I just arrived in the Netherlands. Where do I go?
To be officially registered you have to go to the Central Reception Location in Ter Apel.
This used to be the only central government reception location in the Netherlands. All asylum seekers go here immediately after they arrived in the Netherlands. Because of the big influx of refugees, there are temporarily 6 more central reception locations now (also in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Leusen, Didam, Budel and Veenhuizen) Because of the large amount of asylum seekers coming to the Netherlands also the central reception locations are overloaded.
Go to the nearest Police station. The police officers have all information about which reception location you have to go to and - if needed - they will arrange a trainticket for you.
If you don’t know how to ask this in Dutch, show this sentence:
Can you please tell me where the nearest police station is or draw me a map?
Dutch: Kunt u mij vertellen waar het dichtstbijzijnde politiebureau is of een route tekenen?
What happens in a central reception location?
When you are in the central reception location, the Foreign Police will complete your registration and investigation of your identity.
If you don’t get registered, you are in the Netherlands illegally and therefore not allowed to stay.
Where do I stay?
Because of the high number of refugees you cannot stay in Ter Apel or one of the other Central Reception Locations. You stay in a Crisis Shelter Location.
This is a temporary location, usually set up in sports halls or other vacant buildings, only in use during emergency situations or national calamities. These are now used due to the high number of refugees entering the Netherlands. All locations and emergency locations used by The Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers (COA) are full. That is why COA has asked councils across the Netherlands for help with refugees by setting up crisis shelter locations. These locations are not the responsibility of COA but of the councils that set them up.
At the moment there are about 20 Crisis Shelter Locations in the Netherlands. Unfortunately this changes almost every week, so you don’t know in advance where you will go. COA decides which location you can go to. They will arrange for transport.
Will I remain with my family and/or friends?
COA ensures you will remain with your family. If possible, they will also arrange for you to remain with your friends.
Can I go to another shelter?
No you can’t. All other shelters are full so you will not be admitted there. You cannot decide yourself where you will find shelter.
What do I get at the shelter location?
A place to sleep, food and the possibility to take a shower. Toothbrush and toothpaste, soap and shaving gear.
How long do I stay here?
Normally you would stay here for 72 hours. However at the moment it can take much longer. It is also possible that you have to move from one shelter to another. Everything possible is done to have people stay in the crisis shelters for the shortest period of time.
Who can I turn to for help?
IND and Foreign Police are only responsible for completing the registration and investigate your identity.
You can turn to VluchtelingenWerk Nederland (Dutch Council for Refugees). This is an independent human rights organisation. Empoyees of VluchtelingenWerk visit the crisis shelter and you can ask them for help.
This Refugee Buddy website can be of help too.
Go to: FAQ to find answers to your questions.
Am I entitled to medical care?
Yes. Employees of the crisis shelter location know which doctor or medical post you can go to. This medical help doesn’t cost you any money. But you can’t go to any doctor you like.
Can I leave the shelter?
You have freedom of movement unless the mayor decides differently. In this case you will be informed at the shelter.
Where will I go from here?
Because of the large number of refugees entering the Netherlands and the need to find a place for everyone, it is difficult to inform you well beforehand where you will be placed. COA strives to find you a place at a COA reception centre, but it is possible that you will have to move to another crisis shelter. You will be informed of the location you will be going to as soon as this information is available.
When will I be placed in an asylum seekers centre?
You will be transferred to an asylum seekers centre as soon as there is space available. The amount of refugees entering the Netherlands is currently so large that all regular reception centres are full.
When will my asylum procedure start?
There are currently many asylum seekers like yourself entering the Netherlands. This is why the asylum procedure takes a long time. In the short term it is impossible to tell you whether you will be granted asylum in the Netherlands and will receive a temporary residence permit. At present it takes up to six months before initial application will be processed. After that the procedure will start to come to a decision on your application. Each application is carefully assessed. Plus further investigation might be required. This could take another 6 months or even longer. IND is responsible for your asylum application.
Can my family members already join me?
As long as you have not been granted a temporary residence permit, you cannot file an application for your family members to join you. An application for your family may only be submitted once you have been granted this permit. We cannot say for certain in advance if your family is able to join you and how long it will take to get certainty on this matter. Even if you have been granted permission, it might take a long time before your family actually can come to the Netherlands. At present no one can tell how much time this will take.
I want to return. Can I?
Yes. Please contact the International Organisation for Migration (IOM). http://www.iom-nederland.nl/en/
Or the Repatriation and Departure Service DT&V
If you have any questions about this, you can also turn to VluchtelingenWerk for advice.
Read more about: ‘Before your Asylum Procedure begins’