Duration of detention


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


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Duration of detention in CRA

A person can remain in administrative detention for a maximum of 90 days.[1] Prior to the 2018 reform, the maximum time limit was 45 days.

The initial decision of placement in administrative detention taken by the authorities is valid for 2 days. Beyond this period, a request before the JLD has to be lodged by the Prefect to prolong the administrative detention.[2] This judge can order an extension of the administrative detention for an extra 28 days after the initial placement. A second prolongation for 30 days is possible, followed by two further prolongations of 15 days granted under certain conditions, in particular if the persons deliberately obstruct their return by withholding their identity, the loss or destruction of travel documents,[3] or where despite the goodwill of the executing administration, the removal measure has not yet been finalised. Beyond this period of 90 days, any foreigner who has not been removed must be released.

In practice, the length of stay of asylum seekers who have claimed asylum while in CRA is difficult to assess. On average, third-country nationals remained 23 days in administrative detention centres of mainland France in 2022 (22 days in 2021).[4]

Overseas France: In Mayotte, where 60% of detentions detention in France take place, the duration of detention is very short (often less than 2 days[5]) due to the absence of suspensive effect of appeals against return decisions and ease of returns to the neighbouring island of Comoros, where most people come from.

Duration of detention in LRA

Detention in LRA can only be ordered for a maximum period of 48 hours, after which the person must be transferred to a CRA,[6] and the same duration of detention rules apply. This is respected in practice.[7]

Duration of detention in waiting zones

The placement in waiting zones is ordered for an initial period of 4 days.[8] It can then be extended by the JLD for a period of 8 days,[9] and in exceptional cases or where the person obstructs their departure, for 8 additional days.[10] This brings the maximum period of detention in waiting zones to 20 days in total.

If necessary, the Border Police makes full use of the possibility to prolong detention and hold people in waiting zones for 20 days, although the average period of detention is 5 to 6 days in waiting zones such as Roissy and Marseille.[11]

A final exceptional prolongation is applicable to asylum seekers. If a person held in a waiting zone makes an asylum application after the 14th day, the law foresees the possibility of a further extension of detention for 6 more days following the submission of the asylum application, with a view to allowing the authorities to conduct the asylum procedure.[12] The detention period can thereby extend to 26 days if the person applies for asylum on the 20th day of detention.






[1] Article L.742-5 Ceseda, as amended by Article 29 Law n. 2018-778 of 10 September 2018. Originally set at a maximum of 7 days, the length of administrative detention was extended to 32 days in 2003, to 45 days in 2011 and to 90 days in 2018. In exceptional situations, not known in practice, foreigners can be detained for 6 months when they are sentenced for terrorism.

[2] Article L.742-1 Ceseda.

[3] Article L.742-4 et L.742-5 Ceseda.

[4] ASSFAM-groupe SOS Solidarités, Forum réfugiés-Cosi, France terre d’asile, La Cimade, Centres et locaux de retention administrative, 2023, available in French at: https://bit.ly/43C9ZkG.

[5] Le Monde, ‘Dans le centre de rétention de Mayotte, « ce ne sont que des pauvres qui essayent de s’en sortir »’, 26 April 2023, available in French at : https://bit.ly/3TIKidv.

[6] Article R. 744-9 Ceseda.

[7] Practice-informed observations by Forum Réfugiés and partners, January 2024.

[8] Article L. 341-2 Ceseda.

[9] Article L. 342-1 Ceseda.

[10] Article L. 342-4 Ceseda.

[11] ECRE, Access to asylum and detention at France’s borders, June 2018, available at: https://bit.ly/3oamVxg, 8.

[12] Article L. 342-4 Ceseda.

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