If you plan to live in The Netherlands for a long time, you have two choices: Dutch permanent residence or Dutch citizenship.

The difference between the two is that with the Dutch permanent residence, you can stay in The Netherlands indefinitely and work without needing a special work permit. However, you need to renew this permit every 5 years.

On the other hand, if you become a Dutch citizen, you officially become part of the Dutch community. This means you can get a Dutch passport, vote in Dutch elections, and even run for a position in the Dutch parliament.

But there’s a catch: If you become a Dutch citizen, you might have to give up your other nationality. The Dutch government prefers that people have only one nationality. In contrast, with Dutch permanent residence, you can keep your original nationality.

Applying for the Dutch citizenship

To apply for Dutch citizenship as a migrant, you need to be at least 18 years old and typically go through the naturalization process. In addition to holding a valid residence permit, you must meet the following conditions:

  • Residence Requirement: You should have lived in the Netherlands continuously for five years, or for a total of 10 years with the last two years being continuous.
  • Language and Integration: You must pass a civic integration test and demonstrate Dutch language skills at an A2 level to show your integration into Dutch society. If you have a Dutch degree, you might be exempt from this requirement.
  • Nationality: In most cases, you’ll need to renounce your current nationality.
  • Clean Record: You should not have a criminal record from the past four years.

However, if you’ve spent most of your life in the Netherlands or have Dutch citizen parents or a Dutch spouse, you might have the option of acquiring citizenship through the “option procedure.” This process has fewer requirements, is more cost-effective, and quicker, taking only three months compared to a year for naturalization.

If you don’t meet the criteria for these procedures or are hesitant about giving up your current nationality, it’s essential to weigh the pros and cons of Dutch citizenship versus permanent residence for your future in the Netherlands.


Expat guide to the Dutch Permanent Residence

Applying for the Permanent residence card

The requirements for permanent residence in The Netherlands differ depending on whether you are a citizen of the EU/EEA/Switzerland or a non-EU/EEA citizen. Here are the requirements for EU/EEA/Swiss citizens:

  • Residence Period: You must provide evidence that you have lived continuously in The Netherlands for five years. This can be supported by documents such as your health insurance policy.
  • Retirement: If you are retired, you need to show proof that you worked in The Netherlands for at least one year before retiring.
  • Cross-Border Worker: If you are a cross-border worker, you must demonstrate that you have resided in The Netherlands for at least three years. Your primary residence should be in The Netherlands, and you should return to The Netherlands at least once a week.
  • Employment Records: If you are deemed unfit for work, you will need to submit documents related to your employment history in The Netherlands.
  • Family Connection: If you obtained a residence permit in The Netherlands through a relative who is a citizen of an EU/EEA/Switzerland, your eligibility will be assessed based on your relationship with that relative.

Once you have gathered all the required documents, you’ll need to pay a non-refundable application fee of 50 euros when submitting your application to the IND (Immigration and Naturalization Service). Processing times for EU/EEA/Swiss citizens can take up to eight weeks.
Learn more about the permanent residence permit.

Permanent residence permit vs citizenship summary

Permanent residence

  • You can stay in the Netherlands indefinitely but you have to renew your permit every 5 years
  • You can work freely in the Netherlands without needing a work permit
  • You do not need to find a job first in order to apply for Dutch health insurance.
  • You should not stay outside of the Netherlands for 6 consecutive months or for 4 months for 3 years in a row.


  • You can apply for a Dutch passport
  • You might have to renounce your nationality
  • You are allowed to stay outside of the Netherlands as long as you like
  • You are allowed to vote in all Dutch elections
  • You are allowed to vote in European elections
  • You can move seamlessly to another European union