Am I Eligible for a Dutch Passport if My Partner is a Dutch Citizen?
For many migrants, the ultimate goal is to achieve citizenship in their newly adopted country. Citizenship comes with many benefits over and above permanent residency. For those who have decided to become citizens of the Netherlands, being able to hold a Dutch passport affords a great deal of freedom internationally. As a holder of a Dutch passport, you will have access to over 170 countries without needing to apply for a visa to gain entry. Having citizenship also means you can vote in your new home country, you will be able to live and work in any country in the EU, you can benefit from subsidised education, you will have consular protection, and you will be entitled to reciprocal healthcare benefits in any other EU country. If those benefits were not enough, having citizenship effectively cements your relationship to your new home and its people. This means that your children will have EU citizenship by descent, hence, your decision will have inter-generational benefits.
In this article, we will discuss the criteria for Dutch citizenship, specifically for those living in the Netherlands as a partner of a Dutch citizen.
Becoming a Dutch citizen
There are three routes to citizenship in the Netherlands:
Automatic granting of Dutch citizenship
Dutch citizenship is only granted automatically if you were born to Dutch parents or by adoption by a Dutch citizen. This route is not available to partners of a Dutch citizen.
Applying for an ‘option procedure’
Under certain circumstances, it may be possible to complete the option procedure to acquire Dutch citizenship, and this is available to non-EEA/EU and EEA/EU citizens. This is described as a ‘quick and easy way to acquire Dutch citizenship’ by the Dutch government. As defined by the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND), you will be eligible for this Dutch citizenship route if you have been married to a Dutch citizen or you have been the registered partner (i.e. in a civil partnership) of a Dutch citizen for at least three years. The IND also require that:
- the marriage or registered partnership must have been uninterrupted with the same Dutch citizen, and;
- you must have lived immediately prior to Dutch citizenship without interruption in the Netherlands for at least 15 years with a valid residence permit (EEA/EU citizens will not need to have held a residence permit).
If you do meet these criteria, you will also need to meet the following conditions to gain citizenship:
- You must not pose a danger to the public order or national security of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
- You must make the declaration of solidarity. This occurs at a naturalisation ceremony.
- You will be required to renounce your current nationality, but only if you have lived in the Netherlands from the age of 4.
Applying for Dutch Citizenship through Naturalisation
If you are not eligible for citizenship through the option procedure route outlined above, then you may be able to acquire it through naturalisation. This is a lengthier procedure and can take up to one year to complete. To be eligible for Dutch naturalisation you must be 18 years or older and have lived without interruption in the Netherlands for at least five years* with a valid residence permit. The IND will want to see that you have always extended your residence permit on time and that it is valid during the time you are being considered for naturalisation.
*Exceptions to the five-year rule if you are married or in a registered partnership
It is important to note that if you are married or in a registered partnership with a Dutch partner, there is an exception which means you may be able to apply earlier. These rules are as follows:
- You must have been married to or be the registered partner of a Dutch citizen and you must have been living together for three years (and will continue to do so during the whole naturalisation procedure).
- If you live in the Netherlands, then you do not have to have been married or registered partners for the whole three years. You should, however, have lived together in the Netherlands for a minimum of three years.
- If you live with your Dutch partner outside of the Netherlands, then you must have been living together as married or registered partners for a minimum of three years. The years that you lived together as unmarried partners do not count.
As such, under the rules for naturalisation, there is an important distinction made between those living in the Netherlands and those living outside when it comes to eligibility under the three-year exception.
Making an Application for Citizenship
If you are applying under the option procedure, you will need to make an ‘option statement’ in your local municipality (this process is not managed by the IND). You will need to pay ???€191 and ???€21 for each child under 18 included on the options application. The municipality will then make a decision within 13 weeks. If your application is successful, you will then be invited to a citizenship ceremony, where you will be formally awarded Dutch citizenship.
If you are applying under the naturalisation route, you will also need to apply in your local municipality, and also fill out a form stating that you will make the statement of allegiance (this is read out later at your naturalisation ceremony). The costs for a naturalisation application are €901 per person and ?€133 for each child under 18 naturalising with their parent. As stated above, it can take up to one year to receive a decision on naturalisation. If you are successful, you will be invited to attend a citizenship ceremony, where you will be formally awarded Dutch citizenship.
There are two main routes to citizenship for partners of Dutch citizens, either via the option procedure or the full naturalisation process. If you are unsure which applies to you, it is advisable to engage the services of solicitors who can advise you of the best route to choose, hence ensuring you acquire Dutch citizenship in the shortest possible time.
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