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This study provides a detailed and systematic explanation of the Netherlands’ experience with civic integration policies. Today, the Netherlands has one of the most encompassing and coercive civic integration policies, characterised by overseas civic integration testing, a general obligation to pass a civic integration exam for all foreign nationals and the existence of an elaborate sanctioning regime. Our main purpose is to understand the legitimacy of civic integration in this country, particularly through analysing its main implications and effects from a broader perspective. This perspective consists of an historical context, a framework of modern citizenship rights, and a cross border comparison of different national integration concepts. The principal issues to be addressed are the political and social arguments which lay behind the introduction of civic integration policies, and the extent to which these policies fit within academic notions of modern citizenship. In addition, the Dutch model of civic integration will be set against alternative national integration strategies prevailing in some other immigrant receiving countries, particularly Belgium, Canada and the United States.