Second Citizenship
April 8, 2024
Reading Time: 13 min

Netherlands citizenship: how to move to one of the happiest countries in the world

For those who dream of tulip fields and canal-side living, acquiring the Netherlands citizenship might be a good opportunity.

There’s more than one route to join the ranks of happy bike-riding Dutch nationals. Whether it’s through birthright, naturalisation, or the option procedure, each path has its peculiarities and requirements.

Learn the details of each way to become a Dutch citizen and the unique advantages of it.

Elena Ruda
Elena Ruda

Explains the details of obtaining citizenship in the Netherlands

All ways to obtain Netherlands citizenship

Netherlands citizenship: how to move to one of the happiest countries in the world

Things to know about Netherlands citizenship

Citizenship by investment is popular among wealthy expats. Foreigners receive second passports by contributing money to the economy of the country they wish to reside in. 

In the Netherlands, individuals cannot acquire Dutch nationality by investment.

Residence Permits for Foreign Investors, or the Golden Visas to the Netherlands, have been in place since 2013. Investors with Golden Visas could obtain Dutch citizenship by naturalisation in 5 years.

Children can acquire Netherlands citizenship automatically through birth, acknowledgement, or adoption. This process is known as obtaining Netherlands citizenship through descent and occurs as a result of legal provisions. Therefore, there is no need to apply for Dutch nationality.

Adults are eligible for Netherlands citizenship through naturalisation or the so-called option procedure, which is applicable for those who do not automatically hold or have lost Dutch nationality.

Comparison of citizenship and residency by investment programs

Practical Guide

Comparison of citizenship and residency by investment programs

Netherlands citizenship by birth, acknowledgement, or adoption

By birth. If a child was born after December 31st, 1984, they will automatically acquire Dutch nationality through birth in the following scenarios:

  1. If the child’s mother was a Dutch citizen at the time of the child’s birth.

  2. If both of the child’s parents were Dutch citizens at the time of their child’s birth.

  3. If the child’s father was a Dutch citizen at the time of the child’s birth and is married to the child’s non-Dutch mother, or the father is the mother’s registered partner, or the father acknowledged the child before the child was born.

  4. If, at the time of birth, the child and the child’s mother had their main residence in the Kingdom of the Netherlands, and one of the mother’s parents also had their main residence in the Kingdom on the day the mother was born.

  5. If, at the time of birth, the child and the child’s father had their main residence in the Kingdom of the Netherlands, and one of the father’s parents also had their main residence in the Kingdom on the day the father was born.

  6. Whether the child was born in the Netherlands or abroad does not affect their eligibility for Netherlands nationality in these situations.

Suppose the father holds Dutch citizenship at the moment of the child’s birth. In that case, the child will automatically acquire Dutch nationality through descent, regardless of whether the child was born in the Netherlands or abroad.

However, if the mother were a Dutch citizen at the time of the child’s birth while the father was not, the child would not automatically be granted Netherlands citizenship. In such a case, the child has the option to pursue Dutch citizenship through option.

By adoption. Children automatically acquire Netherlands nationality through adoption if they satisfy the following conditions:

  1. The child is below the age of 18.

  2. One of the adoptive parents holds Dutch citizenship.

  3. The adoption was conducted in accordance with the provisions of the Hague Adoption Convention or Book 10 of the Dutch Civil Code.

  4. All legal and familial connections with the biological parents have been entirely severed.

By acknowledgement. If a Dutch citizen acknowledged the child after March 1st, 2009, following the child’s birth and before the child reached the age of 7, the child automatically obtains Dutch citizenship.

If the child was 7 years old or older but under 18 when they were acknowledged, a DNA test is required to confirm the biological relationship, and this test should be conducted within 1 year of the child’s acknowledgement.

If the acknowledger is unable or unwilling to undergo a DNA test, the child has the right to acquire Dutch citizenship through option. Additionally, the acknowledger must have provided care and upbringing to the child continuously for at least 3 years, and the child must be under 18 at the time of the application.

Netherlands citizenship through the option procedure

Individuals who do not automatically hold or have lost Dutch nationality may qualify for the option procedure. This includes those who were born in the Netherlands, have previously lived there, or have been in a registered partnership with a Dutch citizen.

Those born in the Kingdom of the Netherlands can become Dutch citizens if they are:

  1. Individuals over 18 and have been living in the Netherlands since birth. At the time of application, they possess a valid residence permit.

  2. Stateless since birth. One more condition is to have lived continuously in the Netherlands for a minimum of 3 years with a valid residence permit.

Unmarried minors below 18 can apply for Netherlands citizenship in case they have been acknowledged by a Dutch citizen, consistently nurtured and raised by them for a minimum of 3 years. This period should extend until the day they submit the option application.

One more condition is that you should have never acquired Dutch nationality through birth or paternity acknowledgement, nor has a court ruled that the Dutch national is your parent.

Minors are eligible for Netherlands citizenship if they have been under the joint parental authority exercised by one of the parents, who is a non-Dutch national, in conjunction with a Dutch citizen. This joint parental authority has either been automatically established by law or as a result of a court decision within the Netherlands.

During the period following the establishment of this joint parental authority, minors have been raised and cared for by the Dutch national for a minimum of 3 years. Additionally, they do not currently reside in the country of nationality.

Adults over 18 or married individuals below 18 can apply for Netherlands citizenship in the following situations:

  1. They have resided in the Kingdom of the Netherlands since the age of 4, continuously maintaining a valid residence permit throughout this time, which is still valid presently.

  2. They were previously Dutch nationals and have lived in the Kingdom of the Netherlands for a minimum of 1 year. They possess either a permanent residence permit or a temporary residence permit with a purpose of stay that is not temporary.

  3. They have been in marriage or registered partnership with a Dutch national for at least 3 years. This marital or partnership relationship has been continuous and with the same Dutch national, and they have resided in the Kingdom of the Netherlands continuously for a period of at least 15 years with a valid residence permit immediately before confirmation of the acquisition of Dutch nationality.

  4. They are 65 years of age or older and have continuously lived in the Kingdom of the Netherlands for at least 15 years with a valid residence permit before the confirmation of the acquisition of Dutch nationality.

Former Dutch citizens can return their Netherlands nationality if the repercussions were deemed excessive in their case. It means the consequences of this loss were exceedingly severe and should not have occurred. Individuals will need to prove that the loss of EU citizenship is a serious disadvantage for them. For example, in case they need the rights of EU citizens to travel for work.

Individuals can check whether they are able to regain their Dutch Nationality on the website of the Government of the Netherlands.

Those born before January 1st, 1985, to a Dutch mother are eligible for Netherlands nationality in case the father did not possess Dutch citizenship at the time of the child’s birth.

Besides, if you are the child of someone who has acquired or could have acquired Dutch nationality through an option, you may have the opportunity to obtain Dutch nationality through option as well.

Those adopted before January 1st, 1985, by a woman with Dutch nationality and who were minors at that time qualify for Netherlands citizenship. A court in the Kingdom of the Netherlands should legally declare the adoption.

If the applicant is now the child of someone who has obtained or could have obtained Dutch nationality through option, they may also have the option to acquire Dutch nationality through this process.

Women who married a non-Dutch person before January 1st, 1985, and lost their nationality can receive Netherlands passports, too, in case they are now either recently divorced or widowed. It is possible to submit an option application within 1 year of the termination of the marriage.

Netherlands nationality by naturalisation

The Netherlands passport can be acquired by naturalisation in the following situations:

  1. The individual has lived in the Netherlands with a residence permit for five consecutive years.

  2. The individual lives in the Netherlands as an EU national.

  3. The individual lives outside the Netherlands or in the Netherlands Caribbean with a residence permit. The Netherlands Caribbean consists of Aruba, Curaçao, and Sint Maarten, as well as three special municipalities: Bonaire, Sint Eustatius, and Saba.

The applicant for Netherlands nationality by naturalisation should be 18 years or older. It is necessary to pass the civic integration exam, proving the applicant can read, write, speak, and understand Dutch to an A2 level. Besides, the individual must be of no danger to the public order or national security of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

There will be a naturalisation ceremony, which is an opportunity for the individual and the municipality to celebrate obtaining Dutch nationality jointly. There, the applicant makes the declaration of solidarity, which means they agree that the laws of the Kingdom of the Netherlands also apply to them.

Individuals can become naturalised Dutch citizens abroad if they have been married to or in a registered partnership with a Dutch national for at least 3 years or can prove that they have lived with a Dutch partner for at least 3 years. Those who have previously held Dutch nationality are also eligible to become naturalised abroad.

It is necessary to be not a national of the country where you live or be prepared to renounce your current nationality. Besides, you must pass the naturalisation test, meet the conditions for a Dutch residence permit for non-temporary purposes of stay, and have not committed a criminal offence in the past 5 years.

Expenses for obtaining Netherlands citizenship

The application fee for obtaining citizenship through option is the following:

  • €206 — for a person;

  • €351 — for a person and their partner;

  • €23 — for a child under 18 together with a parent;

  • €0 — for a Moluccan.

To acquire Netherlands citizenship through naturalisation, a single applicant pays €970 and a married couple pays €1,238. A parent and a child under 18 are charged €143.

The fee for stateless people and holders of asylum residence permits depends on the marital status: a single person pays €722 and a couple pays €991.

The Mollucan are exempt from paying the citizenship fee.

Individual cost calculation of the Maltese citizenship

Individual cost calculation of the Maltese citizenship

What rights come with Dutch citizenship?

Obtaining Dutch citizenship grants the status of the Basisregistratie Personen. It provides its holders with the following rights:

  1. The ability to enter the Netherlands and 172 countries freely.

  2. Automatic EU citizenship and rights.

  3. The ability to move and reside freely in any EU country.

  4. Ability to vote in Dutch and EU national and provincial elections and to stand for election. Ability to vote for the European Parliament.

  5. The right to join the Dutch armed forces and hold public positions.

  6. The ability for children to join the applicant.

  7. The ability to work and create business in the EU.

  8. Access to high-quality healthcare and education within the EU.

7 benefits of obtaining a Netherlands passport

1. Residence in the Netherlands and other EU countries. Being a Netherlands citizen expands horizons professionally and personally within Europe. Once deciding to work in Berlin or study arts in Italy, all this is possible with a Netherlands passport.

Netherlands citizens are allowed to vote in all Dutch and European selections and work in all public positions, for example, as mayor, police officer, soldier or judge.

2. Visa-free travel. Holding a Dutch passport opens doors to 172 countries all around the world. This includes Schengen countries, the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Australia, and many others.

Reaching Paris or Berlin from Amsterdam takes 6—7 hours by car. By plane, it is on average 2 hours to arrive in Milan or Barcelona.

3. Work and international business. A Dutch passport allows you to open a company in the country or another European state. Working in the European Union won’t require getting a residence permit or work permit in advance. The Netherlands is considered one of the least corrupt countries within the EU.

4. Life in a safe and happy country. Acquiring the Netherlands citizenship is a way to feel safe, secure, and calm. In the Global Peace Index, the Netherlands ranks 16th among the safest countries in the world.

The Netherlands is in the top 5 happiest countries in the world, according to the World Happiness Report—no wonder the locals are satisfied with their lives. The country boasts tulip fields, colourful houses, and around 315 sunny days per year. Besides, the quality of life is high, and the unemployment rate is only 3,5%.

How to obtain Netherlands nationality

The Netherlands is not only about tulips, the sun, and sheep. In winter, ice skaters gather on Lake Rottemeren and enjoy their time right near windmills

5. High standard of living. According to the US News and World Report, the Netherlands ranks 7th in the world in terms of quality of life and 10th among the best countries in the world. About 78% of people aged 15 to 64 in the Netherlands have paid jobs. Almost 0% of employees work long hours in paid work.

As for ecology, the Netherlands is considered one of the best at offering opportunities for a healthy environment. 91% of people say they are satisfied with the quality of their water. Life expectancy at birth is around 82 years.

6. Education and healthcare in the EU. According to the QS World Universities Ranking, 13 universities in the Netherlands are ranked among the top 400 in the world. Three of them are in the top hundred.

The tuition fees are considerably lower than in English-speaking countries. Primary education in Amsterdam is 50% cheaper than in London.

In 2023, the Netherlands ranked 11th in the Health System Ranking Countries Worldwide, surpassing Germany and Austria.

All residents must get mandatory health insurance to cover their primary care needs. Insurance companies pay expenses that are more than €385. The state will reimburse the cost of treatment to low-income patients: up to €2,527 a year for a family and up to €1,323 per year for a single citizen.

7. Cultural and natural wealth. The Netherlands is a country rich and diverse in culture and history. Dutch painting and crafts are world-renowned, and Dutch painters such as Rembrandt van Rijn and Vincent van Gogh are among the greatest the world has ever known. Besides, 13 national sites are included in the UNESCO World Heritage sites, with the Mill Network at Kinderdijk-Elshout being one of them.

Due to the cosy, narrow streets and the canals of Amsterdam, tulip fields and flat farmlands in the north of the country, cycling in the Netherlands has become a popular activity.

How to obtain Netherlands nationality

At the island of Texel, a famous lighthouse is located. There, one can see the sea from three directions. This is a beautiful movie-like place to vanish from the world and have a good rest

Taxes in the Netherlands

Becoming a Dutch citizen involves certain fiscal responsibilities. However, being a taxpayer here has its perks too. Individuals might be eligible for deductions on various expenses, such as mortgage interest to education expenses.

Income on the Dutch tax return in the Netherlands is divided into three categories: Box 1, Box 2, and Box 3. Each box pertains to different types of income and is subject to varying tax rates.

In Box 1, you pay tax on your home ownership and income from work, which includes:

  • salary, tips, or business profits;

  • benefit, pension, annuities, and maintenance payments;

  • income from abroad;

  • income earned as a freelancer, childminder, artist, or professional athlete.

Income in Box 1 is taxed at a progressive rate of 36,97% on the annual income of up to €73,031 and 49,50% on the surplus.

Once you have reached the state pension age, a special rate applies: 19,97% on the income of up to €40,021 a year. The exceeding income is taxed at standard rates. In 2024, the pension age in the Netherlands is 67 years.

In Box 2, you pay tax on any substantial interests. You hold a substantial interest if you, either individually or jointly with a tax partner, possess at least 5% of the shares, options, or profit-sharing certificates in a company. The tax rate for income derived from substantial interests is set at 25%.

In Box 3, you pay tax on income from your wealth, including savings, shares, and a second home. This calculation is based on the total value of all assets minus any debts. You pay a 30% tax on your taxable income from savings and investments.

Capital gains in the Netherlands are subject to the 25,8% rate.

Individuals do not pay capital transfer tax if they become the owner of a home through marriage or divorce or inherit immovable property. Additionally, they are exempt from taxes if they build something in or on immovable property that they own, or if they jointly inherit immovable property with others, and the immovable property is in the name of one of the heirs.

The standard VAT rate in the Netherlands is 21%. There are two additional special rates: the 9% rate and the 0% rate.

The following goods and services are exempted from VAT:

  • letting or selling immovable property which is more than 2 years old;

  • education;

  • healthcare services;

  • sports organisations and sports clubs;

  • services supplied by socio-cultural institutions;

  • financial services and insurance;

  • childcare;

  • care services and home care;

  • services supplied by composers, writers, and journalists;

  • fundraising activities.

Necessary documents for Netherlands citizenship

When acquiring the Netherlands citizenship, the applicant should be ready to present the following documents:

  • valid passport — except for children born in the Kingdom of the Netherlands or in a country that is part of the Apostille Convention;

  • birth certificate;

  • proof of the acknowledgement — in case of the acknowledgement option;

  • civic integration diploma or other proof of civic integration or a certificate of exemption — except for children under 18;

  • valid residence permit — except for EU and EEA nationals.

How to obtain citizenship in the Netherlands: step-by-step procedure

Acquiring the Netherlands nationality takes a lot of work. First, you apply for permission to become a Dutch citizen. Then, you receive the King’s approval and participate in the special ceremony, and only after that can you get your Dutch passport.

The process of acquiring Netherlands citizenship takes 1 or 2 years depending on the option chosen.

1

1 day

Submitting the application to the municipality

You must submit your application for option or naturalisation to the municipality where you live.

An employee of the municipality discusses all the conditions with you and checks whether you have all the required documents. If something is missing or you need to look into a particular matter, the municipality will make another appointment for you.

2

1 day

Completing the application form together with the municipality

You complete the application form together with the municipal employee and the following forms:

  1. Statement that you will make the declaration of solidarity.

  2. Statement that you will renounce your nationality when you have become a Dutch national.

  3. If you request an exemption from renouncing your current nationality, a statement explaining the reasons you do not wish to renounce your nationality is needed.

3

13 weeks or 1 year

Waiting for a decision

The municipality assesses your option or naturalisation application. In case of the option procedure, the decision period is 13 weeks and can be extended for 13 weeks at most. In case of naturalisation, the application is processed within 12 months.

The decision, either positive or negative, will be sent by letter. If citizenship is granted, the individual receives an invitation to attend a naturalisation ceremony.

In case Dutch citizenship is rejected, it is possible to request a review of the decision if the applicant thinks there are legal grounds for objection.

4

1+ month

Signing of the Royal Decree Dutch Citizenship

As long as you meet all requirements to become a Dutch citizen, the decision is forwarded to the King of the Netherlands. The King places his signature, thus giving official permission to grant you Dutch nationality. This is called a Royal Decree.

5

Up to 1 year

Obligatory participation in naturalisation ceremony

After receiving a positive decision, you need to undergo the required naturalisation ceremony within 1 year. Local councils organise it. They celebrate together with you that you have become a Dutch citizen.

During the ceremony, you make a Declaration of Solidarity, showing you agree that the laws of the Kingdom of the Netherlands also apply to you. Then, you receive proof of becoming a citizen of the Netherlands: the naturalisation decision or the option confirmation.

6

6+ months

Applying for a Dutch Passport

After all those steps, you can apply to your local council for a Dutch passport.

If you have a foreign national’s or refugee’s passport, you should hand it in when you collect your Dutch passport.

7

1+ month

Renouncing your nationality

As long as you get your Dutch passport, you need to renounce your first citizenship at the embassy or consulate of that country in the Netherlands.

Does the Netherlands allow dual citizenship?

Acquiring Dutch citizenship means renouncing one’s current nationality unless exceptions apply — for example, giving up the original passport would cause serious financial harm.

Second citizenship is allowed in Malta, Grenada, Vanuatu, Turkey, and others. These countries offer citizenship by investment programs. Minimum investment starts at $100,000.

Another way to obtain second citizenship abroad is to participate in the residence by investment programs. Investors obtain permanent or temporary residence permits and become eligible for citizenship after 5—10 years. Such programs are available In Portugal, Spain, and Switzerland.

How to move to the Netherlands with a vehicle, pets, and how much is the rent

Vehicle. Since it takes around 12 hours to reach the Netherlands from any EU country by car, it is convenient to import the vehicle after receiving Dutch nationality.

To apply for a Dutch registration number, you need to be over 18 years old and registered in the Personal Records Database. Besides, you must have an import document issued by the Tax and Customs Administration stating that your vehicle is an "item involved in a transfer of residency." This document should not be older than 12 months.

Here is the procedure for applying for a Dutch registration number:

  1. You make an appointment at an RDW inspection station and bring the complete original foreign registration certificate, your valid identity document, and import document.

  2. RDW evaluates whether the vehicle follows the requirements.

  3. You file for a motor vehicle tax return.

  4. RDW sends you a new registration card within 5 working days and, a day later, a letter with a complete registration code. You will also receive a technical inspection report (APK).

  5. You insure your vehicle for Civil Liability (WA). You will automatically receive an invoice for motor vehicle tax from the Tax and Customs Administration.

If you move your car from a country outside the EU or EFTA, your vehicle must comply with the permanent requirements. These requirements pertain to road safety, sound, lighting, environment, and windows. They are all written in Chapter 5 of the Vehicle Regulations.

The fees will be approximately €230, including all services.

Pets. Foreigners can bring a dog, cat, or ferret to the Netherlands from any EU country under the following conditions:

  • the animal is at least 15 weeks old;

  • the animal is vaccinated at 12 weeks old;

  • after the animal has been vaccinated, 21 days have passed before bringing it to the Netherlands;

  • the animal is microchipped and has a pet passport.

Small rodents, rabbits, birds, fish, amphibians, or reptiles must have a pet’s health certificate signed by a veterinarian.

If the animal is a protected species, it must be allowed to be imported under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna, CITES. This international agreement regulates the trade in protected animal and plant species.

If you have any questions or if you bring an animal to the Netherlands from a country outside the EU, you can contact the Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority, NVWA.

Rent. A one-bedroom apartment in the city centre of Amsterdam costs around €1,800 per month. It is €400 less to rent a flat outside the city centre. In Rotterdam, it will be €1,100—1,400, depending on the location.

In the case of buying real estate, the price per square metre starts at €5,000 in Amsterdam and €3,000 in Rotterdam.

All ways to acquire Dutch citizenship

Utrecht, with its ancient houses of the early Middle Ages, is one of the cities in the Netherlands worth moving to. Not only does it boast cosy streets and channels, but also here is located the largest university in the country

Summary on the Netherlands citizenship

  1. The Netherlands citizenship can be acquired by birth, adoption, acknowledgement, naturalisation, and through the option procedure.

  2. The fastest way of receiving a Dutch passport is through option. The process takes 13 weeks.

  3. The Netherlands nationality by naturalisation can be acquired within 12 months.

  4. Residence Permits for Foreign Investors, or the Golden Visas to the Netherlands, allow Dutch citizenship to be obtained by naturalisation in 5 years. However, the program’s termination, starting January 1st, 2024, is in question.

  5. A Dutch passport allows its holders to live and work in any EU country.

  6. The Netherlands citizenship benefits include a high standard of living, visa-free travel to 172 countries, access to high-quality education and medical care, and living in one of the happiest and safest countries in the world.

  7. The Netherlands does not issue citizenship by investment. However, investors can obtain citizenship in Malta, Caribbean countries, Vanuatu, and others.

Frequently asked questions