Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Bangkok, Thailand

Acknowledging your girlfriend’s child with foreign nationality

I am a male Dutch citizen and I want to acknowledge my girlfriend’s minor child, who has foreign nationality. Will the child acquire Dutch nationality through acknowledgement?

Acknowledgement when registering the birth or afterwards

Before 1 April 2003 a minor foreign child acknowledged by a male Dutch citizen when the birth was registered or afterwards automatically acquired Dutch nationality according to the rules valid at the time.

Acknowledgement must be legally valid. If it is not effected in the Netherlands, it requires recognition under Dutch law. Certain rules apply. For example, a married Dutch citizen may not acknowledge the child of a woman who is not his spouse. To find out what the rules are, contact the Dutch embassy or consulate-general in your country of residence.

From 1 April 2003 to 28 February 2009, under the Netherlands Nationality Act (RWN) in force during that period, a foreign minor who was legally acknowledged by a male Dutch citizen or became the child of a Dutch citizen through legitimation (without acknowledgement) did not automatically acquire Dutch nationality. A foreign minor who had been acknowledged or legitimated could acquire Dutch nationality only by option in accordance with section 6, subsection 1(c) of the Netherlands Nationality Act after the male Dutch citizen who had acknowledged him/her or whose child he/she had become through legitimation had demonstrably cared for and raised him/her for three consecutive years.

For the purposes of acquiring Dutch nationality, there was no point in a Dutch citizen acknowledging a child aged 15, 16 or 17. After the required care period of three years the child would have reached the age of 18 and would no longer be eligible to acquire Dutch nationality by option, since acknowledged foreign children may only make use of this method before they reach the age of majority. If the child has no legal father by the age of 15, it may be advisable to apply for a judicial declaration of paternity.

Example 1

On 4 September 1992, Child A was born of an unmarried foreign mother. On 5 October 2000 A was legally acknowledged by an unmarried male Dutch citizen. On 5 October 2000 A automatically acquired Dutch nationality, since she was acknowledged before 1 April 2003.

Example 2

On 24 January 2002 child C was born of an unmarried foreign mother. C was acknowledged on 5 May 2004 by an unmarried male Dutch citizen. Since C was acknowledged after 1 April 2003, he does not automatically acquire Dutch nationality. He can opt for Dutch nationality once he has been raised and cared for by his Dutch father for an uninterrupted period of three years. He must do this, however, before his 18th birthday through his legal representative.

As of 1 March 2009 a foreign minor who is acknowledged by a male Dutch citizen after birth and before the age of seven years acquires Dutch nationality automatically. This change constitutes a partial reversion to the situation that applied before 1 April 2003.

A foreign minor who is acknowledged by a Dutch citizen after birth acquires Dutch nationality automatically if the biological paternity of the man who acknowledged the child is established within a year after acknowledgement. For more information about DNA evidence, contact the Dutch embassy or the consulate-general in your country of residence.

There are rules pertaining to minors acknowledged before 1 March 2009 but on or after 1 April 2003 (i.e. in the period from 1 April 2003 to 28 February 2009) under the current Netherlands Nationality Act. A child in this category may acquire Dutch nationality by option provided acknowledgement took place before the child reached the age of seven. If the child was seven or older at the time of acknowledgement, to acquire Dutch nationality the child must submit along with the application for nationality by option proof that the man who acknowledged him/her is his/her biological father. For more information about DNA evidence, contact the Dutch embassy or the consulate-general in your country of residence.

If a minor is acknowledged by his/her non-biological father when the child is seven or older, the child may acquire Dutch nationality by option if the man has raised and cared for the child for three uninterrupted years. It is not necessary for the three-year period to have begun immediately after acknowledgement as long as the man demonstrably raised and cared for the child for a period of three uninterrupted years counting backwards from the date of the child’s application for nationality by option.
A minor who is not acknowledged but who becomes the child of a Dutch citizen by legitimation under foreign law acquires Dutch nationality automatically from the date of his/her parents’ marriage. No age limit applies to legitimated minors. However, the legitimation under foreign law must be recognised by the Netherlands under the Convention on Legitimation by Marriage (Rome, 10 December 1970).

Acknowledgement before birth

If a foreign child is acknowledged by its Dutch father before it is born, it automatically acquires Dutch nationality at birth.

In many countries it will not be possible to register a deed with the local authorities acknowledging a baby before it is born since this is not an option available everywhere. If you live abroad, you can have a deed of acknowledgement drawn up in any Dutch municipality or by a Dutch notary. Find out in advance what documents you need to take with you.

As of 01-01-2012 the Netherlands embassies or consulates-general no longer have the authority to draw up a deed of acknowledgement.

Authority to act as a notary

Since 1 January 2012, only the Dutch embassy in Baghdad has been fully authorised to perform notarial functions (see the hyperlink above), such as drawing up wills, cohabitation agreements, affidavits of paternity and marriage contracts. The requesting party must be a Dutch national living in the area served by this embassy.

For most notarial acts, you must first submit a draft text, prepared by a notary in the Netherlands, to the embassy in Baghdad. The embassy will then draw up your notarial act. For more information, please contact the Dutch embassy in Baghdad.