Community of refugees in The Netherlands
created this site to provide newcomers
with essential and reliable information

  • To translate this or other sites use Google Chrome Browser. It has a built-in translator. If you set it up well, it will automatically translate the pages into your native language.
  • Make photos of inscriptions through Google Translate App and it will translate all sentences on photos. Google Play App Store
  • Google Translate App also has a function to translate foreign speech into text in your language. Still not available for Dutch.
Hope, this page will make your tough way easier
Take care of yourself and try to help others
Refugees’ Rights and Obligations
Refugees share the same human rights as legal residents, including: freedom of opinion and expression, freedom of thought, conscience, and religion, freedom from torture or degrading treatment, the right to life, liberty, security and freedom from discrimination.
In the Netherlands refugees also have special rights such as the right to a free lawyer, housing in one of the reception centers and weekly allowances. Right for work appears in 6 months being in The Netherlands.

More about Rights and Obligations of asylum seekers HERE

Five Stages of Adaptation
During the adaptation in a new country refugees can experience controversial feelings and thoughts. After euphoria from moving to a new country feelings of sadness, confusion and insecurity come. Refugees miss their friends and family and start to feel homesick and lonely, begin to question their choice of immigrating.

On the third stage, being under serious tension and while attempting to adapt, learning language, refugees may feel angry and irritated by local customs and people. Some refugees even think about going back or to another country.

On the fourth stage the new country and its inhabitants do not trigger aggression. At last, the process of integration begins. At the fifth stage of adaptation refugees are completely adapted to the new country. They interact with local people easily and everyday routine no longer causes unpleasant feelings.

All feelings are normal and acceptable during the process of adaptation. Please, take care of yourself and others, produce more compassion and support for each other, using the understanding of five stages. We are all going through tough times now. In any case, we are now safer than in the country of departure.

MORE about the topic:
5 Stages
Theoretical and empirical review
Acculturative Stress
Migration-related trauma
The Dutch Values
Freedom | Equality | Solidarity | Participation

Every day refugees go to Dutch shops, meet Dutch people and people of other cultures, sexual orientations and genders. But often we perceive everything that happens through the prism of the “brought with us” experience of the traumas of totalitarian societies. We still can use models of interaction based on lack of freedom, discrimination, violence against ourselves and others, fear and repressed anger.

No matter how you assess the state of democracy in the country, the Dutch values are the good direction in which society goes. Try to think, what do Freedom, Equality, Solidarity and Participation mean personally for you, and observe how those values reveal Dutch's behavior and work of institutions.

More about The Dutch Values

  • W-document is an Identity Document for refugees, which valid only in The Netherlands.
  • It is not an international passport. You can’t travell abroad with it.
  • With this document, no claim can be made on other official documents, such as the driver's license.

Information from IND

When you have applied for asylum for the first time, you will automatically get a Foreign Nationals Identity Document Type W. You do not have to apply for this yourself. Document often ready after 2-3 weeks, you had applied for asylum. But sometimes new photo, signature and/or fingerprints need to be done before. IND will send you a letter with request and instructions.

There are several ways you receive it. Sometimes IND sends letters with your W-document by post to your camp address. Or you can receive it from COA-employee. Or you will get a letter, when you can collect the document at an IND desk.
But sometimes IND doesn't send letters and COA can’t help you. That’s why it’s better to call the IND by yourself and clarify, if your W-document is ready and in what location you can pick it up. It is better to call in the morning. You can wait over 30 minutes for a reply.

When W-document is ready, you can make an appointment by yourself online to receive your W document. If you are not ready to wait for 2-3 months, then monitor updates on the appointment page near 5 p.m. several days. Sometimes free windows will appear. Try to register as soon as possible.



If your annual income is less than 6000 euro (data actual for 2022 year) or you brought with you less amount of money in The Netherlands, you are entitled to the full amount of asylum seeker’s weekly allowance. It consists of food allowance and living allowance. If COA provides you with food, you will receive only a living allowance. A food allowance is recalculated for inflation once a year.


The asylum seeker receives a one-time allowance for kitchen utensils for self-cooking (then this money deducted from your allowance); travel expenses for the asylum procedure, visits to medical institutions, education; reimbursement for volunteer work, if you work for COA; expenses for the education of school-age children. In order to receive money for transportation, you should go to the COA info desk in advance with a paper letter or email, confirming your appointment.

Asylum seekers who have an own income or funds can still make use of COA reception. In that case, they do have to pay an own contribution to the reception costs.

More about it you can find in the article about Work.

More information, including Table weekly amount of allowance.

Information from the government site.
Health insurance
Asylum seekers provided by the government with free access to medical care. Your insurance company is RMA Healthcare. You are fully eligible for the provisions after 2 months. Until that time, you are only entitled to medically necessary care and care that can’t be delayed. The rule doesn’t apply to children.

If you have any doubts about whether this is included in your insurance or GZA nurse or doctor refuses to provide you with any services, you can always call the insurance company or check it on the RMA Healthcare site. In some cases GZA hotline can be useful too.

Adult asylum seekers (18+) are only entitled to dental care if they have serious pain and/or chewing complaints (emergency care), to a maximum of 250 euros per year. For children, there is more extensive dental care, including a preventive annual check.

More detailed information about the payment of dental care is available in the Medical Care for Asylum Seekers Regulations (RMA).

Children in a reception center get the same medical care as Dutch children. A family with children with disability can receive larger or adjusted accom-modation. COA can also place a special bed or sling hoist, or deploy home care to nurse the child. In all cases, COA discusses with the GZA what is medically necessary.

More about Health insurance.
  • The moneycard is issued and managed by Rabobank.
  • Weekly allowance is processed once a week on Monday or Tuesdays.
  • COA can’t see how much money you have on your moneycard. COA can only see how much money they have put on your account.
  • If you lose your moneycard or it is stolen report immediately to Moneycard Servicedesk +31 (0)88 7226 555.
  • If you forget your PIN code, you should contact Moneycard Servicedesk too.
  • receive any notification about transactions, including SMS;
  • do purchase online;
  • transfer money online;
  • change your PIN;
  • top up a bank card by yourself or from another person, except COA.
  • withdraw cash and check the balance at ATMs
  • check income from COA and you purchase online. Your browser should allow the moneycard site to open the popup windows. It definitely opens in Chrome browser on a computer and there can be problems reaching the site on the phone.
Instruction is HERE.

SIM card
Without ID and bank account only Lebara and Lyca are available. Lebara has a mobile application, where you can check your GB-limits. Lyca has problems with a top-up account sometimes. You can take a card, top up and ask to set it up in mobile phone shops and in some grocery stores.

You can save the number, while switching to another cell-provider, but you will be required to have an ID, bank account and there most likely will be offered a one-year subscription for the new provider.

If you forget to enter a code to concern your bundle after topping up Lyca and you have burned all money in a minute, don't worry. Text to the support center and ask them to give you money back.
Cheap Shops

Action and Big Bazaar sell a lot of random household items and some food. Cheap supermarkets in the Netherlands are Aldi and Lidl. You should visit Die grenze to find medicine, food, toiletries and other things for even 1 euro. Primark is for cheap clothes. MediaMarkt is for electronics, but only when a sale is on. Vitamins & Supplements with discounts you can find at Holland & Barrett. Use second hand stores to buy kitchen utensils, clothes, interior items or bags and suitcase. But do not forget that you may have a transfer to another camp and you will need to take all your stuff with you or say goodbye to it. Meat, vegetables and fruits can be cheaper in Turkish stores. You will need outlets with brand discounts to buy, for example, high-quality shoes or sneakers.We shouldn't forget about www.aliexpress.com, which is not the fastest, but prises are make you happy. Albert Heijn, Jumbo, Kruidvat and www.bol.com are popular, but not very cheap.

You can find the location of close shops at www.mycoa.nl in useful-addresses. Install you location before, please. Application Google maps are quite helpful too.

More cheap shops.

Photo by Thomas Le
A bicycle in the Netherlands is an equal participant in the road traffic, along with cars and motorcycles. Be careful. Treating fracture, while living in AZC is challenging, because it needs much assistance and most camps are not suitable for disabled persons. In order to ensure the safety of yourself and other road users, your full attention should be on the road while traveling. Learn the rules of the road, road signs, indicate with your hand before turning the direction in which you are turning, have the necessary lights and reflectors, handle for phone, if you use it for navigation, working brakes, bell and do not use headphones while driving in a busy place and have reliable locks. Bike theft happens sometimes.
  • Market place on Facebook. You can bargain there.
  • Second hands.
  • At some AZC at bike repair center.

At some AZC you can rent bike. Ask COA, read posters in AZC.

Traffic and transport
7 things that will get you fined while cycling
NS: train traveling
  • If you travel with your friend, who has an NS FLEX subscription, you can buy a ticket with a 40% discount. It can be done at the NS machine at the station.
  • Off-Peak Group Ticket. Travel economically with a group of 2 or more people. Valid during off-peak hours.
  • Taking your bicycle on the train is required a ticket. Only a folding bike you can take free of charge. Rules for travelling by train & bike.
  • You can buy tickets online or using the NS machine and money card or by cash at the station.
  • Two-way tickets (Day Return) are cheaper.
  • Don't use the last train. It can be cancelled or delayed. The chances of missing the connecting train or the last bus are rises because of that.
  • Download the NS app. Use it to build routes and manage digital tickets.
Traveling through The Netherlands by train is quite expensive. But being in AZC all the time can be challenging. That’s why some refugees prefer to save money and buy NS Flex card with one or more subscriptions.

For this purpose you should have a Dutch bank account or a friend with one. Register yourself on the NS site and order an NS Flex card. It will be delivered in 7 days.
Weekend Vrij provides unlimited travel at weekends.
Dal Voordeel provides 40% discount during off-peak hours and at weekends and public holidays.
Dal Vrij provides unlimited travel during off-peak hours and suits those who work not near the AZC or travel every week.

Another subscriptions.

Photo by Daniel Apodaca
Activities in a reception center are sports, music or just social activities. It can be football or volleyball inside or outside. Some games at the recreation room. Meetings for LGBTQI+ persons or women. There can be a gym on the territory of AZC or COA provides you by this facility outside the camp. Another COA gives you reimbursement of part of the cost of gym subscription. Ask your COA about the list of leisure, which available. Posters with announcements are hung on information boards. This information can be on the site www.mycoa.nl too.
This is the site, where you can find information about your AZC from opening hours to available volunteer work in the camp. Just explore the site. You should choose the location of your AZC, first. “News and announcement” and “Local post” are important for receiving fresh information about changes, new facilities, upcoming events and so on. Different AZC update information on their sites definitely. At some AZC you will be given a paper brochure with actual opening hours and you find the site useless.
Transfers to another AZCs
From Schiphol or Ter Apel to the first AZC most people travel by free of charge taxi/bus. Then you can stay in the same camp till receiving housing. But sometimes people are being made to change several AZC. Reasons for these actions are still obscure. It can be the AZC’s bus, like from Wageningen Bosrandweg to Arnhem Groningensingel, or taxi for the near location and for several people in the same direction. But usually you receive a one-day ticket for a train. If you have more than two suitcases\bags or\and bike, you have to return a second time for your belongings. You should buy a bike ticket by yourself.

If you have a medical condition, you can try to cancel the transfer. You should do it in advance. Talk to GZA and give access to COA for your medical information.
Dutch Language
Photo by Janko Ferlic
If you would like to learn Dutch there can be language courses in the AZC. If a COA employee tells you that it is impossible to connect the group because it is full or it is only for those who have resident permits, try to talk with the teacher directly. In public libraries there can be courses too.
Power of diversity & inclusivity
Everyone in the Netherlands is entitled to equal treatment. This right is considered so important that it is enshrined in Article 1 of the Dutch Constitution.

You deserve equal treatment regardless of your race, color, sex, religion, or immigration status; regardless of your gender presentation or sexual orientation; regardless of your size, age, or a disability and chronic diseases you live with. But why is it still discrimination?

There are 12 grounds and 13 areas of discrimination according to Dutch law.

Taking action against discrimination.
Humanity suffers from a destructive attitude, called xenophobia, which is inherited from animals. Xenophobia is the fear of strangers, hatred and aggression towards people different from us. Xenophobia relies on stereotypes. Stereotypes are untrue, illusory and irrational statements.

We refugees don't want to be treated as dangerous strangers, don't want to be discriminated. We want to be accepted and appreciated. Therefore, it is important for us to track xenophobia in ourselves in relation to unsimilar groups and individuals and replace it with the idea of Diversity in our minds and acceptance in our hearts.
Diversity is understanding that each individual is unique, and that each of our individual differences share a purpose in society. Studies have actually shown that organizations that promote diversity and inclusion are happier and more productive than ones who don’t. Because what one person lacks in skill, another may prove to be an expert at. And when we put all of our skills, experience and points of views together, we can get more done.

Living and working in an environment full of acceptance, kindness and love more joyful than in one, filled with hatred and violence. Next time, when you meet someone, who does not look like you, who is different, ask yourself, what do you bring to the environment by your thoughts, words and actions? The best way to get rid of xenophobia is to get acquainted. Then the real experience of communication will replace useless and dangerous stereotypes.
Inclusive language
Language can reinforce both negative and positive perceptions about others. Inclusive language acknowledges the unique values, culture and experiences of individuals or groups. Derogatory or discriminatory language undervalues individuals or groups, denigrates, humiliates and perpetuates stereotypes and inequality in society.
Gender-biased expressions like “He fights like a girl”, “In a manly way”, “Oh, that’s women’s work” reinforce gender stereotypes based on cis-gendered male supremacy over centuries. It is better to avoid them. Phrases such as ‘“You’re so gay!” and “That’s so gay!” are the most common forms of homophobic behavior. Unfortunately, people may not necessarily understand that their comments are inappropriate and perpetuates inequality in society. Calling people living with HIV, persons with mental illness or with disability as infected, mentally ill or invalids can be harmful and painful as much as reinforce stigma. People engaged in sex work or persons with a substance use disorder are not be called in offensive way as prostitutes and junkies.

Pronouns are one way people refer to each other and themselves. Most but not all men (including trans men) use the pronoun “he”. Likewise, most but not all women (including trans women) use the pronoun “she”. Some people use a gender-neutral pronoun such as “they”. For example, “Pip drives their car to work. They don’t like walking because it takes them too long”. If you’re unsure what someone’s pronoun is, you can ask them respectfully, and preferably privately. Use a question like: “Can I ask what pronoun you use?”.

Inclusive language can help to create a culture of mutual respect, dignity, inclusion, belonging and community. And each of us can contribute daily to it.

Guidelines for gender-inclusive language.
Disability-inclusive language guidelines.
LGBTIQ+ inclusive language guide.
Inclusive Language Guidelines.
Amnesty International Guide (Australia).
Being witnesses of discrimination
What's worse than experiencing harassment related to your identity? Well, is being surrounded by bystanders who see it happening, but do nothing about it. It doesn't have to be that way.

Specially for this case “The 5D’s bystander intervention” was designed.
When we intervene, not only do we reduce the trauma of harassment for the person who was harmed, we exclude traumatization of ourselves as a witness of violence through active action and we slowly chip away at the culture of harassment and replace it with one of humanity.
The 5Ds are different methods - Distract, Delegate, Document, Delay, and Direct - that you can use to support someone who's being harassed, emphasize that harassment is not okay, and demonstrate to people in your life that they have the power to make their community safer. Anyone can use the 5Ds! They are designed to be safe and not to escalate situations.

The 5D’s bystander intervention in detail.
LGBTQI+ Community

LGBT Asylum Support provides support through the asylum procedure. Sandro Kortekaas, the founder, helped a lot for those, who undeservedly received a negative decision from IND. Fill this contact form to reach access to whatsapp groups, where you can find information about organization's activities and events.

Cocktail Amsterdam of COC Amsterdam once a month organizes a social or informative event to support LGBTIQ+ refugees. Participation is free and often train tickets are available.

Trans United Europe and TransAmsterdam are well-known trangenders’ communities in The Netherlands.

If you are LGBTQI+ human, get acquainted with LGBTQI+ contact persons of your AZC. They are COA employees, who trained and understand your needs. LGBTQI+ contact person will help you with your different issues and first of all provide the contacts of the local COC, which is the oldest LGBTQI+ organization in the world. Tickets for its monthly meetings will be given by COC or COA.

In the room you should live with the same LGBTQI+ humans as you. Ask them to help you with access to LGBTQI+ whatsapp groups to communicate and know about events.

It is not possible to destroy homo- and transphobia forever in the whole world. The question is how small are they in the society and what can each of us personally do in daily life to improve equality? The Netherlands was the first country in the world to legalise same-sex marriage and Amsterdam is called queer capital of Europe. But there are still some problems with equality and IND still uses stereotypes in its decisions according to LGBTQI+ persons.
If there are no reports about discrimination, the government doesn't see that the problem exists. And they do nothing. Only by collecting a large amount of reports we will be able to change things in a better way.

The Netherlands has a Pink in Blue police force. It consists of well-trained policemen and policewomen, who are often LGBTQI+ themselves. Pink in Blue respects your privacy and you can count on sympathetic treatment. When you become the victim of a hate crime, call +31 88 16 91 234 and report this to Pink in Blue.

Feel free to ask for psychological help.
Russian-speaking therapists.

COA LGBTQI+ contact persons will help you, if you face homo- and transphobia too.

Report discrimination to anti-discrim-ination center in your municipality.

Report to Sandro Kortekaas from LGBT Asylum Support. They collect their own statistics and make reports to the autorites directly.
Transgender hormone therapy
Sometimes GZA refuses to give hormone therapy for trangender persons or can’t refer them to the Gender Clinic. Sending an official request on e-mail to your camp’s GZA doctor should help. Describe your request in a polite tone and attach all documents, confirming you used to take hormonal therapy in the home country. It can be prescriptions, certificates, conclusions of an endocrinologist, etc. Indicate the name of the medicine, dosage, time interval between taking the medicine. You can find the email of your camp’s GZA here. If it will not work, you can make complaint via the form on website. This can be done in English or Dutch. Be prepared for the content of the complaint to become known to the person you are complaining about.
People with disabilities
Most AZC buildings are not suitable for persons with reduced mobility. So you can ask to receive larger or adjusted accommodation from COA or transfer for another camp. First you should give COA permission to access your health information from GZA and then they discuss the request.

Insurance can afford you, for example some physiotherapy and weekles. You can order delivery and return of weekles by yourself by phone or ask COA to assist you with that. To be sure what is included and in which amount call the insurance company or check it on the RMA Healthcare site. In some cases GZA hotline can be useful too.
Did you break bones, got in an accident by riding a bike? Call the GZA hotline for emergencies, ambulance if needed and ask for an X-ray to exclude fracture. Police officers are on site to help you and not punish you. They can also call an ambulance.
For any survival support in AZC while treating fracture feel free to text Tony from The United Refugees.
Sometimes because of your health conditions you need assistance from volunteers. Ask your nurse or doctor at the hospital to connect you with volunteers’ organisations for that. Sometimes GZA and COA can be helpful for it too.

For support with special health conditions text Tony from The United Refugees. We will figure out together what can be done in your case.
Persons with mental disorders
In The Netherlands there are no special programs for asylum seekers with mental disorders. Access to psychiatry is difficult both for refugees and for residents, who have to wait for appointments for 0,5 - 1,5 years. If you know the name of the medicine that helped you in the country of departy and it’s certified in The Netherlands, a general practitioner from GZA will prescribe it to you. Especially, if you have an old prescription or package of your medicine. When a doctor from GZA prescribes you tranquillisers, antidepressants or neuroleptics, you should be informed that General Practitioner has no psychiatric education and the ability to diagnose you. You use these psychoactive substances at your own risk. Remember that most antidepressants have a withdrawal syndrome and should not be stopped abruptly after long term daily consumption. Tranquillisers can be addictive too.

Emergency psychiatric care can be reached
through GZA Hotline.

If for medical reasons you need a separate room, COA should provide you with it.

If you have suicidal thoughts feel free to call to 113 Suicide Prevention. They employ psychologists and psychiatrists and a large group of fully trained volunteers who provide round-the-clock confidential support through chats and phone calls.
The good news is that some psychiatric disorders respond well to psychotherapy, including cognitive behavioural therapy. You can read more about it at Dutch Mental Health Quality Standards. Just choose the diagnosis, which was made in your home country. Training in self-help techniques and bibliotherapy also show high efficiency in some cases. For psychotherapy it is also queues, so you should not wait, while the mental state becomes much worse. It is better to make appointment in advance through GZA. You are also able to choose a provider of psychotherapy and enrol yourself by phone.

Some specialists, who are called psychotherapists or psychologists from GGZ, have no psychotherapist education and have no right to serve you in that capacity. And definitely there will be no privacy. Everything that you say will be written in GZA computer system and GP and people from GZA-office will have access to it.

First session is mostly for getting acquainted with each other. So tell not only about yourself and ask a specialist, you have been referred from GZA, about his\her\their education and how exactly he\she\they can help you. You both will find a better way to support you. Remember responsibility for your health relies on you, firstly.

Communication with someone, who has the same experience can be healing too.

For support with any questions about living with mental disorders in AZC feel free to text Tony from The United Refugees.
People living with HIV
Asylum seekers in The Netherlands, living with HIV, receive their medication for free due to insurance. Moreover everyone has a right to medical help, even when they are briefly or temporarily uninsured. Make a GZA appointment and the doctor will refer you to the hospital. There a nurse does blood-testing and after receiving results you will get medication. Be calm, if you are not taking medicine for 1 to 10 days or even more because of your flee from the country of origin. Most likely the viral load will remain undetectable for a long time and resistance won't definitely develop. What is dangerous and totally prohibited to do is to take half of daily dose or take HIV-medicine not on a regular basis. For example, one day you take, another two days don't take, another day take, then again don't take for a day or several days. It causes resistance to the medicine, so it will not work for you anymore.
Are you curious about the latest medical developments and practical issues? Do you want to know how to come to terms with HIV and feel positive about it? Then the Positive Living workshop series is made for you!

The power of love (in Dutch)

Share the power

Peer counseling
Poz & Proud
HIV Association

HIV as it is

HIV is a virus that you can get through unprotected sex or blood. Condoms and PrEP pills protect very well against HIV. If you have HIV, there is good medication. This will prevent you from getting sick and developing AIDS. Medication will not heal you from HIV, but you will be able to live a long, healthy life. Do you take your medication regularly? Then you cannot pass on HIV.

HIV is found mostly in blood and sperm. You can get HIV through sex:
  • Anal or vaginal sex without condom
  • Cum in mouth: if you give someone a blowjob and he cums in your mouth. Chances are very small in this case
You can also get HIV from a dirty needle. For example, if you:
  • Inject drugs with a needle used by someone else before
  • Get a tattoo in a foreign country. Sometimes this is not safe
  • Get a blood transfusion in a hospital in a foreign country. Not every country checks blood properly for HIV

You don’t just get HIV by getting close to people. Virus can't live in atmosphere. So you will not get HIV, for example, from:
  • A toilet seat
  • Shaking or holding hands
  • Hugging and cuddling
  • French kissing (tongue kissing)
  • Dishes or towels
If someone with HIV takes medication, they can't pass on HIV anymore, even if you have sex.

N = N
More information.
Nowadays, when modern treatment for HIV is available, people live long and productive lives with HIV as a chronic disorder, which is less dangerous than diabetes. Most of them don't even suffer from side effects. Persons, who have HIV and take medicine and whose viral load is undetectable, can’t transmit HIV even having sex without a condom.

What makes people living with HIV suffer now, is stigma. HIV stigma is negative attitudes and beliefs about people with HIV. It is one type of xenophobia, which relies on stereotypes. Stereotypes are untrue, illusory and irrational statements. HIV stigma comes from lack of education and wrong information, which does not match scientific data.

For example, the phrase “I am clean, on PreP '' is discriminatory, because it makes a person, living with HIV, feel dirty. In this situation, both take approximately the same medical substance and both are not contagious. The cleanest of both, the one who has taken a bath.

More about HIV stigma.

PrEP & PEP as HIV prevention

PrEP means Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis and prevents HIV infection. It is for people who are not infected with HIV, but who are at risk of becoming infected. You can use PrEP in two ways: take a pill every day or take pills only before and after sex.

Health insurance companies in the Netherlands do not yet reimburse PrEP.
GGD pays for PrEP medication and care, if you are a man and have sex with men. Then you pay a small amount for PrEP pills.

Prices for PreP
Call the GGD in your municipality and make an appointment. Then you should wait for an appointment for a month or more. If you'd prefer to take a pill every day the consequence will be the next. At the doctor, you will be placed on a GGD PreP waiting list. At the second meeting at GGD you have first blood-testing, receive PreP and will return in a month for second blood-testing. With a doctor you will figure out how your liver works and do you have or not side effects. The decision of extending use will be done.

More info about PrEP.
PEP means Post-Exposure Prophylaxis and involves treatment with HIV inhibitors. If you are certain that you have had contact with bodily fluid infected with HIV (e.g. through unprotected sex or injury involving a used needle) and if the chance of exposure to HIV is extremely high, then medications are available that may reduce the risk of infection.

PEP is a course of treatment that lasts 4 weeks and reduces the chance of the virus infiltrating the body. The earlier you begin PEP, the greater the chance of remaining HIV-negative. The treatment should preferably be commenced as soon as possible after the risk has been posed, but always within 72 hours.

More about PEP & how to get it.
  • STD stands for sexually transmitted disease. Older term for this is venereal disease.
  • You can get an STD by having sex. Especially if you don’t use a condom
  • Sometimes STDs will cause symptoms, but not always
  • With an STD test you will know for sure if you have an STD or not
  • Most STDs are treatable with medication. Some STDs never heal

If you have symptoms or your partner told you that he\she\they have STD, feel free to call GGD in your municipality. Be prepared to stand on the waiting list.
GZA can provide some service too.

Testlab is the online testing facility for men who have sex with men. It is only possible to use Testlab if you live in the region Amsterdam, Den Haag, Rotterdam, Dordrecht, Nijmegen, Tiel, Groningen, Drenthe and Friesland. For LGBTQI+ persons on some events free testing is available.
Hepatitis B is a liver infection, which can have serious consequences. Hepatitis B is highly contagious. People can get infected through sexual interaction or blood contact. Vaccination can prevent Hepatitis B. Men who have sex with men can get a free vaccination at GGDs.
Make an appointment now

COVID-19 & Flu Vaccination
Everyone aged 5 and over in the Netherlands got invited for a vaccination against Covid-19. Being vaccinated will protect not only you, but also your family, friends and vulnerable people in your surroundings. You can get the repeat dose at least 3 months after your last vaccination or 3 months after a coronavirus infection. Explore posters on the information desks at AZC or ask GZA where you can be vaccinated and how to make an appointment. Dutch vaccination programme against Covid-19.

In autumn you will get an invitation letter from your general practitioner (GZA) for flu vaccination, if you have certain health problems or you are 60 years of age or older.
National communities
Free Russia NL
Democratic-liberal Russian-speaking community in the Netherlands. Attending manifestations and education for integration in Russian are available.

The Netherlands in Arabic

Somar Chaban helps Syrian refugees with their questions and requests

Syrians in the Netherlands

If you would like to share the information about your community, please, send us the message: tony.unitedrefugees@gmail.com.
Volunteer work
If you receive an allowance and are volunteering, then your allowance will not change if the compensation for volunteer's work in 2023 does not exceed 190 € (2022 and 2021: 180 €) per month and 1900 € (in 2022 and 2021: 1800 €) per year.

More information.
And here too.
Work after 6 month
Asylum seekers without a residence permit may do paid work 24 weeks a year. Employers must have a work permit for third-country nationals (TWV) to employ asylum seekers. The Employee Insurance Agency (UWV) will issue this permit if an asylum application process has lasted at least 6 months. You need a BSN-number and Dutch bank account to work.

Now there are queues for BSN-number and COA refuses to help with BSN. But the Dutch government is preparing a program. If you find an employer, they will put you in the queue for BSN. The program is in test mode. Ask COA when it will work in full force.

Asylum seekers who have their own income or funds can still make use of COA reception. In that case, they do have to pay a contribution to the reception costs. This is laid down in the Reba regulation.

More from COA
More from VWN

RefugeeConnect is an organisation, who help potential employees, who are still asylum seekers, towards the right match, advice in the field of laws and regulations and facilitation in practical challenges.
Professional education
Photo by Olena Sergienko
While you are waiting for a letter from IND, you can keep yourself busy, thinking about what you will do, when you receive a residence permit. In The Netherlands for many occupations, you are only considered if you have obtained specific diplomas. After the positive decision if you won’t have work and will apply for a benefit, you can be obliged to obtain a diploma until the age of 27.

If you have obtained a diploma in your country of origin, you can have it evaluated by International Credential Evaluation (IDW). On the basis of this evaluation, the educational institutes determine whether your previous education is sufficient and whether you may even be granted an exemption for all or part of the course.

Do you want to continue or receive a new qualification? Or perhaps, you will run a venture?

Forward Inc offers a variety of programmes for newcomers and people from refugee backgrounds, providing training and networking for participants and scalable startups across all industries.

Startup incubators and accelerators in Amsterdam.
If you are between 18 and 30 years of age, after receiving asylum residence permit, you can usually apply for a study costs allowance (for secondary school or mbo) or study finance (for mbo, hbo, and university) at Education Executive Agency (DUO). The study finance is partially a gift and partially a loan you have to pay back after your study; the study costs allowance is partially a gift.

When you are older than 30 years and younger than 55 years of age, you can borrow money at DUO for tuition fees or school fees on certain conditions. See DUO.

Will you be studying? What qualification will it be? What university? So there are a lot of things to think about and investigate. You can start to prepare yourself now.

More about education.
The power of complaint
The governments of the European Union countries constantly violate not only the migration legislation that they themselves have adopted, but also the human rights of refugees.
The Guardian. Migrants face “unprecedented rise in violence” in EU borders.

Fortunately, we don't see physical violence on the Dutch borders. But there are enough other violations all over the country. And the system needs feedbacks. There are people in COA, who work here because they love helping people and believe that diversity is the key to economic and cultural success. These people often embody the Dutch values - freedom, equality, solidarity, participation. At the same time, the level of education, knowledge of regulations and motivation can be very different from employee to employee. Anyway, we are all human and we all make mistakes.

The crisis in Ter Apel in 2022, triggered by the inaction of the Dutch government after COVID, showed that even in The Netherlands you can expect anything, if you are a refugee. Thanks to the public outcry, authorities turned their attention to the problem, they delayed so long. Here are the specific steps.

Violations of the accommodation of refugees in COA now must be eliminated by a court decision. The court was won by VWN vs Ministry of Justice and Security and COA.

COA regulations and procedures.

Asylum Seeker Regulations (RVA).

Free legal consultations
In these conditions, the only person who is really interested and totally responsible for your well-being is yourself. The Netherlands is an individual culture, despite Dutchs have a habit of solidarity. Moreover being an active citizen is a manifestation of participation.

If there are no reports about violations, the government doesn't see that the problem exists. And they do nothing. Only by collecting a sufficient amount of reports will we be able to change things in a better way.

With any criminal cases, such as violence, theft, threats, discrimination, etc., be sure to contact the police. Two options are available: just report or require further investigation.

If you come to the COA information desk, screaming and knocking with a fist on the table, this will definitely not advance you in resolving your issue. And maybe even hurt you. Aggressive attitude towards COA employees and damage to camp property are to be penalised. The Dutch are a northern people, they are not used to expressing emotions like people born in warm countries. Politeness and political correctness are the keys to successful negotiations. You can release the accumulated tension in the gym or on the football.

Since we live in a democratic country with a massive bureaucratic apparatus, effective methods of asserting one's rights will also be bureaucratic. Ability to explain and justify will appear soon in your soft skills toolbox. As soon as patience will. Things don't move fast in The Netherlands.
The complaints procedure is not intended for complaints against camp residents. You can contact a COA officer about this.

1) You communicate with a COA employee on the infodesk or by sending an e-mail. Many issues can be resolved in this way and much faster, then at the end of the procedure.
2) If the employee is unable to resolve the issue, the location manager (CEO of the camp) should.
3) If this is not sufficient, you may file a complaint in writing or by e-mail with the office manager and/or the COA Legal Department. This can be done in Dutch or English. You can do this using the complaint form, but it is not required. Write your V-number in the complaint for shure.

It takes a maximum of 6 weeks to receive an answer, but the COA may extend this period by 4 weeks. The COA then informs in writing both the complainant and the person whose conduct relates to the complaint.

Team Juridische zaken
Postbus 30203
2500 GE Den Haag

4) If you are not satisfied with the handling of the complaint, you may report it within one year after the complaint has been resolved to the national ombudsman.


If you have a complaint about your contact with a GZA healthcare provider, GZA advises to talk to that specific person, first. If you prefer not to talk to your care provider, or you do not agree, you can make complaint via the form on website. This can be done in English or Dutch. Be prepared for the content of the complaint to become known to the person you are complaining about.
More about procedure.
Asylum procedure
The statutory decision period is 15 months. The government about it. IND about it.
Real processing time depends on the asylum track. For General Asylum Process it was 4 - 10 months in 2022.

You have the right for a free lawyer after 6 months in The Netherlands. Someone receives a lawyer at the beginning, while in Schiphol. Some lawyers will help you with extra issues, another will do things that are only connected with asylum procedure.

Most likely you signed a consent to a medical examination for MediFirst. MediFirst nurses and doctors check whether the asylum seeker is physically and mentally capable of participating in hearings and whether there are any medical limitations that should be taken into account during hearings and when making decisions. Shortly after the MediFirst examination most asylum seekers receive a letter with a scheduled interview date from IND. If you have suicidal thoughts, you interview will be delayed. MediFirst service is your right and is not mandatory.

If you receive a negative decision from IND, you can appeal to the court.

ASKV Refugee Support is an Amsterdam-based organisation that provides legal assistance and social support to rejected refugees in the Netherlands.
LGBT Asylum Support helps for LGBTQI+ asylum seekers, who undeservedly received a negative decision from IND.

More about asylum procedure.
Hope, this page has made your tough way easier
Take care of yourself and try to help others
  • Tony Che
    I asked for asylum in The Netherlands on 6 April, 2022. My adaptation was full of anxiety,
    wrong information and lack of information.
    So I decided to create a site with reliable data.
    Every article here has a link for its source.

If you notice an inaccuracy,
want to suggest a topic for an article,
please contact us.
All photos and videos belong to their owners and are used for demonstration purposes only.
This site was made on Tilda — a website builder that helps to create a website without any code
Create a website