Accommodation may be collective i.e. a centre, or in individual reception facilities i.e. a house, studio or flat, depending on the profile of the asylum seeker and the phase of the asylum procedure the asylum seeker is in (see section on Forms and Levels of Material Reception Conditions).
Fedasil was established in 2001 to manage the network of reception centres in an efficient and coordinated way and has fallen under the competence of the Secretary of State for Migration and Integration since the end of 2011. Fedasil is in charge of the management and coordination of the network, which includes collective and individual reception places, in addition to other responsibilities such as coordinating the voluntary return programs, the observation and orientation of unaccompanied children and the integration of reception facilities in the municipalities. To implement its coordinating and executing competencies, Fedasil regularly issues instructions on different aspects of material reception conditions in practice.
The practical organisation is done in partnership between government bodies, NGOs and private partners. Currently, the partners for collective reception are Croix Rouge, Rode Kruis, AGAJ, AJW, Caritas International, Mutualité Socialiste, Privé and Samu Social. The communal PCSW are important partners for individual reception.
Over the course of 2015 – 2022 the reception network has undergone several changes. The number of available places has been very dynamic in this period and is interlinked with the number of applications for international protection in Belgium. After the peak of applicants for international protection in 2015, the capacity peaked at 33.659 places. In 2018, after a steady decrease in the number of international protection applicants, the capacity was reduced to 21.343. This decrease in places was mainly reached by closing emergency shelter and individual reception facilities. When applications for international protection reached a first peak again in 2019, the reception network had to increase its capacity again in a very short timeframe. The capacity being too limited, the immigration office was forced to refuse the applications for international protection of asylum seekers and thus their access to the reception system (see Right to shelter and assignment to a centre). This situation also led to the introduction of new instructions by Fedasil limiting the reception conditions for several categories of asylum seekers (see Right to reception: Dublin procedure and Right to reception: Applicants with a protection status in another EU Member State).
Figure X, applications for international protection and number of reception places in Belgium (2010 – 2022), based on data from CGRA and Fedasil.
Due to the constant change in capacity, local governments were subsequently asked to open a reception facility, close it and re-open it later. They denounced this ‘yoyo-policy’ in November of 2019, indicating that they were no longer willing to open new reception facilities. They demanded a more structural, long-term policy for the reception network that is able to absorb the fluctuating numbers of applications for international protection. In November 2020 the Secretary of State for migration issued a Policy Note on asylum and migration, establishing as a priority the development of a stable but flexible reception system, in order to meet the demands of the local governments.
However, since September 2021, the reception network has been under enormous pressure, the occupancy rate being at 96% for months (the saturation capacity at 94%) (see Constraints to the right to shelter). Possibilities of opening new reception places were urgently examined by the Belgian government and Fedasil and several new reception centres – some structural, some emergency shelters opened in the course of the last months. However, these were insufficient to provide reception for all applicants needing shelter. Difficulties are encountered especially due to the remaining unwillingness of local administrations to accept opening centres on their territory.
In the period 2021 – 2023, the capacity of the reception network increased with 4,574 places. At the time of writing the reception network has a capacity of 34,020 places. For 2023 no big changes in capacity are expected, since some centres will close while other new centres will open. As a result, it is feared that the reception crisis will persist throughout the whole of 2023.
As of March 2023, the 109 main collective reception centres were mainly managed and organised by Fedasil, Croix Rouge and Rode Kruis.
The PCSW and b NGO partners run the individual reception initiatives. On 1 March 2023, the PCSW had 4 873 places in LRI, while NGO partners currently have 552 places.
The entire reception system has a total of 34,020 places, out of which 95% were occupied on 1st of March 2023.
There are also specialised centres for specific categories of applicants (see Special Reception Needs).
 Article 16, 62 and 64 Reception Act.
 Article 56 Reception Act.
 Article 62 Reception Act.
 Information provided by Fedasil, January 2021.
 Fedasil, ‘Sluiting 7 centra uitgesteld’, 2 October 2018, available in Dutch at https://bit.ly/2RfAANv; Vluchtelingenwerk Vlaanderen, ‘Staatssecretaris zet limiet op asielaanvragen: vandaag al 60 mensen op straat’, 23 November 2018, https://bit.ly/2DAo7R7; can’t access this site. De Morgen, ’Opvangcentra zitten overvol door grotere instroom: tenten voor asielzoekers weer in beeld’, 16 November 2018, avaialble in Dutch at: https://bit.ly/2Wzhu91; Fedasil, ‘Druk op opvangnetwerk steeds hoger’, 8 November 2019, available in Dutch at: https://bit.ly/384yGry.
 The Brussels Time, Closed Hotel Mercure in Evere becomes reception center for asylum seekers, 9 December 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/3vRM81n; Bruzz, Gesloten Hotel Mercure in Evere wordt opvangplaats asielzoekers, 9 December 2021, https://bit.ly/3KuFUZh; Bruzz, Opvangcentrum voor 40 asielzoekers opent in Elsene, 24 December 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/3hU3JNW.
 De Standaard, Noodopvang in Glaaien kan morgen openen, 2 December 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/3vOIrcV; De Tijd, Mahdi krijgt voorlopig geen grip op opvangcrisis, 28 October 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/3Crx0Jn.