Short overview of the reception system


Country Report: Short overview of the reception system Last updated: 30/05/24


Vluchtelingenwerk Vlaanderen Visit Website

Short overview of the reception system

Fedasil – the Federal agency for the reception of asylum seekers – is responsible for the reception of applicants for international protection and certain other categories of people. Persons who are entitled to and in need of reception benefit from material assistance in the context of the reception network of Fedasil and its partners (i.e. accommodation, meals, clothing, medical, social and psychological assistance, a daily allowance – pocket money – and access to legal assistance and services such as interpreting and training). If the asylum seekers decide not to be accommodated by Fedasil, they are not entitled to these forms of material assistance, except for medical assistance.

Belgium has over 35,600 reception places in total.[1] The network comprises collective and individual reception structures. It consists of a ‘first phase’ where applicants for international protection are accommodated for the first days/weeks of their procedure. After this short period, applicants are transferred to a more definitive place in the second phase of the reception network that corresponds to their needs. At the time of writing, the first phase had 3,138 places in 14 different reception structures and the second phase 32,392 places.[2] Collective reception consists of reception centres managed by Fedasil, the Belgian Red Cross or other entities. Individual reception comprises housing managed by the Public Social Welfare Centre (‘local reception initiatives’ or LRI) or NGOs. The current reception model, the implementation of which started in 2016, generally assigns people to collective reception centres (86% of the places).[3] Only asylum seekers with specific vulnerabilities or reception needs are directly transferred to specialised NGO reception structures or individual structures.

The reception centres in the network of Fedasil are ‘open’, meaning the residents can come and go. Only in the context of the border procedure (see Border procedure) and for persons applying for asylum while staying in a closed detention centre, the asylum procedure will be conducted in the context of a closed detention centre. These closed centres are managed by the Immigration Office (see Detention of asylum seekers).

The right to reception ends once the procedure for international protection is completed. In the event of a positive decision, beneficiaries of international protection receive a residence permit and may start to look for their own accommodation. They are entitled to remain at the reception structure for an (extendable) additional two months to allow them to find suitable accommodation. They may request assistance from a Public Social Welfare Centre (PSWC). Following a negative decision, the applicant receives an order to leave the territory. Those whose negative decisions are confirmed by the CALL are invited to go to one of the four Fedasil centres with ‘open return places’, where possibilities for voluntary return are discussed. In case applicants refuse to cooperate with their voluntary return, the Immigration Office can initiate a procedure of forced return, including the transfer of the person concerned to a closed centre. Closed centres are managed by the Immigration office. (See End of the right to reception)

Since September 2021 and up until the time of writing, the reception network has been under a lot of pressure and is unable to accommodate all applicants for international protection. Families and children get priority, while single men are systematically refused access to a reception place (see 2021 – 2024: reception crisis). At the end of 2023, 2,921 persons were on the waiting list to get access to reception.




[1] Statistics frequently provided by Fedasil at: In March 2024, the reception network consisted of 35,643 places.

[2] Information provided by Fedasil, March 2024.

[3] Information provided by Fedasil in March 2024: 5,076 individual places on a total of 35,651 reception places.

Table of contents

  • Statistics
  • Overview of the legal framework
  • Overview 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