Dutch nationals imprisoned in a foreign country

The conditions in foreign prisons vary by country and prison. In some countries, the situation is comparable with the Netherlands. In others, conditions are worse.

What to do if you are arrested in a foreign country

 If you are arrested in a foreign country, contact the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

How the embassy can help

The embassy or consulate acts as a go-between. They can:

  • provide general information about conditions in the prison
  • provide general information about the country’s court system (for specific information you should contact your lawyer)
  • draw the local authorities’ attention to a prisoner’s health issues (but only if it is necessary, and possible, to do so). The local authorities are responsible for providing prisoners with proper medical care.
  • ensure that Dutch prisoners receive the same treatment as other prisoners.
  • put the prisoner in touch with the Dutch Probation Service's International Office

What the embassy or consulate cannot do

The Dutch embassy or consulate cannot:

  • pay bail, fines or the costs of legal representation.
  • ensure that a Dutch prisoner receives better treatment than other prisoners.
  • intervene in legal proceedings or the issue of guilt or innocence in another country.
  • send parcels on behalf of friends or relatives.

In some cases, the embassy or consulate will be unable to assist prisoners with dual nationality in the country of their other nationality. This is because of the laws in the country concerned.

Transferring money to prisoners

Relatives or friends of prisoners can usually deposit money in the account of a foreign prison. If this is not possible, transfers can be made via the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The prisoner then receives the money from the Dutch embassy or consulate. There is a one-off charge of €50 for this service.

Not always possible to serve your sentence in the Netherlands

If you are arrested in a foreign country, the Dutch government cannot get you out of prison. You will be subject to the justice system of the country in which you have been arrested. This means that it might not be possible for you to serve your sentence in the Netherlands.