This week, and for the first time ever, roughly 100,000 Dutch girls born in 2003 will receive a letter of conscription. This year marks the first in which both men and women can be conscripted to the military.

Conscription in the Netherlands has only applied to men until now. In 2018, the House of Representatives decided that conscription should apply to both men and women so as to promote equal treatment.

Up until this year, once a boy turned 17-years-old, he would receive a letter of conscription, but this did not apply to girls.

What is conscription?

Under conscription, every man and woman in the Netherlands aged between 17 and 45 may be required to complete military service. This used to be compulsory. However, since May 1, 1997, it has not been compulsory for conscripts to attend their military service, despite being conscripted.

This means that for now, after turning 17-years-old, a conscript will receive a letter from the Ministry of Defense stating that they are registered for military service. However, the letter also states that the duty to show up has been suspended.

This is because the Ministry of Defence felt that the Netherlands needed to focus on professionalising its army with soldiers who wish to remain longer and receive proper training.

No exceptions — even for royalty

Princess Amalia will also be amongst this first group of female conscripts. The Rijkvoorlichtingsdienst (Government Information Service) has written that “Princess Amalia, like all Dutch young people who will turn seventeen in 2020, receives this letter. At the moment, however, we cannot anticipate the way in which Princess Amalia will want to get acquainted with Defense in view of its future.”


Given that the Netherlands not currently under any military threat, the conscripts may never need to see military service. However, should the Netherlands ever fall under threat again, compulsory attendance may be introduced once more.

What do you think of military conscription? Let us know in the comments below! 

Feature Image: Ben Koorengevel/Unsplash



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