Freedom of movement


Country Report: Freedom of movement Last updated: 30/04/24


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The stage and type of asylum procedure applicable to the asylum seeker is relevant relating to the type of accommodation they are entitled to.

Asylum seekers can be moved to another AZC due to the closure of the centre they are currently staying at or because this serves the execution of the asylum procedure, e.g. in order to avoid that the AZC is so full which would create tension amongst the residents. It may also happen that the applicant has to relocate from one reception centre to another if their case changes “tracks” during the procedure, for example if they are moved from the accelerated procedure (“Track 2”) to the regular procedure (“Track 4”).

There is no appeal available against ‘procedural’ transfers (movements) from COL/POL to AZC. Indirectly there is an appeal available against a transfer to another AZC or to a (crisis) emergency centre but in practice, this does not happen often.[1]

Defence for Children, Kerk in Actie, UNICEF, the Dutch Council for Refugees and War Child wrote a report on transfer of families with children and unaccompanied minors. The report makes several recommendations to improve the situation of children in reception centres, for example not to move children from one place to another. The State Secretary has acknowledged the need to minimise the movements these children make during the asylum procedure.[2] However, similar recommendations are made in a more in a recent general report on the living conditions of children in reception centres.[3]

AZC are so-called open centres in which the freedom of movement of asylum seekers is not restricted. This entails that asylum seekers are free to go outside if they please. However, there is a weekly duty to report (meldplicht).[4]

Rejected asylum seekers, whose claims are rejected without any legal remedies, are not entitled to reception and may be placed in locations where their freedom of movement is restricted (Vrijheidsbeperkende locatie, VBL). That applies also to a facility for families, the Family Location (Gezinslocatie, GL). An applicant is transferred to a VBL if they are willing to cooperate in establishing departure and there is a possibility to depart. In case of a family with minor children, cooperation is not required for the transfer to a GL. In these centres, people are not detained but their freedom is restricted to a certain municipality. Although this is not actually controlled by the authorities, asylum seekers have to report six days a week (daily except on Sundays). It is therefore difficult to leave the municipality in practice.[5] The penalty for not reporting can be a fine or even criminal detention or an indication that the asylum seeker is not willing to cooperate on their return. It can further lead to pre-removal detention.[6]




[1] Regional Court Roermond, Decision No 09/29454, 2 March 2010. When analysing this ruling, it should be noted that there is formally no distinction anymore between a return and an integration AZC.

[2] Defence for Children, Kerk in Actie, UNICEF the Netherlands, the Dutch Council for Refugees and War Child, Zo kan het ook! Aanbevelingen voor een betere situatie van kinderen in asielzoekerscentra, 18 November 2016, available in Dutch at:

[3] Defence for Children, Kerk in Actie, UNICEF the Netherlands, the Dutch Council for Refugees, Stichting de Vrolijkheid and War Child, Werkgroep Kind in AZC, Leefomstandigheden van kinderen in asielzoekerscentra en gezinslocaties, May 2018, available in Dutch at:

[4] Articles 19(1)(e) and 10(1)(b) RVA.

[5] These failed asylum seekers who are placed in a VBL or a GL are subject to the freedom restriction measures based on Article 56 in conjunction with Article 54 Aliens Act.

[6] Article 108 Aliens Act.

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