Place of detention


Country Report: Place of detention Last updated: 21/05/21


Portuguese Refugee Council Visit Website

As mentioned above, asylum seekers may be detained either in Temporary Installation Centres (CIT),[1] or in detention facilities at the border – 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: 2020
Detention centre Total capacity
Detention facility – Lisbon airport Up Until March 2020: 58

Since August 2020: 43

Detention facility – Porto airport 30
Detention facility – Faro airport 12
Total Up until March 2020: 100

Since August 2020: 85

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, the facility at Porto airport does not have a specific detention zone for asylum seekers who are, consequently, detained in the area where there are available places. SEF further informed that the facility at the Lisbon airport does not have dedicated places to asylum seekers since August 2020.[4]

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

With the exception of instances of temporary overcrowding at the Lisbon Airport’s detention facility, which at times entail the transfer of certain asylum seekers to airport detention facilities in Porto and Faro airports or to CIT – UHSA, where they will be with other migrants in detention following a removal decision, CPR is unaware of the detention of asylum seekers with other migrants, in police stations or in regular prisons for the purposes of the asylum procedure.

According to the available information, the construction of a new CIT in Almoçageme was halted by judicial order[5] and the construction of another CIT in Guarda is also planned.[6]

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”.[7]



[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 SEF, between 1 January 2020 and 4 April 2020, there were 30 places for asylum seekers in the facility.

[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, p 58.

[7] 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