Types of accommodation


Country Report: Types of accommodation Last updated: 10/07/24


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While in 2017, 32 reception centres were in operation, the Ministry of Interior announced in 2019 that 7 out of the 20 remaining federal centres would be closed by the end of 2019.[1] In July 2019, only 11 federal centres were in use, with a total capacity of 2,203. Only 868 persons were accommodated in these centres as of July 2019.[2] At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic only 10 centres were operating. Reluctantly, the Ministry of Interior had to open two facilities in Villach and Vienna. Due to the reluctance of the provinces to take over persons already admitted to the procedure to the province basic care system, the BBU GmbH had to reopen all possible accommodations to meet the needs and the legal obligations concerning the Covid-19-pandemic. Thus, at the end of 2021, there were 24 federal facilities (2020: 13) accommodating a total of 4,239 (2020: 1,750) persons, while the maximum capacity reached 6,898.[3] At the end of 2022, 27 federal facilities with a maximum capacity of 8,000 were in use. During the reception crisis from October until December 2022, the BBU GmbH built up tents in 4 locations to house asylum seekers.[4] The crisis was a result of a lack of cooperation of the provinces that failed to take over asylum seekers after their admissibility procedure was completed. This led to a backlog of over 8,500 asylum seekers in federal accommodation facilities. The inadequate reception conditions in the tents caused a public uproar.[5]

Following the rising number of asylum applications in 2021, the BBU agency faced difficulties in dealing with Covid-19 related challenges (such as the need for more room due to distancing rules) the lack of capacity in reception centres. The state-run agency had to reopen facilities which were shut down in 2017/18 and additionally opened new facilities, including due to the significant increase in the number of unaccompanied minors who were mostly accommodated in the reception centre of Traiskirchen.[6]

With the exception of the total number of places in private accommodation, all figures above refer strictly to the federal centres (if not explicitly stated otherwise), as it is not possible to provide figures on the number of apartments and houses used at provincial level to accommodate asylum seekers. Asylum seekers are accommodated in facilities of different size and capacity. A quota system requires the federal provinces to provide places according to their population (see Dispersal across Federal provinces).[7]

Each of the 9 federal provinces has a department in the regional government responsible for administering Basic Care. These departments search suitable accommodation places, and conclude contracts with NGOs or landlords, owners of hotels or inns, to provide a certain number of places and Basic Care provisions. Regular meetings of the heads of the provincial departments and the Ministry of Interior take place to evaluate the functioning of the Basic Care system and the level of financial compensation for the federal provinces. According to the Basic Care agreement between the State and the federal provinces, the latter have to cover 40% of the expenditures, while the Federal Ministry has to pay 60% of the costs. This share of the Ministry of Interior could rise to 100% if an asylum application is not processed within due time. After 6 months, 100% of the accommodation costs of the provinces are covered by the Ministry.[8]

During the first year of activity of the BBU GmbH in 2021, the main challenge was to provide shelter as the agency was confronted to the sharp increase of applications and had to integrate staff from different companies and NGOs at operational level. Moreover, given that the reimbursement of the costs for accommodation in the provinces has not been adjusted for years and following the decrease of applications in 2019 and 2020, many NGO-led accommodation centres in the provinces had closed. As a result, many applicants already admitted to the asylum procedure had to be accommodated in federal reception centres pending a transfer. In 2021, the BBU GmbH reopened all available centres across the territory and reached its capacity limits at the end of the year. This is supposedly also one of the reasons why the Director of the BBU GmbH (“Geschäftsführer”), whose contract was prolonged in May 2021, resigned in October 2021. He withdrew his resignation in December 2021, but the reasons were not officially communicated.[9]

As of February 2022, the capacity of BBU GmbH for providing accommodation to applicants during the admissibility procedure is still at the limit due to massive problems in transfers (see Overview of reception conditions). Interestingly, the number of individuals receiving basic care has not increased significantly since 2019 while the number of applications rose significantly in 2021. This means that a great share of the persons applying for asylum moved onward to other countries, with the result of their asylum procedures being discontinued in Austria. Reports communicated to asylkoordination österreich indicate that applicants moved to other countries because Austria was not their final destination but also because of the difficult accommodation situation in overcrowded reception centres. After the admission phase of the asylum procedure is finished the responsibility to house asylum seekers during their asylum procedure shifts to the provinces. Throughout 2022, 17,286 asylum seekers were transferred from the EAST to the provinces.[10] There is not data for 2023 at the time of writing.


Federal reception capacity

Created based on the information provided in BBU GmbH, “Übersicht zu den Standorten in Österreich (Stand 03.04.2024”, available in German here.

The initial reception centre serves as centre for asylum seekers with an admissibility procedure likely to be rejected. The two initial reception centres in Traiskirchen and in Thalham are therefore reserved for asylum seekers in the admissibility procedure and for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children as long as they are not transferred to reception facilities of the federal provinces. As of February 2024, the maximum capacity in 22 federal facilities was 5,889.[11]

The number of asylum seekers in the initial reception centre of Traiskirchen  has also sharply decreased from 2,000 asylum seekers to about 600 at the end of 2023.[12] At the end of 2020, around 1,200 persons, among which around 1,000 were asylum seekers, were accommodated in Traiskirchen.[13]At the end of 2023, approximately 3,100 asylum seekers were accommodated in federal care facilities, in Traiskirchen there were 730.[14]

The law allows the Ministry of Interior to open reception facilities in federal provinces that do not fulfil the reception quota. Such centres may be opened even when the facility is not adapted to host asylum seekers, provided that certain special safeguards are ensured such as fire protection and related building regulations.[15] In 2018-2019, however, such centres were not needed. During the first lockdown in 2020, the provinces protested against the opening of federal Centres in Leoben (Styria). Due to the protests, the Ministry of Interior did not open any new centres in provinces during the first lockdown but reported challenges in accommodating asylum applicants, since COVID-19 prevention measures require lower occupancy and separate accommodation. The COVID-19 measures upheld in 2021 resulted in lower capacity due to distancing rules established in the centres. All newly arriving persons were tested twice and isolated until the test result was made available. As of 25 September, 118 asylum applicants tested positive for COVID-19. A positive test result implies that many parts of the entire facility cannot be used for the duration of the quarantine. The Ministry of Interior opened new reception facilities in Villach (Carinthia) in May 2020, as well as in Vienna.[16]

In case of larger numbers of arrivals and difficulties in transferring asylum seekers to reception facilities in the federal provinces, the Federal State may host asylum seekers even after their asylum application is admitted to the regular asylum procedure for a maximum period of 14 days.

In 2022, federal reception capacity reached its limit. Due to the lack of cooperation of the provinces to take over asylum seekers after admission phase, a huge backlog of persons already admitted to the procedure had to stay in the federal reception centres (see also Overview of reception conditions).

In June 2022, the Ministry of Interior and BBU GmbH asked the provinces to live up to their obligations to take over asylum seekers as agreed in the Basic Care agreement and warned of a possible collapse of the federal reception centres in case of non-cooperation. This lack of accommodation in the provinces has many reasons. First, the basic care system is chronically underfinanced which consequently leads to the fact that costs can barely be covered for the accommodation providers. Second, while financial resources were raised for the provinces in June 2022, implementation in some provinces took almost another half year. During this time, the high cost of living due to high inflation rates already raised the real costs more than the raise of the financial resources would cover. Third, after the start of the Russian aggression around 50,000 Ukrainians had to be accommodated in the basic care system. However, most of the Ukrainians are accommodated in private housing. Moreover, in three provinces there were elections which led to a lack of cooperation in the takeover of asylum seekers due to public debate.

Data on asylum seekers accommodated in the basic care systems of the provinces show that there was almost no reaction in the sense of taking over more asylum seekers after June 2022. In 2023, the provinces of Tyrol, Vorarlberg and partly Upper Austria stepped up to fulfil their obligations regarding the quota of accompanied asylum seekers and other foreigners in basic care. The province of Burgenland fell short of fulfilling the quota after the Head of the province, Hans-Peter Doskozil, announced that Burgenland would not take more than approx.. 300 asylum seekers in province basic care in 2024.[17]

The brown line represents accommodation of asylum seekers in the federal reception centres (January 2023: 7,000 to April 2024:1,600). The other lines represent the development of the accommodation figures of asylum seekers accommodated in the provinces.

In 2023, there were almost 60,000 asylum applications of which half of the applicants continued to travel on to other countries and their procedures were discontinued. In the same time, the provinces Tirol, Vorarlberg and Upper Austria increased their accommodation places in the basic care system by a couple hundred places maximum per province while the other provinces have not reacted or even reduced accommodation capacity.. This has not led to another collapse of the federal reception centres like in October 2022, when the CEO of the BBU GmbH announced that asylum seekers would have to be accommodated in tents on the grounds of the federal reception centres, due to the high number of onward travel.[18]

Reception capacity at provincial level

In practice, most federal provinces do not provide the number of places required under their quota, which is partly due to the fact that provinces such as Vienna exceed their quota (almost double of the quota agreed). At the end of 2023, the entire Austrian reception system hosted a total of 78,830[19] (2022[20]: 92,984; 2021: 30,075) persons (including beneficiaries of temporary protection, international protection and rejected asylum applicants), out of which 20,572 (2022: 21,661, 2021: 17,138) were asylum applicants in 2023. Information on distribution across the federal provinces is provided in the section on Freedom of Movement. While Vienna continues to exceed its relative reception share, other federal provinces only reached 50-60% of the quota agreed. Due to the high number of Ukrainians entering Austria after 24 February 2022, the basic care system in the provinces had to accommodate a large number of refugees in a dysfunctional basic care system. Around 78% of the Ukrainian refugees were accommodated privately at the start. This share has gone down to 63%[21] at the end of 2023 Refugees from Ukraine are the responsibility of the basic care systems of the provinces due to the fact that there is no admission phase (for which the basic care system in the federal centres would be responsible). For further information, please see the annex on temporary protection.

NGOs or owners of hostels and inns, who run reception centres under the responsibility of the federal provinces, have contracts with the governmental department of the respective federal provinces. While in some federal provinces almost all asylum seekers are placed in reception centres (e.g. 90% of asylum seekers in Styria and 70% in Burgenland), private accommodation is more often used in others states such as Vienna, where 70% of applicants lived in private accommodation.[22]

Federal state Private accommodation Basic care facility
Vienna 25,956 5,736
Burgenland 414 1,986
Lower Austria 6,125 5,570
Upper Austria 2,656 5,803
Styria 2,637 7,025
Carinthia 952 1,941
Tyrol 1,374 3,831
Salzburg 566 2,489
Vorarlberg 702 2,575

Source: Basic care information system 9 January 2024, unpublished.




[1] Der Standard, Jede dritte Asyl-Erstbetreuungsstelle soll geschlossen werden, 1 October 2018, available in German at: https://bit.ly/2S1ZrEI.

[2] Ministry of Interior, Answer to parliamentary request, 3837/AB, XXVI. GP, 16 August 2019, available in German at: https://bit.ly/2PH2WCd.

[3] Ministry of Interior, Answer to parliamentary request, 9123/AB, XXVII. GP, 14 March 2022, available in German at: https://bit.ly/3vqktTz.

[4] Ministry of Interior, Answer to parliamentary request, 12699/AB, XXVII. GP, 13 January 2023, available in German at: https://bit.ly/3YsYUOl.

[5] Kurier „Asyl: Zelte in Kärnten wegen Schneefalls geräumt“, 23 November 2022, available in German at: https://bit.ly/41NNXd7.

[6] Die Presse, “Wieder mehr Flüchtlinge in Europa”, 26 February 2020, available in German at: https://bit.ly/34FpAFV; Wiener Zeitung, “Der fast unbemerkte Crash im Asylwesen”, 18 October 2021, available in German at: https://bit.ly/3HJWFie.

[7] Article 1(4) GVV-Art.15a.

[8] Article 10, 11, GVV-Art. 15a.

[9] Standard, „Andreas Achrainer widerruft Kündigung als Leiter der Asylagentur“, 22 December 2021, available in German at: https://bit.ly/3rOo11k.

[10] OÖ Landesregierung, Beantwortung einer Anfrage an LR Hattmansdorfer, Beilage 13124/2023, XXIX. GP, 5. April 2023, available in German at: https://bit.ly/3LJOF5h.

[11] Ministry of Interior, Answer to parliamentary request, 17218, XXVII. GP, 5 April 2024 , available in German at:https://shorturl.at/kP8OA.

[12] NÖN.at, Flüchtlingsbewegung als Herkulesaufgabe, 20 November 2018; available in German at: https://bit.ly/2GvcayP.

[13] Ministry of Interior, Care information system, unpublished.

[14] Information from the ukraine refugee coordination unit, 19 January 2024, unpublished.

[15] Bundesverfassungsgesetz: Unterbringung und Aufteilung von hilfs- und schutzbedürftigen Fremden. BGBl 120, 28 September 2015, available at: http://bit.ly/1JdszhK.

[16] Fundamental Rights Agency, Migration: Key fundamental rights concerns – Quarterly bulletin 4, 2020, https://bit.ly/3cMWnZH.

[17] „Doskozil will Obergrenze bei Grundversorgung und 10.000 Asylanträge“, kurier.at, 01 February 2024, available in German at: https://shorturl.at/LpPUg.

[18] ORF.at, „Asyl: Bund stellt Zelte in Thalham auf“, 14 October 2022, available in German at: https://bit.ly/3Lq6FjG.

[19] Ministry of Interior, basic care information, unpublished.

[20] Ministry of Interior, Answer to parliamentary request 5038/AB, XXVII. GP, 17 March 2021, available in German at: https://bit.ly/42urJgX.

[21] Information ukraine refugee coordination unit 29 December 23, unpublished.

[22] Information provided by the federal provinces.

Table of contents

  • Statistics
  • Overview of the legal framework
  • Overview of the of the main changes since the previous report update
  • Asylum Procedure
  • Reception Conditions
  • Detention of Asylum Seekers
  • Content of International Protection
  • ANNEX I – Transposition of the CEAS in national legislation