Petition to grant Dutch abroad dual citizenship

THE HAGUE–A petition to allow dual citizenship of Dutch nationals residing abroad has been launched. “We want to give off a strong political message to the incoming Dutch Government,” said one of the initiators Eelco Keij.

One of the main reasons for starting the petition “Once Dutch, Forever Dutch” (“Eens Nederlander, altijd Nederlander”) is the effect of the pending exit of the United Kingdom (UK) from the European Union (EU), the Brexit, on Dutch nationals residing in that country.

Pressure is mounting as a growing number of people living in the UK are applying for naturalisation to protect their rights after Brexit. But in most cases, for people from the Netherlands obtaining another passport means losing Dutch citizenship.

The Kingdom Law on Dutch Citizenship (“Rijkswet Nederlanderschap”) which dates back to 1892, doesn’t allow dual citizenship. It states that once a Dutch national applies for a foreign passport, he or she automatically loses the Dutch nationality. In 2003 some exceptions were created for persons born abroad to Dutch parents and for persons who take on the foreign nationality of their spouse – reason for Keij and three Dutch nationals residing in the UK and one person in the United States, to initiate a petition.

The petition on was launched on Friday and calls on the Dutch Government to allow dual citizenship for Dutch nationals living abroad.

The initiative received 11,000 signatures in 48 hours and was close to 15,000 on Tuesday evening. The petition needs to secure a minimum of 40,000 signatures to be considered in the Dutch Parliament.

The petition calls on the incoming Dutch Government to reform current rules and to amend the law, so that Dutch nationals who take another passport can keep Dutch citizenship as well. The petition also requests to establish a way to recover Dutch citizenship when this is inadvertently lost.

According to estimates, there are between 800,000 and 1.2 million Dutch nationals living abroad. The Dutch Government wants to limit dual nationality as much as possible, arguing that if one has only one nationality, one’s rights are more clear. Many people are not aware of the conditions and frequently persons lose their Dutch nationality without knowing it.

Keij referred to the situation as “sad and ironic” that people are being forced to choose between their father- or motherland and their future in a new country. In his opinion, the principle of the Kingdom Law Dutch Citizenship should be reversed: you get to keep your Dutch nationality, and under certain conditions you lose that nationality.

“Keeping your original nationality is not a small thing that is of interest on a scarce occasion. We are living in a permanently changed global world and Dutch persons abroad will increasingly claim their rightful place,” said Keij.

Dutch caretaker Minister of Foreign Affairs Bert Koenders denied in the TV news programme “Een Vandaag” on Friday that the regulation that one loses the Dutch nationality when obtaining another nationality was old-fashioned in a globalising world.

Koenders said that many other countries have this same rule. Fact is that many countries close to the Netherlands, including Germany, Belgium, France, Denmark and Sweden allow dual citizenship for their nationals residing abroad. Koenders said that it was up to Dutch nationals living abroad to keep a close watch on the regulations. He announced the start of an awareness campaign by the Dutch Government.

Source: The Daily Herald