Becoming a Dutch citizen

There are several ways of acquiring Dutch citizenship. You automatically become a Dutch citizen if one of your parents holds Dutch citizenship when you are born. Or if paternity is acknowledged by a Dutch citizen. Or through either the option procedure or naturalisation. Foreign citizens can apply for Dutch citizenship if they have lived in the Netherlands legally for at least 5 years.

How to become a Dutch citizen

There are 3 ways to become a Dutch citizen:

  • Automatically at birth (if one or both of your parents holds Dutch citizenship when you are born), through adoption or through acknowledgement of parentage.
  • Through a short, easy procedure that takes 3 months. However, this option is available only to people who belong to a special group defined by law. This is called the option procedure.
  • If you are not eligible for the option procedure, you can apply for naturalisation. This procedure usually takes less than one year, and never more than 2 years.

For more information on how to become a Dutch citizen, contact the municipality where you live. That is also where you have to submit your application. The Immigratie- en Naturalisatiedienst – IND (Immigration and Naturalisation Service) provides more information about becoming a Dutch citizen through either the option procedure or naturalisation and about the costs of becoming a Dutch citizen.

Rights of Dutch citizens

In the Netherlands all basic rights are laid down in the Constitution. Being a Dutch citizen means you can enter the Netherlands freely. Other rights that only apply to Dutch citizens are the right to vote and stand for election in parliamentary elections and the right to join the armed forces. People who hold Dutch citizenship can also apply for a Dutch passport and travel freely within the European Union (EU). Go to ‘What will change if I acquire Dutch citizenship?’ to find out more.

Giving up citizenship of other countries

In principle, you will have to give up any other citizenship you hold of any other country. There are some exceptions to this rule.

Acquiring or regaining citizenship of the Netherlands in another country

Former citizens of the Netherlands and some non-Dutch citizens who live in other countries can apply to regain or acquire Dutch citizenship. The IND brochure How can you regain your Dutch citizenship? (pdf, 261 kB) explains what former citizens of the Netherlands have to do to acquire Dutch citizenship again.