Edition 28 June 2018, by Anastasiia Myronenko
For immigrants, life often presents a number of intricate situations. The rules are often complicated and can lead to a number of difficulties in everyday life. The platform Nederlanders in het Buitenland (NIHB) (The Dutch Abroad) has recently conducted a research on how much it costs for Dutch citizens to prolong their passport in case they are residing abroad. 6450 people from 90 countries filled in the questionnaire. The results were shocking.
In many countries it is possible to apply for certain governmental services online, including the request for a new passport. Within a few weeks after such request a brand new document is delivered by post. However, the procedure is different when it comes to Dutch citizens who live outside the Netherlands. For them it’s obligatory to apply for a new passport at the embassy in person and (in most cases) pick it up after 2 or 3 days. The numbers that NIHB obtained in the course of their study were impressive. It turns out that 30 percent of people pay the cost of 250 to 500 euros to get a new document (in addition to what they have to pay for the passport itself). For 15,5 percent it is even higher – from 500 to 1000 euros. And 5 percent of people spend more than 1000 euros. The distance that they have to travel varies from 250 to 1000 km in one direction, while for 16 percent of people, who live in bigger countries, it is up to 4000 km. It is no surprise then that the only convenient means of transport is an airplane and the whole procedure takes a few days. Those days are often taken off as vacation period. Often that is the only option, since the Dutch people want to maintain their identity, and an expired passport might lead to a risk of losing their citizenship.
Clearly, in certain circumstances people are not able to cross the country to get to the Dutch embassy – due to the high costs of such journeys or their health condition. According to the NIHB a family with children would spend around 3000 euros for tickets, housing, meals, passport photos, certificates legislation and requests. Many people share their stories: “Living in Perth, Australia, my family had to travel all the way to Sydney, which is 4000 km away. Our passports were stolen, and even though I applied for them a couple of years ago in my hometown, it was not possible anymore”. “My husband and I, due to our age, could not easily stay in Madrid. Our son went with us, so we had to book a hotel for three people. I don’t know if we are able at all to go on such a trip again in ten years”. “I had to go from Honolulu to San- Francisco to apply for a passport for my newborn son, and it costed us 1200 euros per person. Luckily it’s not a big problem for us. But is it reasonable that our Dutch citizenship was at stake?”
NIHB has submitted on open letter to the Minister of Internal Affairs, proposing to implement a few changes. For example, the initiatives were to create mobile consulates, to allow to legally engage a third person that would represent the applicant, to extend the working hours of the embassy, as well as to enable digital applications. These steps might potentially facilitate the lives of the immigrants who try to maintain their Dutch nationality and do not have an embassy nearby their house.