Asylum in the Netherlands

Last update: December 2013

Asylumrequests are accepted only in the Airport and the Reception Centre in Ter Apel. Most people who ask asylum at the airport are kept in aliens detention during their asylumprocedure. After an asylumrequest at the Reception Centre Ter Apel however, you get shelter in an open asylum centre, and your fingerprints will be taken. Then you have to wait weeks or months for your first interview, on the basis of which the decision will be taken. If your case will be considered weak, then you might get a decision within 8 days. That means that you will have to leave the shelter after 4 weeks. You can contest the decision in court within this period. If you win the court, your procedure continues and you will have the right to stay longer. This is also the case if your case will be considered more serious: the time to take a first decision will be prolonged to a few months. Als in this case you can go to court if the decision is negative. In these cases, shelter will be provided untill four weeks after the last negative decision. This shelter can be extended with 3 extra months in a return-centre, especially for families or vulnerable people. Uaccompanied minors get shelter and care in special centres. They get protection untill they can either be deported to a shelter in their home country, or until they turn 18 years old. In the Netherlands, all asylum seekers have access to free support by specialized lawyers.

Should I ask for Asylum?

[!] The immigration law changes very quickly. So keep in mind that the information could be outdated when you read it.

Should I ask for asylum?

You will have a case for asylum if you can show that either:

A)    you have a well-founded fear of prosecution because of your religion, race, nationality, political opinion or membership of a social group.

B)    you fear death penalty, torture, or a humiliating treatment in your country of origin.

C)    when you left your country because of a severe traumatic experience, caused by the authorities or by groups for which the authorities in your country cannot protect you. Note: The government wants to abolish this ground for asylum.

D)    you fear random violence (for example because of an armed conflict), you cannot return to your country because it is too unsafe and the government of the Netherlands has declared your country or area where you come from as unsafe. Note: The government wants to abolish this ground for asylum.

E/F)    when you are a spouse, or a minor child of a person that recently obtained an asylum status in the Netherlands and you entered the Netherlands at the same time or within 3 months after this person arrived here. This is also possible when you are a partner or grown-up child and you are very dependent on this person. Note: the government also plans to change this.

How to ask asylum in the Netherlands?

When you arrive at the airport Schiphol or when you are a minor: report yourself as an asylum seeker at the reception center (abbreviation in Dutch: AC) Schiphol. If you enter by land: report yourself at the AC in Ter Apel. It is important to do this within the first 48 hours when you enter the country, otherwise this may be used against you in your asylum procedure. If you have no money for the train ticket, report yourself for asylum at a police office and the police will arrange your transport to Schiphol or Ter Apel. Going to the police may sound scary, but is necessary in this case. The police and the immigration service are not allowed to tell the authorities of your country that you have asked asylum in the Netherlands. 

AC Schiphol: Duizendbladweg 100, Badhoevedorp

AC Ter Apel: Ter Apelervenen 3, Ter Apel

Before your asylum procedure starts


  • At AC Schiphol the military police (Kmar) and in AC Ter Apel the aliens police (Vp) will register your personal data, like your name, date of birth, nationality. They will search your clothes, luggage, take photos and fingerprints.
  • Hand in documents that can prove your identity, like an identity card, passport, birth certificate or drivers license and documents that can prove your travel route or asylum story, such as plane tickets, boarding passes, diplomas, arrest warrant, verdict or newspaper article. Or you should request these documents before your asylum procedure starts. The military police will investigate whether they are real. Note I: proofs about your identity (and for your travel route and your asylum motives) are very important for a successful asylum request, on the other side however, will it be easier to get deported when the immigration authorities have your passport. Note II: If you explain or prove that you traveled through other EU-countries, the first EU-country you entered (and not the Netherlands) will be responsible for your asylumrequest, because of the Dublin II-regulation.
  • Check-up for infection disease TBC (Tubercolose)
  • When there is doubt about your age (especially when you say to be a minor), the IND (Immigratie en Naturalisatie Dienst, the Immigration authority) will ask you to do an age-research, by making X-Rays of the bones in your shoulder and wrist. (When you are pregnant you cannot do this research!)

Your rights when you have applied for asylum

  • Shelter: from the moment you report yourself at AC Schiphol or AC Ter Apel you get shelter, food, a small financial allowance and medical health care. If you went to AC Ter Apel you will be moved after one or a few days to another shelter in an AZC (asylum seeker shelter). If you went to AC Schiphol you will have to stay in a closed center during the asylum procedure (minors will be moved to an open facility (AZC))  
  • Free legal support: you will get help from a lawyer. You can either find a lawyer yourself (or with help from VVN or another support organization) or a lawyer will be appointed to you. For both you do not have to pay.
  • Support/advise from Vluchtelingenwerk (VVN): This is a non-governmental organization that you can ask for information or advise. They can help you with obtaining documents from abroad or evidence for your asylum motives, which can be very important for your asylum procedure.
  • Free health care: You can ask for a doctor if you need one, and it is important to do so.
  • Health situation check: doctors of Medifirst will ask you in a short interview about your medical health situation. They will report this to the IND. It is important that you name your medical problems in detail (also psychological problems, such as trauma, stress, sleeping complaints), because these may support your asylum story and in this way the IND has to take your health situation into account during the interview.
  • You always have the right to speak with help of an interpreter in your first language. Be aware of different dialects. You have the right to choose for a male or a female interpreter. It is important always to mention when the interpreting is not correct, otherwise IND will hold you accountable for any mistakes in your asylum story.
  • You can ask a person you thrust to be present during the interviews.

[!] If the rights listed above are not met, it is your responsibility to demand your rights (ask VVN or your lawyer for advise).

The asylum procedure

The general procedure, also called the AA-procedure (abbreviation for Algemene Asielprocedure) takes 8 working days. If the IND (the immigration authority) needs more time for research, the procedure will be extended. At any time during the procedure, the IND may decide to put you in the extended procedure, also called the VA-procedure (Verlengde Procedure).

 The General Procedure (AA-procedure):

Day 1

1st interview

You will be asked about your identity, nationality and travel route to the Netherlands. Immigration officers of the IND (the immigration authority) will ask for many details in order to find out whether you tell the truth. It is important to give your real name and date of birth, also when this is different from your identity documents (fake or real). Keep in mind that all your documents will be checked on their authenticity. When the IND doubts your origin, they might ask more detailed questions about your country of origin, your hometown or village and your travel route. Another possibility is that they want to do a language analysis. If the IND thinks you have lied about your personal data, it is very likely that they will not give you a permit to stay.

Day 2


Time to read and discuss your answers with your lawyer. It is important to submit corrections and additions to the IND if necessary.

Day 3

2nd interview

The IND will ask you about your asylum motives and why you need protection in the Netherlands. You also need to explain why you cannot get protection in your country of origin or the countries you have crossed. It is important to tell every event that caused you to escape, to explain in detail and never give different answers. The IND needs many details to find out whether you tell the truth. Present as much evidence as possible. When you do not have any documents or proof to support your asylum case, you should have a very consistent and credible story. 

Day 4


Time to read and discuss your answers with your lawyer. It is important to submit corrections and additions to the IND if necessary.

Day 5

(Intention to reject)

If the IND plans to reject the asylum claim, then the IND will hand out an intention to reject your asylum request.

Day 6


If the IND gave you an intention to reject, your lawyer can submit a written reaction.

Day 7/8

Decision/ appeal to court

You will receive the final decision from the IND on day 7/8. If negative, your lawyer has to appeal to the court and ask for an interim measure within 24 hours.

Here you can find a brochure from the immigration authorities about the asylum procedure.

Reasons of non-acceptance:

In the Netherlands there is a strict immigration policy nowadays and it can be very hard to obtain asylum. The immigration authorities will look for reasons for not granting you asylum. Commonly asylum requests can be rejected for (one of) the following reasons:

Your asylum request has not met the conditions of the refugee definition, according to the IND you could asked for protection in your own or in another country, you could live safely in another area in your country, they may accuse you of identity fraud, they do not believe your nationality/identity, they do not (totally) believe your story, travel route and you lack proofs, or you are suspected of having committed a serious crime. Note: this is not a complete list.


It is possible to appeal against the decision to the court (in Dutch: Rechtbank) and after that to the Council of State (Raad van State) in The Hague. Be aware that there are strict periods for appeal. In the general (AA-) procedure you have 1 week and in the extended (VA-) procedure 4 weeks to appeal to the court. The same appeal periods count for the appeal to the Council of State.

If you appeal against the decision you do not automatically get suspensive effect, meaning when you are entitled to stay pending the decision. If you are in the VA-procedure, you are allowed to await the decision of the court. In the AA-procedure, your lawyer should appeal and ask for an interim measure (in Dutch: voorlopige voorziening (vovo) within 24 hours after the negative decision. If you win the interim measure, you are allowed to await the decision in the Netherlands. The interim measure can only be used for one appeal, and is not possible for a repeated request for asylum.

After a negative decision from the Council of State it may be sometimes be possible to take your case to the European Court of Human Rights (EctHR).

Repeated asylum request

You can ask another time for asylum, but then you will need to have new facts or circumstances, and good reasons why you couldn't present these during your first asylum procedure. You can start this new asylum procedure by first reporting yourself at AC in Ter Apel, preferably with a letter of your lawyer and your new documents. You will have to leave the reception center the same or the next day. After a few weeks your procedure and interviews will start. Only from that moment you will be offered shelter by the COA (the organization that provides for shelter). Like with the first asylum procedure, it will generally take 8 working days. When it is rejected, the authorities will tell you to leave the Netherlands directly: within 0 days. Watch out: with repeated requests for asylum it might happen that the aliens police will arrest you on the last day when you receive the final decision, so better don't be present the last day and let them give the decision to your lawyer.

In case that authorities don't believe your origin

When someone applies for asylum in the Netherlands, it should first of all be clear what country or region he or she originates from. If there is no identity document, then language analysis may be employed. Based on the dialect features in the language usage of the applicant, a language analysis is used to investigate which region he or she originates from. Language analyses take place upon the request of the government or upon the request of the applicant himself or herself. There is an independent organisation "De Taalstudio" which provides language analyses, contra-expertises and second opinions by professional linguists for a great number of languages. De Taalstudio acts as an intermediary between people who need a language analysis or contra-expertise, on the one hand, and linguists on the other, from the moment of the request up to and including the completion of the report.

See for more information. Or email to info(at)

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