Short overview of the reception system


Country Report: Short overview of the reception system Last updated: 10/07/24


Asylkoordination Österreich Visit Website

An asylum seeker that has no other financial means has the right to receive Basic Care services after lodging an asylum claim. In practice, basic care services are provided following the first interview on travel routes. The responsibility to provide Basic Care services is split between the Federal system and the states and is regulated in an agreement between the two since 2004.[1]

During the admissibility procedure the federal state is in charge of providing Basic Care through its state agency the BBU GmbH. The agency is in charge of the three reception centres (EAST) where the first procedural steps such as medical checks and registration are conducted. Besides the EAST there are currently seventeen federal centres where asylum seekers are being accommodated. After admission to the procedure the responsibility to provide Basic Care shifts to the states. Asylum seekers should be taken over by the states from federal care facilities to a state quarter as soon as possible. State facilities are generally smaller units (former pensions, flats etc). The conclusion of the corresponding contracts with the facilities falls under the responsibility of the respective states. Applicants for international protection are accommodated as long as they fall under the Basic Welfare Service Agreement.

In practice, the transfers of asylum seekers from federal facilities to the facilities in the states have not functioned smoothly and the actors blame each other for these delays. As a result, asylum seekers stay in large and inadequate federal centres for longer time than needed. Nevertheless, following the start of the BBU GmbH as Basic Care provider during the admission period, the transfers to the state systems seems to have increased and the cooperation has improved.

As of September 2023, the average time of a person’s accommodation in federal basic care is 123 days (2022: 153 days), compared to 622 days in province basic care (2022: 528 days).[2]

Following the increase of applicants in 2021, the initial reception centres of the Federal Government have been overcrowded. Many facilities in the provinces have been closed throughout Austria in recent years, and it is therefore not possible to allocate asylum seekers quickly and adequately to the provincial facilities due to a lack of capacity. In 2021, this resulted in the re-opening of previously closed federal facilities and the opening of new facilities (e.g. Carinthia). The Covid 19 pandemic led to clusters in some federal facilities, and it was not possible to test sufficiently well for Covid 19 in all initial reception centres, which in turn led to delays in the allocation of asylum seekers to state care and to other federal care facilities. Provinces such as Tyrol, Lower Austria, Carinthia, Vienna, Salzburg or Styria reported a lack of communication in the allocation of federal to provincial care (i.e. little to no preparation time for new residents to move in, transports in the middle of the night, little information for people with special needs, etc.) In addition, there were problems with regard to the payment of clothing allowances, as in many cases the BBU in the initial reception centres had already exhausted the entitlement to clothing allowances per person per year.[3]

When there is a high number of applications for international protection, applicants are transferred to so called federal distribution centres after the admission phase is concluded – from which they will be transferred to provincial facilities, which are smaller facilities where they stay until the end of the procedure.

If a person receives a refugee status, they can stay up to four months in the reception centre before being forced to leave the accommodation, while there is no time limit applicable to persons holding a subsidiary protection. In some states such as Styria, rejected asylum seekers are told to leave the next day after receiving the negative decision. In other provinces such as Vienna the practice is different. The reason for these different practices is that some states consider that rejected asylum seekers who do not leave voluntarily no longer fall under the basic care regulation.

If persons do not opt for voluntary return, the BFA can order them to accept an accommodation place in so called return centres. These centres are located in the mountains of Tyrol, close to the Vienna Airport and in a remote village in Upper Austria. There, the rejected asylum seekers receive basic care services. If they refuse to be accommodated in these places, they are not entitled to basic care in other provinces and the risk of being apprehended in deportation centre is likely to increase.

In 2022, a reception crisis hit Austria. Due to a high number of applications and non-cooperation of the provinces who are supposed to take over asylum seekers upon completion of the admissibility procedure, the capacities in the federal reception centres reached their limits in the fall of 2022. The number of asylum seekers in basic care only increased moderately from 17,000 in January 2022 to 21,500 in December 2022 even though Austria registered more than 100,000 asylum applications in the same time, as many applicants travelled on to other countries after registration. Even though the number of applicants absconding from the procedure was very high, the BBU GmbH had to build up tents in order to prevent homelessness.[4]

The reception crisis was foreseeable as the backlog of persons admitted to the procedure but not being transferred to the basic care offered by the provinces has been increasing steadily since summer 2021:

Source: Presentation by BBU GmbH at Asylforum 2023, available in German at:

The black line represents the number of persons admitted to the procedure with accommodation in the federal reception centres (where they shouldn’t be). The orange spots represent the number of unaccompanied minors in the reception centres.

The reception crisis of fall 2022 is only partly due to the high number of asylum applications: the provinces have decreased their housing capacities massively in the last years due to smaller number of applications and lack of finances. A crisis plan was never elaborated.

The situation in the federal reception centres was very tense: As many applicants travelled on there was a high fluctuation rate which was a big challenge for the BBU GmbH that operates the federal centres. When the weather reached lows and snow fell a public outcry resulted in closing down the tents and moving persons to buildings in November.[5]

NGOs presented a plan with seven measures to be taken to resolve the reception crisis in fall 2022.[6]

Another reason for the accommodation crisis in 2022 is the underfunded care of refugees. The last valorisation in the context of regular care took place in 2022, from € 21,- to € 25,- which was only due to the fact that Ukrainians with displaced person status are target group of basic care system[7]. No further adjustment was decided, but this seems more than necessary in view of inflation and high inflation rates. However, the maximum cost rates for vulnerable groups, such as the care of unaccompanied minors, for refugees with increased care needs and the maximum cost rate for people with care needs were not increased. The latter has not been increased since the introduction of basic care in 2004.[8] In 2023, there was a conference of the regional refugee councils in September where it was decided to increase the maximum cost rates for vulnerable groups (as mentioned above):

  • Unaccompanied minors € 95,- to € 112,-/day
  • Unaccompanied minors in children and youth welfare facilities to € 130/day
  • Increased care from € 44,- to € 60,-/day
  • People with care needs: increased from € 2,480 to € 3,360/month

A further increase in the regular rate was rejected, as well as no increase in private benefits, as well as individual benefits. The Ministry of the Interior was asked to submit a corresponding draft incl. proposal for a supplementary agreement to the 15a agreement. In December 2023 there was another conference of the refugee state councils where unfortunately was no decision or resolution to increase the maximum cost rates for vulnerable groups, as there are differences of opinion between the Ministry of the Interior and the federal states.

Transparent real cost model

Due to the poor funding, committed NGOs have long been demanding/requested a real cost accounting system in which ALL costs incurred in the context of care are also paid. These costs vary depending on the location/province etc. and must also be considered on an organisation-specific basis. Base funding as basic funding plus a daily rate per day/per person for the caring organisation would also be a possible model. In principle, a daily rate model needs to be embedded in an annual valorisation. However, such changes require the political will and conviction to guarantee high-quality care for this vulnerable group of people seeking protection. This conviction now exists, at least between the Federal Ministry of the Interior and the City of Vienna: The transparent real cost model (transparentes Realkostenmodell) was presented at the State Refugee Council Conference in September and will be launched as a pilot between the City of Vienna and the Federal Ministry of the Interior. With the real cost model, the actual costs incurred in the accommodation will be billed, not a capped daily rate/flat rate as was previously the case. For vulnerable groups (increased care needs, unaccompanied minors and care places), retroactive billing will take place from 1 January 2023 and from 1 January 2024 as part of regular care.[9]

EUAA operations in Austria

In December 2022, the EUAA signed its first operational plan with Austria, to help enhance the capacity of the Austrian authorities to respond to emergency reception needs. The operational plan covered the period from 6 December 2022 until 30 September 2023 and was subsequently extended.[10] The plan was yet again amended in February 2024 due to limited availability of sufficient EUAA statutory staff posts in 2024, to reduce the implementation of the plan to June 2024 and adjust priorities and assistance in that context.[11]

Throughout 2023, the EUAA deployed 12 experts to Austria,[12] 9 of which were external experts and 3 staff members. They constituted 3 members of the roving team, 3 senior social workers, 2 intermediate reception child protection experts, 2 junior asylum information provision experts, 1 intermediate asylum information provision expert and 1 junior social worker.[13] As of 19 December 2023, a total of 5 EUAA experts were deployed in Austria, 3 of which were senior social workers and 2 members of the roving team.[14]

In 2023, the EUAA delivered 12 training sessions to a total of 80 experts and personnel of national authorities, relevant partners and EUAA contracted personnel.[15]

The two operations had different goals: While the first one focused on rapid response and capacity building, the second one focused on building up long term expertise. The main challenge observed in practice was the difficulty for the EUAA to find personnel. The preparation time took longer than expected, then the whole project time was shortened by EUAA due to financial reasons. Both operations were described as helpful for the Austrian staff.[16]

[1], 15a Vereinbarung Grundversorgung available in german.

[2] Ministry of Interior, Answer to parliamentary request 14066/AB, XXVII GP, 22 November 2023, available in German at:

[3] asylkoordination österreich, Nationwide NGO survey on basic services, Dec 21/Jan 22, unpublished.

[4] Wiener Zeitung, „Bund beginnt mit Aufbau von Zelten nahe Innsbruck“, 19 October 2022, available in German at:

[5], „Asylzelte in Villach wurden geräumt“, 23 November 2022, available in German at:

[6] Asylkoordination, „Offener Brief zur Unterbringungskrise“, 19 October 2022, available in German at:

[7] Ministry of Interior, Grundversorgung, available in German at:

[8] Asylkoordination österreich, Plattform Asyl Grundversorgung, available in German at:

[9] Ministry of Interior, available in German at:

[10] EUAA, Operational Plan 2022-2023 agreed by the European Union Agency for Asylum and Austria, December 2022, available at:

[11] EUAA, Operational Plan 2023-2024 agreed by the European Union Agency for Asylum and Austria – Amendment 2, February 2024, available at:

[12] EUAA personnel numbers do not include deployed interpreters by the EUAA in support of asylum and reception activities.

[13] Information provided by the EUAA, 26 February 2024.

[14] Information provided by the EUAA, 26 February 2024.

[15] Information provided by the EUAA, 26 February 2024.

[16] Report to asylkoordination österreich, May 2024.

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