Duration of detention


Country Report: Duration of detention Last updated: 21/04/22


The maximum detention period that a person can stay in a CIE is 60 days, after which he or she must be released.[1] The maximum detention duration for an asylum seeker who has applied for asylum from the CIE is the 4-day admissibility phase. If he or she is admitted, he or she will continue their asylum claim outside detention.

Persons issued with detention orders upon arrival are detained in police stations for a maximum period of 72 hours. Where return has not been carried out within that time limit, they have been transferred to a CIE. In November 2020 the Spanish Ombudsman reported that migrants are detained for longer periods than the legal limit of 72 hours at the CATE of Barranco Seco on the Canary Islands, and that the conditions in the facility are inadequate.[2] Hundreds of persons are sleeping in canvas camp cots, in the middle of garbage and with limited access to drinkable water.[3] In its 2021 annual report, the Public Prosecutor office also informs that in 2020, various migrants were held at the CATE of Barranco Seco for more than 72 hours while waiting to be referred to a reception facility, or while in quarantine for being or having been in contact with a positive COVID-19 case.[4]

The maximum duration of persons’ de facto detention and their obligation to remain in border facilities is 8 days. When this time limit is not respected, the applicant is usually admitted to territory, and will continue his or her asylum claim through the regular procedure.




[1] Article 62(2) Aliens Act.

[2] La Provincia, ‘El Defensor del Pueblo denuncia que los migrantes superan “con creces” el límite legal de 72 horas en Barranco Seco’, 23 January 2021’, available in Spanish at: https://bit.ly/3aw2BgH.

[3] Canarias 7, ‘Barranco Seco, otro Arguineguín pero invisible’, 22 January 2021, available in Spanish at: https://bit.ly/37sYFLw.

[4] Fiscalía General del Estado, ‘Memoria del Ministerio Fiscal de 2021 – Ejercicio 2020’, September 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/3s2fY18.

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