The new Dutch consulate in Atlanta that was billed solely as an outpost for the promoting the country’s economic interests is now planning to handle consular issues like passport renewals in 2020.
The decision came from the Netherlands foreign ministry, which evaluates annually the needs of Dutch communities around the world in allocating resources for diplomatic offices abroad.
“Due to the relatively large community of Dutch nationals in the Southeast and as part of the collective effort to strengthen consular services throughout the U.S. diplomatic network, a consular desk will be added to the new Consulate General in Atlanta,” Consul General Ard Van der Vorst told Global Atlanta in an email.
The consul general had announced the news on LinkedIn. New-year plans at the consulate also include opening a new office, replacing the temporary Midtown location within the Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency space. A Dutch residence was recently set up in south Tuxedo Park.
No date has yet been determined for the office opening, and the location will be revealed after design work is completed, the consul general said. Neither has a date been decided for the commencement of consular services. Most likely, both will be unveiled in the fall of 2020.
For now, the consulate is researching the needs of the community to determine appropriate staffing levels.
“Until that has been sorted out the consular department of the consulate general in Miami remains the first point of contact for Dutch nationals,” Mr. Van der Vorst said.
Dutch nationals in the metro Atlanta business community and around the five states the new consulate covers have long sought a more convenient way to renew their passports than sending them off or traveling to Miami.
Some weren’t happy to hear that the new consulate initially didn’t plan to offer consular services. The Netherlands-American Chamber of Commerce of the Southeast, which works closely with the consulate, welcomed news of the shift.
“(We have) kept our Netherlands representatives here (Honorary Consul Edwoud Swaak, followed by the Netherlands consulate) apprised of the longstanding desire among the Dutch community to have consular services in Atlanta,” said new chamber President Manori de Silva. “It will greatly ease the process for Dutch citizens living in the region to renew their passports. We are very pleased and grateful for this development.”
Mr. Van der Vorst outlined recent efforts of the consulate over its first year in action during a recent Global Atlanta Consular Conversations interview at Miller & Martin PLLC’s Atlanta office.
Read more about Dutch-American heritage, recent investment and efforts to enhance diversity in the region: Interview: Deeper Dutch Investment to Bring Solutions, Jobs to the South