Four in 10 Brits in the Netherlands have done nothing at all to regulate their post-Brexit stay
AMSTERDAM: SEPTEMBER 28: Some 39% of British people living in the Netherlands have done nothing at all to regulate their stay post Brexit, according to a survey of over 1,700 British nationals by website DutchNews.nl.
A further 31% have checked out the Dutch immigration service website for information, but just 15% have applied for a residency permit. Three in 10 respondents will have not have lived in the Netherlands for the required five years by March 2019 and cannot apply for a permanent residency permit anyway.
Despite reports of a surge in applications by Brits to become German or French, just 10% have applied for Dutch nationality.
Asked why they had not applied for Dutch nationality, 41% said they did not want to give up their British passport. A further 14% said they were worried that becoming Dutch would affect their right to return to Britain for a longer period and 20% had not lived in the Netherlands long enough to qualify.
The Netherlands has pledged to modernise its rules which require people who are not married to a Dutch national to renounce their original nationality, but a draft proposal is not due until next spring.
‘If the Dutch government allowed dual nationality I would have chosen for it years ago,’ said one respondent. ‘Having to give up my British nationality is a huge stumbling block for me.’
Nearly eight in 10 respondents said they were worried or very worried about the impact of Brexit on their lives in the Netherlands.
The loss of the freedom to travel across Europe was cited by 77% as a worry and 51% said they were concerned they may have to leave the Netherlands.
Over half (54%) said they feared their rights to healthcare and schooling in the Netherlands could be affected while 51% were worried about the loss of pension rights. One third said they feared it may be harder to switch jobs.
Respondents were very critical of British government’s approach to the position of the 1.2 million British nationals living in Europe.
Some 88% say the information they have had from the British authorities about their status was poor or very poor. ‘There is no information,’ was the most common comment.
‘No one knows where this is heading so no one can provide any advice with certainty, just vague options,’ one British national said. ‘It’s an appalling mess and shameful disrespect for British people living outside the UK.’
‘I feel like we have been forgotten by the British authorities,’ said another.
Information supplied by the Dutch authorities was described as poor or very poor by 57% of respondents. ‘The IND site is informative. However there is still uncertainty about final agreements,’ said one.
‘They have no idea where this is heading so they also cannot provide advice with certainty. But this is not their fault but the fault of the UK government,’ said another.
The IND has been holding focus group meetings with Brits in the Netherlands and has set up a special Brexit page on its website. It is also planning to launch a newsletter and a social media campaign to inform British nationals about their rights.
‘This survey shows there a great deal of concern and confusion among British nationals in the Netherlands,’ said DutchNews.nl editor Robin Pascoe. ‘The Dutch government should make sure it will be easy for these taxpayers to continue their lives here. The situation is particularly acute for those who have lived in the Netherlands for less than five years.’
Just over 88,000 British nationals live in the Netherlands, including 39,000 children and adults who were born here.
About the respondents
Just over half (52%) of the respondents said they worked for a Dutch company or a multinational, 14% were self-employed and 10% were retired.
45% were not allowed to vote in the Brexit referendum because they had lived outside the UK for too long. 12% could vote but did not, and the rest – 43% – did vote.
44% moved to the Netherlands for work reasons, 27% came for love and 20% wanted to start a new life.
 CBS statline 2018