Right to reception

The provisions to which asylum seekers are entitled have been defined in the Asylum Seekers and Other Categories of Aliens Provisions Regulations (Rva). They include:

  • shelter
  • meals or an allowance for food
  • living allowance
  • counselling and leisure activities
  • public transport tickets for travel to and from the legal assistance provider in connection with the asylum procedure
  • transport to and from the interviews with the IND
  • access to necessary medically care
  • third-party liability insurance

It is the task of the COA to make these provisions available. This is laid down in the COA Act.

Duration of the right to reception

Holders of a refugee status retain the right to reception (shelter and other provisions) until they are allocated housing by the municipality. 

Rejected asylum seekers remain entitled to reception during the statutory departure period. This period usually ends 28 days after receivin the IND’s decision rejecting the asylum application.

Read more about the reception of rejected asylum seekers

Withholding provisions

If asylum seekers do not respect their fellow residents or COA staff, or breach the house rules in another way, we take measures. Withholding some or all of the abovementioned provisions from the Rva is one of these measures.


After an asylum seeker has signed for asylum application at the IND, the COA provides him or her with shelter. For this purpose, the COA has reception centres throughout the country. The facilities at the different types of centres are adjusted to the different phases in the asylum process.

Those who come to the Netherlands on the basis of family reunification do not receive shelter from the COA, but will live with their sponsor. If the sponsor is still in a reception centre waiting for own accommodation, his or her family members move in with them.

The different types of reception locations of the COA

Meals, food and living allowance

Most asylum seekers do not have their own means. That is why they receive meals or an allowance to buy food. Later, a living allowance is added to this. A food and living allowance is paid weekly in the form of a weekly allowance.

Asylum seekers who have an income and/or possess own assets receive less or no weekly allowance from the COA, according to the Own Contribution from Asylum Seekers with Income and Assets Regulations (Reba).

Food allowance

The level of the food allowance depends on the number of persons in the household run by the recipient. Furthermore, the amount of food allowance is lower for children than for adults and unaccompanied minors. The level of the food allowance that unaccompanied minors receive is always based on a one-person household.
AT the centres where residents are given meals, they do not receive a food allowance. When residents must provide some  of the meals themselves, for instance breakfast, the level of food allowance is lower.

Living allowance

When the asylum procedure begins, asylum seekers also receive a living allowance. This is the same level for all residents: € 12,95 per week.

Adults who have exhausted all legal means and are staying in a family centre or a freedom-restricting centre do not receive a living allowance.

Unaccompanied minors (UAMs) already receive a living allowance before the asylum procedure begins, during the waiting time for the procedure.

weekly allowance 1-2 pax 3 pax 4 pax
living food weekly total living food weekly total living food weekly total
adult 12,95 47,25 60,20 12,95 37,80 50,75 12,95 33,11 46,06
child <18 12,95 39,13 52,08 12,95 31,29 44,24 12,95 27,37 40,32
UAM 12,95 47,25 60,20 12,95 47,25 60,20 12,95 47,25 60,20
Bron: COA (2020)

Counselling and leisure activities

Asylum seekers are entitled to counselling when shaping their future in the Netherlands or their country of origin. To this purpose we offer porgrammes in the reception centres. In addition, residents can participate in activities in a reception centre, which COA staff organise together with other organisations in the migration system and residents. These are, for example, sports, music or just social activities.

Read more about personal counselling and programmes