Dutch nationality by birth or family ties

Not every child who is born in the Netherlands automatically acquires Dutch nationality. The deciding factor is whether the child has Dutch parents. Sometimes the child’s father has to acknowledge paternity.

How does a child acquire Dutch nationality?

Does a child have a Dutch father or mother at birth? In that case it is a Dutch national.

In a number of cases, however, a child does not automatically have Dutch nationality. In these cases a number of acts must be performed to make the child a Dutch national.

  • If a Dutch man acknowledges the child before its birth or before it reaches seven years of age, the child acquires Dutch nationality. This acknowledgment may take place at the town hall in the Netherlands or in a foreign country.
  • If the child is acknowledged by a Dutch man after its seventh birthday, and the father provides DNA proof of his paternity within a year of that acknowledgment, the child acquires Dutch nationality as well. If the father does not possess any DNA proof, he can apply for his child to be given Dutch nationality through the option procedure. In this case he must first raise and care for the child for three years without interruption.

Acknowledgment of an unborn child

In the Netherlands a father can acknowledge his child before its birth. In most other countries this is not possible, however. In that case, you can acknowledge the unborn child by having an affidavit of paternity drawn up by a Dutch municipality or a Dutch notary. In some countries the Dutch embassy or consulate can have a special affidavit of paternity of an unborn child drawn up.

Acquiring Dutch nationality through one’s parents’ marriage (legitimation)

In some countries, the child of an unmarried woman who later marries automatically becomes the child of the mother’s husband in the eyes of the law. This is called legitimation. If the husband possesses Dutch nationality at the time of the legitimation, the child who has thus been legitimated acquires Dutch nationality at the same time.

Does the child already have a father, in a legal sense, when the mother marries the Dutch man? In that case legitimation cannot take place. This applies, for instance, if the mother had been married to another man when the minor child was born, or if another man had acknowledged the minor child at some point in the past.

Nationality in cases of adoption

If a non-Dutch minor child is adopted by decision of a court in the Netherlands, Aruba, Curaçao or St Maarten, it acquires Dutch nationality if one or both of the adoptive parents are Dutch nationals. The same applies in the event of a single-parent adoption by a Dutch national of a non-Dutch minor child.

If the adoption took place outside the Netherlands, Aruba, Curaçao or St Maarten, other rules apply. For cases of this kind, the Netherlands Nationality Act lays down rules determining whether or not the adopted child acquires Dutch nationality.