Place of detention


Country Report: Place of detention Last updated: 22/05/23


Dutch Council for Refugees Visit Website

In principle, asylum seekers are not detained in prisons for the sole purpose of their asylum procedure. Asylum seekers may be detained during their procedure.

(Rejected) asylum seekers with psychological problems can be transferred to a specialised institution called Veldzicht, which offers psychological care.[1] The transfer can be carried out voluntarily because the asylum seeker wants intensive psychological help, or involuntarily as a crisis measure. This option is also included in the Bill regarding the return and detention of aliens, which is still in the legislative process.[2] This is only possible when the detention or the asylum seekers centre cannot offer adequate care and at the condition that the asylum seeker is kept separate from (foreign) criminal detainees.

Even though asylum seekers are not detained with criminals or in prisons, the facilities for their detention managed by the Custodial Institutions Service (Dienst Justitiële Inrichtingen, DJI) are very similar. During the border procedure, adults are detained at the Justitieel Complex Schiphol. They stay in a separate wing at the detention centre. Territorial detention takes place in Rotterdam for men and in Zeist for women and (families with) children. In November 2020 and July 2022, the Council of State ruled that DC Rotterdam was to be considered a special detention facility within the meaning of Article 16 of the Return Directive.[3] The underlying intention of article 16 is to ensure that immigrants are separated from criminal detainees in detention.

The three centres have the following capacity:

Average detention capacity in the Netherlands: Sept – Dec 2022
Detention centre Maximum capacity Maximum capacity immediately available Occupancy
Schiphol  470  150  186
Rotterdam 640  113 357
Zeist 370 5 107 100

Source: DJI. [4]  




[1] For more information see the website of Veldzicht:

[2] Bill regarding return and detention of aliens (2015-2016), 34309/2.

[3] Council of State, ECLI:NL:RVS:2020:2795, 25 November 2020 and ECLI:NL:RVS:2022:2103, 21 July 2022.

[4] DJI, Capacity and occupancy statistics, September – December 2022, available in Dutch at:

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