Place of detention


Country Report: Place of detention Last updated: 08/04/22


Dutch Council for Refugees Visit Website

In principle, asylum seekers are not detained in prisons for the purpose of their asylum procedure. However, foreigners with psychological problems that are detained may be transferred to a specialised prison, which offers psychological care.[1] This option is provided for 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 centre cannot offer adequate care and at the condition that the asylum seeker is kept separate from 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, 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 the article is to ensure that immigrants are separated from criminal detainees in detention.

The three centres have the following capacity.

Detention capacity in the Netherlands: Sept – Dec 2021
Detention centre Maximum capacity Maximum capacity immediately available Occupancy
Schiphol 487 81 280
Rotterdam 640 187 288
Zeist 370 65 145

Source: DJI.[4]

[1] See e.g. CPT, Report of the visit carried out from 2 to 13 May 2016, CPT/Inf(2017) 1, 19 January 2017, 36.

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

[3] Council of State, ECLI:NL:RVS:2020:2795, 25 November 2020.

[4] DJI, Capacity and occupancy statistics, September – December 2021, 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