Brexit: The Netherlands Adopts Additional Exceptions to the Prohibition of Dual Citizenship
| Kaatje Droesbeke, Christine Sullivan

Brexit: The Netherlands Adopts Additional Exceptions to the Prohibition of Dual Citizenship

Brexit: The Netherlands Adopts Additional Exceptions to the Prohibition of Dual Citizenship

Until now, Dutch citizens living in the UK have been in a Catch-22 situation, as they are forced to choose between keeping their Dutch citizenship or protecting their rights in the UK by obtaining UK citizenship.

A Dutch citizen who chooses to obtain UK citizenship in preparation for Brexit would, therefore, automatically lose his or her Dutch citizenship – with the exception being citizens married to a UK national or born in the UK. The new exceptions provided by the legislation are timely, with the Brexit transition period coming to an end on 31 December.

So, as we come down to the Brexit wire, the Netherlands created a last-minute solution for its citizens in the UK: On 5 October 2020, the Rijkswet Inperking Gevolgen Brexit was published. This legislation aims to safeguard the rights of Dutch citizens living in the UK by allowing limited exceptions to the rule prohibiting dual citizenship for Dutch nationals.

Voluntary acquisition of another nationality

The legislation allows Dutch citizens in the UK who choose to obtain UK citizenship to retain their Dutch nationality when the following conditions are met:

  1. The application to obtain UK citizenship is submitted in the period between 23 June 2016 (the date of the Brexit referendum) and six months after the entry into force of the new legislation;

 

or the application to obtain UK citizenship is submitted within 18 months of obtaining settled status in the UK; and

 

  1. Their main residence is maintained in the UK in the period between 23 June 2016 and the date of obtaining UK citizenship.

 

Dutch children of parents who have obtained UK nationality or who independently apply for UK nationality themselves may also retain their Dutch nationality. In the former case, they will be required to demonstrate that their primary residence was in the UK between 23 June 2016 or their birth date, and the date the parent concerned obtains the UK nationality. In the latter case, the application for UK nationality must be submitted between 23 June 2016 and six months after entry into force of the new legislation, or within 18 months after having obtained UK settled status.

“Option” to re-acquire Dutch citizenship

In certain limited situations, Dutch nationality law provides for the “option procedure,” which is a simplified process to obtain Dutch citizenship. The procedure requires the applicant to fill in an option statement in the municipality of residence. If approved, the applicant becomes a Dutch citizen after attending the naturalisation ceremony and making the declaration of solidarity.

This new legislation provides UK nationals who previously surrendered their Dutch citizenship the opportunity to re-obtain their Dutch nationality through the option procedure. In order to qualify, the UK citizen must have given up their Dutch citizenship as a result of voluntarily acquiring UK citizenship between 23 June 2016 and the entry into force of this legislation, as well as maintained their main residence in the UK between 23 June 2016 and the date of filing the option statement.

Maintenance of Dutch citizenship still required

While the new rules provide additional citizenship protection to Dutch nationals in the UK, they are, however, not exempt from other requirements, such as the timely renewal of their Dutch passport and maintaining ties to the Netherlands for at least 10 consecutive years.

Entry into force of legislation

The legislation will only enter into force in the event no agreement is reached between the UK and the EU containing adequate safeguards for Dutch nationals in the UK. If this occurs, a Royal Decree will be adopted determining the effective date of the legislation.

Conversely, if an agreement is reached, a Royal Decree will be published, outlining a date for which the safeguards provided by this legislation will no longer be applicable. The protections provided by the legislation will still be applicable for Dutch citizens in the UK submitting UK nationality applications prior to the agreement being reached.

Dutch nationals in the UK

In summary, Dutch nationals and their family members who moved to the UK on or before 31 December 2020 can continue living and working in the UK after that date if they apply for pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme by 30 June 2021. Dutch nationals who have been living in the UK for five years or more can apply for settled status.

Fragomen can advise Dutch nationals in the UK on qualifying for UK citizenship while preserving their Dutch nationality, as well as those who are applying for pre-settled and settled status in the UK. For additional information on this critical issue, please reach out to the authors of this blog, Immigration Consultant Kaatje Droesbeke, at [email protected], or Director Christine Sullivan, at [email protected]. You can also reach out to [email protected] and [email protected].

This blog was published on 18 December 2020, and due to the circumstances, there are frequent changes. To keep up to date with all the latest updates on global immigration, please visit our COVID-19 microsite, subscribe to our alerts and follow us on LinkedIn.