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Integration in the Netherlands

When you have a residence permit, you may be obligated to integrate. In order to show that you are sufficiently integrated, you have to obtain the civic integration diploma.

As of 1 January 2013, the Education Executive Agency (DUO) ensures the implementation and enforcement of the Civic Integration Act. Are you subject to the integration requirement? DUO will send you a letter. 
Did you already receive a residence permit before 1 January 2013? The municipality is then responsible for your integration. You will have received a letter from your municipality stating that you have to integrate.

All information on how to integrate is available at www.inburgeren.nl.

Did you receive a residence permit after 31 December 2012? You then have to pass the civic integration examination within 3 years. Your right of residence may end when you do not pass the exam within 3 years. This means that your residence permit may be revoked. 

Civic integration examination: condition for residence permit 'humanitarian non-temporary' and 'permanent stay'

If you apply for a permanent residence permit or for a temporary residence permit on non-temporary humanitarian grounds following a 5-year stay with a family member, you must have obtained the civic integration diploma.

Exemption: when do I not have to take the civic integration examination?

In any of the following cases, you do not have to take the exam: 

  • You are younger than 18 years of age.
  • You have reached the legal AOW pension age. The AOW pension age differs for persons.
  • You have lived in the Netherlands for at least 8 years during the compulsory school age.
  • You have the Belgian or Luxembourg nationality.
  • You have the Turkish nationality or you are a family member of a Turkish national. Family members are:
    • The married/registered partner;
    • The children and (great) grandchildren of the Turkish foreign national and his married/registered partner, who are younger than 21 or who depend on him.
    • The parents and (great) grandparents of the Turkish foreign national and his married/registered partner, who depend on him.
  • You have one of the following diplomas or certificates:
    • A civic integration certificate under the Civic Integration Act.
    • A Dutch degree or diploma of, for example university, higher vocational education, general secondary education, or secondary vocational education level 2 and higher. You were taught in Dutch.
    • A diploma or certificate obtained in Belgium or Suriname. You were taught in Dutch and you passed the subject of Dutch. You have a high school diploma or a diploma equal to a Dutch diploma mbo level 2 or higher, hbo or university.
    • A diploma, certificate or other document from Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao, Saba, Sint Maarten or Sint Eustatius, obtained in Dutch-language education. You passed the subject of Dutch language. It involves the following diplomas: mavo, havo, vwo, lbo, mbo, hbo en university.
    • A diploma from the European school of the European Baccalaureate (as provided in the Statute of the European School). You have attended and passed the subject of Dutch as a first or second language.
    • An International Baccalaureate Middle Years Certificate, an International General Certificate of Secondary Education or an International Baccalaureate. You have had English-Dutch classes. Or you have attended and passed the subject of Dutch.
    • A Naturalisation Test Certificate of before 1 April 2007. You have passed the following 5 tests: kennis van staatsinrichting en maatschappij, speaking, listening, writing and reading.
    • A Civic Integration Certificate within the context of the Civic Integration (Newcomers) Act. You have completed the WIN programme by 31 December 2006. This has to be included by a statement of the ROC. The statement shows that you passed a profile test for the 'listening' and 'speaking' parts at level NT2-2, for the 'reading' and 'writing' parts at level NT2-1 and for the Social Orientation part 80% if this test was done after 31 August 2001 or 85% if the test was done before 1 September 2001.
    • A certified copy of a Civic Integration Certificate within the context of the Civic Integration (Newcomers) Act if you completed the WIN programme in 2007 or 2008. This has to be included by a statement of the ROC. The statement shows that you at least passed the 'listening', 'speaking', 'reading' and 'writing' parts at level NT2-2** and for the Social Orientation part 80% if this test was done after 31 August 2001 or 85% if the test was done before 1 September 2001.
    • A certified copy of a Civic Integration Certificate for settled immigrants with level NT2-2 for the parts 'Listening', 'Speaking', 'Reading' and 'Writing'.
    • A copy the document issued after you passed the 'Short Exemption Test' (obtained before 1 January 2013). This must show that you have reached level B1 of the European Framework for Modern Foreign Languages.
    • A certified copy of the exemption decision (official letter) from the municipal executive based on:
      • Article 5, 2nd paragraph of the Civic Integration (Newcomers) Act, stating that no civic integration programme has been followed, due to the fact that your Dutch is already good enough.
      • article 5, 4th paragraph of the Civic Integration (Newcomers) Act, stating that no civic integration programme is followed, because you passed a test as referred to in this article.
    • A copy of the document used to demonstrate that you do/did not have to sit the naturalisation test based on Article 4 of the Naturalisation Test Decree.
    • A copy of a letter from the municipal executive stating that because of demonstrable efforts on your part, the municipal executive comes to the conclusions that it is not reasonably possible for you to pass the civic integration examination. You can use this document if you became obliged to participate in a civic integration programme before 1 January 2013.
    • A copy of a letter from the Education Executive Agency (Dienst Uitvoering Onderwijs or DUO) stating that because of demonstrable efforts on your part, DUO comes to the conclusion that it is not reasonalby possible for you to pass the civic integration examination. You can use this document if you became obliged to participate in a civic integration programme after 31 December 2012.
    • a copy of a letter from the Education Executive Agency (Dienst Uitvoering Onderwijs or DUO) stating that because of demonstrable efforts on your part, DUO comes to the conclusion that it is not reasonably possible for you to pass parts of the civic integration examination, as refered to in Article 7(2b and 2c) of the Civic Integration Act. And a copy of a letter from the Education Executive Agency (Dienst Uitvoering Onderwijs or DUO) stating that the participation statement referred to in Article 7(2a) of the Civic Integration Act (WIN) is completed. You can submit these documents if you became obliged to participate in a civic integration programme in the period after 30 September 2017.

Are you not eligible for an exemption on the basis of one of the before mentioned exemption grounds? Please contact the Dienst Uitvoering Onderwijs (DUO) for obtaining the civic integration diploma. 

Do you have the diploma secondary vocational education level 1 (MBO level 1) or the state examination diploma Dutch as a second language I or II (NT2) As of 1 January 2015, this diploma does no longer exempt you from the civic integration requirement. Please contact the Dienst Uitvoering Onderwijs (DUO) for obtaining the civic integration diploma. This applies to all applications submitted from 1 January 2015. The moment at which you became subject to the integration requirement in accordance with the Civic Integration Act is of no importance.

Do you have the state examination diploma Dutch as a second language I or II (NT2)? Please contact the Dienst Uitvoering Onderwijs (DUO) for obtaining one or two additional exams. DUO determines whether you additionally need to pass the exam 'Knowledge of Dutch society' (ONA) and/or the exam 'Guidance on the Dutch labor market' (KNM) for obtaining the civic integration diploma. After passing the additional exams, you obtain the civic integration diploma. Next, you provide the civic integration diploma to the IND when submitting the application.

A letter from DUO stating that you are exempted from the obligation to integrate because you have obtained the diploma secondary vocational education level 1 (MBO level 1) or the state examination diploma Dutch as a second language I or II (NT2), does not exempt you from the integration requirement. In case of doubt, contact the IND. You still need to obtain the civic integration diploma or qualify  for an exemption on the basis of one of the before mentioned exemption grounds .

A letter from the municipal executive or from DUO stating that you do not need to integrate because you are clearly or demonstrably sufficiently integrated, is not considered an exemption to the IND. You still need to obtain the civic integration diploma.

Please only send copies
If you submit the application in writing then send a regular copy or, in some cases, a certified copy of the requested diplomas, certificates, documents and/or lists of grades. Never send the original. Show the original or certified copy of the diploma/ certificate at the IND desk.

Exemption: what do I have to do if I cannot take the civic integration examination?

Are there special circumstances preventing you from taking the civic integration examination? You may request for exemption of the obligation to integrate. You are not obligated to take the civic integration examination if you have an exemption.

You will get an exemption for special individual circumstances with 1 of the following documents:

  • a letter from the municipality (decision municipal executive) stating that due to a psychological disorder, physical impairment or mental disability it is permanently impossible for you to pass the civic integration examination (if you had to integrate before 1 January 2013);
  • a letter from DUO stating that due to a psychological disorder, physical impairment or mental disability, it is permanently impossible for you to pass the civic integration examination (if you had to integrate after 31 December 2012);
  • a medical advice not older than 6 months from an independent doctor appointed by the municipality where you live. The IND will assess if you are permanently unable to pass the civic integration examination due to a psychological disorder, physical impairment or mental disability (if you had to integrate before 1 January 2013);

Have you moved since the advise was given? You can use the advise that has been issued by the doctor from the municipality where you lived before. 

  • a medical advice not older than 6 months from a medical adviser from Argonaut. The IND will assess if you are permanently unable to pass the civic integration examination due to a psychological disorder, physical impairment or mental disability.
  • There are special and individual circumstances. Explain in a letter why it is not possible for you to pass the civic integration examination. Enclose this letter, plus as much evidence as possible, with your application.
  • You cannot be expected to pass the civic integration examination. You have made sufficient attempts to pass the examination. You have to show this with an advice from DUO. You will get this advice after a best efforts test. You have to apply for this test at DUO. Please visit www.inburgeren.nl for the conditions and  the application form for this procedure.
  • Before 1 July 2013 you have applied for an advice from ROC Amsterdam via the feasibility study. The advice shows that due to limited educational skills, your prior educational status and your age, you are unable to pass the civic integration examination. The ROC advice may not be older than 5 years upon submitting the application. You must still have passed the Spoken Dutch Test at level A2.

Civic integration examination: condition for naturalisation

To become a Dutch citizen via naturalisation, you must also obtain the civic integration diploma.

Exemption: when do I not have to take the civic integration examination for naturalisation?

In some cases, you do not need to take the exam. You have to show that you belong to one of the following categories of persons that are exempt:

  • You are a Moluccan and you are subject to the Act on the position of Moluccans dated 9 September 1976.
  • You received an education in the Dutch language and was issued at least one of the following Dutch diploma's or certificates:
    • A diploma hbo or university on the basis of the law "Wet op het hoger onderwijs en wetenschappelijk onderzoek".
    • A diploma mbo-level 2 or higher, vmbo or Leerlingwezen on the basis of the law "Wet educatie beroepsonderwijs". A diploma mbo-level 1 only exempts you of taking the exam if you became subject to the integration requirement before 1 January 2015.
    • A diploma Leerlingwezen on the basis of the law "Wet op het cursorisch onderwijs".
    • A diploma mavo, havo or vwo on the basis of the law "Wet op het voortgezet onderwijs".
    • A diploma or certificate on the basis of another law.
  • You have a diploma State Exam Dutch as a second language (NT-2), level I or II.
  • You have a WIN certificate, including a statement from the educational institution that shows that you passed the Social Orientation part (till 31 August 2001 for at least 85%, as of September 2001 for 80% or higher) as well as having passed all parts at language level A2.
  • You have an exemption decision from the municipal executive based on: 
    • Article 3, first paragraph, opening words and under e of the Decree on the Naturalisation Test (Decision Municipal Executive under Article 5, second paragraph of the Civic Integration (Newcomers) Act, stating that no civic integration programme is determined, due to already acquired knowledge);
    • Article 3, first paragraph, opening words and under f of the Decree on the Naturalisation Test (Decision Municipal Executive that no civic integration programme is determined, because applicant has passed a test as referred to in Article 5, fourth paragraph of the Civic Integration (Newcomers) Act);
    • Article 3, first paragraph, opening words and under g of the Decree on the Naturalisation Test (Decision Municipal Executive under Article 3, third paragraph under a of the Civic Integration (Newcomers) Act, exempting obligation to integrate on medical grounds).
  • You have a civic integration certificate, having passed all parts at level A2.
  • You have a document stating that you passed the 'Short Exemption Test' (obtained before 1 January 2013). This must show that you have reached level B1 of the European Framework for Modern Foreign Languages.
  • You have lived in the European part of the Netherlands for at least 8 years during the compulsory school age.
  • You have a Belgian diploma or certificate, were taught in the Dutch language and you passed the subject of Dutch + list of grades (both documents accompanied by an Apostille). The level of the training course must be higher than primary education.
  • You have a Surinamese diploma or certificate, were taught in the Dutch language and you passed the subject of Dutch + list of grades (both documents accompanied by an Apostille). The level of the training course must be higher than primary education.
  • You have a diploma from the European school of the European Baccalaureate (as provided in the Statute of the European School), with Dutch as a 1st or 2nd language and passed the subject of Dutch.
  • You have an International Baccalaureate Middle Years Certificate, an International General Certificate of Secondary Education or an International Baccalaureate and passed the subject of Dutch.
  • You have a Naturalisation Test Certificate (before 1 April 2007). The certificate shows that you passed the following parts: knowledge of politics and society; speaking, listening, writing and reading skills. 

Partial exemption: When do I only have to take part of the civic integration examination for naturalisation?

It may be that you only have to take part of the examination. This applies to the following situations:

  • You have a Civic Integration Certificate for Settled Immigrants. You have passed all language parts at level 2. You only need to pass the part Knowledge of Dutch Society.
  • You have passed part I (knowledge of politics and society) of the Naturalisation Test (before 1 April 2007). You no longer need to take the test Knowledge of Dutch Society. You do still need to pass the other parts of the examination.
  • You have a Civic Integration Certificate within the context of the Civic Integration (Newcomers) Act (WIN certificate) with Social Orientation part at level 2 (till 1 September 2001 at least for 85%, after 31 August 2001 at least for 80%), including the statement from the educational institution. You no longer need to take the test Knowledge of Dutch Society. You do still need to pass the other parts of the examination.
  • You have a Civic Integration Certificate within the context of the Civic Integration (Newcomers) Act (WIN certificate) with all language parts at least at level 2, including the statement from the educational institution. You no longer need to take the parts reading skills, listening skills and speaking skills. You do still need to pass the part Knowledge of Dutch Society.
  • You have an Education Statement from the ROC and have passed all language parts at level 2 at least. You no longer need to take the parts reading skills, listening skills and speaking skills. You do still need to pass the part Knowledge of Dutch Society.
  • You have a certificate for Dutch as a Foreign Language (CNaVT) at level A2 at least. You no longer need to take the parts reading skills, listening skills and speaking skills. You do still need to pass the part Knowledge of Dutch Society.
  • You are exempt from the orientation on the Dutch labour market part if you have reached retirement age or if you have registered with DUO before 1 January 2015 to take the naturalisation test or part of it and you have paid the examination fees before 1 February 2015. 
  • You are exempt from the participation procedure part if you became subject to the integration requirement before 1 October 2017 or if you are not subject to the integration requirement.

  • You live abroad and you want to apply for naturalisation. If you will take the civic integration examination for naturalisation at the Dutch embassy or consulate, you only need to take the central part of the exam. This consists of 3 exams: Knowledge of Dutch Society, the Electronic Practice Exam and the Test of Spoken Dutch. You may register for the civic integration examination at the Dutch embassy or consulate.

If you think you do not have to take the exam, or part of the exam, please inform the municipality. You have to show the municipality the original document. The municipality will check the document and advice you whether or not to take the examination.

Exemption: what do I have to do if I cannot take the civic integration examination?

Exemption due to physical or mental health problems
When someone suffers from severe permanent physical problems (for example, deafness, blindness and deaf-mutism) or serious mental health limitations, they may get an exemption.

Persons who believe to be considered for this, can apply to this in various ways:

  • You undergo a medical examination done by a medical adviser from Argonaut. Argonaut is the Medical Adviser assigned by the Minister of Social Affairs and Employment. The medical adviser of Argonaut assesses if the person in question is capable of passing the civic integration examination and gives a medical advice. Having a declaration from your own doctor is therefore not enough. The medical advice from Argonaut may not be older than 6 months upon submitting the application. For more information about the above-mentioned exemption possibility, please check www.argonaut.nl.
  • A letter from DUO showing that, due to a psychological or physical impairment, or a mental disability, you are permanently unable to pass the civic integration examination. This letter may nog be older than 3 years.
  • A letter from the municipality showing that, due to a psychological or physical impairment, or a mental disability, you are permanently unable to pass the civic integration examination.

Exemption on non-medical grounds (for example illiteracy)
When you want to apply for exemption for non-medical reasons, you have to show that you have made sufficient efforts to pass the civic integration examination. You can show this in 2 ways:

  • You have a decision from the Minister of Social Affairs and Employment. This states that you are exempt from the obligation to integrate (exemption based on Article 6, first paragraph, opening words and under b of the Integration Act), as, despite having shown sufficient efforts, you cannot reasonably be expected to successfully complete the integration programme.
  • You have an advice drawn up by the Executive Agency for Education (DUO). This states that you cannot be expected to pass the civic integration examination. You have been given this advice because you have shown sufficient efforts to try to pass the civic integration examination. For more information please check www.inburgeren.nl.

Until 1 July 2013, it was possible to get an exemption on non-medical grounds (for example illiteracy) based on a feasibility study done by ROC Amsterdam. As of 1 July 2013, it is no longer possible to do this feasibility study at ROC Amsterdam. The best-efforts test at DUO has replaced the feasibility study. If you still have an advice from ROC Amsterdam, you can get an exemption from taking the civic integration examination. The advice cannot, however, be older than 5 years when you submit the application for naturalisation. You must still have passed the Spoken Dutch Test at level A2.

Compulsory school age

​This is from the age of 5 until the end of the school year in which the child becomes 16 year old.

certified copy

A 'certified copy' is a copy of a record which has been affixed with an original stamp/seal by the issuing institution, thus proving that it is a genuine copy of an original document issued by that institution. For this you need to contact the educational institute where you earned your diploma or certificate​.