How austere is the Dutch regime for refugees?

ter apel refugee campThe Netherlands has what the government describes as an austere regime for refugees even though populist parties are quick to describe new arrivals as ‘freeloaders’.

There are currently 46,400 asylum seekers living in formal and informal refugee centres in the Netherlands, but what facilities are they entitled to and how much money do they get?

New arrivals are housed in emergency accommodation, such as sports halls which have been equipped with beds, and provided with three meals a day, nothing more. Clothes, personal hygiene products and other essentials come from donations.


Once asylum seekers are transferred to a formal refugee centre, they are given up to €58 a week, depending on the age and make up of the family. Families will usually share one room.

Adult refugees also get €12.95 a week pocket money. The money is paid into a bank account.

Refugees who have money of their own get less money from the Dutch state. Refugees who are allocated a home can also borrow money from the government to buy essential items such as a bed, table and fridge.

Some 10,000 refugees who have been given temporary permits are currently waiting to be transferred to an actual home.


After six months, asylum seekers are allowed to work a maximum of 24 weeks of 40 hours. They are allowed to keep 25% of their income, up to a maximum €185 a month. The rest is ploughed back into the refugee centre.

Refugees are also allowed to earn a maximum of €14 a week doing jobs around the centre where they live.

Refugees are covered by the basic health insurance policy but only have access to a limited number of doctors. They also need special permission to visit a medical specialist.

Compiled from Nos and government sources

Thank you for donating to

We could not provide the Dutch News service, and keep it free of charge, without the generous support of our readers. Your donations allow us to report on issues you tell us matter, and provide you with a summary of the most important Dutch news each day.

Make a donation