Place of detention


Country Report: Place of detention Last updated: 10/07/24


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Overseas France: In Mayotte, in April 2023, as part of an operation aimed at expelling illegal foreigners, destroying shanty towns and fighting crime, the authorities created several temporary detention facilities (LRA), which the courts considered illegal following appeals from several NGOs. [1]


Administrative detention centres (CRA)

Administrative detention centres (CRA) are controlled and managed by the border police. Under the law, these administrative detention centres are not part of the regular prison administration. Placement in an administrative detention centre results from an administrative decision (not a judicial decision). Despite being held together with other third-country nationals, asylum seekers are never held with common law prisoners.

By 2022, there were 25 CRA on French territory, including in overseas departments. For statistics on the occupancy of the CRA in mainland, see Annual Report on administrative detention.[2]

Some CRA have specific places for women and families, including Hendaye (6 out of 30 places), Lyon (12 out of 104 places), Mesnil-Amelot (40 out of 240), Rennes (10 out of 70 places), Rouen-Oissel (19 out of 72 places) and Guyane (12 out of 38 places).


Places of administrative detention (LRA)

There are 22 administrative detention places (LRA) in France.[3] According to the Ministry of Interior, about 2,426 foreigners have been detained in LRA in 2019, but a detailed breakdown of statistics per LRA is not available.[4] More recent statistics are not available.


Waiting zones at the border 

In the context of the Border Procedure, asylum seekers are held in a waiting zone while awaiting a decision on their application for an authorisation to enter the territory on asylum grounds.[5]

There is no public data on the exact number of waiting zones in France and their capacity. Recent information quoted by ECRE referred to asylum applications registered in 12 waiting zones in airports, located in:[6]

  • Paris Roissy CDG Airport
  • Paris Orly Airport
  • Paris Beauvais Airport
  • Marseille Airport
  • Lyon – Saint Exupéry Airport
  • Toulouse Blagnac Airport
  • Bâle-Mulhouse Airport
  • Bordeaux Airport
  • Nantes Airport
  • Nice Airport
  • Strasbourg Airport
  • La Réunion

Some other waiting zones are located in ports (Marseille, Dunkerque etc.) or in train stations with international lines (e.g. Modane, Paris-Gare du Nord), but here is no detailed list. In the annual meeting on waiting zones with NGOs and authorities in 2021, the figure of 98 waiting zones in 2020 has been mentioned.[7]

Waiting zones may include “hotel-type services” accommodation as is currently the waiting zone of ​​the Paris Roissy CDG Airport (in the ZAPI 3 – zone d’attente pour personnes en instance), which can receive up to 160 people. In other waiting zones, material accommodation conditions vary: third country nationals are sometimes held in a nearby hotel (like in Orly airport at night) or in rooms within police stations. Not all are equipped with hotel type services. In Marseille, the accommodation facility of the waiting zone is located in the premises of the CRA of Marseille, located near the city centre.

In these accommodation areas, there should be an area for lawyers to hold confidential meetings with the foreign nationals. In practice, those are only established in the Roissy CDG airport (ZAPI 3).

Finally, in Alpes-Maritimes, an informal “temporary detention zone” has been set up in the premises of the Menton Border Police in 2017 to detain newly arrived migrants from Italy for short periods before their removal from the country.






[1] Administrative court of Mayotte, Decision No 2302123, 29 April 2023.

[2] Forum Réfugiés et al., Rapport annuel sur la rétention administrative, available in French at:

[3] The total number of LRA is not stable and permanent as these detention facilities can be created upon a decision of the Prefet.

[4] Assemblée nationale, ‘Rapport sur le projet de loi de finances 2021’, 8 October 2020, available in French at:, 33.

[5] These are not formally designated as detention centres, but asylum seekers cannot leave these areas (except to return to their country) until an authorisation to let them enter the French territory or a decision to return them is taken.

[6] ECRE, Access to asylum and detention at France’s borders, June 2018, 16, available at:

[7] Operations of waiting zones, annual meeting with NGOs, 21 November 2021.

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