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I have been living and working in the Netherlands for a while now and I have recently become a Dutch national through naturalization. At the request of the Immigration Services (IND) I have submitted an application at the consulate of my country of origin to give up my original nationality as otherwise the IND can annul my new citizenship. It has been brought to my attention that once I give up my original nationality I can simply claim it back due to the laws regulating dual nationality of Dutch citizens. The basis for this claim can be found here:

http://www.rijksoverheid.nl/onderwerpen/nederlandse-nationaliteit/nederlandse-nationaliteit-verliezen

I have copied the part of the website that is relevant to my case below.

Bent u meerderjarig? Dan verliest u in de volgende gevallen de Nederlandse nationaliteit van rechtswege (=automatisch):

U neemt vrijwillig een andere nationaliteit aan.
Dit geldt niet als:
    u in het land van die andere nationaliteit bent geboren en daar ook woonde toen u die andere nationaliteit verkreeg;

It says that you automatically lose your Dutch nationality if you voluntarily take up another nationality. The exception to this rule is that you were born in the country from which you are getting the new nationality AND also living in that country at the time that you obtained the new nationality.

So it seems to me that I can simply relocate to my country of origin for a few months, get my citizenship back and come back to the Netherlands with two passports. What I don't understand is, assuming that I am right, why are they forcing people to give up their nationalities during the naturalization process if they can just get it back later on? I could give the IND a call but you don't usually get the most accurate information from them. So I thought I could give it a shot here.

Edit: My country of origin allows me to regain my nationality under very mild conditions. They don't even require me to relocate there.

  • "So it seems to me that I can simply relocate to my country of origin for a few months, get my citizenship back" In most countries, you cannot just "get your citizenship back" after you actively renounced it, unless you go through the lengthy immigration process like any other a foreigner. – user102008 Jul 15 '15 at 21:14
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    @user102008 many countries have relaxed naturalization requirements for former citizens. – phoog Jul 16 '15 at 17:24
  • Make sure that the "for a few months" will be counted as living there, and not in the Netherlands anymore. – RemcoGerlich Feb 15 '16 at 16:02
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I would be very careful with that. There might be a loophole but it does not necessarily offer a strong protection against the loss of your Dutch citizenship. This particular part of the law is clearly intended for people who acquire some unrelated citizenship during their life (especially if they are Dutch citizens by birth) and does not deal with the requirements for naturalisation. As you note yourself, why force people to give up their nationalities during the naturalisation process if they can just get it back later on? The simple answer is that they are not supposed to get it back later on!

Incidentally, note that even if it would work, it's not trivial to meet all the conditions. You must come from a country that allows you to renounce your citizenship yet lets you regain it easily (I can think of a few but that's not a general rule). You must also be willing and able to switch residence for long enough to do that after living for many years in the Netherlands (to qualify for naturalisation in the first place). From your other questions I gather that you are a student and it might not seem like a big deal to young people but for someone with a job and a family, that would be more difficult to organise!

So if the intent really was to exempt applicants from the requirement to renounce other citizenships if they were born outside of the country or married to a foreign national, it could be done in a much more direct way and I would expect these exemptions to be explicitly listed in the relevant part of the law and on the page about becoming Dutch. Since they are not, it's not safe to assume that this rule would protect you.

Do realise that losing Dutch citizenship because you acquired another one and cancelling a naturalisation are not exactly the same thing. Legally speaking, the law summarised on this webpage is not the source of your obligation to renounce any previous citizenship and the dispositions that do apply to you have more stringent restrictions.

Specifically, article 9 of the Rijkswet op het Nederlanderschap (RWN) provides that an application to become Dutch should be rejected if “the applicant who possesses another citizenship does not do everything possible to lose that citizenship or is not ready to do everything possible once the naturalisation is effective […]”

So your obligation is not merely submitting documentation or effectively giving up your previous citizenship (for some people that's not possible) but doing everything you can to that end. Reapplying for your previous citizenship could suggest intent not to respect that obligation and might therefore conceivably be used to consider your application void or even fraudulent.

And if you fail to submit adequate proof of your attempt to get rid of any previous citizenship, the consequence is not the loss of Dutch citizenship under article 15, point 1.a of the RWN but a withdrawal (intrekking) of the original decision under article 15, point 1.d, a distinct procedure.

The exception to the loss of Dutch citizenship for people who are born in a foreign country and acquire that country's citizenship while living there is defined in article 15, point 2.a and explicitly refers to article 15, point 1.a (i.e. it is not an exception to article 15, point 1.d).

In practice, I am not sure the Dutch IND has any authority to cancel a naturalisation once you have submitted proof that you tried to renounce your citizenship and they accepted it but I would still consider it a risk (IIRC, it did happen to thousands of Turkish citizens in Germany in the 1990s but that's not directly relevant, legally speaking).

Given the fact that the general trend in the Netherlands is to make the rules on dual citizenship increasingly restrictive (unlike Germany, incidentally), it's also entirely possible that a new law would close the loophole later on or give the IND more extensive authority to cancel your Dutch citizenship in cases like that. As @phoog pointed out in a comment, you would probably get another opportunity to choose between the Dutch citizenship and the other one but that's not guaranteed.

So, it might work, at least for some time, but if that's important to you, talk to a lawyer before putting all the effort you invested into becoming Dutch in jeopardy.

  • Thank you very much for your detailed answer. There are a few points in your answer which I had completely missed previously such as retroactive cancellation of naturalization and losing nationality not being the same thing from a legal point of view and the possibility that the Dutch authorities close this loophole (if there is a loophole at all) in the future, which could result in my losing the Dutch nationality. – Calculon Jul 16 '15 at 7:51
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    @Calculon if past changes to Dutch nationality law are any guide, if you regain your original nationality legally and then later the Dutch rules change, there would probably be a period during which you could again renounce your original nationality to retain the Dutch. That's far from guaranteed, of course. I would definitely talk to a lawyer before trying this, if I were you! – phoog Jul 16 '15 at 16:10
  • While it may be "intended for Dutch citizens by birth," it is not worded that way, and the Dutch judicial approach, as far as I am aware, is to follow the literal text as closely as possible. – phoog Jul 16 '15 at 16:13
  • @phoog True, I will nuance that statement, but I still think that's relevant to the extent that it shows that it was never intended to be an exemption to the requirement to renounce previous citizenships, which is what seems to puzzle the OP originally. – Gala Jul 16 '15 at 16:21
  • @Gala that is certainly true. If it were intended to create an exception allowing people like OP to have dual nationality then there would be a parallel provision for such people not to have to renounce the original nationality in the first place. But the residency requirement did make this an interesting question. – phoog Jul 16 '15 at 16:23

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