Information for British citizens in Amsterdam 

On Monday, 18 July 2016, Amsterdam’s British community was invited by Mayor Eberhard van der Laan to discuss concerns regarding the result of the British referendum on EU secession and potential consequences of a ‘Brexit’. Below, find a summary of the main topics and issues discussed at the meeting, as well as questions that were asked and the answers that were given in response. 

If you have any questions based on your individual situation that are not discussed below, please feel free to contact our Brexit Information Point by emailing [email protected] or calling 020 254 7999. The Brexit Information Point page will be updated as important news or developments arise. 

Amsterdam – international and open 

In his opening speech, the Mayor stressed that Amsterdam wants to be a capital city that feels responsible for all its residents, including the international ones. The Amsterdam Metropolitan Area is home to 15,000 Brits. At the moment, they are unsure about what they will be faced with, and we want to accommodate them as well as possible. After all, these 15,000 Brits are 15,000 Amsterdammers. 

Potential consequences of Brexit 

The general mood of the attendees of the meeting was one of being unsure about what to do in reaction to the referendum result. Some of them stated that they felt like they were being forced to choose between two loyalties. 

The specific questions concerning Brexit primarily fell into five categories:

  • Residency and citizenship issues (i.e. permits, visas, civic integration and naturalisation)  
  • Financial and administrative issues, such as the 30% ruling, pensions, wills, benefits, contributions and drivers’ licenses
  • Business and hiring (e.g. employment of current and/or future British employees by businesses based in the Netherlands, or the situation of those interested in moving to or investing in the Netherlands
  • Family (e.g. residency and permits for non-EU dependents or partners and parental rights)
  • Education and studying (e.g. consequences for students from Britain with regards to international fees)

Frequently asked questions and answers

All the answers below have been checked, where necessary, by our official sources. 

When will the consequences of Brexit be known and what are the current implications for British Amsterdammers?

The British population has voted to leave the EU, but in all likelihood the situation for British citizens will not change for several years. In order to formally announce the intention of withdrawing from the EU, the British government needs to begin the process laid out in Article 50 of the Lisbon treaty – it hasn’t done so yet and at the moment it is unclear when it will. 

Once Article 50 is triggered, the EU and Britain have two years to negotiate Britain’s withdrawal; this period could be extended if all member states agree to it. During negotiations, Britain remains a member of the EU and British citizens retain all their rights under EU law, including that of free movement.

What is the current situation and what are the possible scenarios? 

 It is currently unclear when Britain will leave the EU and under what terms. In all likelihood, the situation will not change for several years. The official negotiations of Britain’s withdrawal have not yet begun; once they do, they will take at least two years. 

We currently consider the following four scenarios to be the most likely:

  •  Complete exit – Britain reverts to the rules of the World Trade Organisation; non-EU immigration rules will apply to Brits in the Netherlands 
  •  Britain and the EU enter into an agreement like the one the EU currently has with Turkey, which includes a customs union and more flexible immigration rules
  •  Britain and the EU enter into an agreement like the one the EU currently has with Switzerland. Switzerland is a member of the EFTA but not the EEA. Residency rights of British citizens in the Netherlands would not change. 
  •  Britain and the EU enter into an agreement like the one the EU currently has with Norway, which would include British membership of the EEA, i.e. the single market. Residency rights of British citizens in the Netherlands would not change. 

Which actions will the Mayor/the City of Amsterdam undertake in terms of lobbying the Dutch national government to ensure that the status of British nationals in the Netherlands is sufficiently protected? 

In the coming months, the mayor will actively contact his colleagues at the national and European level, and send letters to the following persons:

  • The president of the European commission, Jean Claude Juncker;
  • The cooperation of the G28, a collective of the mayors of the 28 capitals of EU member states 
  • The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan
  • The Dutch Prime Minister, Mark Rutte

In these letters, the mayor will address the major concerns of the British community in the Netherlands, i.e. those that have been discussed in this meeting and in the correspondence before and afterwards.

How will the British community get trustworthy information on the current situation and future developments? 

We have been providing information to the British community in Amsterdam since before the referendum. Our partnership with London will continue, and we are willing to facilitate and help companies that want to relocate to Amsterdam (if they decide to leave Britain). 

We will continue to do so by various means of communication: 

The City of Amsterdam, Expatcenter Amsterdam and amsterdam inbusiness are keen to ensure that all parties who may be affected by the Brexit decision remain up to date with the latest news and are aware of any potential policy changes, as well as clearly explaining the present situation. Among other measures, a FAQ will be available on the website of the Expatcenter. It will be updated frequently. Companies looking for assistance can contact amsterdam inbusinessFurthermore, a Brexit Information Point has been installed at the Expatcenter Amsterdam. The information point will help to answer any questions raised by British citizens already living in the Netherlands, those planning to move here and businesses directly affected by any future policies. Anyone can contact the Brexit Information Point: email [email protected] or ring 020 254 7999.

We will also ensure that any new information or updates will be published on iamsterdam.com and amsterdam.nl and communicated via our various channels.

Will I lose my residence rights in the Netherlands, or will my rights to live and work in the Netherlands change otherwise after Brexit? Will I need to get a visa or residence permit? How will this affect people who currently live here? 

This all depends on the outcome of the negotiations of Britain and the EU. In the event of Britain not retaining an agreement about free movement with the EU, there are several possible options with regards to residency permits based on the current regulations (see below). It is, however, important to note that we assume additional agreements will be made during the negotiation period.

Which options are there in case British nationals lose their rights of living and working in the Netherlands? More specifically, which aspects of Brexit do British nationals living and working in the Netherlands need to consider before applying for Dutch nationality? 

There are several options for gaining the right to live and work in the Netherlands as a non-EU or non-EEA citizen.

  • Working as an employee of an international company – any employer with a branch in the Netherlands may apply for a work and residence permit for their international employees.
  • Working as a highly skilled migrant – to qualify as a highly skilled migrant, an employee has to fulfil certain requirements including a minimum income and work for an approved company.
  • Permanent residence permit for non-EU citizens
  • The European blue card – employees who perform highly qualified labour within the European Union may qualify for a European blue card, if they meet certain income and academic requirements.
  • Scientific researchers – scientific researchers from non-EU countries can live and work in the Netherlands under similar conditions as those for highly skilled migrants.
  • Scientific researchers under Directive 2005/71/EC – this directive applies to PhD students, guest researchers and other researchers 
  • Startup entrepreneurs – startup founders can apply for a special work and residence permit for the Netherlands. Cooperation with a facilitator is a requirement.
  • Self-employed entrepreneurs – those wishing to set up a business in the Netherlands can apply for a specific residence permit for entrepreneurs. This enables you to be self-employed in the Netherlands. Specific conditions apply to this procedure.
  • Recent graduates – recent bachelor’s and master’s graduates from non-EU countries can search for work in the Netherlands for up to a year with an 'Orientation Year’ permit.
  • Family reunion (Dutch partner)
  • Family reunion (non-Dutch EU partner) – this applies to family members of a non-Dutch EU citizen who is a resident of the Netherlands.

Is becoming a Dutch citizen an option if I want to stay in the Netherlands? 

Yes – British citizens can apply for Dutch nationality if they have lived in the Netherlands legally for at least five years. This period will soon be increased to seven years (due to a new bill that is unrelated to the British referendum), but this new regulation will not apply to residents that have already lived in the Netherlands for three years on the date that the bill comes into effect.

Will I be able to keep my British passport if I become a Dutch citizen?

There are different ways of becoming a Dutch citizen. It depends on your individual situation whether you will be able to take dual citizenship or whether you would have to give up your British nationality. If you fulfil certain requirements, you can follow the option procedure, otherwise you need to apply for full naturalisation. The option procedure almost always allows for dual citizenship. It is also faster and cheaper. Please note that fees apply for all procedures of becoming a Dutch citizen. 

Please note: The laws around obtaining Dutch citizenship are complex. Listed below are some general scenarios and options, but individual cases may vary. If you are unsure whether you qualify for Dutch citizenship via one of the opportunities below, or have further questions, please do not hesitate to contact the Brexit Information Point (email [email protected] or call 020 2547999). If necessary, we’ll contact specialists in various fields in order to obtain the information you require.

Dual citizenship options 

  • Dual nationality by birth – if you were born a Dutch and a British citizen, you will retain both nationalities. If a British and a Dutch citizen are married, their children will automatically have the Dutch citizenship. Please enquire with the British authorities regarding their British citizenship. 
  • When they reach the age of 18, people born in the Netherlands can follow the option procedure, which, in all but one case (see below), accommodates dual citizenship. They need to have had their main residence in the Netherlands uninterruptedly since they were born, and be legal residents when applying for the option procedure (which applies to British citizens as long as Britain is part of the EU).
  • British citizens that have been married to or been in a civil partnership with a Dutch citizen for at least three years and have lived in the Netherlands for at least 15 years can also apply for the option procedure. This situation allows for dual citizenship, too. They must have been legal residents for that period of 15 years (which applies to British citizens as long as Britain is part of the EU). Note that while they have to have been married or in a civil partnership for three years, their spouse or partner does not need to have been a Dutch national for the entirety of this period. So if the partner became a Dutch national during their marriage or partnership, the option procedure is still possible. 
  • The option procedure is also open to British citizens older than 65 years, if they have lived in the Netherlands for at least 15 years. They must have been legal residents for that 15 year period (which applies to British citizens as long as Britain is part of the EU). 

Renouncing British citizenship 

  • Once they turn 18, the option procedure is also open to British citizens having lived in the Netherlands since before their fourth birthday. They need to have had their main and legal residence in the Netherlands uninterruptedly since they came to the Netherlands, and renounce their British citizenship.
  • Naturalisation: all other people wishing to acquire Dutch citizenship need to follow the naturalisation procedure. For this, they must have lived as legal residents in the Netherlands for at least five years, (which applies to British citizens as long as Britain is part of the EU) and have passed the civic integration exam. Please note that the five-year period is soon to be increased to seven years, due to a new bill, but this will not apply to residents that have already lived in the Netherlands for three years on the date that the bill comes into effect. 

There are some exceptions to the obligation to renounce your British citizenship as part of the naturalisation procedure described above. These apply if you:

  • are married or in a civil partnership with a Dutch citizen.
  • were born in the Netherlands and you have main residence in the Netherlands at the moment of applying for naturalisation (but have for example been staying outside of the Netherlands in between).

If you are British and have a child or children with Dutch citizenship only, please contact the British Embassy for further information on how to obtain British nationality for your child or children. 

I am British and considering renouncing my citizenship and applying for Dutch nationality due to the uncertainty. What is your advice – do it now or wait? 

If, in your case, applying for Dutch citizenship means giving up your British passport, our informal advice would be to not take any drastic steps at this point, as the situation is still unclear. We would advise you to wait until we have a clearer picture on the possible outcomes of the negotiations between Britain and the EU and the agreements made regarding free movement, citizenship, residency etc. 

Will British citizens need to pass the civic integration exam in order to stay in the Netherlands?

At this moment, it is uncertain what the negotiations between Britain and the EU will lead to, however, the Mayor and the City of Amsterdam will lobby for its British residents during the negotiations and work towards the best possible solution. Based on the current laws, for non-EU citizens civic integration is compulsory for acquiring a permanent residence permit or Dutch citizenship, with some exceptions. 

Which steps can we take at this point to put ourselves in a better position later? 

Strictly speaking, nothing needs to be done at the moment, because Britain is still an EU member state and the future situation depends on the outcome of the negotiations between Britain and the EU. However, British citizens who have lived in the Netherlands for a minimum of five years can apply for a permanent residence document for EU citizens. Although this is currently not mandatory for EU citizens, possession of a permanent residence document could potentially strengthen a resident’s case to stay in the Netherlands post-Brexit. It’s also worth noting that EU citizens applying for the permanent residence document do not need to follow the civic integration course. However, it is not guaranteed that the document stays valid after Britain’s secession from the EU. 

With regards to the five-year period for permanent residency: what is considered the starting date? Meaning, what counts as the moment of registration?

All residents of the Netherlands need to register with the municipality (gemeente) when they first come to live in the Netherlands. As a result of registering with the municipality, you will be assigned a personal public service number (BSN). The official start date of your residency in the Netherlands is based on this registration. Please note that your registration in the system must be uninterrupted (i.e. not include any gaps occurring when you were out of the country and/or not registered). If gaps do exist, the period of your residency will start from the most recent date you registered. 

Where and how can I check if I am registered and if I have been registered for more than five years? 

All Amsterdam residents have the legal right to verify their personal data contained in the City’s official registration system. You can do this by either visiting a City District office to inquire in person what your registration date is (please note that you will need to bring official proof of identity), or by checking it online at mijnoverheid.nl with your Digid login (in Dutch). 

If you require an official document to prove your date of registration, you can request an extract from the Municipal Personal Records Database (uittreksel Basisregistratie Personen). The document can be picked up in person at the City District Office (fee: €12.20) or be requested online with a DigiD login (available in 10 working days; fee: €9.50). 

Where can I apply for my permanent residence permit? What are the process and the fees?

If you have stayed lawfully in the Netherlands for an uninterrupted period of five years or more, you are eligible for a document for permanent residence for EU and EEA citizens or Switzerland. The same applies to family members who themselves do not hold the nationality of an EU or EEA member state or Switzerland, but who have lawfully stayed with an EU citizen for a continuous period of five years or more. There are some exceptions for retirees, those unfit to work etc. For more information on the application process, the fees and all exceptions please click here.

What are the consequences of Brexit on EU funding in research projects, such as Horizon 2020 and Erasmus+?

Carlos Moedas, the European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, has stated that the United Kingdom will keep participating in the Horizon 2020 programme until at least the end of the negotiations are finished. Both academic and corporate European umbrella organisations have also stated that the collaboration with British universities will stay in place, even after Brexit. 

The Grants Desk VU/VUmc will follow the developments closely, will provide you with timely advice, and is available for more information.

What are the consequences for my pension and/or social security contributions?

We are currently investigating these complex financial matters further in order to provide an accurate response. Once we have sourced the information, we will update the Brexit Information Point page.

Will I lose my 30% tax reimbursement?

The 30% tax ruling is based on salary level. This means that if you are able to maintain your job position and salary, the conditions for the 30% ruling will not change.

As the representative of a corporate, I’m concerned about the consequences of the referendum result for international companies. If more companies arrive, what will this mean for the pressure on international schools and housing? What does the City do to improve the climate for settlement?

The Expatcenter has recently launched the Open Amsterdam strategy for international talent. This programme aims to lower the obstacles for international talent wanting to come to and stay in Amsterdam. It is organised in three pillars: education, work and quality of life.

Summary of the Open Amsterdam strategy

The three pillars are central to the programme. They address what’s needed for creating an ideal homebase for international talent and have been determined by analysing current obstacles through extensive scientific research and exchange with the community itself, business consulting relating to conditions for corporate locations and looking into the challenges cities face when aiming to attract international talent. 

Pillar 1: Education

Aims: provide high-quality international schools (primary and secondary) and transitional courses. Simplify access to them, accommodating international children more easily.

Concrete results: through the Delta Plan for International Education, we want to expand at least two existing international schools in the Amsterdam Area. In addition, there should be at least one new international school in the Amsterdam Area. English-language information about the education system – issues such as types of schools, application procedures, school and district waiting lists and accessibility – will be made available as well.

Pillar 2: Work

This pillar concerns labour market access and entrepreneurship.

Aims: create an ideal business climate for entrepreneurs and startups, intensify connections with regional businesses and make the labour market more transparent for internationals.

Concrete results: We want to provide more and better information about the Orientation Year scheme and about job openings (for graduates, for potential new arrivals and for the partners of international employees and entrepreneurs). We plan to achieve this by establishing well-functioning local, regional and nationwide job portals.

Pillar 3: Life

Aims: simplify access to the Dutch healthcare system by improving the availability of English-language information and commence a health pilot to better address the needs of internationals. Improve transparency and access to information on housing and tenancy rights and support incoming international talent to settle and feel at home quickly and easily. Cooperate with public and private housing developers to create more housing options in the Amsterdam Area.


Note: The law on obtaining Dutch citizenship is complex. Below we list some general scenarios / options, but individual cases may vary. If you are unsure whether you or qualify for one of said option or options for which option you might qualify , please do not hesitate to contact the Brexit Information Point ( [email protected] or 020-2547999 ) . If necessary, we'll send you questions to specialists in this field .
Note: The law on obtaining Dutch citizenship is complex. Below we list some general scenarios / options, but individual cases may vary. If you are unsure whether you or qualify for one of said option or options for which option you might qualify , please do not hesitate to contact the Brexit Information Point ( [email protected] or 020-2547999 ) . If necessary, we'll send you questions to specialists in this field .