You can become a Dutch citizen by descent through your father and mother, but the requirements can be hard to understand. This is partly because Dutch law is complex, and was designed to restrict Dual Citizenship as much as possible.
Dutch by Birth
The first question you need to ask yourself is whether you are considered Dutch by birth.
Dutch law considers you a Dutch citizen by birth if you were born on or after January 1, 1985 to a married Dutch father or mother, or an unmarried Dutch mother. You automatically acquire Dutch citizenship at birth, regardless of the place you were born.
If you were born to an unmarried Dutch father and non-Dutch mother your father needed to acknowledge you before your birth in order for you to automatically acquire Dutch citizenship when you were born. Before April 1, 2003, your father could also acknowledge you after birth.
If your father did not acknowledge you before your birth, you may still be eligible to apply for citizenship through a process called ‘the option procedure,’ or by showing proof of paternity in court.
The Option Procedure
If you were born on or before December 31, 1984, to a Dutch mother, you did not acquire Dutch nationality at birth, because at the time Dutch nationality could only be passed down through the father. You are considered ‘latent Dutch.’Now that the Netherlands Nationality Act has passed, youare eligible to apply for citizenship through the option procedure.
According to the Dutch government’s website, you are also considered a Dutch citizen by “birth or acknowledgment” if:
- On the day of your birth your father was a Dutch citizen and at that time he was married to your non-Dutch mother.
- On the day of your birth your father was a Dutch citizen and at that time he was not married to your non-Dutch mother. Your father acknowledged you before your birth.
- Your father is a Dutch citizen and after March 1, 2009 he acknowledged you after your birth, but before your 7th birthday.
- Your parents have their main residence in the Netherlands. Your father or mother (or both) themselves were also born from parents who, at the time of their birth, had their main residence in the Netherlands.
Parents Living Outside the Netherlands
Before applying for Dutch citizenship by descent, you also need to make sure that your parent was still considered Dutch at the time of your birth. Dutch citizens generally lose their Dutch nationality when they live outside the Netherlands for 10 or more years as an adult, so this may not always be the case.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- Was your Dutch parent still a Dutch national at the time of your birth? In other words, were you born less than 10 years after your Dutch parent left the Netherlands?
- Did your Dutch parent lose their Dutch nationality by becoming a dual citizen?
Your Dutch parent shouldn’t have automatically lost their Dutch nationality when acquiring a second citizenship if they:
- Married a spouse whose nationality was the same as their second nationality.
- Lived a minimum of 5 years continously in the country of their second nationality before turining 18 years old, and renewed their Dutch passport before it expired every 10 years.
- Were born in the country of their other nationality and lived there when they got it.