Duration of detention


Country Report: Duration of detention Last updated: 18/03/21


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The law provides different maximum time limits for detention depending on the applicable ground.

  • The general time limit for border detention is 18 months.[1]
  • Border detention may be imposed for a maximum of four weeks. In case the asylum request is denied and entry is refused the border detention can be prolonged. As a consequence, if an asylum request at the border is not rejected within four weeks, the detention is lifted and the asylum seeker is allowed entry during his further asylum procedure.[2] In case the asylum request is denied and entry is refused the border detention can be prolonged during the appeal procedure. The asylum seeker has 1 week to appeal the decision and the court has 4 weeks to make a decision. The prolonging should therefore not last more than 5 weeks.
  • Territorial pre-removal detention under Article 59 of the Aliens Act may be imposed for a maximum of 18 months.[3]
  • Territorial detention of asylum seekers under Article 59b of the Aliens Act may be imposed initially for four weeks, subject to the possibility of extension by another two weeks or another 3 months.[4]
  • Territorial detention of asylum seekers on grounds of public order may be ordered for a period of up to 6 months, with the possibility of an extension for another 9 months in the case of complex factual and legal circumstances, or an important issue of public order or national security.[5]


The majority of persons in detention both at the border and on the territory are detained for less than 3 months in practice, although in some cases they are detained for longer:


Duration of detention: 2019
  Border detention Territorial detention
< 3 months 350 2,820
3-6 months 10 450
> 6 months <5 90


Source: Rapportage Vreemdelingenketen, Government of the Netherlands[6]


The available figures do not distinguish asylum seekers from other immigrants. In the first half of 2020 the average border detention period was around three weeks.[7] The average duration for territorial detention was 41 days in 2019.[8]


[1]Article 59(7) Aliens Act

[2]Article 3(7) Aliens Act.

[3]Article 59(5) -(6) Aliens Act.

[4] Article 59b(2)-(3) Aliens Act.

[5]Article 59b(4)-(5) Aliens Act.

[6]Ministry of Security and Justice, Rapportage vreemdelingenketen: January-December 2019, 45, available in Dutch: https://bit.ly/3bMI1K5.

[7]Answers to written questions about the budget of the Ministry of Justice and Safety 2021, Question 480, available in Dutch at: https://bit.ly/35Pj8cE.

[8]JI, Vreemdelingenbewaring 2019, available in Dutch: https://bit.ly/3inAiTO.


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