Focus on reception capacity for asylum seekers

In 2022 the Dutch government budgeted just over €500 million for the Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers (COA). In the course of the year, however, it became clear that the COA would need an additional billion euros because the number of asylum seekers and the costs incurred for them were far higher than foreseen. This is not the first time the Netherlands has had problems with the reception of asylum seekers. The COA’s expenditure has been higher than budgeted in 21 of 23 years investigated by the Netherlands Court of Audit. Why is this? The Court’s investigation places the current reception problems in a multiyear perspective. 

Budget was too low in 21 of the past 23 years

figuur 8 opvang asielzoekers

Focus investigation

Reception capacity for asylum seekers was the subject of this focus investigation. Focus investigations are a means to share findings quickly. They culminate in concise, factual and clear reports with well-defined questions but without opinions and recommendations. A focus investigation is carried out in a considerably shorter period of time than an audit.

Why did we investigate reception capacity?

Reception capacity for asylum seekers is high on the political and public agenda, and not for the first time. Setting out the facts and figures can help parliament and government learn lessons from the past and so improve the organisation of reception capacity.

What questions did our investigation address?

The investigation focused on the inflow and outflow of asylum seekers in the Netherlands and the varying reception capacity and occupation. We investigated how reception capacity had been scaled up and down in recent years and what costs and other factors had been taken into account.

Do you have any feedback about this audit or investigation?

We welcome all feedback about our audits and investigations. What do you think about the report? Do you have any questions about our work or need further information? Mail us at We take all emails into account and treat them in confidence.