Freedom of movement


Country Report: Freedom of movement Last updated: 19/04/23


Hungarian Helsinki Committee Visit Website

There is no mechanism for the dispersal of asylum seekers across the territory of the country. Between March 2017 and 21 May 2020, asylum seekers were primarily held in the transit zones and those who had been exceptionally released from there were placed in open reception centres. At the end of 2020, there were only 6 asylum seekers residing in open facilities[1] (see Types of Accommodation). In the end of 2021, a total of 5 asylum seekers were accommodated in Balassagyarmat (Vámosszabadi was empty).[2]

The European Union Agency for Asylum (EUAA) reported that Hungary is among the EU Member States that resorted to allocation of asylum applicants according to the procedure they are in. Accordingly ‘[A]s a general rule, recognised persons and applicants are accommodated in the reception centre, and those under aliens’ proceedings are placed in the community shelter. If necessary, this allocation can be changed, and the profile of the applicant is also taken into account.’[3]

Asylum seekers who are not detained can move freely within the country but may only leave the reception centre where they are accommodated for less than 24 hours unless they notify the authorities in writing about their intention to leave the facility for more than that. In this case, the NDGAP upon the request issues the permission for the asylum seekers. HHC is not aware of any relevant complaints from 2021, nor in 2022.

Asylum seekers can normally leave the centres freely for 24 hours. In Vámosszabadi and, in case of important matters to manage e.g. personal document issues, in Győr asylum seekers have been transported occasionally on weekdays by a minibus driven by a social worker to the city in the past years. In 2021, with a larger amount of residents, buses were used on a daily basis.

The HHC is aware of an asylum-seeking family (father and son) who were placed in Vámosszabadi after the closure of the transit zones. After the NDGAP had rejected their asylum application in 2019 on the ‘safe transit country’ ground, the applicants requested that the asylum authority continue their asylum procedure in the spring of 2020 by virtue of the CJEU judgment issued in the case of LH (C-564/18). The NDGAP considered their application to be a ‘subsequent application’ and rejected it stating that they did not provide any new evidence, despite the fact that Serbia explicitly refused to readmit them. The Hungarian court quashed the decision, nevertheless the NDGAP still unlawfully considered them as subsequent applicants and applied the rules of the alien policing procedure regarding reception conditions. Even though they were granted accommodation, they were subject to strict freedom of movement rules (similarly to those being under an alien policing procedure), meaning that they could leave the centre only for 2 hours per day.

In case of a state of crisis due to mass migration, Section 48(1) of the Asylum Act regulating accommodation inter alia at a private address is not applicable, meaning that applicants did not have the right to apply for private accommodation since they were detained in the transit zones prior to 21 May 2020. Yet the former IAO applied the rules on alternatives to detention regarding the few asylum seekers whose request for private accommodation was thus ‘permitted’, disregarding the fact that the applicants were officially not in detention.[4] From 21 May 2020, as a consequence of the termination of the transit zones regime, all the asylum seekers detained in the transit zones were released and relocated either to Vámosszabadi or Balassagyarmat. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the relocated asylum seekers were obliged to stay in quarantine for 2 weeks upon their arrival. After the two weeks the same freedom of movement restrictions applied to the residents as to Hungarian citizens. Under the current rules set out in the Transitional Act, the special rules imposed on by a state of crisis due to mass migration are not applicable, i.e. there is no restriction with regard to private accommodation.

The only family arriving as a result of the ‘Embassy procedure‘ to Hungary on 1 December 2020 was placed in Vámosszabadi and was quarantined for 10 days. In April and September 2021, altogether 2 Iranian asylum seeker families (8 persons) arrived to Hungary via the Embassy Procedure. At first, they were quarantined in the transit zone and subsequently one family was placed in Vámosszabadi, whereas the other family was accommodated in Balassagyarmat. No one arrived via Embassy procedure in 2022.

As a consequence of the rescue operation by the Hungarian Defence Forces, Afghan nationals who had formerly provided assistance to Hungary were accommodated in Vámosszabadi and Balassagyarmat after having been quarantined in the transit zones. Before their arrival to Vámosszabadi, all asylum seekers residing in Vámosszabadi were transferred to Balassagyarmat in August 2021.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the general measures restricting freedom of movement (between 8 pm and 5 am, later ordered from 10 pm) introduced by the Government were also applicable to the residents of reception facilities. In addition, in case of relocation of asylum seekers between the reception centres a 10-day-long quarantine has to be observed.[5] Apart from those, no limitation on freedom of movement was imposed.




[1] Information provided by the NDGAP on 3 March 2021.

[2] Information provided by the NDGAP on 7 February 2022.

[3] EUAA, Overview of the organisation of reception systems in EU+ countries, Situational Update Issue No 8, 13 January 2022,, 14.

[4] See AIDA, Country Report Hungary – 2019 Update, February 2020, available at:

[5] Information provided by the NDGAP on 7 February 2022.

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