Criteria and restrictions to access reception conditions


Country Report: Criteria and restrictions to access reception conditions Last updated: 15/05/23


Nikola Kovačević

The CRM is mandated with providing material reception conditions to asylum seekers and persons granted asylum in Serbia.[1]

In the course of asylum procedure, asylum seekers are entitled to be accommodated in one of the 7 Asylum Centres or other designated facility established for that purpose.[2] These other facilities are other 12 Reception Centres. However, it is important to note that AC in Banja Koviljača and AC Bogovađa, as well as CRC Dimitrovgrad were not operational during 2022 (see Types of Accommodation).[3]

Persons issued with a registration certificate are expected to present themselves at the centre indicated via a central mechanism between the MoI and the CRM so as to be registered and lodge their asylum application. At the point of reception, the Commissariat shall confirm reception by indicating it in the registration certificate.[4]

Similarly, as in 2021, in 2022 the vast majority of foreigners accommodated in Asylum Centres and Reception Centres did not have any legal status. The reason for this is that the most of them are not genuinely interested in staying in Serbia and to apply for asylum and thus did not lodge an asylum application. However, genuine asylum seekers are very often accommodated in Reception Centres where they have to wait for up to several weeks before they are transferred to one of the Asylum Centres where they would be allowed to lodge an asylum application (see Registration). One of the ways asylum seekers were pushing for their transfer from RCs to ACs was lodging of written asylum applications with the help of Commissariat.

In the vast majority of reception centres there were persons who were not issued registration certificates, and who do not enjoy any other status in line with the Foreigners Act or other legislation. Thus, their stay is tolerated by the CRM. For instance, many people who are staying in the Western camps (Adaševci, Šid and Principovci) or Northern camps (Subotica, Sombor or Kikinda) are not registered, or their certificates have expired, but they are attempting to cross the border with Croatia, Hungary or Romania on a daily basis. Their legal status is unregulated, and for that reason, they can be subject to different arbitrary practices such as denial of access to the reception centre during the night or denial of access to food or even medical care. Additionally, there is a significant number of persons who are residing in the informal settlements in Belgrade and border areas with Croatia, Hungary and Romania. Many of them are UASC.[5] They sleep in tents or abandoned facilities deprived of the existential minimum and are frequently raided by the MoI and then transferred to reception centres in the south of Serbia.

In principle, every foreigner has the possibility to be accommodated in one of the reception facilities. Those who have clear aspirations to attempt to irregularly cross to Croatia, Hungary and Romania are usually allowed to reside in the Reception Centres close to the border with said countries. UASC are all placed in Šid Asylum Centre although may briefly stay in other centres, as detailed below.

If the asylum seeker possesses their own financial assets, they may stay outside the reception facilities at their own cost, and exclusively with prior consent of the Asylum Office, which shall be given after the asylum application has been lodged. The current legal framework does not contain any provision on the obligation of asylum seekers to disclose their resources to Serbian asylum authorities. Exceptionally, consent may also be given beforehand, if that is required for reasons of security of a foreigner whose intention to seek asylum has been registered.[6] Thus, in practice, the asylum seeker usually has to wait to lodge an asylum application and then submit the request to stay at a private address which will be included in their ID card as their place of residence. The living conditions in many Asylum and Reception centres are unsatisfactory. On 31 December 2022, 80 asylum seekers were residing in private accommodation, while 62 UASCs were accommodated in RC Šid, RC Preševo and AC Tutin.[7]




[1] Article 23 Asylum Act; Chapters II and III Migration Management Act.

[2] Article 51(1) Asylum Act.

[3] RC Dimitrovgrad was not operational during 2020.

[4] Article 35(12) Asylum Act.

[5] UNHCR Statistical Report for 10 January 2021 highlighted that 1,354 persons were spotted in informal settlements, but see also Klikaktiv, More People, More Police and Less Safety, available at:, p. 15.

[6] Article 50(8) Asylum Act.

[7] UNHCR Statistical Report for December 2022.

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