Expressing the wish to apply for asylum does not mean that the request for asylum has officially been lodged. Asylum applications can be lodged at the border or on Dutch territory. Any person arriving in the Netherlands and wishing to apply for asylum must report to the IND. Asylum seekers from a non-Schengen country, arriving in the Netherlands by plane or boat, are refused entry to the Netherlands and are detained. In this case, the asylum seeker needs to apply for asylum immediately before crossing the Dutch (Schengen) external border, at the Application Centre at Schiphol Amsterdam airport (Aanmeldcentrum Schiphol, AC).
When an asylum seeker enters the Netherlands by land, or is already present on the territory, they have to report immediately to the Central Reception Centre (Centrale Ontvangstlocatie, COL) in Ter Apel (nearby Groningen, north-east of the Netherlands), where registration takes place (fingerprints, travel- and identity documents are examined). After registration activities in the COL have been concluded the asylum seeker is transferred to a Process Reception Centre (Proces Opvanglocatie, POL). Third country nationals who are detained in an aliens’ detention centre can apply for asylum at the detention centre.
The application/registration procedure in the COL takes three days. During this procedure the asylum seeker has to complete an extensive application form, fingerprints are taken and he or she is interviewed regarding his or her identity, family members, travel route and profession. Data from Eurodac and the Visa Information System (VIS) are consulted. From all this information the IND may conclude that, according to the Dublin Regulation, another Member State is responsible for examining the asylum application. In case of a “hit” in Eurodac the IND can already submit a request to another Member State to assume responsibility for the asylum application under the Dublin Regulation.
However, due to the high number of asylum applications and the ongoing capacity problems at the IND, said procedure has not been followed recently. Instead, an alternative procedure has been introduced. Since 10 September 2022, submitting an asylum application in Ter Apel cannot be done immediately. Instead, once the asylum seeker reaches the centre Ter Apel, an IND employee will register their basic information such as their identity, nationality and origin. This is called the pre-registration (Dutch: ‘voorregistratie’) and is not yet considered an official asylum application. After pre-registration, asylum seekers are divided into four groups: (1) first applications, (2) unaccompanied children (AMV’s), (3) family members eligible for family reunification, and (4) others. Only those applying for asylum for the first time are transported to a temporary shelter location (tijdelijke opvanglocatie) in Zoutkamp (in the North-West of Groningen). The other groups will be accommodated at Ter Apel. Having arrived at Zoutkamp, asylum seekers will have to wait for the confirmation of their appointment for registration in either Ter Apel or Budel. This waiting period can in some instances take four months.
After receiving confirmation of their appointment, an asylum seeker will travel from Zoutkamp to either Ter Apel or Budel, where identification and registration will take place. The AVIM will register the asylum seeker by taking their fingerprints and taking a photo. The asylum seeker will sign their asylum application and the application is officially lodged. After the registration the asylum seeker will be transported to a reception centre elsewhere in the Netherlands. Within three months, the asylum seeker will receive an invitation for their first interview.
At the beginning of 2023, asylum seekers arriving at Ter Apel were once again registered according to the regular registration procedure, meaning they do not have to travel to the temporary shelter location at Zoutkamp. However, in February 2023 many people were only pre-registered again, and had to travel to Zoutkamp for accommodation and to wait for official registrationIn March 2023, the Zoutkamp location was closed, meaning all asylum seekers arriving at Ter Apel will be officially registered again the moment the asylum application is lodged.
The IND applies a “Five Tracks” policy, whereby asylum seekers are channelled to a specific procedure track (spoor) depending on the circumstances of their case. Track 1 and 4 had always been part of the IND’s practice. Track 2 has been applied since 1 March 2016 and tracks 3 and 5 have not been applied (yet). The tracks are only applicable when the asylum application has been lodged on the territory, not when it was lodged at the border.
Track 2 Procedure for applicants from a Safe Country of Origin and applicants who have already received international protection in another Member State. The IND considers it unlikely that these applications will be granted. The assessment takes place in a fast-track procedure, which takes place within a maximum of 8 days. The asylum seeker is not entitled to a rest and preparation period or a medical examination executed by MediFirst.
Track 3 Fast-track procedure for applications which are considered likely to be granted. The procedure is linked to Track 5, but neither track has been applied yet.
Track 4 Regular Procedure (Algemene asielprocedure) of 6 days, with the possibility to extend this time limit by 6, 8 or 14 days. In case the application cannot be thoroughly assessed within the Regular Procedure, there is a possibility of assessing the application in the Extended Procedure (Verlengde asielprocedure) within a time limit of 6 months.
Track 5 Procedure for applications starting in Track 3 and likely to be granted, but where additional research must take place regarding identity and/or nationality. Like Track 3, Track 5 has not been applied so far.
Amendments Aliens Decree regarding regular asylum procedure (“Track 4”)
In September 2020, the Secretary of State proposed an amendment of the Aliens Decree regarding the regular asylum procedure. This was followed by an actual amendment of the Decree, which entered into force on 25 June 2021. The amendment of the asylum procedure entails the following:
(1) the registration procedure is formally laid down in the Aliens Decree;
(2) during the registration interview the asylum seeker is briefly questioned about his/her reasons for fleeing his/her country of origin;
(3) cancellation of the first (verification) interview at day 1 of the regular asylum procedure, which results into a shortening of the regular asylum procedure from 8 to 6 working days;
(4) more grounds for extending the regular asylum procedure.
Rest and preparation period
With the exception of Tracks 1 and 2, the asylum seeker is granted a rest and preparation period starting when the registration phase has ended. The rest and preparation period grants first time asylum applicants some days to cope with the stress of fleeing their country of origin and the journey to the Netherlands.
The rest and preparation period takes at least 6 days. It is intended to offer the asylum seeker time to rest and to provide the different organisations involved with the time needed to undertake several preparatory actions and investigations. The main activities during the rest and preparation period are:
- Investigation of documents conducted by the Royal Military Police (Koninklijke Marechaussee, KMar);
- Medical examination by an independent medical agency (MediFirst) which provides medical advice on whether the asylum seeker is physically and psychologically capable to be interviewed by the IND;
- Counselling by the Dutch Council for Refugees (VluchtelingenWerk Nederland); and
- Appointment of a lawyer and substantive preparation for the asylum procedure.
After the rest and preparation period, the actual asylum procedure starts. At first instance, asylum seekers are channelled into the so-called Regular Procedure (Algemene asielprocedure) which is, as a rule, designed to last 6 working days. The regular asylum procedure could be extended if more time is needed.
If it becomes clear on the fourth day of the short asylum procedure that the IND will not be able to take a well-founded decision on the asylum application within these eight days, the application is further assessed in the Extended Procedure (Verlengde asielprocedure). In this extended asylum procedure the IND has to take a decision on the application within 6 months. This time limit can be extended by 9 months, and another 3 months.
There is only one asylum status in the Netherlands. However, there are two different grounds on which this asylum status may be granted (besides family reunification). These two grounds are: refugee status (A-status); and subsidiary protection (B-status). In addition to the grounds of Article 15 of the recast Qualification Directive, trauma suffered in the country of origin, as a result of which it is not reasonable to require the asylum seeker to return to his country of origin, falls within the scope of Article 29(1)(b) of the Aliens Act (B-status).
The IND must first examine whether an asylum seeker qualifies for refugee status, before examining whether they should be granted subsidiary protection. This means that an asylum seeker may only qualify for subsidiary protection in case he or she does not qualify as a refugee under Article 1A of the Refugee Convention. In case an asylum seeker is granted subsidiary protection, he or she cannot appeal in order to obtain refugee status. This is because, regardless of the ground on which the permit is granted, the asylum permit entitles the status holder to the same rights regarding social security (see Content of International Protection).
In the Netherlands, a negative asylum decision is in general automatically accompanied by a return decision. A (new) return decision is not issued if, for example:
- A return decision had already been issued and the asylum seeker has not yet fulfilled the obligation following from that return decision;
- The asylum seeker has already received international protection in another EU Member State.
The obligations following from a return decision are suspended when an (onward) appeal at a regional court or Council of State has suspensive effect.
Asylum seekers whose application is rejected may appeal this decision at a Regional Court (Rechtbank). In the procedures of Track 4, as well as Tracks 1 and 2, this appeal should be submitted within one week of the negative decision. The appeal has automatic suspensive effect, except for cases falling in Tracks 1 and 2 or cases in Track 4 in which the IND discontinues to examine the asylum application because, for example, the asylum seeker lacks to provide (sufficient) relevant information according to the IND.  This means that the asylum seeker can be expelled before the court’s decision. To prevent expulsion the legal representative (or in theory the asylum seeker) should request a provisional measure to suspend removal pending the appeal. This must be done immediately after the rejection in order to prevent possible expulsion from the Netherlands. After a rejection of the asylum request in the short asylum procedure the asylum seeker is, as a rule, entitled to accommodation for a period of four weeks regardless of whether he or she lodges an appeal and whether this appeal has suspensive effect due to a granted provisional measure. Depending on the grounds for refusal, an appeal against a negative decision in the “extended procedure” can have automatic suspensive effect. Also depending on the grounds, the appeal must be submitted within one or four weeks. The asylum seeker is entitled to accommodation during this appeal.
Following the decision of the CJEU answering the questions of the Council of State and the Gnandi judgment of the CJEU, the Council of State concluded that an asylum seeker has the right to remain legally in the Netherlands during the period of the appeal regarding a case in which the asylum application was rejected as manifestly unfounded. The Secretary of State also stated that Dutch national law is in general in accordance with European Union law.
Both the asylum seeker and the IND may lodge an appeal against the decision of the Regional Court to the Council of State (Afdeling Bestuursrechtspraak Raad van State, ABRvS). This procedure does not have suspensive effect, unless the Council of State issues a provisional measure. In case the Council of State denies this provisional measure, the asylum seeker is no longer entitled to accommodation. In September 2018, the CJEU ruled that an onward appeal does not have a suspensive effect in itself. Following this judgment the Council of State ruled on 20 February 2019 that an onward appeal does not have automatic suspensive effect.
 Article 3.109c Aliens Decree.
 Article 3.109ca Aliens Decree.
 Article 3.115 (3) Aliens Decree.
 Amendment of the Aliens Decree, In verband met het regelen van de aanmeldfase en het vervallen van het eerste gehoor in de algemene asielprocedure, Staatsblad 2021, 250, 25 June 2021, available in Dutch at http://bit.ly/3yxsSpU.
 When it is assumed that the asylum application will be rejected in accordance with the Dublin Regulation (Article 3.109c Aliens Decree) due to the fact that the safe country of origin concept applies or if the asylum seeker already received international protection in a Member State of the European Union (Article 3.109ca Aliens Decree), the asylum seeker will not be granted a rest and preparation period, including the medical examination by MediFirst.
 Article 3.109 Aliens Decree.
 In 2021, MediFirst substituted the Forensic Medical Society Utrecht (FMMU).
 See Article 42(4)(5) Aliens Act, which derives from Article 31 (3) of the Asylum Procedures Directive.
 Article 29 Aliens Act.
 The trauma policy used to have its own ground: Article 29(1)(c) Aliens Act (C-status) before 1 January 2014. Nowadays the policy is set out in: Previous confrontation with atrocities (“Eerdere confrontatie met wandaden”). Former specific groups which qualified for a residence permit under the ‘c-ground’ (e.g. Unaccompanied Afghan women) are now eligible for international protection under Article 29(1)(b) of the Aliens Act. Other groups, like Westernised Afghan school girls, can attain a regular residence permit instead of a permit under Article 29(1)(c) as was the case before.
 Paragraph C2/2 Aliens Circular.
 Council of State, Decision No 20010591481, 28 March 2002.
 Article 45(1) (2) Aliens Act.
 Article 62a(1) Aliens Act.
 Article 45(3) Aliens Act.
 Article 30c Aliens Act.
 Article 82(2) Aliens Act.
 Article 69(1) (2) Aliens Act.
 CJEU, Case C-269/18, Staatssecretaris van Veiligheid en Justitie v C and J and S v Staatssecretaris van Veiligheid en Justitie, 5 July 2018; CJEU, Case C-181/16, Sadikou Gnandi vs Belgium, 19 June 2018.
 CJEU, Case C-175/17, X v Belastingdienst/ Toeslagen, 26 September 2018.
 Council of State, Decision No 201609659/1/V2 and 201609659/4/V2, 20 February 2019.