Place of detention


Country Report: Place of detention Last updated: 18/03/21


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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 criminals or prisoners.

By mid-2020, there were 25 CRA on French territory, including in overseas departments. Following table provides statistics on the occupancy of the CRA in mainland for the years 2017 to 2019, as statistics on the year 2020 were not available at the time of writing:

CRA Persons detained in 2017 Persons detained in 2018 Persons detained in 2019
Bordeaux 365 412 445
Coquelles 3,786 2,824 2,038
Hendaye Temporarily closed in 2017 358 355
Lille-Lesquin 2,728 1,952 1,771
Lyon-Saint Exupéry 1,395 1,498 1,450
Marseille 1,289 1,187 1,431
Mesnil-Amelot (2 facilities) 3,476 2,827 3,684
Metz-Queuleu 1,768 1,584 1,563
Nice 1,029 810 623
Nimes 925 1,190 1,323
Palaiseau 600 462 662
Paris-Palais de Justice 403 158. Closed on 22 April 2019 N/A
Paris-Vincennes (3 facilities) 3,648 4,504 5,575
Perpignan 883 750 571
Plaisir 416 362 509
Rennes 1,072 1,179 958
Rouen-Oissel 1,167 1,276 938
Sète 401 494 355
Strasbourg-Geispolsheim (temporarily closed in 2017) 528 559
Toulouse-Cornebarrieu 1,069 1,302 1,320
Guadeloupe 263 345 N/A
Guyane 1,486 1,857 N/A
Mayotte 17,934 16,496 N/A

Source: ASSFAM-groupe SOS Solidarités, Forum réfugiés-Cosi, France terre d’asile, La Cimade, 2019 Detention report, July 2020, available in French at:

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 (12 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 20 administrative detention places (LRA) in France, including overseas departments.[1] 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.[2]

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.[3]

There is no public data on the exact number of waiting zones in France and their capacity. According to the Ministry of Interior, quoted in a report by Anafé published in 2018, there were 67 waiting zones in 2015.[4] More recent information quoted by ECRE referred to asylum applications registered in 12 waiting zones in airports, located in:[5]

  • 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 list detailed list.

Waiting zones may include accommodation “hotel-type services” as is currently the case for 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, the 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) and can accommodate up to 160 persons. In the other waiting zones, the material conditions for accommodation can vary greatly: foreign nationals are sometimes accommodated in a nearby hotel (like in Orly at night time), or in rooms within police stations. They do not all have access to “hotel-type” services.

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.

9,450 persons were detained in a waiting zone in 2017, and 5,371 in the first 7 months of 2018.[6] More recent data was not available, however.


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

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

[6] National Assembly, Avis sur le projet de loi de finances 2019, 12 October 2018, 95.

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