(Permanent) residence rights for EU diplomats and their (non-EU) family members

There are more than 200 international organizations in the region of the Hague. Some of them are quite well known (eg. the International Court of Justice, the European Patent Office and the International Criminal Court etc.). Besides these international organizations, there are a lot of foreign embassies of both EU and non-EU countries.

A diplomat working at one of these international organizations/embassies and his/her family members are not subject to Dutch immigration laws. In other words, diplomats and their family members are not perceived as “foreigners” as referred to in article 8 of the Dutch Immigration Act 2000 (“Vreemdelingenwet 2000”). These diplomats and their family members do not get a residence card from the Immigration and Naturalization Department (“IND”) either. Instead, the diplomats and their family members receive a diplomatic ID card from the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and they are not required to register themselves with a Dutch city hall. Some of these diplomats are EU citizens, and some of their family members are non-EU citizens. What kinds of residence rights do they have?


Let’s have a look at a hypothetical. Mark is a Spanish citizen, working as a diplomat at the European Patent Office in Rijswijk. Mark’s spouse is a Chilean citizen. Both Mark and his spouse hold a diplomatic ID card issued by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Mark and his spouse have been living and working six years in the Netherlands. Mark will soon be transferred to the European Patent Office in Munich. However, Mark’s spouse prefers living in the Netherlands. What are their options?

EU laws 

Pursuant to European Court of Justice (ECJ) case laws, EU citizens who work in a Member State other than that of their own nationality for an international organization are covered by the EU Treaty rules on “freedom of movement”, and they cannot be deprived of their rights under EU free movement laws merely because they work for an international organization. This is the case irrespective of the fact that they may hold a diplomatic ID card. This same principle also applies to EU citizens who have diplomatic or consular agent status in a Member State under the Vienna Conventions, as the ECJ holds in the opinion of Alevizos.

In the aforementioned hypothetical, both Mark and his spouse will qualify for EU permanent residence as referred to in the EU Directive 2004/38. This means that Mark’s Chilean spouse will get an EU permanent residence card (valid for 10 years and independent from Mark’s status) as well. If they want, Mark can move to Munich and his spouse can choose to continue staying in the Netherlands.

British diplomats and their family members

If you are a British diplomat and you started working for an international organization in the Netherlands before the end of the transition period (ie. 31 December 2020, 11 pm GMT), you and your (British) family members can also qualify for residence rights under the EU Directive and the Withdrawal Agreement. 

Contact Mynta Law

Are you an EU citizen working for one of the international organizations or embassies in the Hague? If you are interested in obtaining an EU (permanent) residence permit for you and your (non-EU) family members, please feel free to contact Mynta Law.