Freedom of movement


Country Report: Freedom of movement Last updated: 20/05/22


Italian legislation does not foresee a general limitation on the freedom of movement of asylum seekers. Nevertheless, the law specifies that the competent Prefect may limit the freedom of movement of asylum seekers, delimiting a specific place of residence or a geographic area where asylum seekers may circulate freely.[1] In practice, this provision has never been applied so far.

However, asylum seekers arrived from abroad and placed in quarantine facilities (in hotspots, first governmental centres, ships or other ad hoc facilities) are completely limited in their freedom of movement, especially when they are placed on ships.


Dispersal of asylum seekers

Asylum seekers can be placed in centres all over the territory, depending on the availability of places and based on criteria providing about 2.5 accommodated asylum seekers per thousand inhabitants in each region. The placement in a reception centre is not done through a formal decision and is therefore not appealable by the applicant.

At the end of 2021, the total number of asylum seekers and beneficiaries of international protection accommodated was 78,001 (including those in SAI) and their distribution across the regions was as follows:


Distribution of migrants accommodated in Italy per region: 15 December 2021
Region Number of migrants Percentage
Lombardy 9.948 12.6%
Emilia-Romagna 7,851 10%
Piedmont 7,205 9%
Lazio 6,813 8.6%
Sicily 6,417 8.1%
Campania 5,298 6.7%
Tuscany 5,090 6.4%
Apulia 4,520 5.7%
Veneto 4,232 5.3%
Calabria 4,214 5.3%
Liguria 3,306 4.2%
Friuli-Venezia Giulia 2,897 3.6%
Marche 2,512 3.2%
Abruzzo 1,798 2.2%
Basilicata 1,526 1.9%
Umbria 1,524 1.9%
Trentino Alto Adige 1,107 1.4%
Molise 1,062 1.3%
Sardinia 1,041 1.3%
Valle d’Aosta 60 0.07%

Source: Ministry of Interior, Cruscotto Statistico Giornaliero, available at:


Transfers between reception centres

After their initial allocation, asylum seekers may be moved from one centre to another, passing from: (1) CPSA / hotspots; to (2) governmental first reception centres, to (3) CAS or to (4) SAI system.

Asylum seekers are often moved from one CAS to another, in order to try to balance the asylum seekers’ presence in the centres across the regions and provinces. Prefectures decide these transfers, while the consideration for people’s choice to move varies from place to place. Transfers cannot be appealed.


Restrictions in accommodation in reception centres

The Reception Decree also clarifies that asylum applicants are free to exit from first reception centres during the daytime but they have the duty to re-enter during the night time. The applicant can ask the Prefecture for a temporary permit to leave the centre at different hours for relevant personal reasons or for those related to the asylum procedure.[2] The law does not provide such a limitation for people accommodated in CAS, but rules concerning the entry to /exit from the centre are laid down in the reception agreement signed between the body running the structure and the asylum seeker at the beginning of the accommodation period.

Applicants’ freedom of movement can be affected by the fact that it is not possible to leave the reception centre temporarily e.g. to visit relatives, without prior authorisation. Authorisation is usually granted with permission to leave for some days. In case a person leaves the centre without permission and does not return to the structure within a brief period of time (usually agreed with the management body), that person cannot be readmitted to the same structure and material reception conditions can be withdrawn (see Reduction or Withdrawal of Material Reception Conditions).

On 16 June 2017, the Prefecture of Naples adopted a new regulation to be applied in CAS. The regulation establishes a curfew at 22:00, or 21:00 in spring and summer. The regulation also foresees Withdrawal of Material Reception Conditions if the curfew is not observed. The regulation has been challenged by ASGI before the Council of State but the latter rejected the appeal considering that the regulation cannot imply an automatic withdrawal of the reception conditions since the administration is required to evaluate case-by-case the reasons of the absence.

However, in these situations the existence itself of measures regulating the access to the structure and the potential lack of legal advice prevent recipients from challenging revocations.

In 2020, the preventive isolation and quarantine measures, were sometimes extended beyond the days provided for in the circulars of the Government and of the Ministry of Health due to chain infections and contacts with new entrants who were not adequately screened in advance. As mentioned, in some cases the applicants who tested positive for COVID-19 were taken – even in the middle of the night – to the ships moored on the Sicilian coast to spend the quarantine there without prior information.

In some cases, all the guests were placed in quarantine in overcrowded centres, which led to a dizzying increase in infections in a short time. This was the case of Caserma Serena, Treviso, where in August 2020, there were 244 infected people out of 300 guests. In other cases, the mayors decreed a specific entry and exit ban for centres hosting asylum seekers due to infections affecting some of the guests. This was the case of the Caserma Cavarzerani, in Udine, where a measure of this type was taken at least on 21 July 2020 and 25 February 2021 and lasted for a few weeks.[3]




[1] Article 5(4) Reception Decree.

[2] Article 10(2) Reception Decree.

[3] See: La Gazzetta de Mezzogiorno, 6 March 2021, available at:

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