Positively, The Netherlands is party to most relevant international and regional instruments, but there are some gaps in its domestic legal framework to protect stateless people and prevent statelessness. The definition of a stateless person in Dutch law is narrower than the 1954 Convention, and without a statelessness determination procedure (SDP) or status, there is limited protection for stateless people in the country. Although a legislative procedure for an SDP is planned, currently statelessness can only be identified through other administrative procedures. If identified, legally residing stateless people may be granted a travel document and access to nationality, but there is no route to protection for those without legal residence. Although the law contains some protections and safeguards against arbitrary detention, stateless people without legal residence are at risk of detention.
There are safeguards in Dutch nationality law to prevent statelessness in the case of foundlings and adopted children. However, the safeguard for children born stateless in the Netherlands is not automatic, requiring either registration as stateless and three years’ legal residence, or five years’ legal residence (if not registered as stateless), before a child can acquire nationality. Children born to unmarried Dutch fathers abroad are also disadvantaged. The law provides for universal, immediate birth registration, and all children are issued with birth certificates; but in practice, undocumented parents may struggle to meet documentation requirements and the procedure for late birth registration is very complex.
Marlotte van Dael, ASKV