Americans serving with the military in the Netherlands aren’t as affected by that nation’s new National Identity Law as the average citizen — but that’s simply because those connected with the military already had to carry the identification it demands.

The new law, designed to clamp down on crime, requires everyone — Dutch or foreign — age 14 and older to carry identification at all times.

The only change for Americans connected with the military is that the minimum age of those affected goes from ages 18 to 14, according to a memo issued by Army Lt. Col. Richard Richardson, commander of the 254th Base Support Battalion in Shinnen. Troops must carry their military identification and orders with them, or their U.S. military and NATO cards.

Defense Department civilians must carry their military identification and alien registration cards. Children of any of the above must carry their military and Dutch alien registration cards.

“There are no requirements under this law to carry passports,” Richardson wrote, in reference to the military community.

Other Americans will have to carry a residence permit or passport, according to the U.S. Embassy at the Hague.

The new law initially caused some confusion. A military intelligence security bulletin issued in December warned all Americans stationed in the Netherlands to carry passports at all times. The military has since announced that’s not the case.

“There’s really not that much of a change, and there’s some inaccurate information that went out,” said Laurri Garcia, spokeswoman for the 254th BSB. The previous message was rescinded.

“We’ve always had to have an alien registration card for civilians,” Garcia said.

Not carrying identification is a bad idea, and copies are not acceptable.

Penalties include a 50-euro fine, or 15 euros in the case of someone younger than 16.

It may also mean a trip to the police station, where authorities will try to determine your identity. According to the Dutch Ministry of Justice, in some extreme cases that could mean a fine of up to 2,250 euros.

Police will not conduct random identity checks, the Dutch government has said via public service bulletins, but must instead have another reason to ask.

According to its online question-and-answer brochure, the Dutch government said the law will “increase security, improve the treatment of crime, reduce nuisance and improve law enforcement.”

But the law, called the Identificatieplicht, arrives on the books during a time of hot-blooded angst in the Netherlands, much of it centered on crimes committed by and against Muslims.

The past year has been stormy for the traditionally tolerant country, according to news reports: Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh was slain in November, allegedly by a man of Moroccan descent. Van Gogh had made a film critical of the treatment of women in Islamic society.

Some Dutch politicians have called for stripping dual nationals of their citizenship. Radicals on either side burned both mosques and churches.

The troubles continued into 2005. This month, a Dutch woman is accused of killing a man of Moroccan descent after he allegedly stole her bag; authorities say she ran him over as he rode away on a scooter.

A poll of the Dutch concluded about 80 percent of them viewed Muslims as some degree of threat, according to a report published by Reuters.

Some Muslims have reacted by planning their own political party, both to stand up for their rights and give them a mainstream voice in Dutch society.

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