Double Nationality and the Netherlands – Are You Still Dutch? Better Check!

It’s been coming for a while now, after years of discussion the Dutch government has been begun actively discouraging ‘double nationalities’, in other words – enjoying other official citizenship other than your Dutch. If you’re having a double passport, it may be time to get into contact with your local branch of the Dutch authorities and find out whether or not you are still eligible for Dutch citizenship, some people are finding out they aren’t…

Time to have a good look at Double Nationality and the Netherlands

 

Double Nationality and the Netherlands: What is a Double Nationality and Why is it Controversial?

We all have a nationality at birth, unless something very special happened and you were never registered, which is usually the country your parents had (permanent) residence in. Some countries extend this ‘privilege’ to anyone on their soil, or within their borders, even if they or their parents weren’t actually living there – in the US for example many women have given birth within US borders, whether purposely or purely by coincidence, and the child would be eligible for US citizenship. Other countries will allow a child to be a citizen based on their parents’ nationality or ethnic background, even if the parents are no longer in that country, one of those nations is Turkey.

After registration, and meeting the requirements necessary, you are then given ‘citizenship’ – meaning you are now officially Dutch, American, Japanese or anything in between. It means you will enjoy all the privileges that come with it, you have the exact same rights as everyone else in the country – including diplomatic aid (say, you’d get in trouble on vacation – the US embassy will step in), social services (unemployment benefits or student grants  in Holland) as well as being able to cast your vote in elections (are you voting for Shinzo Abe to lead Japan into the future?). It also means you’ll probably be given your very own passport, or at least some sort of official documents that prove your citizenship and allow you to travel.

 

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Want to read more about Double Nationality and the Netherlands? 

Here’s one about dual citizenship for the Dutch in the UK and this one about getting Dutch citizenship as an American.

Why has Double Nationality and the Netherlands become an issue?

The reason this has become controversial is because certain people are enjoying the benefits of both, doubling up their personal privileges over those other citizens who merely have their own, single nationality, citizenship.
In some cases people with double nationalities are enjoying social benefits from both countries, for example having worked in Holland for years – returning to their home country but continuing to receive those benefits while no longer part of Dutch society and also receiving benefits locally from that country. This in particular has happened a lot in Morocco, where some (former) migrants now live “luxurious” lives, at least in comparison if they had had merely one nationality.

In other cases people are involved in political dealings in a ‘country of heritage’, in other words they have never lived there – sometimes not even vacationed there, but are actively rallying others in their country of residence – where they currently live – to influence politics of the other nationality. This very obviously happened recently in Turkey, where controversial PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan sought after presidency and pull in a lot of political power. Instead of concentrating on Turkish citizens in Turkey, Erdogan branched out all over Europe and rallied Turks to vote in favor of his reforms. He also began actively campaigning in those countries, which is extremely diplomatically controversial, sending out Turkish political figures to rallies in Europe – in Holland the situation escalated when a Turkish minister was rejected and riots broke out in Rotterdam and Amsterdam.

Turkish Vice-Premier is not welcome in the Netherlands
‘Make Turkey in the Netherlands great again’

Last but not least – some people are using their double nationality to ‘hide’ from the consequences of their actions, some countries do not extradite their citizens and so – if you have their citizenship – you can commit acts of crime in one country and flee there to avoid prosecution. Worse perhaps is that some figures are using their double nationalities for terrorism. Many for example crossed into Islamic State-territory from neighboring countries of which they were also citizens, and because they still have Dutch (or other) passports they may return at will to that country – potentially plotting terrorist attacks.

 

Now What? Go See Your Local Embassy or Hire an Immigration Lawyer!

Starting now the new Dutch cabinet, Rutte III, will actively start banning double nationalities of new immigrants. This means you will be informed of having to make a choice – do you wish to remain or become a Dutch citizen, keeping your benefits and passport, or will you renounce it for your new/old nationality and lose them but keep your ‘current’ rights and benefits there?

Some people may automatically lose their citizenship, for example because they were merely children when they migrated elsewhere and came of age in their new country, never having actively been part of Dutch society as adults. Others, as stated before, will have to make a choice sooner or later.

Double Nationality and the Netherlands

On the upside, it may also make Holland safer – as certain people, criminals (ab)using their citizenship and terrorists, will now also lose their citizenship and may not return to the country or be promptly arrested upon arrival as an ‘unwanted alien’ – a Persona non Grata of the highest category.

You can however likely make a case out of your situation, asking to speak to the Dutch Naturalization and Immigration Service (IND) and/or lawyering up with an Immigration Lawyer who should be able to give you a clear picture of what your options are.

For everyone else little will change – so don’t worry too much just yet! The Dutch aren’t after you or trying to ruin your life, rather it’s trying to keep oversight of where the overseas money flows and who’s being a citizen of where. When in doubt, write to your local Dutch branch of the government, in Holland itself there’s always someone in town or nearby that can give you at least basic information – or just check the websites or give them a call! Just be sure not to be surprised at a bad time!

Anything to add to this discussion about Double Nationality and the Netherlands? Feel free to pitch in!

3 COMMENTS

  1. Since 2003 Dutch citizens living abroad have been allowed to take another nationality and remain a Dutch citizen PROVIDED they take the nationality of their spouse or partner (m-m, f-f, m-f). Even though this change in the Dutch nationality law has been in effect for 15 years, many people still don’t know about this. So check whether the rules permit dual nationality in your case. And it’s not THAT difficult, you can do it yourself, just gather a number of documents (birth certificate of your spouse/partner, marriage certificate/proof of long-term relationship), have them officially certified (get an apostille — check with your state’s Secretary of State in the US), and file them. Also ask for a “Verklaring van Behoud Nederlanderschap”, makes renewing your passport a lot easier.

    Also: if you have ever officially lived in the Netherlands after you turned 15, you are entitled to a (tiny, 2% for each year you were in the Old Country) part of the current AOW (Dutch old-age pension) payments. Even if you never worked there. No matter where you currently live or what nationality you have. The “Sociale Verzekeringsbank (www.svb.nl) can tell you all about it. If you qualify they will pay into any bank account anywhere, one a month, once a quarter or even once a year.

  2. I am one of those people Benno mentions. Have lived in the US for 40+ years and had no idea I coul have retained my Dutch citizenship. In the meantime, my passport has expired:(
    I also have worked in The Netherlands after the age of 15, while briefly living with my parents. Interesting that I would qualify for AOW! Not that I plan on doing anything about that.
    However, am interested in regaining my Dutch citizenship…..

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