You can now join the army, 200,000 Dutch 17-year-olds are told


Some 200,000 17-year olds in the Netherlands will be receiving their call-up papers this week, informing them they are now eligible for military service should it be required.

Active military service was abolished in 1997 and since then teenagers are sent a letter in the year they turn 17 informing them they have been added to the military service register.

They can then be called up at any time if the Netherlands goes to war with another country before they turn 45.

This year princess Ariana will also receive the letter, like her sisters before her.

This year the letter also alerts youngsters to the possibility of a career in the army via a so-called “service year”. “The service year is a chance to work as a fully-fledged member of the army. Recruits will be offered a 10-week training and will be receiving a full salary,” caretaker defence minister Kajsa Ollongren says in a message to the youngsters.

A service year could take place after finishing secondary school or during a sabbatical from work.

It’s an opportunity for young people to learn skills and develop leadership qualities and for the army to combat staff shortages, a defence spokesman told the AD.

“The recruits get to know the organisation and if they want to they can continue their career in the armed forces. If not, they become ambassadors in society. It’s a way to strengthen the link between the army and society,” he said.

Some 221 people signed up for the first service year, which started in September last year. The ministry is aiming for 1000 recruits for the next, the spokesman said. Some 5,000 defense jobs are waiting to be filled each year.

Thank you for donating to

We could not provide the Dutch News service, and keep it free of charge, without the generous support of our readers. Your donations allow us to report on issues you tell us matter, and provide you with a summary of the most important Dutch news each day.

Make a donation