Dutch citizen by birth, acknowledgment or adoption

Last update: 17 May 2022

A child can automatically become a Dutch citizen by birth, acknowledgement or adoption. This is also called getting Dutch citizenship by descent. It happens ‘by (operation of) law’. Then you do not have to apply for Dutch nationality. Find out the situations in which your child will automatically get Dutch nationality.

Dutch citizen by birth

Was your child born after 31 December 1984? In that case your child will automatically get Dutch nationality by birth in these situations:

  • The child’s mother had Dutch nationality at the time of the child’s  birth.
  • Both of the child’s parents had Dutch nationality at the tie of their child’s birth.
  • The child’s father had Dutch nationality at the time of the child’s birth and is married to the child’s non-Dutch mother. Or the father is the mother’s registered partner. Or the father acknowledged the child before the child was born.
  • At the time of birth, the child and the child’s mother had their principal residence in the Kingdom of the Netherlands. One of the mother’s parents also had their principal residence in the Kingdom on the day the mother was born.
  • The child and the child’s father had their principal residence in the Kingdom of the Netherlands at the time of the child’s birth. One of the father’s parents also had their principal residence in the Kingdom on the day the father was born.

It makes no difference whether the child was born in the Netherlands or abroad.

Child born before 1 January 1985

Was the father a Dutch citizen at the time of the child’s birth? In that case the child is also automatically a Dutch citizen by descent. It makes no difference whether the child was born in the Netherlands or abroad.

What if the mother was a Dutch citizen at the time of the child's birth, but the father was not? Then the child will not automatically be a Dutch citizen. The child can become a Dutch citizen through option.

Acknowledgement by a Dutch citizen

Did a Dutch citizen acknowledge the child after 1 March 2009? And did the acknowledging parent do this after the child’s birth and before the child turned 7 years old? In that case the child is automatically a Dutch citizen.

Acknowledgement of a child aged 7 or more

Was the child 7 years old or more, but under 18, when they were acknowledged? Then the acknowledger must take a DNA test to prove that they are the biological parent. This must be done within 1 year after acknowledgement of the child. If the acknowledger is unable or unwilling to take a DNA test, the child can become a Dutch citizen through option. The acknowledger must also have cared for and brought up the child for at least 3 years without interruption. And the child must be under 18 years old at the time of the application.

Scheme for children acknowledged between 1 April 2003 and 1 March 2009

From 1 April 2003 to 1 March 2009 a child could not become a Dutch citizen by acknowledgement. There is a separate scheme for children acknowledged in this period. This scheme also applies to children who have since turned 18 or more. For more information, contact the local council or Dutch representation (embassy or consulate).

Adoption by a Dutch parent

Children automatically get Dutch nationality by adoption if they meet the following requirements:

  • The child is under 18 years old.
  • One of the adoptive parents is a Dutch national.
  • The adoption happened under the rules of the Hague Adoption Convention or Book 10 of the Dutch Civil Code (in Dutch: Burgelijk Wetboek or BW).
  • The legal and other family ties with the original parents have been completely broken.

Applying for a Dutch passport

Is your child automatically a Dutch citizen by law? Then you can apply to your local council for a passport or identity card.

Does your child live abroad? Then apply to the Dutch representation (embassy or consulate) abroad for the passport or identity card.

Visit Netherlandsworldwide.nl for information about applying for a passport or identity card if you live abroad.