Country Report: General Last updated: 18/03/21


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There are two types of detention of asylum seekers in the Netherlands depending on where they cross the Dutch border. Either this is done at the external border, which means that the third country national is trying to enter the Schengen area in the Netherlands, or this can be done after the third country national has already entered the Schengen area before entering the Netherlands. The former can lead to border detention, the latter can lead to territorial detention.


Statistics published by the Ministry of Justice and Security do not distinguish asylum seekers from other categories of persons in immigration detention:


Immigration detention in the Netherlands
  2019 From 1 January to 30 June 2020
Total 3,790 990


Source: Ministry of Justice and Security, Rapportage Vreemdelingenketen.


Border detention: Pursuant to Article 6(1) and (2) of the Aliens Act, the third-country national who has been refused entry when he or she wants to enter the Schengen area at the Dutch border, is obliged “to stay in a by the border control officer designated area or place, which can be protected against unauthorised departure.”[1] [2]


Border Procedure


There is one border detention centre for detaining asylum seekers. Asylum seekers who enter the Netherlands via airplane or boat are required to apply for asylum at the detention centre at Justitieel Complex Schiphol. During this procedure, the asylum seeker will be placed in detention and t[3][4]


Territorial detention: Asylum seekers may also be detained in the course of the asylum procedure on the territory, in accordance with Article 59b of the Aliens Act, which transposes Article 8 of the recast Reception Conditions Directive. Article 59a of the Aliens Act foresees the possibility to detain an asylum seeker for the purpose of transferring him or her under the Dublin Regulation. This article refers to Article 28 of the EU Dublin Regulation.


Territorial detention is also applicable to persons without a right to legal residence under Article 59 of the Aliens Act. Detention based on Article 59 cannot be applied to asylum seekers during their asylum procedure or in some cases – as a consequence of the Gnandi judgment – while they are waiting for the result of their appeal.[5]



[1]Article 6 Aliens Act.

[2]Article 6a Aliens Act.

[3]Regional Court Haarlem, Decision NL18.16477, 19 September 2018; Decision NL18.19950, 6 November 2018.

[4] CJEU, Case C-181/16 Sadikou Gnandi v Belgium, Judgment of 19 June 2018.

[5]Secretary of State of Justice and Security: Memorie van antwoord Wet terugkeer en vreemdelingenbewaring, 13 December 2018, available in Dutch at:, 7.  There was also a decision from the Regional Court of the Hague, Decision NL18.11194, 26 June 2018, with the same conclusion.

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