Border procedure (border and transit zones)


Country Report: Border procedure (border and transit zones) Last updated: 18/03/21


Dutch Council for Refugees Visit Website

General (scope, time limits)

The Netherlands has a border procedure applicable to asylum seekers applying at airports and ports.[1] The border procedure in the Netherlands proceeds as follows: the decision on refusal or entry to the Netherlands is suspended for a maximum of 4 weeks and the asylum seeker stays in detention (see Detention of Asylum Seekers). During this period, the IND may reject the claim as:[2]

  • Not considered, due to the application of the Dublin Regulation;[3]
  • Inadmissible;[4] or
  • Manifestly unfounded.[5]

If the IND is not able to stay within the time limits prescribed by the short asylum procedure i.e. 8 days, it can continue the border procedure if it suspects it can reject the asylum application based on the Dublin III Regulation, or declare it inadmissible or manifestly unfounded.[6] The maximum duration of the border procedure is 4 weeks.[7] However, if the examination takes longer than 4 weeks or another ground of rejection is applicable, the detention measure is lifted, the asylum seeker is allowed to enter the Netherlands and the treatment of the application is continued in the regular procedure.[8]

A number of assessments take place prior to the actual start of the asylum procedure, including a medical examination, a nationality and identity check and an authenticity check of submitted documents. The legal aid provider prepares the asylum seeker for the entire procedure. These investigations and the preparation take place prior to the start of the asylum procedure. The AC at Schiphol Airport is a closed centre. The asylum seeker is subjected to border detention to prevent him or her entering the country de jure. During the first steps of the asylum procedure, the asylum seeker remains in the closed AC at Schiphol.

In these stages the border procedure more or less follows the steps of the short asylum procedure described in the section on Regular Procedure. One example of a difference between the regular procedure and the border procedure is the possibility for the decision-making authorities to shorten the rest and preparation period.[9]

The following groups are exempted from the border procedure, they will follow the general asylum procedure in freedom:

  • Unaccompanied children;[10]
  • Families with children where there are no counter-indications such as a criminal record or family ties not found real or credible,[11] as the Netherlands does not detain families with children at the border.[12] Instead of being put in border detention, families seeking asylum at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport are now redirected to the application centre in Ter Apel where they can await their asylum procedure in liberty. If further research needs to be done as to the relationship between the child and the grown-up they will be redirected to a closed family reception centre in Zeist (see Detention of Vulnerable Applicants);
  • Persons for whose individual circumstances border detention is disproportionately burdensome;[13]
  • Persons who are in need of special procedural guarantees on account of torture, rape or other serious forms of psychological, physical and sexual violence, for whom adequate support cannot be ensured.[14]

In the following situations the IND will, after the first hearing, conclude that the application cannot be handled in the border procedure and therefore has to be channelled into the regular asylum procedure:[15]

  • If, after the first hearing, the identity, nationality and origin of the asylum seeker has been sufficiently established and the asylum seeker is likely to fall under a temporary “suspension of decisions on asylum applications and reception conditions for rejected asylum seekers” (Besluit en vertrekmoratorium);
  • If, after the first hearing the identity, nationality and origin of the asylum seeker has been sufficiently established and the asylum seeker originates from an area where an exceptional situation as referred to in Article 15(c) of the recast Qualification Directive is applicable;
  • If, after the first hearing, the identity, nationality and origin of the asylum seeker has been sufficiently established and there are other reasons to grant an asylum permit.

The Dutch Council for Refugees strongly objects to the use of the border procedure in light of the individual interests of the asylum seeker.[16] The Committee of Human Rights (College voor de rechten van de mens) has also published advice to the Dutch government in previous years, in which it concludes that it is unnecessary to always detain asylum seekers at the border, especially children.[17] According to the Committee the detention of all asylum seekers at the border without weighing the interest of the individual asylum seeker in relation to the interests of the state is not in line with European regulations and human rights standards.

During 2019, 920 asylum seekers filed applications at the border. In the first half of 2020 only 280 asylum seekers filed application at the border. The difference of 32% in the first half of 2020 is due to the corona restrictions.[18]

Personal interview


Regular Procedure: Personal Interview


In the border procedure, the IND may reject an asylum application on the basis of the Dublin Regulation or as inadmissible or manifestly unfounded. Depending on the type of decision issued, the rules described in the Dublin Procedure: Appeal, Admissibility Procedure: Appeal or Regular Procedure: Appeal apply.

On 5 June 2019, the Council of State ruled that the border detention of asylum seekers who appealed their decision was not in line with EU-law as clarified in the Gnandi-case.[19] In response to this decision, a bill was presented to adjust the basis for detention of asylum seekers at the border in the Aliens Act. Detention of asylum seekers who have appealed the rejection of their asylum request will be based on the Reception Conditions Directive (article 8 (3)(c) RCD) instead of the Return Directive (article 6(3) Aliens Act).[20] This bill came into effect on 22 April 2020.[21]

Legal assistance

Regular Procedure: Legal Assistance


[1]                 IND, Work Instruction 2018/3, available in Dutch at: It was issued in March 2018 and entails instructions concerning the border procedure. It covers the information, which is mentioned in this report.

[2]                 Article 3.109b(1) Aliens Decree. See also IND, Work Instruction 2017/1 Border procedure, 11 January 2017, available in Dutch at:, 7.

[3]                 Article 30 Aliens Act.

[4]                 Article 30a Aliens Act.

[5]                 Article 30b Aliens Act.

[6]                 Article 3.109b(1) Aliens Decree.

[7]                 Article 3(7) Aliens Act.

[8]                 Articles 3 and 6 Aliens Act. See also IND, Work Instruction 2017/1 Border procedure, 6.

[9]                 Article 3.109b(2) Aliens Decree.

[10]              Article 3.109b(7) Aliens Decree.

[11]              Paragraph A1/7.3 Aliens Circular.

[12]              Paragraph A1/7.3 Aliens Circular.

[13]              Article 5.1a(3) Aliens Decree.

[14]              Article 3.108 Aliens Decree.

[15]              Paragraph C1/2 Aliens Circular.

[16]              Dutch Council for Refugees, Standpunt: grensdetentie, available in Dutch at:

[17]              Committee for Human Rights, Advies: Over de Grens, Grensdetentie van asielzoekers in het licht van mensenrechtelijke normen, May 2014, available at:

[18]              Ministry of Security and Justice, Rapportage Vreemdelingenketen: January – December 2019, available in Dutch at:;  and Ministry of Security and Justice, Rapportage Vreemdelingenketen: January – June 202-, available  in Dutch at:

[19]         Council of State, ECLI:NL:RVS:2019:1710, 5 June 2019.

[20]         Explanatory Memorandum, KST 35 271, nr. 3.

[21]         Stb. 2020, nr. 136.

Table of contents

  • Statistics
  • Overview of the legal framework
  • Overview of the main changes since the previous report update
  • Asylum Procedure
  • Reception Conditions
  • Detention of Asylum Seekers
  • Content of International Protection
  • ANNEX I – Transposition of the CEAS in national legislation