands (or Dutch Caribbean) for five years continuously.
  • You are willing to revoke your current nationality.
  • You can write, speak and read Dutch, demonstrated by passing the Dutch Civic Integration Exam at A2 level.

Here are 7 words of Dutch to help you on your way to Dutch citizenship:

  • You have not been to prison, participated in community service or received hefty fines (upwards of €810, ouch) within four years.
  • You are willing to declare an allegiance to the Netherlands at a compulsory citizenship ceremony.

HOWEVER, there are exceptions to the five-year requirement, so keep reading folks…

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 rule, however, if you do not meet any of these exceptions then, unfortunately, you’re going to have to wait till the five-year mark! You’re an exception IF:

  • 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 to a Dutch citizen and have lived together (in NL or abroad) for three years or more.
  • Parental requirements deem it possible.
  • You have 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 (big and sometimes risky move). Once you renounce your nationality, you need to submit an application and declaration β€” signifying leaving your country and entering another. 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 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 β€” needs to be accepted.
  • If your nationality is not recognised 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?

Probably best to read this bit several times over and see if it’s worth it πŸ˜‰ β€” can’t promise once you’ve transitioned 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 β€” 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.

Worth it? Well, you’re already halfway through the article so you may as well carry on…

What is the application process for getting Dutch citizenship?

Note: the whole process can take up to a year

You need to visit your gemeente (municipality) if you want to apply for Dutch citizenship. There is a fee for submitting this application: a family is €1.091 and €855 for a single individual. It ain’t cheap! I’m in shock. It 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 passport, residence permit, birth certificate and Civic Integration Exam certificate to apply.

If all goes to plan, they will send you a confirmation in the post and an invite to your citizenship ceremony (compulsory). After this, you can officially apply for the 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?

Course you can. Not everyone wants to give up their nationality. Maybe you’ve given up on getting Dutch citizenship. WELL, you can apply for permanent residency. You can stay in the Netherlands indefinitely, however, you cannot vote in Dutch elections (apart from municipal elections), this can be revoked if you spend too long outside of the Netherlands and you need to renew it every five years. Those are the conditions!

So you’re well on your way to becoming Dutch…congrats! Once you’ve completed all of this and you’re very Dutch, then don’t forget to let us know if we’ve helped you in getting your Dutch citizenship. You can say thanks by joining our DutchReview Facebook group, you know you want to.

Feature image: Image: 9148 de imagini/Pixabay
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on 18 March 2018 and was fully updated for your reading pleasure in January 2021.

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.


  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 πŸ™ how did you do that ?

  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.

  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 β€˜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 πŸ™‚ 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?