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Last Updated: Thursday, 22 December 2005, 03:44 GMT
Dutch set immigrants culture test
A work by Dutch artist Vincent Van Gogh in a museum
The Netherlands has a rich history of art and culture
Would-be immigrants hoping for Dutch citizenship will need to pass a special test on Dutch language and culture, the country's parliament has ruled.

The new test will cost 350 euros (237) and is thought to require 250 to 350 hours of study.

Some 14,000 applicants, mainly from Turkey, Morocco and Surinam, are expected to sit the test each year.

The Netherlands, which already has a strict immigration policy, hopes to cut down on so-called "import brides".

Candidates will have to take the test in their country of origin, and will be examined at Dutch embassies and consular offices.

More tests

They will not be issued with course material to prepare for the exam, but the government will issue introductory material about Dutch films and prepare sample tests.

"Because integration into Dutch society is a long process it is important that newcomers have a basic knowledge of Dutch and Dutch society before coming to the Netherlands," the country's justice ministry said.

The ministry will only issue residency permits when the tests have been passed successfully.

Applicants for a Dutch passport already have to pass a lengthy and expensive integration test once if they have lived in the country for fewer than eight years.

This costs thousands of euros, but up to 70% of the cost can be reimbursed by the government.

The new requirement will be in addition to the existing integration test, says the BBC's Geraldine Coughlan in The Hague.

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