A short time ago, there were several heavy-duty discussions on Facebook about retaining dual or the reinstatement of a Dutch nationality. People had many questions. Mr. Paul Munsell, who has intently studied Dutch nationality laws and regularly follows updates to any legislation regarding the Rijkswet op het Nederlanderschap, has painstakingly written up an article that will explain some of the most very complicated requirements under Dutch law.
by Paul Munsell
This is information to give a bit of understanding of how Dutch nationality law with regard to cases of dual nationality has evolved over time as there is a definite distinction amongst everyone regarding when they were born and their own personal circumstances and those of their families with regard to the loss or reinstatement of Dutch nationality (Nederlanderschap).
The Rijkswet op het Nederlanderschap (1985) (the Kingdom Act on Netherlands Nationality) entered into effect on 1 January 1985 and is still in effect today. This Act, formally signed by Koningin Beatrix on 19 December 1984, replaced the former Wet op het Nederlanderschap en het Ingezetenschap (1892) (WNI (1892)), which was signed by Queen-Regent Emma in 1892 as Queen Wilhelmina was not yet 18 years of age.
If you were born prior to 1 January 1985, then you acquired (or did not acquire) Dutch nationality under the provisions of the WNI (1892).
The initial public policy of the Netherlands at the time the WNI (1892) and the RWN (1985) entered into effect remains unchanged: dual nationality should be limited as much as possible. However, there are exceptions.
When the WNI (1892) entered into effect, Dutch nationality hinged in almost all circumstances on two important principles: 1) dual nationality should be restricted to the greatest extent possible and 2) the child acquired Dutch nationality at birth primarily via the Dutch father only under Article 1 which states:
Nederlanders door geboorte zijn:
This means that Dutch nationality was primarily acquired via the child’s Dutch father only on the child’s date of birth following the ascending patrilineal blood line (in Latin: jus sanguinis a patre). Only in certain circumstances was Dutch nationality prior to 1 January 1985 acquired via the Dutch mother only (jus sanguinis a matre), such as when the father was stateless and only the mother was a Dutch national on the child’s date of birth. Place of birth is irrelevant.
Article 7 of the WNI (1892) sets forth the basic cases in which Dutch nationality would automatically be lost. These include:
On 1 January 1985, the RWN (1985) entered into effect. RWN (1985), Chapter 2, Article 3 (Hoodstuk 2: Verkriging van het Nederlanderschap van rechtswege) states:
Nederlander is het kind waarvan ten tijde van zijn geboorte de vader of de moeder Nederlander is, alsmede het kind van een Nederlander die voordien is overleden.
This is an important distinction from Article 1 of the WNI (1892) as henceforth a child acquires Dutch nationality either via the Dutch father or via the Dutch mother. Place of birth is irrelevant.
Now here is where Dutch nationality law gets complicated.
It is recognized under Dutch law and international law that an individual cannot lose his/her nationality if he/she only has one nationality (in this case, Dutch nationality). Otherwise, the individual would become stateless. Therefore, if you are a Dutch national only, you cannot lose your Nederlanderschap.
(c) Het Nederlanderschap gaat voor een meerderjarige verloren wanneer de betrokkene na zijn meerderjarigheid gedurende een ononderbroken periode van 10 jaren woonplaats buiten Nederland, onderscheidenlijk de Nederlandse Antillen, heeft in het land waarin hij is geboren en waarvan hij eveneens de nationaliteit bezit, anders dan in een dienstverband met Nederland, de Nederlandse Antillen dan wel een internationaal orgaan waarin het Koninkrijk is vertegenwoordigd, of als echtgenoot van een person met een zodanig dienstverband.
This new article 15(c) (hereafter referenced as “article 15(c) (oude)”) unequivocally states that a dual Dutch national born outside the Netherlands who possessed both Dutch nationality and the nationality of the country of birth and who resided in the country of birth would lose his or her Dutch nationality if, after attaining the age of majority, he/she lived in his/her country of birth for an uninterrupted period of 10 years and he/she was a citizen of that country.
As a result, many dual Dutch citizens, either knowingly or unknowingly and living abroad, lost their Dutch nationality on or subsequent to 1 January 1995 (1 January 1985 (effective date of the RWN (1985) and article 15(c) (oude)) + 10 years = 1 January 1995).
Many of these former Dutch nationals live in: Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa and the United States). Why these countries more specifically? Because, historically, it is to these countries to which the greatest amount of Dutch emigrants went in the past.
As RWN (1985), Article 15 (c) (oude) was subsequently considered quite restrictive (loss of Dutch nationality by a dual Dutch national not residing in the Netherlands and who had attained age 28), the Dutch legislator wished to change the law so that former Dutch nationals, who had lived in the country of their birth for a period of ten uninterrupted years after having reached the age of majority, could have their lost Dutch nationality reinstated via option procedure. Therefore, dual Dutch nationals living outside of the Netherlands on or past age 28 would no longer automatically lose their Dutch nationality as such had been the case under Article 15(c) (oude).
The implementation of this new article would mainly apply to former Dutch nationals who had lost their Dutch nationality subsequent to ten years after the RWN (1985) was implemented on 1 January 1985.
Three bills were drafted to amend the RWN (1985), article 15(c) (oude), the last of which passed the Tweede Kamer in April 2000 and was approved by the Eerste Kamer in December 2000. RWN (1985) 15(c) (oude) was thus revised. The new articles governing the loss and retention of Dutch nationality were added and became article 15, 1(c) and article 15, 2.
These revisions were implemented and entered into effect in three (3) separate stages.
(former Dutch nationals who lived for more than ten uninterrupted years in the country in which they were born and whose nationality they possessed and who were issued with a Dutch passport or proof of Dutch nationality after 1 January 1990).
On February 2001, Stage 1 of the new article 15, 1 (c) entered into effect. Stage 1 applied to former Dutch nationals who had lost their Dutch nationality on our subsequent to 1 January 1995 by 1. having been born in the country whose nationality they possess and 2. who lived in that country for more than ten (10) uninterrupted years past age 18.
This Stage 1 provision ensured that Dutch nationality would automatically be reinstated to former Dutch nationals who lost their Dutch nationality under RWN (1985) Article 15 (c) (oude) if, on or subsequent to 1 January 1990, they had been issued with a Dutch passport or Dutch nationality certificate (Verklaring van Nederlanderschap/Bewijs van Nederlanderschap). Under this Stage 1 option procedure, Dutch nationality will be deemed never to have been lost. The provision would also apply to minor-age children if the parents had requested such a document for them.
As stated, this legislative revision would be applicable to individuals to whom a Dutch passport or a Verklaring van Nederlanderschap /Bewijs van Nederlanderschap (Dutch nationality certificate) had been issued on or subsequent to 1 January 1990. Therefore, it would be necessary to determine on which date the Dutch passport or Dutch nationality certificate had been issued and from which date a new period of 10-years would start to run in order to avoid the loss of Dutch nationality. This loss provision did not begin earlier than 1 January 1994. It also would apply to children who also had lost Dutch nationality along with the parents.
As from 1 February 2001, the former Dutch national who lost his/her Dutch nationality under the Stage 1 provisions by having had a valid Dutch passport on the day Dutch nationality was lost under Article 15(c) (oude) could apply for a Dutch passport in order to have Dutch nationality restored. Under this Stage 1, Dutch nationality will be deemed never to have been lost.
Individuals to whom either a Dutch passport or Dutch nationality certificate had been issued between 1 January 1990 and 1 January 1994 must have applied and received in hand a new document prior to 31 March 2005 (the Stage 1 option expiration date).
Why the significance of the 31 March 2005 Stage 1 option expiration date?
Example: 1 January 1985 (RWN article 15(c) (oude) entered into force) + 10 years (dual Dutch national residing overseas would lose Dutch nationality automatically after reaching age 28) = 1 January 1995 (loss of Dutch nationality).
Now, on or subsequent to 1 January 1990 (Dutch passport or Dutch nationality certificate issued) + 10 years = 1 January 2000.
1 February 2001 (entry into force of Stage 1 under (new) article 15, 1 (c). If Dutch passport or Dutch nationality certificate was issued on or subsequent to 1 January 1990, Dutch nationality deemed never to have been lost) – 10 years = 1 January 1990 or later (Dutch passport or Dutch nationality certificate issued).
Exclusions to Stage 1
The reinstatement of Dutch nationality under Stage 1 was not open to the following former Dutch nationals:
Why would Dutch nationality not be reinstated to former Dutch nationals who were born abroad with Dutch nationality prior to 1 January 1954?
As explained above, under the WNI (1892), a dual Dutch national, who lived outside the Kingdom of the Netherlands and who did not notify the Dutch authorities within 10 years after reaching the age of majority he/she wished to retain Dutch nationality, would lose Dutch nationality automatically.
Now, if we do the math, here is how the dates work for the exclusion of this option possibility and how 1 January 1954 is not some arbitrary date. The time line is entirely logical.
Example: 1 January 1954 + 21 years (age of majority in the Netherlands at the time) = 1 January 1975 + 10 years (in which to request a Dutch passport as a dual Dutch national residing overseas) = 1 January 1985 (implementation date of the Rijkswet op het Nederlanderschap/loss of Dutch nationality).
(former Dutch nationals who lived for more than ten uninterrupted years in the country in which they were born and whose nationality they possessed and who were never issued with a Dutch passport or proof of Dutch nationality after 1 January 1990).
On 1 April 2003, the remaining provisions of article 15, paragraphs 1 and 2 replacing RWN (1985), article 15(c) (oude) entered into effect.
Stage 2 applied to former Dutch nationals who had lost their Dutch nationality subsequent to 1 January 1985 under RWN (1985) Article 15(c) (oude):
If you had never been issued with a Dutch passport or Dutch nationality certificate since 1 January 1990 under the above conditions, it was possible to have Dutch nationality reinstated with retroactive effect to the day it was lost by written option request made to the Dutch authorities. This Stage 2 option window began on 1 April 2003 (implementation date of Stage 2) and ended on 31 March 2005.
What is the significance of the 31 March 2005 Stage 2 option expiration date which equals 10 years?
The time period for “renewing” Dutch nationality if the dual Dutch national lives outside the Netherlands (including the Western Caribbean islands of Bonaire, Sint-Eustatius and Saba), Aruba, Sint-Maarten or Curaçao, or any other Member State of the European Union henceforth always runs in ten-year incremental periods.
Example: 31 March 2005 (Stage 2 option procedure expiration date to request and receive a Dutch passport or Dutch nationality certificate) – 10 years = 1 January 1995 (initial loss of Dutch nationality for dual Dutch nationals living abroad when RWN (1985) article 15(c) (oude)) went into effect.
Now, if the loss of Dutch nationality by dual Dutch nationals living outside 1. the Netherlands (including Bonaire, Sint-Eustatius or Saba) or 2. Aruba, Sint-Maarten or Curaçao or 3. a member state of the European Union (since 1 January 1985) always operates in 10 year incremental periods, then if 1 January 1995 was the date on which loss of Dutch nationality under article 15(c) (oude) would take effect, if we subtract ten 10 years (because ten years is the duration in order for Dutch nationality to be lost under RWN (1985), Article 15(c) = 1 January 1985 (implementation date of the RWN (1985). [1 April 2005 (Stage 2 implementation date) – 10 years = 1 January 1995 – 10 years = 1 January 1985]
The time line is entirely logical!
(remaining cases for reinstatement of Dutch nationality for former Dutch nationals who lost their Dutch nationality as adults prior to 1 April 2003 (the implementation date of the Article 15, 1(c) and 2)
On 1 April 2003, the new article 15, 1(c) and 2 entered into effect, thereby replacing RWN (1985) 15(c) (oude).
Restoration of Dutch nationality under the Stage 3 option procedure window applied to the following former Dutch nationals who had lost their Dutch nationality prior to 1 April 2003, but who could not have it reinstated under Stage 1 or Stage 2.
This option procedure applied to those former Dutch nationals who do not reside in the Netherlands and who, after reaching the age of majority, had lost Dutch nationality because they had acquired a foreign nationality.
The three (3) distinct option cases were:
Example: A Dutch woman who married a U.S. national and she voluntarily naturalized American prior to 1 January 1985 while married to her American husband, in which case she automatically would have lost her Dutch nationality in so doing under the WNI (1892).
If the former Dutch national fell under one of these three cases, he/she had between 1 April 2003 and 31 March 2013 (another 10-year window!) to have his/her lost Dutch nationality reinstated via option.
What is the significance of the 31 March 2013 Stage 3 option expiration date which equals 10 years?
Example: 31 March 2013 (Stage 3 option expiration date) – 10 years (to apply for reinstatement of Dutch nationality via option under Stage 3 in one of the three specific aforementioned cases back to the implementation date) = 1 April 2003 (Stage 3 implementation date of article 15, paragraphs 1 and 2 replacing RWN (1985) 15 (c) (oude) for the retention of Dutch nationality under the 3 specific cases mentioned above).
Exclusions to Stage 3
The reinstatement of Dutch nationality under Stage 3 was not open to the following former Dutch nationals:
With the implementation of the revised article 15, paragraphs 1 and 2 which entered into force, as explained on 1 April 2003 and which are still in effect today, while the acquisition of a foreign nationality in addition to Dutch nationality has been restricted to the three (3) exceptions as explained under Stage 3, the possibility for a dual Dutch national to retain Dutch nationality has been increased.
How is Dutch nationality then retained?
If and only if the dual Dutch national lives outside:
1) the Netherlands (including Bonaire, Sint-Eustatius and Saba); or
2) Aruba, Sint-Maarten or Curaçao; or
3) any other Member State of the European Union
all he or she needs to do is to request and receive in hand (merely requesting such document is not sufficient; one must actually receive the issued document) either:
1) a new Dutch passport; or
2) a new Dutch national identification card; or
3) a new Dutch nationality certificate (Verklaring van Nederlanderschap/Bewijs van Nederlanderschap)
once every ten (10) years and before the expiration date of the previously-issued document.
Example: Dutch passport is issued on 1 April 2018. The passport will be valid for 10 years and will expire on 31 March 2028. A new document must be requested and issued before 31 March 2028. Otherwise, the dual Dutch national will lose Dutch nationality [1 April 2018 + 10 years (document validity) = 31 March 2028 (expiration date; loss of Dutch nationality if a new document has not been requested and received)].
Paul Munsell is Dutch and American and owes his Dutch-Indonesian heritage to his Dutch mother and Opa, who was born in Banjarmasin (Borneo) and raised in Surabaya (Java). Paul has intently studied Dutch nationality laws and regularly follows updates to any legislation regarding the Rijkswet op het Nederlanderschap. You can follow his Facebook group specifically on Dutch nationality at: Netherlands/Dutch Nationality Law Changes 2010 & Latent Dutch.