Is my father a Belgian citizen or Dutch?
September 18, 2013 9:32 PM   Subscribe

Is my father a Belgian citizen or Dutch? I *think* so? I'm confused by the internet.

My father was born in Bruges, Belgium in 1939 to Dutch parents. They lived on the border. He was also baptized in Bruges two days later. His parents moved them all to Canada within the year to escape the war.

My Dad's family comes from a small town right on the Netherlands/Belgian border and many of our family members are currently sprinkled on both sides of the border.

I may like to move there and if I qualify for citizenship through him then that would be fantastic. And from what I can tell, Belgian citizenship is more of a possibility to get as, it seems, he would have lost his Dutch citizenship long ago.

I was born before my Dad turned 28 -- if/because 28 matters?? Not sure.

Thank you for your help.
posted by Toto_tot to Law & Government (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
What passport did they use to get to Canada?
posted by empath at 9:56 PM on September 18, 2013

Also, I would talk to the consulates of both countries. They can probably at least point you in the right direction.
posted by empath at 9:58 PM on September 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

Given the Schengen and the EU, which you get isn't terribly important (there will be differences, but most of the benefits will be the same).

My mother used to be the receptionist at the Belgian Embassy here in Washington. She fielded this question quite often, and I'm sure her successor would be happy to do so for you.
posted by phrontist at 10:55 PM on September 18, 2013

In most European countries (unlike the US ir Canada) you inherit citizenship from your parents rather than acquiring it through your place of birth. It seems most likely that the child of Dutch parents would have Dutch citizenship as long as the parents were married and the father was a Dutch citizen.

In any case, if your father acquired Canadian citizenship he would probably have lost Belgian or Dutch citizenship as Belguim, the Netherlands and Canada did not permit dual nationality until very recently.

I agree that you could get help at a Belgian or Dutch consulate. At the very least they should be able to tell you what documents will help determine citizenship. I also agree that your father's emigration passport is likely to be definitive - if it was Dutch then he was Dutch for example. If there are ways in which your father could claim Belgian citizenship then the consulate is likely to know.
posted by plonkee at 11:53 PM on September 18, 2013

Yes, ask the Dutch and Belgian consulates/embassies in your area. But as far as I know, Belgian citizenship was determined by the nationality of the father up (jus sanguinis) rather than the place of birth (jus solis) until the early 1990s or so.
posted by col_pogo at 11:58 PM on September 18, 2013

"In any case, if your father acquired Canadian citizenship he would probably have lost Belgian or Dutch citizenship as Belguim, the Netherlands and Canada did not permit dual nationality until very recently."

Don't assume this!!! Just because a country doesn't recognize dual citizenship, or permit it, is not the same thing as actively making you relinquish your other citizenship.

IE- one country NOT permitting your other citizenship doesn't mean that Other Country is not still recognizing you as a citizen.

My dad thought he'd lost his citizenship when he emigrated from Europe in the early 50's. He was wrong, I got my EU passport and I have now lived and worked in Europe as a citizen for 7 years now.

ps- cool sidenote: I can now pass that citizenship on to my children (if born abroad) now that I have lived in the country for over 3 years.
posted by misspony at 12:31 AM on September 19, 2013

As a current resident foreigner in Belgium, as a general rule the more your Belgian Embassy stresses that a thing you can't find an actual rule against is simply impossible the more trivially easy it actually is.
posted by Blasdelb at 2:06 AM on September 19, 2013 [4 favorites]

You definitely should ask the Belgian and Dutch consulates in your area. They are the ones best equiped to clear this up for you.

I am Portuguese and I am living in Belgium. I am pregnant, and the father is Belgian. Even right now, if one of us weren't Belgian, our child wouldn't be either. There are some exceptions to this rule, however, it is more likely your father would have been Dutch - I suggest you try them first. It is true that until very recently both The Netherlands and Belgium did not accept dual citizenship (they do now), but I have no idea if this was upheld in all cases, especially those such as your Father's. You really must get in contact with the consulate.

I will also say the Dutch policy on citizenship granting at the moment is nuts, and I know cases of Dutch citizens married to non-EU citizens (and who have kids together!), whose spouses cannot even get a residency visa, let alone nationality. I hope you have better luck!
posted by neblina_matinal at 2:06 AM on September 19, 2013

On preview, what Blasdelb says is absolutely true, which is why it is best you contact the consulate in Canada, as I am sure they are more in the know about a question such as this.
posted by neblina_matinal at 2:10 AM on September 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

I recently helped my husband get his first German passport (citizenship through parent, who was born outside Germany to German parents and had since naturalized to the US), while this doesn't necessarily apply to Belgium/Netherlands, here are some things I learned along the way:

-What matters for your citizenship is your father's citizenship at the time of your birth; if he later naturalized to Canada, this shouldn't affect your citizenship unless you also naturalized (but if you were born in Canada there wouldn't be a need for you to naturalize)
---Re naturalization: some countries (like Germany) require you to petition them to keep your citizenship before you naturalize otherwise you're deemed to renounce it; other countries (like Mexico) you can't renounce citizenship basically ever;
--dual citizenship rules usually do not affect those who are born with multiple citizenships; some countries require you to affirm your citizenship by a certain age, like 26, if you were born outside of the country and your birth was not registered with the embassy/consulate.
-The way you "claim" your citizenship is to just apply for a passport; if there isn't enough evidence that you are eligible for a passport, then you may have to take a further step and apply for something like a certificate of citizenship, which in Germany can take 6-12 months. When dealing with the consulate you either are or are not a citizen, you are not applying for citizenship (the distinction matters).
-To get the passport you'll need: all of your ID docs that you'd need for a passport in Canada, plus your parents passports, your parents' marriage certificate, proof that your dad is/was a citizen at the time of your birth, any naturalization documents
---re proof: we used two expired German passports - one before husband's birth and one after husband's birth; we also had the documents showing his parents' naturalization didn't occur until husband was an adult; the naturalization documents may show the country of previous citizenship
-the German consulate was very helpful and took the application even though we were missing a few documents; they had us just come in and drop them off the following week, no need for a second appointment
-not sure how the Dutch/Belgians are, but the Germans are all about bureaucracy and paperwork, so being organized, having multiple hi-res copies of everything, having documents apostilled, and more documents than you think you'll need seems to make them happier and easier to deal with
-Are you Jewish and/or was your dad's family exiled or stripped of citizenship? In Germany there are special rules for repatriation and re-granting of citizenship in these cases. There may be a similar rule in Belgium/Netherlands
-The rules have changed in many European countries in the last 20 years or so, so make sure you're looking at the rules for people born in your birth year, not necessarily the current scheme
-Be aware of any national service requirement or tax filing obligations that may come with being a citizen of another country (the tax thing is mostly a trap for US citizens living elsewhere, but not sure of Belgium/Netherlands tax laws)

If your dad has naturalization documents, that's where I'd start the search. If he became Canadian before your birth, then you have to look at his birth citizenship country's rules on retaining citizenship after getting another.
posted by melissasaurus at 4:47 AM on September 19, 2013

I think that its more country specific than that. For example my wife's parents are native born citizens of an EU country who naturalized as US citizens before she was born - but she was able to become a citizen of that country pretty easily - although with quite a bit of bureaucracy that would have been even more of a nightmare if she didn't still have family in the town where her parents were born. Now she has a Passport, and when our son was born it was trivially easy for him to get a passport.

On the flip side - my father is a native born citizen of a different EU country who was also born a US citizen - and it is basically impossible for me to become a citizen of that country. I could have done it when I was still a minor, but as an adult it is a no go. And of course I'm born in the last year a national service obligation existed - so I didn't do it when I was a kid.

Of course for us it doesn't matter - as my wife having an EU passport means we can live anywhere in the EU.

Long-winded way of saying - visit the consulate and ask.
posted by JPD at 7:39 AM on September 19, 2013

and yeah - not recognizing Dual Citizenship doesn't mean you can't have two passports.

Also don't try to travel on both passports.
posted by JPD at 7:42 AM on September 19, 2013

From what I know, I wouldn't rule out getting Dutch citizenship. A friend's mother was Dutch, but had moved to Canada, and my friend was able to get Dutch citizenship relatively easily.
posted by Dorothea_in_Rome at 11:05 AM on September 19, 2013

Based on a quick look at the relevant Dutch law (the 'Rijkswet op het Nederlanderschap') a newborn child is Dutch if either parent (or both) were Dutch at the time of the child's birth (article 3). The child's place of birth is irrelevant. Voluntarily gaining citizenship of another country after you've come of age means losing your Dutch citizenship (article 15).

I'd definitely advise you to contact the embassy to get definitive answers (I'd say the Dutch embassy would be the best place to start).
posted by rjs at 3:13 PM on September 19, 2013

In addition to the above: the rules for loss of Dutch citizenship for under-age children are a bit more complicated. If both parent gain, let's say, Canadian citizenship for themselves and their unnder-age children, it looks like the children lose their Dutch citizenship. If one parent remains a Dutch citizen, or both parents become Canadian citizens but don't gain Canadian citizenship for their children, the children remain Dutch.
posted by rjs at 3:26 PM on September 19, 2013

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