Dutch court denies businessman's request to legally identify as 20 years younger

The Dutch businessman who claimed he was a “young god” when he launched a legal battle last month to officially roll back his age 20 years will remain 69.

A Dutch court on Monday rejected Emile Ratelband’s request to shave off two decades from his age, saying that amending his date of birth would “cause 20 years of records to vanish.”

“Mr. Ratelband is at liberty to feel 20 years younger than his real age and to act accordingly,” the Arnhem court said in a press statement. “But amending his date of birth would cause 20 years of records to vanish from the register of births, deaths, marriages and registered partnerships. This would have a variety of undesirable legal and societal implications.”

Ratelband went to court last month, arguing that he didn’t feel “comfortable” with his date of birth and wished to have it changed from March 11, 1949, to March 11, 1969.


He told The Guardian at the time that he felt “limited” with his nearly 70 years of age – especially when it came to meeting prospective women.

“When I’m 69, I am limited,” he said. “If I’m 49, then I can buy a new house, drive a different car. I can take up more work.”

He added: “When I’m 49, with the face I have, I will be in a luxurious position (to meet women).”

In court, Ratelband argued that his request was consistent with other forms of personal transformation which are gaining acceptance in the Netherlands and around the world, such as the ability to change one’s name or gender.

However, the court disagreed, writing in a ruling that Dutch law assigns rights and obligations based on age “such as the right to vote and the duty to attend school.”

“If Mr. Ratelband’s request was allowed, those age requirements would become meaningless.”

The court said it acknowledged "a trend in society for people to feel fit and healthy for longer, but did not regard that as a valid argument for amending a person's date of birth."

It said Ratelband failed to convince the court that he suffers from age discrimination. It added "there are other alternatives available for challenging age discrimination, rather than amending a person's date of birth."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.