Reception Conditions


Country Report: Reception Conditions Last updated: 30/04/24


Dutch Council for Refugees Visit Website

The Chapter: Reception Conditions in the Netherlands contains sections on:


A. Access and forms of reception conditions

  1. Criteria and restrictions to access reception conditions
  2. Forms and levels of material reception conditions
  3. Reduction or withdrawal of reception conditions
  4. Freedom of movement 

B. Housing

  1. Types of accommodation
  2. Conditions in reception facilities

C. Employment and education

  1. Access to the labour market
  2. Access to education

D. Health care

E. Special reception needs of vulnerable persons

F. Information for asylum seekers and access to reception centres

  1. Provision of information on reception
  2. Access to reception centres by third parties

G. Differential treatment of specific nationalities in reception




Short overview of the reception system

The Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers (Centraal Orgaan opvang Asielzoekers – COA) is the authority responsible for the accommodation of asylum seekers and thus manages the reception centres. Normally asylum seekers who enter the Netherlands by land have to apply at the Central Reception Centre (Centraal Opvanglocatie, COL) in Ter Apel, where they should stay for a maximum of three days. The COL is not designed for a long stay. If applicants arrive during the weekend, they will have access to night reception until registration on the first working day.

After this stay at the COL, the asylum seeker is transferred to a Process Reception Centre (Proces Opvanglocatie, POL). An asylum seeker remains in the POL if the IND decides to examine the asylum application in the regular asylum procedure (within eight days). If protection is granted, the asylum seeker is transferred to a Centre for Asylum Seekers (Asielzoekerscentrum, AZC) before receiving housing in the Netherlands. If the IND decides to handle the application in the extended asylum procedure, the asylum seeker will also be transferred from the POL to an AZC. Asylum seekers and beneficiaries of protection who have not yet been housed are hosted in collective centres. Currently, no option to access individual housing is provided by the authorities.

The Netherlands experienced various reception crises, one of which in 2015, while the latest started in September 2021. Whereas the reception crisis experienced in 2015 was due to an unexpected and very high number of new arrivals of asylum seekers, the current one could have been prevented, had the government anticipated the possibility of having to manage an increase in the number of new arrivals. Instead, many reception centres were closed as soon as the number of arriving asylum seekers dropped, which caused the current shortage of asylum reception places.[1]  People have been sleeping on the floor outside the Ter Apel centre while waiting for their turn to register, followed by a transfer to one of the many (Crisis) Emergency Reception Centres that opened (and closed) around the country from September 2021 onwards. The reception crisis continued throughout 2022.




[1] This has also been confirmed by the ACVZ and ROB (Raad voor het Openbaar Bestuur). In their report they state that the reception crisis is a self-made crisis by the Dutch government: ‘Asielopvang uit de crisis’, 14 June 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