Types of accommodation


Country Report: Types of accommodation Last updated: 18/04/24


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Reception centres are managed by the SAR. As of the end of 2023, there were 4 reception centres in Bulgaria. The total capacity as of 31 December 2023 was as follows:

Reception centre Location Capacity Occupancy end 2021 Occupancy end 2022 Occupancy end 2023
Sofia Sofia 1,526 742 1,047 1,154
Ovcha Kupel shelter 560 220 615 568
Vrazhdebna shelter 300 168 184 307
Voenna Rampa shelter 650 343 236 270
Closed reception ward in Busmantsi 16 11 12 9
Banya Central Bulgaria 70 93 53 64
Pastrogor South-Eastern Bulgaria 320 261 134 108
Harmanli South-Eastern Bulgaria 1,676 1,381 1,178 1,410


  3,592 2,447 2,412 2,736

Source: SAR. Note that the occupancy rate includes asylum seekers accommodated in the closed reception ward within the premises of Busmantsi immigration detention centre – a closed type asylum facility under SAR jurisdiction.


For many years, SAR has been claiming that the maximum capacity of its reception centres was of 5,160 individuals.[1] However, in December 2022 the appointed earlier during that year new SAR management shared[2] that the actual reception capacity was up to 3,932 individuals maximum, since the remaining 1,228 places were located in premises unfit for living. In 2023, the national reception capacity continued to decrease to 3,592 places in all SAR reception centres[3] against the background of 22,518 asylum applicants in 2023 alone. This situation is mostly due to the fact that the SAR did not receive any of the funding requested for repairs or refurbishment[4] in its 2020, 2021, 2023 or 2024 annual budgets. Just BGN 120,000 including VAT were provided in 2022, and no additional funding was provided in 2023, while SAR estimated at the end of 2023 to be in need of at least BGN 10,953,746 in order to be able to conduct the most necessary refurbishment.[5] Temporary protection holders were not accommodated in SAR reception centres as due to the large number of arrivals their housing in the spring of 2022 was secured outside them under a Humanitarian Aid Program[6] adopted in March by the regular government (see Temporary Protection). Notwithstanding the increase by 10% compared to 2022, 85% compared to 2021, and 212% compared to 2020 of asylum seekers originating from other countries, mainly Syria and Afghanistan, further worsened the situation regarding reception capacity. Other contributing factors were that SAR’s 2023 budget for accommodation, food, medical and other key assistance remained the same as in 2022, the latter calculated based on a forecast of up to 10,000 individuals,[7] while the real number of newly arrived asylum seekers was twice the estimated figure.[8] The sole factor that prevented overcrowding in reception centres in 2023 again was the high absconding rate of Afghan applicants, which reached 68%,[9] while they represented the second largest country of origin after Syria. The main reason for the extremely high absconding rate is likely attributable to the ten-year period of low recognition rates (varying between 0.1% and 14%), which discouraged them from remaining in Bulgaria. This discriminatory approach however began to turn in 2022 (see Differential treatment of specific nationalities in the procedure), which motivated more Afghan applicants[10] to remain until their first instance decisions are issued. This, however, further aggravated the situation in terms of national reception capacity.

2,736 asylum seekers resided in reception centres as of the end of 2023, thereby marking an occupancy rate of 77%.

Wherever possible, there is a genuine effort to accommodate nuclear families together and in separate rooms. Single asylum seekers are accommodated together with others, although conditions vary considerably from one centre to another. Some of the shelters are used for accommodation predominantly of a certain nationality or nationalities. For example, Vrazhdebna shelter in Sofia accommodated predominantly Syrians and Iraqis, Voenna Rampa shelter in Sofia accommodates almost exclusively Afghan and Pakistani asylum seekers, while the other reception centres accommodate mixed nationalities, such as in Harmanli reception centre, Banya reception centre and Ovcha Kupel shelter in Sofia. In the end of 2023, following a fire in Vrazhdebna shelter and overpopulated Ovcha Kupel shelter, and vis-à-vis a still significant number of Afghan applicants absconding, SAR began[11] to accommodate applicants from Syria and other Arab countries in Voenna Rampa shelter, which as of the end of 2023 hosted asylum seekers from mixed ethnicities, thus creating higher risks of conflicts

Alternative accommodation outside the reception centres is allowed under the law, but only if it is paid by asylum seekers themselves and if they have consented to waive their right to social and material support.[12] They must submit a formal waiver from their right to accommodation and social assistance, as warranted by law, and declare to cover rent and other related costs at their own expenses.[13] Except for the few asylum seekers who are able to finance private accommodation on their own, another group of individuals living at external addresses is that of Dublin returnees, to whom the SAR applies the exclusion from social benefits, including accommodation, as a measure of sanction in accordance with the law (see Withdrawal of Reception Conditions).[14]




[1] 110th Coordination meeting held on 10 January 2022.

[2] 118th Coordination meeting held on 22 December 2022.

[3] 127th Coordination Meeting held on 28 December 2023.

[4] SAR reg.№ЦУ-РД05-123/27.02.2024.

[5] SAR reg.№ЦУ-РД05-123/27.02.2024.

[6] COM No.145 from 10 March 2022.

[7] SAR, reg. No.РД05-72 from 26 February 2023.

[8] 2021: 10,999 asylum seekers; 2022: 20,407 asylum seekers; 2023: 22,518 asylum seekers. 

[9] 6,205 terminated procedures out of all 9,156 Afghan applicants pending in 2023, of whom 5,906 applied in 2023 and 3,250 were pending from 2022.

[10] 94% absconding rate in 2022; 68% absconding rate in 2023.

[11] 127th Coordination Meeting, 28 December 2023.

[12] Article 29(9) LAR.

[13] Ibid.

[14] Article 29(4) LAR.

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 – Transposition of the CEAS in national legislation