Reception centres are managed by the SAR. As of the end of 2022, there were 4 reception centres in Bulgaria. The total capacity as of 31 December 2022 was as follows:
|Reception centre||Location||Capacity||Occupancy end 2020||Occupancy end 2021||Occupancy end 2022|
|Ovcha Kupel shelter||860||54||220||615|
|Voenna Rampa shelter||800||249||343||236|
|Closed reception ward in Busmantsi||30||6||11||12|
Source: SAR. Please, 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 the SAR’s jurisdiction.
For many years, SAR’s claimed that the maximum capacity of its reception centres was of 5,160 individuals. However, in December 2022 the new SAR management shared 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, considering also that in the end of 2021 SAR did not plan to destine funds for repair or refurbishment. Temporary protection holders were not accommodated in SAR reception centres as due to the large number of arrivals their housing was secured outside them under a Humanitarian Aid Program adopted in March by the regular government (see Temporary Protection). Notwithstanding the increase by 85% compared to 2021 of asylum seekers originating from other countries, mainly Syria and Afghanistan, further worsened the situation regarding reception capacity, also due to the fact that SAR’s 2022 budget for accommodation, food, medical and other key assistance was calculated based on a forecast of up to 10,000 individuals, while the real number of newly arrived asylum seekers during the year was twice the estimated figure. The sole factor that prevented overcrowding in reception centres in 2022 was the high absconding rate of Afghan applicants, which reached 95%, 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 almost ten-year period of low recognition rates (varying between 0.1% and 1%), 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 might motivate more Afghan applicants to remain until their first instance decisions are issued. This, however, could further aggravate the situation in terms of national reception capacity.
2,412 asylum seekers resided in reception centres as of the end of 2022, thereby marking an occupancy rate of 61%.
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.
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. 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. 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). As of 31 December 2022, 890 asylum seekers lived outside the reception centres under the conditions as described above.
 110th Coordination meeting held on 10 January 2022.
 118th Coordination meeting held on 22 December 2022.
 SAR, reg. No.РД05-72 from 26 February 2023.
 COM No.145 from 10 March 2022.
 SAR, reg. No.РД05-72 from 26 February 2023.
 2021: 10,999 asylum seekers; 2022: 20,407 asylum seekers.
 9,895 discontinued Afghan procedures out of all 10,414 Afghan applicants pending in 2022 (7,164 applicants in 2022 and 3,250 applicants pending from 2021 as of 31 December 2021)
 Article 29(9) LAR.
 Article 29(4) LAR.
 Ministry of Interior, Migration statistics, 28 December 2022.