Free legal aid

Sometimes you need a lawyer. For example if criminal proceedings have been instituted against you or if you have to appear before the court. If you are going to divorce, you also need a lawyer. A lawyer can also help you when you have a problem with your landlord or employer.

If your annual income is less than  USD 12,570, you can submit an application for free legal aid. In that case, the authorities will check to see if you are eligible for free legal aid.

How do you request it?

You have to submit your application to the  Rijksdienst Caribisch Nederland (RCN) [National Office for the Caribbean Netherlands ].

  • At the RCN reception desk, you say that you need a lawyer. You then give the staff member a brief explanation of the problem for which  you need a lawyer. This is then noted on the form and a copy is made of your sedula or passport.
  • You must also submit declaration from the tax authorities (Belastingdienst)  that shows your gross annual income. If you apply after 1 July, this will concern your gross annual income from the previous year. With an application submitted before 1 July, they will look at  your gross income from two years ago.   
  • When this form is completed and you have submitted all the requested information, your application will be processed. You will receive a copy of your application.
  • The  Legal Aid Board (Raad voor Rechtsbijstand) checks your personal information, looks to see if you do indeed have less than USD 12,570 annual income and whether or not your case requires a lawyer. After this examination, the Board determine whether or not you are entitled to free legal aid.
  • If this is the case, you will receive a card (decision), On the card  is noted that you are entitled to free legal aid. You give the card to your lawyer who then knows he/she will be paid by the government.
  • If the Legal Aid Board decides that you are not entitled to free legal aid, you will also receive a written decision.
  • In it is stated why you are not entitled to free legal aid. If you do not agree with this, you can lodge an objection. This objection can be submitted to the RCN. Please not that you are not entitled to free legal aid for lodging the objection.

Criminal law

If you have a criminal  law-related problem and you are arrested by the police or taken into police custody , you do not need to apply for a card. You then automatically  get a visit from a lawyer or are given the opportunity to phone a lawyer.    


Ring for an appointment or just drop in:

Adres: RCN-unit SZW
Centrum z/n
Kralendijk | Bonaire, Caribisch Nederland
Spreekuur: Monday and wednesday between 13.00 and 15.30 pm
Friday from 8:00 tot 11.30

+599 715 8333

Locatie: RCN kantoor Saba

+599 416 3934

Sint Eustatius
Locatie: RCN kantoor Sint Eustatius
Tel: +599 318 3370