Reception process

COA has various types of reception centres. Asylum seekers are housed at a location suitable for the current phase of their asylum procedure.

Arrival in the Netherlands

Aliens requesting asylum in the Netherlands report to an Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND) Application Centre. COA then receives them at the central reception location in Ter Apel (Province of Groningen). During their stay the Aliens Police complete their registration and the investigation of their identity. The Municipal Health Services carry out the mandatory TB screening. After these inspections asylum seekers have at least six days to rest and prepare for the request for asylum. The asylum seekers are helped in the preparations by the Dutch Refugee Council and Legal Aid Council. Asylum seekers stay at the central reception location for a maximum of four days.

Asylum procedure

After the TB screening the asylum seekers move to one of the process reception locations where they continue the preparations for their request for asylum. These process reception locations are always close to the Immigration and Naturalisation Service’s Application Centres, which process the asylum seekers’ requests for asylum. Asylum seekers stay at the process reception location for at most twelve days.
The first part of the asylum procedure is the General Asylum Procedure. At the end of this procedure the Immigration and Naturalisation Service informs asylum seekers whether their request has been granted or refused, or whether a further investigation is necessary. They move from the process reception location to an asylum seekers’ centre, where the next phase of the asylum procedure begins:

  • The request for asylum has been granted
    The asylum seeker has been granted a residence permit. COA links the former asylum seeker to a municipality near the asylum seekers’ centre. The municipality provides a suitable home. The former asylum seekers stay at the asylum seekers’ centre until they can move into their self-contained home (for a maximum of twelve weeks).
  • Extended Asylum Procedure
    The Immigration and Naturalisation Service needs more time to decide on the request for asylum. The asylum seekers begin the Extended Asylum Procedure and stay at the asylum seekers’ centre until the procedure is completed.
  • The request for asylum is denied
    The asylum seekers have been refused a residence permit. They may stay at the asylum seekers’ centre for at most four weeks. They can use this time to prepare for their departure from the Netherlands. They are helped by the Repatriation and Departure Service. They must leave the country within four weeks.

Is departure from the Netherlands impossible within four weeks?

Some asylum seekers who have been refused asylum cannot leave the Netherlands within four weeks. These asylum seekers have the right to reception at a freedom restricting location for a further maximum of twelve weeks. The supervision at these freedom restricting locations focuses on repatriation.

Families with minor children

Families with minor children may never become homeless. For this reason families that no longer have a right to reception because they have been at an asylum seekers’ centre or a freedom restricting location for a long time are transferred to special family locations. These locations have sober facilities. The supervision focuses exclusively on repatriation.

Unaccompanied minor asylum seekers

The reception of unaccompanied minor asylum seekers who come to the Netherlands without a family to request asylum depends on their age and circumstances. Minors, irrespective of the outcome of their asylum procedure, are always entitled to reception until they are 18. On their 18th birthday they are governed by the procedure for adult asylum seekers. Read more about (the reception of) unaccompanied minor asylum seekers.

Asylum seekers have the right to reception when they do not have enough money to support themselves. COA’s reception is governed by specific conditions.



Children of compulsory school age are entitled to go to school.


Asylum seekers who have been granted a residence permit are offered a home outside the asylum seekers’ centre.