Netherlands Citizenship by Descent

Updated on Monday 13th September 2021

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Acquiring Netherlands citizenship by descent is an alternative to naturalization for those who have  family ties to Dutch citizens. While the primary condition is to be related to a Dutch individual, other conditions can apply and our team of Netherlands immigration specialists can give you more details and assist you in a proper manner if you are eligible.
 
Those who are not related to a Dutch national and cannot obtain Netherlands citizenship by descent can discuss more about the option for naturalization with our agents.
 

How can one become a Dutch citizen by acknowledgment?

 
Netherlands citizenship by descent is also referred to as citizenship by birth or acknowledgment. Two possibilities are available in this case, being born before 1 January 1985 or being born after 31 December 1984.
 
For those born before January 1 1985:
  • one is a Dutch citizen if the father was a Dutch citizen at the time of the birth; it makes no difference if the applicant was born in the Netherlands or abroad;
  • if the mother is Dutch and the father a foreign national, the applicant can acquire citizenship via the option procedure.
 
For individuals born after 31 December 1984, only one of the following requirements is needed to acquire Netherlands citizenship by descent:
 
  • the mother’s nationality: the applicant’s mother was a Dutch citizen on the date of his or her birth;
  • the father’s nationality: the applicant’s father was a Dutch citizen and on the date of the birth he was married to the mother who was not a citizen;
  • father’s acknowledgment: an option for Netherlands citizenship by descent also exists when the father was a Dutch citizen and even though he was not married to the non-Dutch mother, he acknowledged the applicant before birth;
  • acknowledgment after 1 March 2009t: the father was a Dutch citizen and he acknowledged the applicant after birth but before his or her 7th birthday;
  • main residence: on the applicant’s date of birth, one or both parents had their main residence in the country and, in addition to this, when the mother or father was born, either one of their parents also had their main place of residence in the Netherlands.
 
For acquiring Netherlands citizenship by descent based on having a Dutch father who recognized the applicant at or after 7 years of age, one needs to present a paternity test. This biological evidence must be provided within one year following the acknowledgment.

In those situations, in which the individual who is supposed to acknowledge the citizenship applicant is unable or unwilling to provide biological samples for the DNA evidence there is an alternative to submit an option statement to the municipality, in the name of the applicant. However, for this to be possible, the applicant needs to be younger than 18 years. Children acknowledged between April 2003 and March 2009 are subject to a different regulation. When the Dutch man who chooses to make an option statement for the applicant, he needs to have been taking care of the child for at least three years (with the period running until the time of the application). The care needs to have been continuous. Our team can give you more details about the documents that are submitted in this case.
 
Another situation takes place when the applicant was subject to joint parental authority (when one of the parents is a non-Dutch and the other is a Dutch national). In this case, the joint authority needs to have been determined in court and the applicant also needs to have been cared for by the parent who is a Dutch national for no less than 3 years after the parental authority was established. Moreover, for the applicant to obtain Netherlands citizenship by descent, he/she needs to not live in the country of nationality.
 
It is useful to note that the option for acknowledgement through a DNA sample or the statement option can also apply to individuals who are adults at the time of the application.
 
Individuals who were born to a Dutch mother and a Dutch father do not become citizens by law. However, as stated above, they can opt to become citizens. The documents that are relevant for the option procedure are the following: valid passport, the birth certificate, the valid residence permit or other means of proving lawful residence. The process is completed at the municipality in the area where the applicant lives in the Netherlands. It is customary for the individual to fill in the forms with the municipal staff, however, our team of immigration agents can provide you with complete assistance during the process and will instruct you on how to fill in the forms and the statements that need to be made. We can also guide you on how to include your children under the age of 18 (if applicable) in the application.
 
A detail that needs to be kept in mind when becoming a Dutch citizen is that, during the process, the applicant will need to formally determine the name that will be used in the country. This is needed when the individual does not have a last name or a first name. When filling in the application, he will agree upon the name and surname.
 

What are the options in case of adoption?

 
Although not included in one of the categories presented above, which clearly stipulate the citizenship of the biological father or the general situation of both biological parents, one can apply for Netherlands citizenship by descent in case of adoption, under certain specific conditions:
 
  • a minor child can be granted Dutch citizenship by adoption abroad when one of the parents is a Dutch citizen;
  • the adoption needs to be performed according to the Hague Adoption Convention;
  • there are no ties with the biological parents.
 
Our team of Netherlands immigration agents can give you complete information on how the conditions for Netherlands citizenship by descent can apply in case of adopted individuals.
 

 What are the changes that take place once you are a Dutch citizen?


An individual who is a Dutch citizen according to the law can apply for a Dutch passport or identity card, as needed. This is done with the municipality in the area in which the applicant resides. If he or she lives abroad, the application can be submitted to the Dutch Embassy or Consulate in that country.

Moreover, once nationality is acquired through the option or the descent process, the individual will be recorded as a national in the Personal Records Database. This gives the individual the option to vote in parliamentary elections as well as travel within the Schengen area freely. Children who are subject to this procedure will need to have their identity card once they are 14 as it is mandatory to carry proof of identity after this age.
 
For voting in municipal elections, there is no condition for a foreign national to have Dutch nationality, however, he or she must be older than 18 years, have a residence permit and need to have stayed for at least 5 years in the country before they are able to do this.
 
Obtaining Dutch nationality for minor children is possible when the parent submits his or her application. For this purpose, the child needs to be included in the application for Dutch nationality and needs to be younger than 18 at the time of the naturalization. Our team can give you more details about this process, including information on the child’s opinion to become a Dutch national once they are 12 years or older.
In those situations in which Netherlands citizenship is obtained by option, the individual is subject to a naturalization ceremony, as per the conditions set forth by the Ministry of Justice and Security. During this ceremony, the individual who wishes to become a citizen will take an oath during which he or she will pledge to respect the laws as well as respect the freedoms and rights that come after having acquired nationality. One states during the oath that he or she will faithfully fulfill the obligations that arise from having obtained nationality.
 
Becoming a Dutch national is official once the individual has taken a pledge and the municipality presents a document that confirms nationality. Every individual over the age of 16 who wishes to become a Dutch national is required to go through this process. 

Adults should know that they can lose their Dutch nationality when voluntarily take another nationality. Loss of nationality also occurs when the individual has dual citizenship and he or she has lived for at least 10 consecutive years outside the Kingdom of Netherlands and the European Union (subject to certain exceptions). The Dutch government may choose to revoke the citizenship of an applicant when he or she has failed to comply with the requirements for renouncing the other citizenship or when the conditions for the naturalization procedure were not observed (as applicable for this manner of acquitting Dutch citizenship).
 
According to Statistics Netherlands, at the end of November 2020, there were 17,474,677 people living in the country. The data also shows the following about immigrants:
 
  • in 2019, 2,161,684 persons were first-generation migrants;
  • 1,924,454 people had a second-generation migration background in 2019;
  • In 2018, the number was lower, with 2,079,329 people for first-generation migration background and 1,892,530 people in the second-generation migration background.
 
Contact us for more information on obtaining Netherlands citizenship by descent as well as for details about the naturalization procedure.