Freedom of movement


Country Report: Freedom of movement Last updated: 30/11/20



Officially there is no restriction to the freedom of movement of asylum seekers: they can travel around Poland wherever they want. However, when an asylum seeker accommodated in a centre stays outside this centre for more than 2 days, the assistance will be withheld by law until the moment of their return.[1] To continue receiving assistance, asylum seekers should inform the employees of the centre if they want to leave for a longer period.[2]

The Office for Foreigners decides in which reception centre asylum seekers will be allocated. This decision cannot be formally challenged. Reasons of public interest and public order do not have any impact on the decision on an asylum seeker’s place of stay. In practice, nuclear families generally stay in the same centre. The decisions are made taking into consideration family ties (asylum seekers should be allocated in the same centre as their families), vulnerability (e.g. asylum seekers with special needs can be allocated only to the centres which are adapted to their needs), continuation of medical treatment (when it cannot be continued in other premises), safety of the asylum seeker and capacity of the centres.[3]

Under the law an asylum seeker staying in one centre can be required to move to another facility if this is justified for organisational reasons.[4] Polish authorities in practice interpret such rule as applying only to transfers from first-reception centres to an accommodation centre.[5] As a result, asylum seekers are expected to move only from a first reception centre to the other centres.[6] In practice it can take a few to several days (depending on how long the epidemiological filter procedure lasts and whether the interview is conducted in the first reception centre – as a rule it should be conducted there in the first asylum procedure).[7] Afterwards if they are allocated to one centre they are very rarely moved to another. If so, it happens only upon request of the asylum seeker. In the period of 2016-2018 there were no cases of moving an asylum seeker to another facility without their request. In 2019, one family was moved to another centre on the initiative of the Office for Foreigners in order to stop the conflicts with other foreigners and ensure the security in the centre. [8]

If an asylum seeker submits a request to live in another centre, it is mostly because of the location of the centre (e.g. it is far from their family and friends or medical facilities).[9] Most of the requests for a move to another centre are accepted. However, NGOs report that recently, due to the small numbers of asylum seekers in Poland, obtaining the assistance granted out of the centre became more difficult (see Forms and levels of material reception conditions).


[1] Article 77 Law on Protection.

[2] Information received from UNHCR Poland and the Office for Foreigners, 25 March 2014.

[3] Information provided by Office for Foreigners, 22 January 2020.

[4] Article 82(1)(6) Law on Protection.

[5] EMN, The Organisation of Reception Facilities for Asylum Seekers in different Member States. National Contribution of Poland, 2013, available at:, 19. 

[6] Commissioner for Human Rights, Realizacja prawa małoletnich cudzoziemców do edukacji. Raport RPO, 2013, available (in Polish) at:, 38. However, exceptionally, asylum seekers are allowed to stay in the first reception centre for longer periods of time, even for the whole asylum procedure.

[7] Information provided by the Office for Foreigners, 27 August 2015.

[8] Information from the Office for Foreigners, 22 and 27 January 2020.

[9]  Information provided by the Office for Foreigners, 22 January 2020.


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