Short overview of the reception system


Country Report: Short overview of the reception system Last updated: 23/02/22


Bulgarian Helsinki Committee Visit Website
  • Access to reception: The national asylum agency SAR is the authority responsible for the reception of asylum seekers.[1] Their access to reception is guaranteed under the law, though not from the application’s submission, but from the moment of their registration as asylum applicants by the SAR.[2] The right to accommodation applies to asylum seekers subject to Dublin, accelerated and general procedures.[3] Asylum seekers who submitted a subsequent application, and which were admitted to the determination procedure, are excluded from access to reception centres, food, accommodation and social support unless they are considered to be vulnerable.[4]

  • Reception centres: SAR operates two types of collective reception facilities – transit centers and reception-and-registration centers.[5] Both types can be used for registration, accommodation, medical examination and implementation of asylum procedure. They can also both operate as open or closed type centers. Originally, the transit centers were designed to operate in border areas and to accommodate only the asylum seekers subject to the accelerated procedure, while the reception-and-registration centers had to accommodate those who have been admitted to a general procedure.[6] This difference was gradually erased with series of amendments from 2002 to 2015. Moreover, safe zones for unaccompanied children were recently opened, first in mid-2019, and then in early-2020.[7] They are located in the reception-and-registration centre (RRC) in Sofia at the Voenna Rampa and Ovcha Kupel shelters, where children were provided round-the-clock care and support tailored to their specific and individual needs. The safe-zones with total capacity to accommodate 288 unaccompanied children are operated by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) – Bulgaria and funded by the EC’s financial instruments. However, none of the other reception centers, including the biggest one in Harmanli, provides a safe zone for unaccompanied children and capacity is thus insufficient. This becomes particularly problematic in situations of significant increase of the number of newly arriving unaccompanied children. In such cases, children are accommodated in mixed dormitories without proper care, safety and security measures. Accommodation outside the reception centers in individual dwellings is permitted, but accessible only to asylum seekers who can financially afford to meet their rent/utilities costs and under the condition to have alleviated their right to receive any other material or social support during the procedure.[8]

In 2018 the UN Human Right Committee raised concerns relating the identified need to further improve conditions for persons seeking international protection by ensuring that reception centres provide basic services, protecting asylum seekers and migrants from attacks and abuse, and by ensuring adequate access to social, psychological, rehabilitation and health-care services and benefits in practice.[9] These concerns have not been addressed as of the end of 2021.


[1]  Article 47(2) in conjunction with Article 48(1)(11) LAR.

[2] Article 68(1)(1) LAR.

[3] Article 29(2) LAR.

[4]  Article 29(7) LAR.

[5] Article 47(2) LAR.

[6]  Law on Asylum and Refugee, as adopted St.G. №54 from 31 May 2002.

[7] IOM,Official opening of the first Safety Zone for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children in Bulgaria’, 29 May 2019, available at:

[8]   Article 29(9) LAR.

[9] Human Right Committee, Concluding observations on the fourth periodic report of Bulgaria, CCPR/C/BGR/CO/4, 15 November 2018, available at:

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