Apply for asylum in the Netherlands

You want to apply for asylum. This means that you are applying for an asylum residence permit in the Netherlands because you need protection. On this page, you can find out what the conditions are for an asylum residence permit. You can also find out what the steps are for applying for asylum, and how long these steps take in the general asylum procedure.

Conditions for asylum

 You may be granted a residence permit if you meet one of these conditions:

  • In your country of origin, you have real reasons to fear persecution because of your race, religion, nationality, political convictions or because you belong to a particular social group.
  • You have real reasons to fear the death penalty or execution, torture or other inhuman or humiliating treatment in your country of origin.
  • You have real reasons to fear that you will be a victim of random violence due to an armed conflict in your country of origin.
  • Your husband or wife, partner, father, mother or minor child has recently received an asylum residence permit in the Netherlands.

Costs of applying for asylum

An asylum application is free of charge.

The asylum procedure in steps

If you want to apply for asylum, you will follow the asylum procedure. The asylum procedure is a process with several steps. Read on to find out more about these steps. Or see our overview in images Infographic asylum procedure in the Netherlands (pdf, 991 KB) or the text only version


Step 1. Application, identification and registration

After arriving in the Netherlands, you first go to the application centre (Aanmeldcentrum or AC) in Ter Apel or at Schiphol. There you officially register as an asylum seeker. The AC is the building where your asylum procedure starts. Which AC you have to go to depends on how you entered the Netherlands.

Identification and registration

The police (Afdeling Vreemdelingenpolitie, Immigratie en Mensenhandel or AVIM) or the Royal Netherlands Marechaussee (Koninklijke Marechaussee or KMar) takes care of identifying and registering you. An interpreter will translate the conversation (by phone). What happens when you are identified and registered?

  • Identification: the police or KMar searches your clothing and luggage to see if you have documents with you about your identity, journey and asylum story. You answer questions about your origin. This is how we find out your identity.

  • Registration: the police or KMar takes passport photos of you and takes your fingerprints. Your identity, passport photos and fingerprints are stored in a national computer system. These data are needed to process your asylum application. You apply officially for asylum by signing a printed asylum application form.

You arrived in the Netherlands by land

Did you come to the Netherlands by land (through Belgium or Germany)? Then you apply as an asylum seeker at AC Ter Apel. There you first fill in a registration form from the IND. The KMar examines whether your documents are genuine. After you have applied, the Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers (Centraal Orgaan opvang asielzoekers or COA) will arrange a place for you to sleep, eat and receive medical care.

You came to the Netherlands by plane or boat

Have you applied as an asylum seeker at an airport or seaport in the Netherlands? Then the KMar usually registers and identifies you and checks your documents. Afterwards you are taken to the application centre at Schiphol. The IND handles your asylum application there following the border procedure.

Step 2. TB examination

A nurse examines whether you have tuberculosis (TB) and takes an X-ray of your lungs if needed. TB is a contagious, infectious disease. The TB test usually happens on the day after you register. You do not need a TB test if you come from a country on this list: Annex Exemption from the TB Test 7144 (pdf, 98 KB). Your asylum procedure starts if you do not have TB, or after you have been treated for TB. 

Step 3. Reporting interview

On day 3 after registering, you will have a reporting interview. This is a conversation with an IND staff member. For this interview, the IND uses the information you filled in on the registration form. You must answer questions on the following subjects:

  • your identity, nationality, origin and place of residence
  • family
  • documents
  • education
  • work and military service
  • residence in other countries
  • your journey to the Netherlands
  • (briefly) the reasons you are applying for asylum.

No reporting interview

  • Unaccompanied foreign national minors (Alleenstaande minderjarige vreemdelingen or AMVs) under 12 years old. You are an AMV if you are under 18 without parents or carers in the Netherlands. AMVs under 12 do not have an application interview.
  • Safe country of origin or protection in the EU. Do you come from a country on the list of safe countries of origin? Or do you already have protection in an EU country? Then you will not have an application interview. You will follow the steps in the simplified asylum procedure. To find out if you come from a safe country of origin, see the Netherlands' list of safe countries of origin.
  • Another European country is responsible for your asylum application (Dublin). This becomes clear when the IND checks your details, documents and fingerprints. Another country must therefore handle your asylum application, for example because you already applied for asylum in another country. Or because you have obtained a visa for a different country. You will not have reporting interview. The steps in the Dublin Procedure apply to you.

Step 4. RVT: preparation for the General Asylum Procedure (AA)

After your application interview you can rest from your journey to the Netherlands. This period is called the rest and preparation period (rust- en voorbereidingstijd or RVT). You will usually go to another COA reception centre at a different location. The COA also provides guidance.

Situations where you will not have an RVT period or it stops

  • You are following your asylum procedure in immigration detention.
  • You are in the simplified asylum procedure.
  • Your statements about your identity, nationality, origin or descent appear not to be true.
  • You cause a nuisance to others in or at an application or reception centre. Then you immediately enter the general asylum procedure (algemene asielprocedure or AA).

 Special reception of unaccompanied minor foreign nationals (AMVs)

  • AMVs under 15: the NIDOS Foundation will arrange for you to live with a foster family. NIDOS is the organisation that arranges guardianship for unaccompanied minor asylum seekers.
  • AMVs from 15 to 18 years old: the COA arranges for these minors to go to a special reception centre for young asylum seekers.

Age testing of unaccompanied minor foreign nationals (AMVs)

If the IND has doubts about the age of an unaccompanied asylum seeker who is a minor, the IND offers an age test in the rest and preparation period. The test can also be taken later. During an age test, a nurse takes X-rays of your wrist and shoulder. Would you like to know more? Then continue reading about the main characteristics of the asylum procedure for AMVs.

During your stay at the reception location, you will have a medical examination free of charge. A nurse will then examine your physical and mental health, and decide whether you are healthy enough to tell your asylum story. In this way, the IND can take your health into account during interviews. The medical examination is there to help you and is not mandatory. Would you rather not have a medical examination? That is not a problem.

Handing over documents during the RVT

Are there documents important for your asylum application, which you have not yet handed in to the IND? For example, documents about your identity or which support your asylum application? How you send documents to the IND during the RVT is set out in the information sheet How do you submit your documents (pdf, 116 KB).

Information provided by the Dutch Council for Refugees (VWN)

You will also get help at the reception centre to prepare yourself for the General Asylum Procedure (AA), free of charge. Staff from the independent human rights organisation, Dutch Council for Refugees (VluchtelingenWerk Nederland or VWN) will give you information about the asylum procedure.

Preparing for the interview with IND with a lawyer

The Council for Legal Aid (Raad voor Rechtsbijstand or RvR) arranges a lawyer for you. This is usually free. The lawyer helps you to prepare your asylum story for the interview with the IND. This applies to adult asylum seekers and to unaccompanied minor asylum seekers. It also applies to your children from 15 years of age who have applied for asylum with you.

Preparing children 12-15 years old with a lawyer

Do you have children aged between 12 and 15 who have applied for asylum with you? And do they have their own reasons for applying for asylum? If they would like, they can also talk about these reasons themselves during the asylum procedure. You can tell your lawyer this. Then your lawyer can also prepare your child for the interview with the IND.

Step 5a. General Asylum Procedure (AA)

The General Asylum Procedure (AA) applies to most asylum seekers. The AA usually takes 6 days. This is what happens each day during the AA:

Day 1: Detailed interview  

You have a detailed interview. In this interview with an IND staff member, you explain why you are applying for asylum. The IND uses an independent interpreter to translate. Independent means that the interpreter has no influence on your asylum application. You can ask the Dutch Council for Refugees (VWN) to be present at the detailed interview. You will receive a report of the detailed interview.

Day 2: Discussion of the detailed interview

The next day you will talk to your lawyer about the detailed interview. Your lawyer will check together with you whether the report of the detailed interview is correct. Your lawyer will inform the IND of any errors and additions.        

Day 3: Initial decision 

An IND staff member reads the reports of your interviews with the IND, and your lawyer's response to these reports. Afterwards the IND decides whether you will receive an asylum residence permit. There are 3 possibilities.

  1. You receive a temporary asylum residence permit. This residence permit is valid for 5 years.
  2. The IND needs more time to take a decision. Your procedure will therefore take longer. The IND continues to process your application in the Extended Asylum Procedure (Verlengde Asielprocedue or VA).
  3. The IND does not plan to give you a temporary asylum residence permit. This initial decision is set out in a letter and is called an intended decision. You will have the opportunity to respond to the intended decision.

Day 4: Response to the decision (viewpoint)         

You talk to your lawyer about the rejection of your asylum application set out in the intended decision. If you do not agree with the decision of the IND, your lawyer can send your viewpoint in a letter to the IND. In this letter you explain why you disagree with the intended decision.

Days 5 and 6: Second decision 

The IND staff member reads your viewpoint. Afterwards the IND looks at whether the intended decision should be changed. There are 3 possible outcomes.

  1. You do receive a temporary residence permit. This is set out in a decision. You may temporarily stay in the Netherlands. Your lawyer will discuss this with you. The residence permit is valid for 5 years.
  2. The IND needs more time to investigate. Your procedure therefore takes longer. The IND processes your application further in the Extended Asylum Procedure (Verlengde Asielprocedure or VA).
  3. You do not receive a residence permit. This is set out in a decision. Your lawyer will discuss this with you. What if you do not agree with the decision? Then you can appeal to a Dutch court. Your lawyer will help you with this. For more information go to Registering an objection or appeal.


Step 5b. General Asylum Procedure 9 days (AA+)

If the IND is processing your asylum application in this process, then your asylum procedure usually takes 9 days. The AA+ is for asylum applications for which the IND has to do more investigation. The AA+ is also intended for asylum seekers who need more attention because of mental or physical problems. This is what happens on each day of the AA+.

  • Days 1 and 2: you have a detailed interview with the IND in which you tell your asylum story.
  • Days 3 and 4: you discuss the report of the detailed interview with your lawyer.
  • Day 5: intended decision by the IND.
  • Days 6 and 7: response to the decision (viewpoint) by your lawyer.
  • Days 8 and 9: second decision by the IND.

Extension of AA or AA+

The IND can extend the AA or AA+ for example in these cases.

  • The scheduled interpreter is ill and there is no other interpreter.
  • You have unexpectedly become ill or there is a different medical reason.
  • You have changed your statements about your identity, origin, descent or nationality.
  • The IND has doubts about your age.
  • You show the IND important documents for the first time in the AA. Then it is still necessary to investigate whether these documents are genuine.


Step 6. After the General Asylum Procedure (AA or AA+)

You have received a decision by the IND on your asylum application: you will or will not receive a residence permit. The consequences of the decision for you are as follows.

You receive an asylum residence permit

  • You move to another COA reception centre.
  • You are allowed to work.
  • You have a right to a home in a municipality. The municipality where you will reside will look for a suitable home for you. If a home is found, you will leave the COA reception centre.
  • Depending on your situation, you may also have family members come to join you in the Netherlands: family reunification with admitted asylum seekers. The Dutch Council for Refugees (VWN) can help you with having your family members come to live with you.
  • VWN staff will help you to arrange other important matters, for example to find a job or a study programme.

You do not receive an asylum residence permit

  • You can appeal to a Dutch court. For more information go to Registering an objection or appeal.
  • With assistance from COA, you will go to a different reception centre. There you must arrange to return to your country of origin yourself. You must do this within 28 days (departure period). You will not be given a departure period, or you will receive a shorter departure period, if it is immediately clear that your application will be rejected. After the departure period you will no longer have a right to reception.
  • Are you an AMV and you will not receive a residence permit? Then you will be entitled to reception for as long as you are a minor and your departure has not yet been arranged. 
  • The Repatriation and Departure Service (DT&V) will help you to arrange your return. You can also contact the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) for help. The IOM often has consulting hours at the reception centre.
  • What if you will not depart on your own initiative, and you do not accept help from the DT&V or other organisations? The DT&V can then arrange your forced departure.

Withdrawal of the asylum application

You can always withdraw (stop) your application for an asylum residence permit. If you withdraw your application at the IND, there are consequences. You usually may not live in the Netherlands any longer. You have no more right to reception. The Dutch government can also impose an entry ban on you for 2 years. 

Applying again for asylum (HASA)

After your asylum application has been rejected, you can apply for asylum one more time. This is called a repeat asylum application (HASA). 

Decision-making period for asylum applications

​The law provides that the IND must take a decision on your asylum application within 6 months. This is the statutory decision period. Do we need more time to examine your asylum application? Then we extend the statutory decision period for a maximum of 15 months. 

Please note! Have you already applied for asylum, and do you want to know how long it will take to receive a decision? Read the page Processing times asylum: how long will my procedure take? 

After the application

If you are granted a temporary asylum residence permit

Collect your residence permit

Sometimes you already received your residence permit right after receiving the formal decision. If not, the IND tries to have your residence permit ready within a few weeks. You will receive a letter indicating when to collect the residence permit at an IND desk. 

Make an online appointment to collect your residence permit. The letter tells you where you can collect the permit. This is usually near your place of residence. When you collect the permit, you hand in your Foreign Nationals Identity Document (type W). Your residence permit is valid for 5 years.

Every citizen in the Netherlands, from the age of 14, has to carry identification. Everyone has to be able to show an identity document if checked by the government. Therefore, always carry your residence permit with you.

Rights and obligations

Registration with the municipality

You must register in the Municipal Personal Records Database (BRP) of the municipality where you live. If you have not already done so, you must do this now. Take the positive decision to the municipality where you are staying. If possible, also bring along your personal documents from the authorities of your own country, for example: birth certificate, marriage certificate and identity card.

Registration in the BRP is important. Many organisations in the Netherlands can only help you if you are registered in the BRP.

Check that the municipality has registered your name and date of birth correctly. Also check your children's data. It is difficult to change this data at a later date. 

If you move house, you must have your address in the BRP changed by the municipality.

Take out health insurance

In the Netherlands you are legally required to have  health insurance. This allows you to receive medical help. In the COA reception centres, this is arranged for you. However, you must arrange health insurance yourself when leaving the COA reception centre. Once you have a health insurance, you can register with a general practitioner (doctor) or dentist.  

Civic integration in the Netherlands

If you have a temporary asylum residence permit, you must take a civic integration course. You need to learn Dutch this way. You will receive a letter from the Education Executive Agency (DUO) on the obligation to integrate.

Work

If you have received a residence permit then you are allowed to work in the Netherlands. The following employment status will appear on your residence document: 'Work allowed free from restrictions. TWV not required' (in Dutch: 'Arbeid vrij toegestaan. TWV niet vereist'). This means that you are allowed to work in the Netherlands: you do not need a work permit (TWV).

During the first 6 months of your asylum procedure you are not allowed to work. After 6 months you are allowed to work for 24 out of 52 weeks if:

Travelling

You are allowed to travel abroad if you have a residence permit, for example for holiday or business trip. You also require a valid passport since a residence permit is not a travel document. If you do not have a passport you can apply for a refugee passport at your municipality. There is a fee for the application for a refugee passport. For some countries you may also need a visa in addition to a passport.

Do you have an asylum residence permit and are you travelling to your country of origin? Then you are indicating that you do not need the protection of the Dutch government any longer. The IND can revoke your residence permit.

Further applications

Replace residence permit

Is your residence permit damaged, lost or stolen? In that case, have your residence permit replaced.

Extend residence permit

Is your residence permit due to expire soon? Apply for an extension.

Change residence permit

Has something in your situation changed that has consequences for your residence permit? Notify the IND immediately. 
 

Permanent stay

After you have had a residence permit for 5 years, you can apply for a permanent residence permit.

Become a Dutch citizen

After you have had a residence permit for a period of 5 years, you can apply for Dutch citizenship.