Place of detention


Country Report: Place of detention Last updated: 26/05/22


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As mentioned above, asylum seekers may be detained either in Temporary Installation Centres (CIT),[1] or in detention facilities at the border (EECIT) – which are not CIT per se but have been qualified as such by law for the purposes of detention following an entry refusal at the border[2] (see Detention: General).

The 3 detention facilities at the border[3] are located in the international areas of Lisbon, Porto and Faro airports.

Detention capacity in border detention centres: 2021
Detention centre Total capacity
Detention facility – Lisbon airport 21[4]
Detention facility – Porto airport 30
Detention facility – Faro airport 12
Total 63 (however, only 21 were available at the end of the year)

Source: SEF. This refers to the total capacity of the detention centres and is thus not limited to asylum seekers specifically.


According to the information provided by SEF, neither EECIT Lisbon, nor EECIT Porto had dedicated places for applicants for international protection, and EECIT Faro had 6 such places.

Additionally, according to information previously provided by SEF, CIT-UHSA has an overall capacity for 30 persons.

CPR is unaware of the detention of asylum seekers in police stations or in regular prisons for the purposes of the asylum procedure.

According to the 2020 report of the National Preventive Mechanism, the construction of a new CIT in Almoçageme (CATA) was halted by judicial order[5] and the construction of another CIT in Guarda was planned.[6] According to the 2021 report, the construction of the CATA has been abandoned.[7] Further information on the construction of a CIT in Guarda is not available. In 2021, the Ministry of Home Affairs referred to the possibility of requalifying an area of the Caxias Prison to be used as a CIT.[8] This project was strongly criticised by civil society organisations,[9] and ended up being abandoned by the Government.[10]

The 2021 report of the National Preventive Mechanism also refers to the detention of a group of migrants in a Military Facility in 2021.[11] Within this context, the Ombudsperson has mentioned the need to create further facilities, namely in the south and centre areas of the country. As per the report, SEF has indicated to the National Preventive Mechanism that a new CIT will be built in Almancil.[12] Furthermore, the report mentions that the possibility of increasing the capacity of CIT-UHSA and creating a specific area for families and vulnerable persons was under analysis.[13]

According to the same source, SEF also signed a protocol providing for the creation of a hotspot in the port of Vila Real de Santo António.[14] This facility would be meant to provide immediate support to persons arriving by sea in the coast of Algarve with the support of the Portuguese Red Cross.

Despite the limited information available in this regard, in light of previous experiences with such facilities within the European Union and particularly given the low number of sea arrivals that has been experienced in the past, this does not seem to be an appropriate solution.

A project of €1,560,000 submitted by SEF to FAMI was approved in July 2020. The project aims to “reinforce the quality of temporary installation centres with adequate spaces, namely for families and vulnerable groups, and services of social, legal, linguistic, and health assistance”.[15]

SEF did not provide AIDA with any information regarding plans for new detention facilities that may be used to detain applicants for international protection.




[1] Article 35-A(2) and (3) Asylum Act. The legal framework of detention centres is enshrined in Act 34/94 of 14 September 1994, available in Portuguese at:

[2] Council of Ministers Resolution 76/97 and Decree-Law 85/2000 of 12 May 2000, available in Portuguese at: and

[3] While pre-removal facilities also exist in the airports of Ponta Delgada and Madeira, CPR is unaware of its use for detention of applicants for international protection.

[4] According to prior information, since 1 August 2020, the centre had a total capacity of 43 places. SEF confirmed that the capacity in 2021 was 21 places.

[5] Ombudsman, ‘Mecanismo Nacional de Prevenção, Relatório à Assembleia da República’, June 2020, p 50, available at: The National Preventive Mechanism conducted a preventive visit to the facility in 2019. The conditions observed are described in the report (p 56-58).

[6] Ibid, 58.

[7] Ombudsman, ‘Mecanismo Nacional de Prevenção, Relatório à Assembleia da República’, 24 June 2021, p.107, available at:

[8] See, for instance, TVI, Exclusivo TVI: centro do SEF vai ser na prisão de Caxias. Cabrita envolvido em nova polémica, 16 june 2021, available at:

[9] See, for instance, ONG’s exigem a revogação do protocolo de detenção administrativa de migrantes na prisão de Caxias, 21 june 2021, available at:

[10] See, for instance, TSF/Lusa, MAI suspende reconversão de ala da prisão de Caxias em centro para imigrantes, 8 July 2021, available at:

[11] Ombudsman, ‘Mecanismo Nacional de Prevenção, Relatório à Assembleia da República’, 24 June 2021, pp.99 et seq, available at:

[12] Ibid, pp. 106 et seq.

[13] Ibid.

[14] Ibid, pp. 106 et seq,

[15] Secretaria-Geral do Ministério da Administração Interna, Autoridade Responsável do FAMI – SGMAI aprova candidatura no âmbito do OE3 -REGRESSO – OE3.ON1–Medidas de Acompanhamento, 6 July 2020, available at: (Unofficial translation).

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