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My home country, Netherlands, claims I am a dual national of Netherlands and Belgium. This information could be found in the GBA (residents archive) before they removed other nationalities of Dutch dual nationals. It also showed up during my university application and request for student financial aid.

Belgium on the other hand claims I am only a Dutch citizen. My grandmother is born in Belgium and my father definitely has dual nationality. He claims I have it too. I emailed the Belgian embassy in the Netherlands about this. They say my birth hasn't been reported to them before I was 5 years old, so I am not a Belgian citizen.

Can this create any problems during travel? For example during visa applications?

I suppose this would automatically resolve itself in 5 years, when I turn 28, and I would automatically lose any presumed Belgian citizenship, but I would rather not run into any trouble before that time.

  • Wikipedia claims that since 2014, "Nieuw is onder meer dat van iemand met de Nederlandse nationaliteit zijn eventuele andere nationaliteiten niet worden opgenomen, en als die al geregistreerd waren worden verwijderd," which according to Google Translate seems to mean that GBA should not care about dual nationalities at all. – Henning Makholm Sep 30 '16 at 8:40
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it's not about travel – JonathanReez Oct 1 '16 at 16:13
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    I am voting to leave open as the OP is most concerned about the implications on his travels. – Willeke Oct 1 '16 at 16:45
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The Dutch government does not have any special authority to declare you to be (or not to be) a citizen of Belgium.

Based on what you tell, it seems likely that the Dutch authorities had you registered as a dual Dutch-Belgian national based on your parents saying so when you were born -- apparently your father was unaware that Belgian nationality law had changed in 1985 so that you would only inherit his Belgian citizenship if your birth was reported to Belgium within 5 years. (At the time your father inherited his Belgian citizenship, simply being born to a Belgian father was enough).

Ordinarily there would be no reason for the Dutch authorities to attempt any independent verification of this information. In other words, the do not make any unilateral "claim" about your nationalities, but just kept a record of what they were told by someone who presumably knew.

Since, since 2014, the Dutch civil registry does not store information about additional citizenships of Dutch nationals anymore, there is probably nothing you need to do to correct this mistake -- except that if the information surfaces in a different context you'd want to set it right with the organization it surfaces with.


In any case, it is hard to imagine that this administrative mistake could cause you any travel problems in particular. When you need to fill out forms that ask for your nationality, simply state the truth -- that is, Dutch not Belgian -- and there'd be no reason for a third country's government to care about the fact that some administration somewhere that is neither them nor Belgium once had the mistaken impression that you had Belgian citizenship.

  • This makes sense! This makes so much sense! It seems very likely to be the case. Thank you! – Belle-Sophie Oct 2 '16 at 8:30
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I would be very pressed having to think up a situation where this could cause problems. Belgium and the Netherlands are both members of the EU and the Schengen area so the assumption seems valid that for most countries out there visa requirements would be very similar to identical.

A significant number of countries do not recognise dual citizenship at all. If they do not recognise it, they will not assume it and have no reason to doubt your statement (‘I am a Dutch citizen’) on their visa application to be incorrect or anything.

Those that do recognise it probably also know that the number of non-dual citizens greatly exceeds that of dual citizens, so they also have no reason to assume you hid a second citizenship from them.

Another relevant point is that most countries have a neutral or friendly view of Belgium and the Netherlands. While you could run into problems in some parts of the world if the country you’re applying at assumes you to be a dual citizen of Israel or Syria I don’t really see that happening for Belgium and the Netherlands. (Maybe in the Democratic Republic of Kongo due to its Belgian history, though.) As such, most countries wouldn’t even bother to ask if anybody considers you their citizen.

Finally, I think it is more the exception than the rule for a country to cross-check with the passport-issuing country whether the visa applicant has a dual nationality or not — most notably because most countries that do allow their citizens to be dual citizens of another country don’t even care whether that citizen has a second nationality and don’t keep such records. The case in point being the entry removed in Dutch registry archives as you mentioned.

  • «to assume you hid a second citizenship» Would "hiding" a second citizenship even be a problem? I have both Italian and French citizenship and when I lived in Denmark and the Netherlands I've always registered as an Italian, using Italian documents. Why should they care if I had another one? – Andrea Lazzarotto Oct 1 '16 at 16:03
  • I guess I'm unlikely to run into any trouble then. And if I do, I suppose I can always explain. Thank you! – Belle-Sophie Oct 2 '16 at 8:27
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    @AndreaLazzarotto Denmark and the Netherlands may not care much (nor, I guess, would anyone, if that second citizenship is French). I could imagine issues in some countries though if you would try to hide certain nationalities (hiding a Pakistani nationality when applying for Indian visa comes to mind, or Israeli nationality when travelling just about anywhere in the Middle East). – oerkelens Oct 2 '16 at 12:06
  • @oerkelens assuming one had a Israeli nationality but he were traveling using a Swiss passport, he would be entitled to all rights granted to other Swiss citizens. It is none of their business to know every other nationality he could have. – Andrea Lazzarotto Oct 2 '16 at 14:37
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    @AndreaLazzarotto To apply for a US ESTA, one may not be a dual citizen of Iran, Iraq, Sudan and Syria according to Wikipedia. Thus some countries do care about ‘hidden’ second citizenships. – Jan Oct 2 '16 at 18:03

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