Suspended in 1997, but the law on conscription still exists. At the age of 17, all citizens receive a letter stating they have been registered for service. They can be called up in case of war.

  Conscientious objection:


First recognised by Constitutional amendment.













No conscription

Voluntary enlistment:


Under 18: 17


In October 2020, for the first time ever, girls in the Netherlands have started receiving letters of conscription from the Ministry of Defence. The first round of letters has been sent to roughly 100.000 Dutch girls born in 2003. [1]

The new practice is an outcome of a legislation [2] voted in the Dutch Parliament in 2018 which extended conscription to girls, in addition to boys, referring to gender equality. The law was put in force in 2020, until when conscription had applied only to boys.

In the Netherlands, compulsory military service was ‘suspended’ in May 1997. Conscription hasn’t been abolished and young Dutch may be required to serve in the military if needed. In practice, no young Dutch has been required to serve in the military since 1997. They receive a letter from the Ministry of Defence after turning 17-years-old which states that they are registered for military service but the obligation to serve has been suspended. With the new practice introduced in 2020, the letters of conscription are now sent to both boys and girls when they reach the age of 17.


[1] 100,000 Dutch girls will receive letter of conscription this week — including Princess Amalia. By Sarah O'Leary, DutchReview, October 20, 2020, available at:

[2] 100, Girls to be included in military service register from next year, DutchNews, October 3, 2018, available at: