Article 30(1) of the Asylum Act provides that if they lack financial means, “applicants for international protection will be provided a shelter and social services in order to ensure the satisfaction of their basic needs in dignified conditions”. The system has an integral character, which assists the applicant / beneficiary from the time of the submission of the application for asylum until the completion of the integration process.
Right to reception in different procedures
Material reception conditions under national legislation on asylum are the same for every asylum seeker, no matter the profile of the applicant nor the type of asylum procedure. According to the reception regulation, the reception system foresees an 18-month period of accommodation, assistance and financial support generally in the same province where the asylum claim was lodged (apart from a few exceptions). This can reach a maximum of 24 months for vulnerable cases following the exceptional authorisation by the competent authority (see Special Reception Needs).
For applicants under an outgoing Dublin procedure, reception conditions are provided until the actual transfer to another Member State. Reception is offered for no longer than one month after the notification of the inadmissibility decision, subject to a possible extension.
It must be highlighted that all the process and foreseen services are based on the applicant’s inclusion within official asylum reception places, which give access to all other services provided. This means that applicants who can afford or decide to provide themselves with independent accommodation are in practice cut off the system, and have no guaranteed access to financial support and assistance foreseen in reception centres.
According to the 2022 Regulation, people who arrive in Spain from the Moroccan border, who are obliged to be hosted within the Ceuta and Melilla’s Migrant Temporary Stay Centres (CETI) to be transferred to the Spanish peninsula are also entitled to reception conditions within such facilities. This provision represents a change of the previous situation as in practice persons applying for asylum in Ceuta and Melilla started benefitting the full services provided within the reception system only when transferred to mainland, but not during their stay in the CETI.
Shortcoming and delays in accessing the reception system have been reported during 2022.
In his 2022 Annual Report, the Spanish Ombudsman continued to highlight the inadequacy of the asylum reception system to assure the necessary places to all asylum seekers, also due to the delays in the appointments to express the will to apply for asylum and to the duration of the asylum procedure, which greatly exceed the duration legally foreseen.
Cases of asylum seekers living on the streets because of the saturation of the reception system and the delays in the formalization of the asylum applications have been reported in 2022 and at the beginning of 2023. In January 2023, the EU Commission started an infringement procedure against Spain for not having transposed completely and correctly the EU norms on reception conditions, giving to Spain a 2 months deadline to address the deficiencies of its system.
In a report published in February 2022, the organisation CEAR highlights the challenges experienced by the Spanish asylum reception system and proposes a set of suggestions on how to improve it.
A report published by the organisation Sira describes the serious inadequacy of reception facilities in Melilla and the Canary Islands in terms of guaranteeing basic rights, such as food, water, hygiene, etc, and how this negatively impact on the psychological well-being of migrants and refugees.
Asylum seekers returned to Spain under the Dublin Regulation continue to face difficulties in accessing reception since 2018. Following judgments of the TSJ of Madrid, the DGIAH issued instructions in January 2019 to ensure that asylum seekers returned under the Dublin Regulation are guaranteed access to reception (see Dublin: Situation of Dublin Returnees). The Reception Handbook was amended accordingly.
In August 2022 the Government announced the plan to open a Migrant Temporary Stay Centre (CETI) in Algeciras, which has been opposed by the city’s major, political parties, residents, etc. According to the NGO Asociación Pro Derechos Humanos de Andalucía (APDHA), the main objection from the city’s major is just due to the preoccupation that it would increase the presence of migrants in the city; notably, he did not oppose the Government’s plan to build an additional CIE in the city. The organisation Algeciras Acoge instead highlighted that it would be more useful to invest in infrastructures necessary for all the population. In a letter sent to the Municipality, the Vice-Director General of Emergencies and Migration Centres of the Minister of Inclusion, Social Security and Migration explained that the assistance to asylum seekers is an obligation for the Government, and that one of the objectives of the Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan is the expansion of the national network for the reception of migrants and asylum seekers. To that purpose, the Vice-Director General of Emergencies and Migration Centres asked the Municipality of Algeciras to look for another space to build such centre.
In January 2023, the Government announced the construction of a reception centre for asylum seekers in Vitoria (País Vasco), with a budget of 14.1 million Euros and a capacity of 350 places. The plan has encountered the opposition of the city major, as the decision appears to have been taken unilaterally by the central Government. By February 2023, however, an agreement was found.
The assessment of resources
The latest publicly available Reception Handbook from 2021 and the Reception Regulation specifies that the lack of sufficient resources is one of the requirements for receiving reception conditions. At any stage of the reception phase, asylum seekers have the obligation to declare the incomes they receive. Only actual incomes are verified, while savings are not, because it is expected that asylum seekers applying for reception conditions do not have sufficient economic resources to provide to their subsistence.
Three-phase approach to reception
The reception system is divided into three main phases, which the asylum seeker follows even if he or she obtains international protection in the meantime. The three phases are as follows:
- “Initial assessment and referral phase” (Fase de valoración inicial y derivación): the aim of this phase is to assess the person’s profile and their needs, at to refer them to a suitable facility in the minimum time possible. The stay in such facilities should last the time necessary for carrying out the needs’ assessment and the referral to another facility, and should not exceed 1 month. This phase does not count for the calculation of the duration of reception conditions;
- “Reception phase” (Fase de acogida): applicants are provided with accommodation within: (a) a Refugee Reception Centre (Centro de Acogida a Refugiados, CAR); (b) or NGO-run reception facilities located all over the Spanish territory; or (c) reception facilities under the humanitarian assistance system (acogida para la Atención Humanitaria de personas inmigrantes). More details are provided in Types of Accommodation. During these months of temporary reception, applicants receive basic cultural orientation, language and job training which aim to facilitate their integration within the Spanish society. The stay in such facilities should last until the end of the international protection’s or statelessness’ procedure (that according to the Asylum Law is 6 months). For vulnerable asylum seekers, such timeframe can be extended for another 6 months;
- “Autonomy phase” (Fase de autonomía): applicants move out of reception centres and receive financial support and coverage of basic expenses to start their autonomous life. Intensive language courses and access to employability programmes are offered at this stage. It is also possible to offer the person financial support for certain expenses (ayudas puntuales) such as health, education, training, birth. The duration of this phase is 6 months, that can be extended for another 6 in case of vulnerable applicants.
The total duration of reception phases cannot exceed 18 months, subject to a prolongation to 24 months for vulnerable persons.
In December 2022 the SEM issued a new instruction regarding the access to and stay in the asylum reception system establishing, for example, that applicants whose asylum claim has been denied can access the reception system if they have lodged a second asylum application or have challenged the denial with an administrative appeal.
Since the 2015 increase of available places for refugees’ reception, the Spanish government has reformed the system regarding financing for NGOs service providers for asylum seekers and refugees. On January 2023, the asylum reception system counted 20 organisations, which were granted direct funding for the reception of asylum seekers:
- Adoratrices Esclavas del Santísimo Sacramento y de la Caridad
- Asociación Columbares
- Asociación para la Promoción y Gestión de Servicios Sociales Generales y Especializados Progestión
- Asociación San Juan de Dios España (SJD)
- Comisión Española de Ayuda al Refugiado (CEAR)
- Coordinadora Estatal de Plataformas Sociales Salesianas (CEPSS)
- Cruz Roja Española
- Federación Andalucía Acoge
- Federación Red Acoge
- Fundación Apip-Acam
- Fundación CEPAIM Acción Integral con Migrantes
- Fundación La Merced Migraciones
- Movimiento por la Paz el Desarme y la Libertad (MPDL)
- Obra Social Santa Luisa de Marillac Hijas de la Caridad de San Vicente de Paul Provincia de Barcelona
- ONG Rescate Internacional
It has to be noted that such list can change often, as NGOs can enter or exit from the asylum reception system according to the funding available, to the decision taken by the Minister of Inclusion, Social Security and Migration, to the individual decision to be part of the system, etc. For the same reasons, the number of available places can vary accordingly. In addition, the MISSM does not offer public information neither the list of the NGOs involved, nor the number of places within the asylum reception system. In April 2022, such system counted around 10,000 places.
The new Reception Regulation has introduced a new mechanism for funding NGOs’ reception facilities, by establishing a concerted action between the SEM and NGOs for the duration of 4 years, both for the asylum reception system and for the humanitarian assistance. 
It should be noted that, in December 2020, EUAA launched a new operation plan aiming to support the Spanish authorities in developing and implementing a new model for the reception of asylum seekers. The Operating Plan follows a Joint Rapid Needs Assessment (JRNA) carried out by EUAA and the Spanish Ministry for Inclusion, Social Security and Migration, between mid-September and the end of October 2020. At the beginning of 2021, EUAA carried out a needs’ assessment on the Canary Islands with the aim of quickly start implementing effective reception support.
Following an additional mission conducted in May 2021, EUAA’s Executive Director acknowledged Spain’s commitment to reform its asylum reception system in line with EU standard. To support the country in achieving this objective, the EU Agency will provide support in reforming the reception system and in in improving the reception capacity in the Canary Islands, it will assist in activities such as information provision, and will work on capacity building directed at reception personnel. Further details on the EUAA’s operation in Spain are contained in the section on the Situation on the Canary Islands.
As mentioned in the section Access to procedure and registration, UNHCR also established a team dedicated to work on the Canary Islands, and focusing on the provision of support to the authorities in the early identification of the international protection needs of migrants arriving by boat and in fostering the access to the asylum procedure of those persons in need of international protection.
As previously stated, IOM also started its operations in the Canary Islands at the beginning of 2021, concretely in Tenerife, where the organisation manages a facility with 1,100 reception places (reduced to 1,054 due to the necessity to assure anti Covid19 measures). With a staff of 53 employers, IOM provides for humanitarian reception places and direct assistance to migrants reaching the archipelago. The work includes also legal counselling, including on international protection, as well as identification of vulnerabilities and follow-up of protection needs.IOM’s operations in the archipelago finalised in June 2022.
 El Diario, ‘El colapso del sistema deja en la calle a familias solicitantes de asilo con niños a pesar del frío’, 29 January 2023, available at: https://bit.ly/3LIk34z; Heraldo, ‘Unos 50 solicitantes de asilo reclaman acogida ante la falta de citas’, 17 February 2023, available at: https://bit.ly/3FHjKmT.
 DGIAH, Instrucción DGIAH 2018/12/19 por la que se modifica el manual de gestión del sistema de acogida para solicitantes y beneficiarios de protección internacional en lo relativo al reingreso en el sistema de acogida de personas devueltas a España en aplicacion del Reglamento Dublín, 20 December 2018, available in Spanish at: https://bit.ly/2GA9QGy.
 El Mundo, ‘El Gobierno plantea otro centro de inmigrantes para Algeciras’, 19 August 2022, available at: https://bit.ly/3AN9NCp; Canal Sur, ‘Rechazo unánime en Algeciras al nuevo CETI proyectado por el Gobierno’, 24 August 2022, available at: https://bit.ly/3KmmoPQ.
 La Vanguardia, ‘APDH critica que el alcalde de Algeciras rechace el CETI al suponer inmigrantes “por las calles” del municipio’, 20 August 2022, available at: https://bit.ly/3QYLzdj; La Voz del Sur, ‘Landaluce busca con informes técnicos el rechazo del pleno al CETI del Gobierno para Algeciras’, 21 August 2022, available at: https://bit.ly/3dNLPgY.
 Europa Sur, ‘Algeciras Acoge rechaza la apertura de un Centro de Estancia Temporal de Inmigrantes’, 19 August 2022, available at: https://bit.ly/3cfySMv; Algeciras al minuto, ‘Algeciras Acoge rechaza la construcción de un CETI’, 19 August 2022, available at: https://bit.ly/3dGFYtT.
 El Diario, ‘El Gobierno central construirá un centro de acogida internacional de refugiados en Vitoria que Urtaran dice que no se necesita’, 16 January 2023, available at: https://bit.ly/40pD13Z.
 DGPPIAH, Reception Handbook, June 2021, Boletín Oficial del Estado, ‘Real Decreto 220/2022, de 29 de marzo, por el que se aprueba el Reglamento por el que se regula el sistema de acogida en materia de protección internacional’, available in Spanish at: https://bit.ly/3QR8SHo.
 Article 11.7 of the Reception Regulation.
 Ministerio de Inclusión, Seguirdad Social y Migraciones, ‘Subvenciones de concesión directa en el área de protección internacional, aprobadas por el Real Decreto 590/2022, de 19 de julio’, 19 July 2022, available in Spanish at: https://bit.ly/3kz7ZqY.
 Information provided by Accem’s reception service on April 2022.
 Europa Press, ‘El Gobierno autoriza a CEAR, ACCEM y ACOGE, entre otras, a gestionar plazas de acogida a migrantes los próximos 4 años’, 31 October 2022, available at: https://bit.ly/3JsXaPS; Derecho.com, ‘Resolución de 8 de febrero de 2023, de la Dirección General de Atención Humanitaria e Inclusión Social de la Inmigración, por la que se modifica la de 14 de noviembre de 2022, por la que se establece la planificación de prestaciones, actuaciones y servicios que deben atenderse dentro del programa de atención humanitaria mediante acción concertada para los ejercicios 2023-2026’, 8 February 2023, available at: https://bit.ly/42tAW98.
 Information provided by the IOM on 4 March 2022.