The Quest For Dutch Nationality

Technically I have been lying to you all for a very long time. Theoretically I have taken your trust and miss used it. I claim that I have been living in The Netherlands since 2001 but that is not true. To make matters worse it is a lie I didn’t even know I was telling. It is a lie I believed to be true. I have memories of leaving England in 2001 and arriving in a country where everyone was definitely speaking Dutch and doing Dutch things. I have evidence that would seem to support the theory that I have lived in the country since that time. I have a tax number, medical insurance membership, a full time job, a Dutch wife, two children and an Albert Heijn bonus card. However, according to the Dutch government I have not been living in The Netherlands since 2001. I’ve been living in the Netherlands since 2009. Where did eight years of my life disappear to? Are my memories of that time false? Are they part of some elaborate self induced delusion? It turns out the answer to all these questions is no. It’s all down to a small mistake. Not only is this blunder my own fault but it has also had some very real recent repercussions.

Some of you might remember the story of how this mix up originally happened. When I first arrived in the country (which definitely happened in 2001) I was unaware that I was supposed to visit the local city hall and get myself registered. No one ever told me and it never came up. It was only when I moved in with my girlfriend (now my wife) in 2009 that I discovered it was a thing I was supposed to do. I visited city hall and explained the situation. They were baffled but not too worried by the fact that I had technically been living in the country illegally for eight years. They added me to the system and everything was fine… Until Brexit.

When Britain decided to leave the EU I decided it was probably a good idea to get Dutch nationality. I knew that if I did it before things were finalized I would be able to have both nationalities, Dutch and British. Getting Dutch nationality was a simple matter of filling out a form. This is because I am married to a Dutch citizen and have been living in the country for more than fifteen years… Only I have not. Not according to the computer system at city hall. I’d only been living in the country for eight years. All the evidence I presented them with (tax number, medical insurance number, letter from my employer, Albert Heijn bonus card) was dismissed because only the data in the computer system was valid. In a classic case of, “computer says no,” I have been denied Dutch nationality.

At least, I have been denied it the easy way. There is still another option open to me. One that will be more difficult, that will take more time and (most likely) that will lead to a lot more funny stories of language mix ups and mistakes. I am going to take the inburgering exam.

It’s that or wait till 2024.

18 responses to “The Quest For Dutch Nationality”

  1. Sleuth says:

    If you were living in a land that spoke Dutch, but is not Holland. Are you sure it was not Belgium and just had a long commute?

    How long must you wait before being able to take the easy option? If it is within 2 years, wait and take the easy route.

    Good luck on the inburgering exam.

    • Stuart says:

      It could have been Belgium. I’ll have to check. If I want to do it the slow way I have to wait another 7 years.

  2. amydoherty90 says:

    It’s 15 years now? I’ve been in Holland for 8 years and am now able to apply it i want to but I’m not ready to dish out 2000 euros (1000 here and 1000 to the UK for giving up my nationality). I was always under the impression that if you could prove you had at least an A2 Dutch diploma (I have B2) or married to a Dutch resident for at least 3 years that you were eligible for the nationality.. Let us know how it turns out!

    • Stuart says:

      Yeah. I thought the same but it’s if you have a A2 Dutch diploma or you’ve been living in the country for more than 15 years and have been married to a Dutch person for more than 3. If you go for option 1 you can keep your original nationality as long as you are married to a Dutch person. With option 2 you automatically get to keep it.

  3. Gerard Danks says:

    “Sorry, hoor. De computer zegt ‘nee'” *shrugs shoulders*

  4. Aledys says:

    But you registered your living with a partner situation in 2009? Isn’t a requisite to have been living with a Dutch partner for at least 3 years? I’ve forgotten the rules but I got my Dutch passport 3 years after marrying my Dutch husband. I think it is/was, 5 years living in the NL or 3 tears of partnership/marriage. 🤔

  5. astroemma says:

    Oh no what faff !!
    There are two options, which I’m pretty sure like any Brit who lives here and is not yet Dutch has thoroughly investigated due to the wonder that is Brexit ! – Naturalisatie or “optie” which are not the same as I’m sure you know. I assume you tried to do the optie which is indeed the 15 yrs + 3 years married. I did this because I too arrived in 2001 and did register the same day ! It cost me 185 EUR , I became Dutch on 1st May 2017 , it took a while because a- there was a waiting list and b- I had to have background checks done by the police ( this normal btw, I’m not a criminal I promise) and c- I had a baby the day before my ceremony so had to wait until the next one ! .
    Naturalisatie, you need to have your NT2 for sure, I got this anyway a few years ago when I wondered about taking a faster route to becoming Dutch but the price is a bit whoa there expensive and I had no desire to go around in circles with the IND either..

    Good luck, hope you become Dutch soon whichever way you can. I’m now wielding my shiny new Dutch passport, British one has been relegated to the back of the draw for now !

    • Stuart says:

      You’re right. I was trying to do the optie option but now I’ll have to take the naturalisatie option. It’s going to be slower and more of a pain but I think it will be worth it in the end.

  6. Melissa says:

    I’m taking the inburgering exam in November AFTER I take an inburgering course. Good Luck to you or rather succes 😊

  7. Oh, no…Oh, Stu. I’m so, so sorry about this…

    Well. That’s paperwork for ya. Time to study for the citizenship exam!

  8. Exactly, there must be time to study citizenship for an exam.
    I wish you success, bro:)

  9. Oh that sucks! Is there no appeal to get you in the system as of 2001? Can’t your employer help in terms of proof of being resident since 2001? Man there. Ust be something!

    • Stuart says:

      I’ve tried. They said none of it was good enough. Even showing I had a BSN number and paid taxes since 2001 wasn’t enough since I can have a BSN number and not live in the country. I also asked my employer to write a letter stating that I had lived and worked in the country since 2001 but sadly that got ignored too.

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