Duration of detention


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


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In accordance with the Asylum Act, an asylum seeker, either at the airport or land border, “who does not meet the legal requirements for entering national territory” can be detained for up to 7 days for an admissibility procedure.[1] If SEF takes a positive admissibility decision or if no decision has been taken within 7 working days, the applicant is released. If the claim is deemed inadmissible or unfounded in an accelerated procedure, the asylum seeker can challenge the rejection before the administrative courts with suspensive effect and remains detained for up to 60 days during the appeal proceedings. However, after 60 days, even if no decision has yet been taken on the appeal, SEF must release the individual from detention and provide access to the territory. The maximum detention period of 60 days is equally applicable in instances where the application is made from detention at a CIT due to a removal procedure.[2]

In the 2019 report of the National Preventive Mechanism, the Ombudsperson reported that following consultations with other countries, it was concluded that Portugal was the only one detaining persons in airport detention facilities for more than 48 hours.[3]

Even though CPR is not aware of instances where the maximum detention duration was exceeded in the case of asylum seekers, in 2017 the Ombudsman raised concerns regarding isolated instances of detention of third-country nationals beyond the 60-day time limit with respect to CIT – UHSA; the legal status of such persons was not specified.[4] More recent information on this aspect is not available.




[1] Article 26 and 35-A(3)(a) Asylum Act. 

[2] Article 35-B(1) Asylum Act.

[3] Ombudsman, ‘Mecanismo Nacional de Prevenção, Relatório à Assembleia da República’, June 2020, p 52, available at: https://bit.ly/2Pz1ZiN

[4] Ombudsman, Tratamento dos cidadãos estrangeiros em situação irregular ou requerentes de asilo nos centros de instalação temporária ou espaços equiparados, September 2017, 23-24, available at:  https://bit.ly/3eLMNX6.

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