Criteria and restrictions to access reception conditions


Country Report: Criteria and restrictions to access reception conditions Last updated: 21/09/23

Maltese law does not distinguish between the various procedures to determine entitlement to reception conditions, nor does it establish any distinction in the content of such conditions linked to the kind of procedure. Relevant legislation simply refers to “applicants”, defined as a person who has made an application for international protection.[1] No reference is made to the duration of entitlement to reception conditions, the 6 months deadline being a policy implemented by AWAS.

Material reception conditions shall be available for applicants from the moment they make their application for international protection. According to the law, reception conditions are available for “applicants [who] do not have sufficient means to have a standard of living adequate for their health and to enable their subsistence”.[2] Applicants with sufficient resources or who have been working for a reasonable amount of time may be required to contribute to the cost of material reception conditions. However, no specific indication is provided as to the level of personal resources required, and it is unclear how this is determined, and by whom. It is also unclear as to whether an assessment of the risk of destitution is actually carried out. Asylum seekers are not formally required to declare any resources, keeping in mind that the vast majority of applicants in Malta arrive irregularly by boat and do not have any resources.

Applicants arriving regularly, or who were already present in Malta are entitled to reception conditions in the same manner as those coming irregularly by boat, they rarely request a space in an open centre but can always access this service in the event where they would not be able to maintain themselves in the community.

The Reception Regulations provide that asylum seekers who feel aggrieved by a decision relating to the Regulations may be granted leave to appeal before the Immigration Appeals Board, established by the Immigration Act[3]. However, no such cases were filed the Board presumably due to the lack of information about this remedy and the short deadline (3 days) to appeal. In practice, issues are settled between NGOs and AWAS through informal requests.

Whilst the Reception Regulations apply to all asylum seekers, in practice, reception conditions may not be offered to asylum seekers who might have benefitted from them earlier and subsequently departed from the open centre system. This would apply, then, to persons who have submitted subsequent applications. As a matter of policy, persons departing from the open centre system are not generally authorised to re-enter it, consequently leading to a lack of provision of reception modalities. However, AWAS has indicated that some individuals may be authorised to return to reception centres, although this is rarely the case. Usually, those persons are asked to come to AWAS’ office to apply for accommodation. An assessment is then made by a social worker who first tries to refer the person to the mainstream services. No formal criteria exist to decide on why certain persons can be reintegrated in reception centres, but AWAS indicated that vulnerability is taken into account as a priority.[4]

To complement state-provided reception, the civil society organisation MOAS piloted an initiative where families in Malta can host asylum applicants in their homes.[5]




[1] Regulation 2 of the Reception Regulations, Subsidiary Legislation 420.06 of the Laws of Malta.

[2]  Regulation 11(4) of the Reception Regulations, Subsidiary Legislation 420.06 of the Laws of Malta.

[3] Regulation 16 of the Reception Regulations, Subsidiary Legislation 420.06 of the Laws of Malta.

[4] Information provided by AWAS, January 2019.

[5] EUAA, Annual Asylum Report (2022), available at: p. 164.

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