Establishment of statelessness laid down by law

Last update: 2 October 2023

Since 1 October, in the Netherlands, persons who say they are stateless can have this established. This can be done via the court and, if statelessness is obvious, by the IND or the local council. Previously only local councils could register statelessness, but that was not in line with international standards and UN treaties and conventions. 

As the process for adoption of the statelessness bill started on 1 October, an unambiguous procedure to establish statelessness has been created for the first time in the Netherlands. The implementation of this Act will enable the IND to help facilitate the recognition of stateless persons and the identification and reduction of statelessness. Someone is stateless if not a single country considers this person its national.

More rights as a stateless person

A stateless person who stays in the Netherlands illegally can apply to the IND for an identification document. This document does not give a right of residence, but the applicant can use it to demonstrate his/her statelessness. Stateless children and young adults who were born in the Netherlands and do not have a right of residence can obtain Netherlands nationality by making an option statement.

Stateless persons who reside legally in the Netherlands can be registered as stateless in the Personal Records Database (BRP). They can apply for travel documents for non-Dutch nationals. And they can acquire Dutch citizenship more quickly by way of naturalisation after three years instead of five years.

The District Court establishes statelessness

From 1 October the Civil Court in The Hague has been able to establish statelessness. The judge assesses whether someone is stateless on the basis of documents and nationality legislation of the countries with which the stateless person has ties. The IND advises the court on the basis of the application and acts on behalf of the State.

Obviously stateless established by the IND or local council

Under certain conditions, for example if a different country has established statelessness, a person is ‘obviously stateless’. Consequently, statelessness can be established by the local council or the IND. Other examples of obvious statelessness are: a child of two stateless parents who was born in the Netherlands or if someone has the nationality of a state that the Netherlands does not recognise.

When a stateless person is registered or wants to register in the BRP, then the local council can establish and register obvious statelessness. Without BRP registration and in case of no legal residence, they can apply to the IND for an identification document. Then the IND uses the biometric data from a previous residence process or takes them at the desk. If a stateless person is undergoing a residence process, that person’s stateless is established on a residence permit, if any, to be granted.

Stateless when applying for residence

An applicant can make known during the residence process that he or she is stateless. Then the applicant must make their identity plausible. After statelessness has been established it will be stated on the residence document that this person is stateless. Applicants must of course meet the requirements before a residence permit can be granted.

At present, about five thousand people are registered as stateless in the Personal Records Database (BRP) (as at 1-1-2022). In addition about 26 thousand people are registered with an unknown nationality. Some of them can be stateless persons, but for example also people who say that they have a nationality but cannot prove it or who are unwilling to make their nationality known.



More information

Determining statelessness