Honey I lost my Dutch citizenship !!

So you were born anywhere in Aruba (or the former Dutch Antilles) or the Netherlands, and so were your parents and grandparents. Alternatively, you moved from your home country to Aruba or the Netherlands and eventually obtained Dutch citizenship by naturalization. All off, you proud holders of that maroon-colored passport, lovers of Gouda cheese, Heineken, and diehard fans of the Dutch national soccer team (even if we didn’t make it to the finals of the 2023 World Cup).

Then as life moved along, you moved away for school or work – say to the U.S.A. – and before you knew it, you were offered the chance to obtain citizenship of your new country of residence. Now having multiple passports does seem to have a James Bond-like mystique with it, and it also creates the appearance that you now get double the benefits from both your Dutch passport and your new passport. Of course, we all know somebody that likes to show his or her multiple passports off. Think about it: you can work in 2 countries legally, collect multiple benefits, and hold bank accounts in different places. What else could one as for? Or what could even go wrong with having 2 (or more) passports?

Well, I am sorry to burst your bubble here. First, James Bond has only one passport, the UK passport. The other one is a license to kill granted by Her Majesty. The other passports are fake. So even Bond relies on only one (1) passport to travel. Second, when you willingly accept another nationality as a Dutch national, instead of having 1+1=2, the math is actually 1+1=1. Now how could that even remotely make any sense? Well, it is the law. There is a specific (federal) law in the Netherlands that regulates Dutch citizenship (“RWN”). This law determines if one: is Dutch can become Dutch and how Dutch citizenship is lost. A specific provision in that law states that any adult that holds Dutch citizenship and he or she voluntarily accepts another citizenship automatically loses his/her Dutch citizenship by operation of law.  “by operation of law” means that no action is required for the “loss” to go into effect. Anyone, including any elected official, requires no decision-making. Sounds a bit odd, perhaps, but then how would you know that you “lost” your Dutch citizenship? Don’t look for any letters in the (e)mail. You won’t get a notice. What typically will happen is that you will get to your nearest Dutch Embassy or when you visit “home” to renew your almost expired passport only to be told that: (a) you are not getting the passport renewed, and on top of that: (ii) you stopped being a Dutch citizenship a while back. Specifically, on the same date you swore allegiance to the other nation, i.e., when you became a U.S. citizen.

To some, or too many, this may seem wrong, unacceptable, and disproportionate; however, those thoughts are irrelevant to the facts and the law at hand. According to the law, you have made a conscious decision to accept another nationality, which means that you willingly and voluntarily accepted that you would lose your Dutch citizenship privileges. I say privileges because, in this case, it doesn’t sound like you lost a right, meaning you don’t have the right to be Dutch, at least not under all circumstances. The rule has some exemptions, but the example I outlined above won’t change the facts or your legal situation.

So what can you do?  Under the current statutes, there is little room to litigate against this successfully. One should consult a lawyer with citizenship knowledge before accepting additional citizenship. Do this not only in your new country of residence, e.g., in the U.S.A. but especially in Aruba or the Netherlands, to determine the consequences in your case for accepting new citizenship. Chances are that with all the facts, you will be in a far better position to make the right decision.

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