The Chapter: Reception Conditions in Portugal contains sections on:
A. Access and forms of reception conditions
- Criteria and restrictions to access reception conditions
- Forms and levels of material reception conditions
- Reduction or withdrawal of reception conditions
- Freedom of movement
C. Employment and education
D. Health care
F. Information for asylum seekers and access to reception centres
Short overview of the reception system
The primary responsibility for the provision of material reception conditions lies with the Ministry of Home Affairs. However, the responsibility for reception lies with the Ministry of Employment, Solidarity, and Social Security for asylum seekers who pass the admissibility procedure and are in the regular procedure. The competent authorities can cooperate with other public entities and/or private non-profit organisations in the framework of a MoU to ensure the provision of such services.
The practical framework for the reception of asylum seekers in Portugal currently stems from bilateral MoUs, the resolution of the Council of Ministers no. 103/2020 of 23 November 2020, establishing a single system of reception and integration of applicants for and beneficiaries of international protection, and the internal regulations of the Single Operative Group (SOG) it created.
In practice, the following entities provide reception conditions to spontaneous applicants depending on the type and stage of the procedure and/or the profile of the applicant:
- The Institute for Social Security (ISS) offers material receptions conditions to asylum seekers in the regular procedure;
- Santa Casa da Misericórdia de Lisboa (SCML) assists asylum seekers who have submitted an appeal against a Dublin decision or a first instance decision (with the exception of a first instance decision in the regular procedure) as well as certain categories of asylum seekers in the regular procedure;
- The Portuguese Refugee Council (CPR) provides reception services to asylum seekers in the admissibility (including Dublin) and accelerated procedures on the national territory. As regards unaccompanied children, CPR also provides for material reception conditions in the regular procedure and at appeal stage in accordance with the relevant protective measures.
- The Immigration and Borders Service (SEF) retains responsibility for material reception conditions in border procedures and procedures in detention following a removal order.
Asylum seekers who lack resources are entitled to support from the moment they apply for asylum, and until a final decision is reached on their asylum application, without prejudice to the suspensive effect of appeals and the provision of material reception conditions beyond the final rejection in case of ongoing need for support on the basis of an individual assessment of the applicant’s social and financial circumstances.
In practice, the majority of spontaneous asylum applicants are systematically referred by SEF and benefit from the provision of material reception conditions by CPR in the framework of admissibility and accelerated procedures on the territory.
In the current reception system, adults, and families with children are mostly accommodated at CPR’s Refugee Reception Centre (CAR) or in private accommodation provided by CPR (apartments and rooms in the private market or hostels) during admissibility (including Dublin) and accelerated procedures on the territory. In the case of unaccompanied children, CPR’s Refugee Children Reception Centre (CACR) offers appropriate housing and reception conditions during the regular procedure and at appeal stage.
Asylum seekers supported by ISS are mostly provided with private housing (rented flats/houses and rooms) without prejudice to accommodation provided by relatives in Portugal and collective accommodation such as hotels or non-dedicated reception centres e.g., emergency shelters, nursing homes, etc. While the majority of applicants for international protection supported by SCML are accommodated in private housing, since 2020, SCML also resorts to hostels to accommodate asylum seekers in order to guarantee accommodation while other solution is not available.
CPR ensures accommodation until ISS or SCML take over and asylum seekers only leaveits facilities when alternative accommodation is secured.
 This includes admissibility procedures (including Dublin procedures); accelerated procedures, border procedures, subsequent applications and applications following a removal decision: Article 61(1) Asylum Act.
 Article 61(2) Asylum Act.
 Article 61(1) and (2) in fine Asylum Act.
 Notably MoUs between the Ministry of Home Affairs / SEF and CPR, between ISS and CPR, and between the ISS and Santa Casa da Misericórdia de Lisboa (SCML).
 Resolution of the Council of Ministers no. 103/2020 of 23 November 2020, available at: https://bit.ly/3oBLXQm.
 Article 61(1) Asylum Act.
 Articles 51(1) and 56(1) Asylum Act.
 Articles 51(1), 56(1) and 2(1)(ae) Asylum Act.
 Article 60(1) Asylum Act.
 Articles 60(1) in fine and 30(1) Asylum Act.
 Article 60(2) Asylum Act.