Having a missing person declared dead

If a loved one or someone else has been missing for a long time, you can apply to a court to have them declared legally dead. This can happen 5 years after the person went missing (or in some cases, 1 year after they went missing). Applications to the court can only be made by parties with a significant link to the missing person. The Openbaar Ministerie (Public Prosecution Service) can also make applications.

Last updated 12 October 2021

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Having a missing person declared dead after 1 year

If the circumstances surrounding the disappearance make it likely that your loved one has died, the judge can declare them dead after 1 year, rather than you having to wait 5 years. 

Declaration of death 1 month after summons by judge

If it is not entirely certain whether the missing person has died, a judge will formally summon the missing person to appear, or someone else must be able to prove that the missing person is still alive. As a rule, the judge allows 1 month for this. If there is still no sign that the missing person is alive after 1 month, the judge will issue a doodverklaring (declaration of [presumed] death). The judge may also decide to summon the missing person a second time.

Laws and regulations (in Dutch)

Burgerlijk Wetboek Boek 1, artikel 413

Burgerlijk Wetboek Boek 1, artikel 426

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