Dutch may have rights to resume nationality after Brexit – but will Brits?

Dutch nationals who have lost their nationality after Brexit may be able to restore it, under a back-up plan being passed through Dutch law.

Although originally the current coalition had pledged to look at the Dutch ban on having dual nationality in most circumstances, in the end the two houses of parliament have only passed a law to protect Dutch citizens in the UK.

It would give them the possibility to request a ‘proportionality check’ that could restore their original nationality ‘if central government finds that the consequences of losing EU citizenship are disproportionate.’

Ringfence rights

Immigration lawyer Jeremy Bierbach told DutchNews.nl that the law was originally drawn up when the government believed there was a high chance of Britain crashing out of the EU without any kind of deal and was intended to ‘ringfence’ their rights as EU citizens.

However, he said, the government coalition backed away from granting Brits in the Netherlands the same rights. ‘This was seen as the only way the Dutch government could guarantee Dutch citizens’ rights in the UK as a lot of Dutch people will naturalise as UK citizens but won’t lose their final right to Dutch citizenship,’ he said.

‘It was originally intended to go both ways, but people wanted the law to be consistent and without exceptions to the general ruling restricting dual nationality.’

One chance?

However, Bierbach suggested that there could be a similar back-up for UK (and other) citizens under their own country’s laws which mean if they are ‘forced’ to give up their nationality, they have a one-time chance to get it back.

Although he believes it has not yet been used, an Australian client of his was able to become Dutch, and then take up Australian nationality again with the permission of the Dutch, in a similar legal situation. The process could work if a former Briton could prove they had spent five years in the country as a minor or were married to a Brit.

‘With the resumption process, you only become a British citizen as of that moment in time, the same as naturalisation and Dutch national law says if you are a Dutch citizen, that is not okay except if you are married [to a Brit] or it happens to be the country where you spend five years with your main residence as a minor,’ he said. ‘Maybe someone felt sorry for British emigrés forced to renounce their British nationality: it is a one-time chance to get it back.’

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