Types of accommodation


Country Report: Types of accommodation Last updated: 10/07/24


Teresa Fachinger, Paula Hoffmeyer-Zlotnik and Marlene Stiller

In general, 3 types of accommodation for asylum seekers can be distinguished:

  • Initial reception centres, including particular types of centres such as arrival centres, special reception centres and AnkER-centres;
  • Collective accommodation centres;
  • Decentralised accommodation.

Emergency shelters were reintroduced in a greater scale in 2022, especially in bigger cities, following the rising numbers of protection seekers from Afghanistan and Ukraine (See also Annex on Temporary Protection). According to a survey from the University Heidelberg about the municipal accommodation of asylum seekers, approximately 45 % of German municipalities use emergency shelters.[1] In Berlin the former airport Tegel is used as emergency shelter and its capacities have been continuously expanded since its reintroduction. In July 2022 tents located in the former Terminal A and B had a capacity for 900 protection seekers which were extended to 1,900 in October 2022.[2] Whereas in the beginning the emergency shelters should only be provided until the end of 2022, the Berlin Senate decided that due to the arrivals from Ukraine a prolongation is required until 15 March 2023.[3] As all other reception centres in Berlin are completely full, the Senate has again prolonged the usage of the former airport until June 2024. After that, there could only be one last extension until December 2024 for the approx. 3000 people.[4] The facility at Tempelhof which was closed in 2019 reopened in December with a capacity for 840 people.[5] In Cologne, North Rhine Westfalia and Hamburg exhibition grounds are still used as emergency shelters.[6]

The reception of asylum seekers and thus its financing is in general the responsibility of the municipalities. The Federal Government has expanded its financial support for the reception of asylum seekers over the last years. However, the issue of funding remains highly controversial. The Federal states are constantly demanding more money, while the federal government believes it has already fulfilled its responsibilities.[7] In 2023, the Federal Government expected to support the municipalities with EUR 2,8 billion and plans a support of EUR 1,3 billion in 2024.[8]


Initial reception centres

Following the reform of June 2019, asylum seekers are generally obliged to stay in an initial reception centre for a period of up to 18 months after their application has been lodged (Aufnahmeeinrichtung).[9] An obligation to stay in these centres for a maximum of 24 months can be imposed by Federal States since July 2017 (see Freedom of movement).[10] Furthermore, asylum seekers from safe countries of origin are obliged to stay there for the whole duration of their procedures.

The Federal States are required to establish and maintain the initial reception centres.[11] Accordingly, there is at least one such centre in each of Germany’s 16 Federal States with most Federal States having several initial reception facilities.

Initial reception centres are assigned to a branch office of the BAMF, or combined with a branch office to constitute an arrival centre or AnkER centre. At the beginning of 2024, out of 58 branch offices listed on the BAMF website 17 were integrated in arrival centres in 12 different Federal States, and nine were part of AnkER centres in three Federal States.[12]

Arrival centres

Since 2016, several reception centres have either been opened as arrival centres (Ankunftszentren) or existing facilities have been transformed into arrival centres. In these centres, the BAMF and other relevant authorities are grouped together and apply fast-track processing. The concept of ‘arrival centres’ is not established in law, therefore technically the initial reception centres are still functioning as part of the arrival centres, together with a branch office of the BAMF and other relevant authorities. As of January 2024, the BAMF lists 17 arrival centres which are located across 12 Federal States (down from 22 in 2018):[13]

  • Berlin
  • Bremen
  • Hamburg
  • Baden-Württemberg: Heidelberg
  • North Rhine-Westphalia: Bielefeld, Bonn, Mönchengladbach, Unna
  • Saxony: Chemnitz, Leipzig
  • Lower Saxony: Braunschweig, Bramsche
  • Saxony-Anhalt: Halberstadt
  • Hessen: Gießen
  • Mecklenburg-Vorpommern: Schwerin
  • Thuringia: Suhl
  • Rhineland-Palatinate: Trier

AnkER centres

As of May 2021, a total of nine AnkER were established in Germany in Bavaria, Saxony and Saarland.[14]

Since August 2018, Bavaria has established and/or rebranded all facilities run by the seven districts of the Federal State as AnkER centres.[15] These included seven AnkER centres and a number of facilities attached thereto (Dependancen), the latter serving only for accommodation of asylum seekers to avoid overcrowding. All steps of the procedure are carried out in the main AnkER centres. The AnkER centre in Donauwörth was closed at the end of 2019 after regional politicians in the district of Swabia opted for a more decentralised approach to accommodate of asylum seekers.[16]

AnkER centres & Dependancen in Germany
Federal State AnkER centre Location of AnKER Dependancen[17]
Bavaria[18] Manching/Ingolstadt (Upper Bavaria) Ingolstadt: 3 locations

Munich: 2 locations




Deggendorf (Lower Bavaria)





Regensburg: Zeißstraße (Upper Palatinate) Regensburg Pionierkaserne


Bamberg (Upper Franconia)
Zirndorf (Middle Franconia) Nuremberg: 2 locations


Geldersheim/Niederwerrn (Lower Franconia)
Augsburg (Swabia) Augsburg: 3 locations


Neu Ulm

Saxony Dresden
Saarland Lebach
Total 9 21


Collective accommodation centres

Once the Obligation to Stay in Initial Reception Centres ends, asylum seekers should, ‘as a rule’, be accommodated in ‘collective accommodation’ centres (Gemeinschaftsunterkünfte, GU).[19] These accommodation centres are usually located within the same Federal State as the initial reception centre to which the asylum seeker was sent for the initial reception period. What exactly characterises shared accommodation is not defined. Some of these accommodation centres host 30, some several hundred people. Also, the quality of the facilities differs immensely. Some are simple but nicely designed new buildings with self-contained residential units, good traffic connection and a garden. Others are run-down buildings in which people without family ties have to share four- or five-bed rooms.[20]

According to the ‘geographical restriction’, asylum seekers are obliged to stay in the district to which they have been allocated for the whole duration of their procedure, including appeal proceedings (see Freedom of movement). The Federal States are entitled by law to organise the distribution and the accommodation of asylum seekers within their territories.[21] In most cases, states have referred responsibility for accommodation following the initial reception period to municipalities. The responsible authorities can decide at their discretion whether the management of the centres is carried out by the local governments themselves or whether this task is transferred to NGOs or to facility management companies.


Decentralised accommodation

Statistics on the year 2023 are not available. For the year 2022, the German Federal Statistical Office recorded the following numbers for accommodation of ‘recipients of benefits under the Asylum Seeker’s Benefits Act’. It has to be noted that this law applies not only to asylum seekers, but also to people with a ‘tolerated stay’ (Duldung) and even to certain groups of people who have been granted a temporary residence permit. Among these groups, there are many people who have been staying in Germany for several years and therefore are more likely to live in decentralised accommodation than asylum seekers whose application is still pending:

Recipients of asylum seekers benefits in the Federal States: 31 December 2022
Federal State Initial reception centres Collective accommodation Decentralised accommodation Total
Baden-Württemberg* 4,435 28,890 22,745 56,070
Bavaria 12,635 33,815 24,210 70,660
Berlin 2,160 4,245 29,950 36,355
Brandenburg 3,205 7,760 5,835 16,795
Bremen 185 2,895 2,789 5,860
Hamburg 2,955 7,795 2,605 13,355
Hesse 4,685 20,525 10,275 35,485
Mecklenburg-Vorpommern 995 4,945 1,955 7,895
Lower Saxony 5,150 11,690 29,560 46,405
North Rhine-Westphalia 21,060 45,760 40,130 106,950
Rhineland-Palatinate 5,835 1,990 9,110 16,935
Saarland 85 1,095 2,655 3,835
Saxony 4,225 10,785 12,530 27,540
Saxony -Anhalt 2,490 4,940 4,540 11,970
Schleswig-Holstein 3,500 1,895 10,170 15,565
Thuringia 670 4515 5445 10,625
Total 74,270 193,545 214,490 482,305

Source: Statistisches Bundesamt, Empfängerinnen und Empfänger nach Bundesländern: https://bit.ly/2UtNxZW. This includes both asylum seekers and people with tolerated stay (Duldung). *Due to a reporting problem and hacker attack, there is presumably an undercount.

Although Section 53 of the Asylum Act provides that asylum seekers ‘should, as a rule, be housed in collective accommodation’ following the initial reception period, the above figures show that policies vary considerably between the Federal States.[22] In some states such as Bavaria, Hamburg or Hesse, most asylum seekers are indeed living in this type of accommodation. In contrast, there are other Federal States, including Rhineland-Palatinate, Lower Saxony or Schleswig-Holstein, in which the majority of recipients of asylum seekers’ benefits are staying in so-called ‘decentralised accommodation’, so usually in apartments of their own.[23] The latter might also at least partially be the result of authorities generally being more restrictive when it comes to issuing (long-term) holders of a tolerated stay with residence permits, which would entitle them to regular social benefits.




[1] Mediendienst-Integration.de, Für 60 Prozent der Kommunen Aufnahme “noch machbar”, 02 November 2023, available in German at: https://bit.ly/42kJpM5.

[2] Berlin.de, Notunterkunft für Geflüchtete in Tegel geht an den Start, 29 July 2022, available in German at: https://bit.ly/3v4lLHb; Anna Klöpper, taz.de, Weniger als 200 Betten noch frei, 10 October 2022, available in German at: http://bit.ly/3HpMC47.

[3] Berlin.de, Verlängerung der Nutzung der Terminalgebäude A/B des ehemaligen Flughafen Tegel als Notunterkunft, 10 January 2023, available in German at: https://bit.ly/3S0t0sV.

[4] Tagesspiegel.de, Notunterkunft in Berlin-Tegel: Geflüchtete müssen bis Ende 2024 aus ehemaligen Flughafen raus, 11 July 2023, available in German at: https://bit.ly/49aKrMW.

[5] Zeit Online, Neue Unterkunft für 840 Geflüchtete soll Freitag öffnen, 19 December 2022, available in German at: http://bit.ly/3XPPP2h.

[6] NDR.de, Erste Flüchtlinge kommen in den Hamburger Messehallen unter, 16 October 2023 available in German at: https://bit.ly/3Uk2s79; WDR.de, NRW eröffnet Notunterkunft für Flüchtlinge in Kölner Messe, 17 November 2023, available in German at: https://bit.ly/3SDw7WP.

[7] Tagesschau.de, Mit nackten Zahlen gegen die Länder, 03 May 2023, available in German at: https://bit.ly/49wE6f9.

[8] Unterrichtung durch die Bundesregierung, Finanzplan des Bundes 2023 bis 2027, 18 August 2023, available in German at: https://bit.ly/3vN1PsD.

[9] Section 47(1) Asylum Act.

[10] Section 47(1b) Asylum Act.

[11] Section 44(1) Asylum Act.

[12] BAMF, Locations, available at: https://bit.ly/3dFTd8w. The branch offices also include ‘regional offices’ responsible for integration measures, and regional branch offices working exclusively on Dublin cases. Some branch offices also have several locations, which are not included in the count.

[13] BAMF, Locations, available at: https://bit.ly/2Z74Uko.

[14] Federal Government, Response to parliamentary question by The Left, 19/30711, 15 June 2021, available in German at: https://bit.ly/3veNm8t, 28.

[15] Süddeutsche Zeitung, Das sind die sieben neuen Ankerzentren in Bayern, 1 August 2018, available at https://bit.ly/2MeAYKy.

[16] Augsburger Allgemeine, Das Donauwörther Ankerzentrum wird definitiv aufgelöst, 13 May 2019, available at: https://bit.ly/4bex00i.

[17] Anker-Watch.de, ANKER-Zentren und Dependancen, available at: https://bit.ly/3ewPdbE.

[18] BAMF, Evaluation of AnkER Facilities and Functionally Equivalent Facilities, Research Report 37 of the BAMF Research Centre, 2021, available in English at: https://bit.ly/3FgxXnq, 64-65.

[19] Section 53 Asylum Act.

[20] Boris Kühn / Julian Schlicht, Mediendienst Integration, Kommunale Unterbringung von Geflüchteten – Probleme und Lösungsansätze, July 2023, available in German at: https://bit.ly/3SA0eiO.

[21] Section 10 Asylum Seekers’ Benefits Act.

[22] An analysis of these figures cannot be conclusive since it is complicated by apparent inconsistencies in the statistics. For example, it is unlikely that at a given date more than 10,000 asylum seekers were staying in the initial reception centres of the Federal State of North Rhine-Westphalia. Apparently, other types of state-run accommodation were included in this figure as well.

[23] It is possible, though, that some Federal States subsume smaller types of collective accommodation under ‘decentralised’ housing as well. Furthermore, some states seem to have changed their preferences compared to previous years, as the comparison to the figures of 2018 indicates (see AIDA, Country Report Germany – Update on the year 2019, July 2020, available at: https://bit.ly/4105BsU, 88-89).

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