Return policy

Foreign nationals who are not from the European Union (EU), Norway, Iceland or Switzerland need a residence permit to stay in the Netherlands. Foreign nationals residing in the Netherlands who have no right to a residence permit or who have never applied for one are here illegally. They must leave the country.

Return decision and entry ban

Foreign nationals who are not allowed to remain in the Netherlands receive a return decision from the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND). Return decisions can be issued by the IND in a variety of cases:

  • when a foreign national’s application for a residence permit has been denied and any applications for judicial review or appeals that may have been lodged have also been denied;
  • when the IND declines to renew a residence permit that is about to expire;
  • when the IND revokes a residence permit.

Migrants who are residing in the Netherlands but have never applied for a residence permit are also here illegally and must therefore leave the country.

A return decision is a document specifying the deadline by which an individual must leave the country. The individual may be ordered to leave immediately (within 0 days) or, if their first application for asylum has been denied, within 28 days.
Anyone who fails to leave within that period can be given an entry ban. If the decision states they must leave within 0 days, an entry ban will generally be imposed immediately. This is a ban on travel into the Schengen area, which includes the Netherlands.

Encouraging voluntary return

Foreign nationals who are not allowed to stay are responsible for their own departure. Those who wish to return to their country of origin voluntarily can get assistance. For instance from the International Organization for Migration (IOM). This may include help with arranging travel documents or an airline ticket. Or assistance at Schiphol airport or in their country of origin.

In some cases, foreign nationals may be given money or goods to set up a business after their return. This will help them make a living in their country of origin.

The IOM works with various civil society organisations to provide this support. Voluntary return is possible regardless of country of origin. The government provides grants to a number of projects run by NGOs and other organisations which promote sustainable return.

Reception centres for asylum seekers

People whose application for asylum has been rejected stay at a reception centre run by the Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers (COA) until the deadline for their departure.

If the departure deadline has expired but the person has not left the Netherlands, he is no longer allowed to stay at the reception centre. An exception is made for families with children. They are given accommodation at a family location until the youngest child turns 18 or their departure has been arranged.

Foreign nationals who cooperate actively in organising their departure after the departure deadline has expired may stay in restrictive accommodation.

DT&V helps returning migrants

The Repatriation and Departure Service (DT&V) is responsible for preparing, encouraging, and organising the departure of foreign nationals who are not entitled to remain in the Netherlands.