How does an evacuation work? Foreign Affairs in plain language


Evacuations abroad happen only in very exceptional situations. People can only be evacuated if the security situation allows. What exactly does an evacuation involve? And what makes it so complicated? Read on to find out.

What does evacuation from a foreign country involve?

In the case of an evacuation, the Dutch government helps eligible people leave a dangerous place abroad and get to a safe place in the region. (If people are taken to the Netherlands, this is called repatriation.) There is no guarantee that an evacuation will be arranged. As a rule, if it is safe for Dutch nationals to leave a country independently, the Dutch government does not evacuate people.

The Dutch government is not obliged by law to evacuate Dutch nationals. However, the government does have an obligation to inform Dutch nationals about the security situation abroad in good time and to advise them accordingly.

In the event that the Dutch government advises people to think carefully about whether their stay is necessary or to leave a country immediately: follow the advice given by the government. Don’t wait until the last minute. It isn't always possible for the Dutch government to help evacuate Dutch nationals who have decided to stay. An evacuation cannot be arranged easily.

What makes evacuations so complicated?

When it comes to evacuations, we always put safety first. Not only the safety of Dutch nationals in need of assistance, but also of the people who have to carry out the evacuation. If there is a lot of violence in a country or area, it will usually be too dangerous to evacuate people. For example because aircraft cannot land or because it is not safe to go out. An evacuation can only happen if it can be carried out without putting people in danger.

Who is eligible for evacuation by the Netherlands?

People in the following categories are eligible for evacuation by the Dutch government:

  • Dutch nationals;
  • immediate family members of Dutch nationals (even if they are nationals of another country). Immediate family members means: the partner (spouse, registered partner, or person with whom an unmarried Dutch national has concluded a notarial cohabitation agreement and has a joint household) and dependent children aged (in principle) under 18 (including adoptive children and stepchildren);
  • people with a residence permit for the Netherlands or for Aruba, Curaçao, St Maarten, Bonaire, St Eustatius or Saba;
  • nationals of other countries (inside or outside the European Union (EU)) with whose governments the Netherlands has made agreements about evacuating each other’s citizens. Certain conditions apply in these cases.

How is an evacuation prepared?

If an evacuation is likely, the Netherlands prepares for all possible scenarios. This means lots of preparations are made, plans are drafted and personnel and equipment are readied for deployment. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs works closely on this with the Ministry of Defence and with other countries (often EU countries or the United States). This may include making plans and agreements about a possible evacuation. Or working together to end the unsafe situation in the country in question.

How can I prepare for evacuation?

This depends on the specific situation. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will keep you informed as well as possible. Below are a number of tips that are useful in any situation:

  • Always register with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Information Service. Select ‘Aanmelden + registratie bij ambassade’. It’s important for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to know who is in the country and where they are. This allows the ministry to contact you in an emergency. For example if an evacuation is being arranged.
  • If you need help, you can reach us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week on +31 247 247 247.
  • Go to the page What to do in a crisis situation. This page provides important tips.
  • If you are in a safe place, stay there and only go out if this is absolute necessary. If you do go out, always take everything you may need with you (travel documents, communication device(s), medicine, food/water).

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