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The Dutch prostitution model

Prostitution in The Netherlands is legal. Since 2000 also brothels have been legalized. Prostitution is only legal however if someone is 18 years or older, and in some cities 21 years or older. Exploitation or forced labor in prostitution is considered a crime under the human trafficking law. A person under the age of 18 working in prostitution is automatically considered a victim of human trafficking.

Prostitutes can register themselves at the Chambers of Commerce as a legal prostitution business, although it is also allowed to register themselves under other terms such as 'personal services' for example. Brothels must be registered at the Chambers of Commerce, and both brothels and prostitutes must pay taxes over their income.

Municipalities can use local laws to regulate and restrict prostitution as they see fit. In most cities prostitution is heavily regulated with a licensing system. Working without a license in prostitution in those cities is called 'illegal prostitution' and is not allowed. Not all cities however regulate prostitution. Prostitution in cities without regulations is called 'unlicensed prostitution', this is legal prostitution as well.

People can apply for a prostitution license at the municipality, and costs between one to several thousands of euros for the application alone. After the application the person applying for the license will be investigated with what is called a 'bibob' procedure, checking for any criminal records or ties, thus ensuring the municipality the person does not have any criminal intentions.

After the bibob procedure the municipality can grant or refuse the license at own free will. The license can be taken away by the municipality at any time if the local laws are not applied or if there are any criminal activities or ties.

Prostitution in most cities is only allowed in buildings permitting prostitution according to their urban planning. Cities limit the amount of buildings prostitution is allowed. Licenses are not given out when the prostitution is occurring in buildings where prostitution is not allowed.

The Dutch government is currently working on a law to regulate prostitution on a nation wide level, rather than a local level. This new law is called the WRP (Wet Regulering Prostitutie), which is translated as 'Law Regulating Prostitution'. The new law might obligate all prostitution to be licensed, and also might raise the minimum age from 18 to 21 years old. If prostitutes working from their homes will be obligated to work with a license is a point of discussion.

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