Types of accommodation


Country Report: Types of accommodation Last updated: 21/04/22


As mentioned in Criteria and Restrictions to Access Reception Conditions, the Spanish reception system is designed in three phases. Types of accommodation vary in the EYD phase and the “first phase”, while during the “second phase” persons are no longer accommodated in the reception system.

As already mentioned, shortcomings in the reception system are chronical and have been registered by various sources also during 2021. Among them, the Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) reported on the overcrowding of Spanish reception facilities.[1] The Forum for the Integration of Migrants called for an improvement of the reception system for Humanitarian Assistance Programme , as a response to the cases in which migrants arriving by boat were left homeless.[2] The 2021 Annual Report of the Spanish Ombudsman denounced different cases of migrants and asylum applicants left on streets during 2020, due to the reception system deficiencies.[3]

In 2019, the Spanish Ombudsman had already urged the competent authorities to provide reception options to homeless asylum seeker. It further recommended the creation of proper reception facilities and called for more flexibility in the current reception system.[4] In order to avoid major dysfunctions in the reception system, the acting Government introduced in 2019 an amendment that foresees the possibility to refer asylum seekers to reception facilities in the framework of the humanitarian assistance programmes.[5]

As a response to the issue of overcrowding, as mentioned, EASO started supporting Spain in the reform of its asylum reception system, including by increasing the number of reception places in the Canary Islands.[6] In addition, already in early 2020 the Ministry of Inclusion, Social Security and Migration started to negotiate with a private company (Sociedad de Gestión de Activos procedentes de la Restructuración Bancaria – Sareb) the possibility of using empty apartments for the reception of asylum seekers and undocumented migrants.[7]

Despite the increase in reception capacity, various asylum seekers were still left homeless in 2021.

In March, 41 alleged minors were sleeping on the streets in Tenerife, after refusing to be referred to the encampment ‘Las Canteras’, given that it is a facility for adults.[8] After the closure of the hostels in Madrid within the Campaña de Frío, around 400 vulnerable persons were left on streets, and referral to other facilities was slowly.[9] In March, the National Police started to investigate the death of one of the homelessness migrants in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.[10] In April, around 50 migrants were living on the streets in Santa Cruz de Tenerife after refusing staying at the encampment of ‘Las Raíces’ due to the conditions at the facility.[11] In May, around 100 migrants accommodated in a temporary reception facility at the bullring of Melilla were destitute and left on the street after its dismantlement, following the end of the State of Alarm declared during the COVID-19 pandemic.[12] Information on the risk of homelessness faced by unaccompanied migrant children when aging-out can be found in the section Legal representation of unaccompanied children.

Following the COVID-19 outbreak and the declaration of the State of Alarm in 2020, the DGIAH adopted a communication with a set of instructions on the management of the reception asylum system.[13] Many NGOs urged for guarantees to protect vulnerable persons, especially migrants, refugees, domestic workers, victims of domestic violence, sex workers, migrants living in informal settlements (i.e. in Huelva), and expressed concerns about reception and detention centres that are usually overcrowded (i.e. CETIs and CIEs).[14]

In a report published by Save the Children in September 2020, the organisation reported on the numerous challenges that asylum-seeking families faced in accessing the asylum reception system and often resulted in homelessness.[15]

Different organisations and anti-racist groups further denounced the use of violence by law enforcement authorities to enforce COVID-19 measures, as well as ethnic profiling to that end.[16]

Assessment and referral (EYD) phase

In 2018, the rise in asylum claims resulted in applicants having up to 4 months in some cases hosted in hotels instead of asylum accommodation. No information is available on 2021 apart from what has been mentioned under Access and forms of reception conditions.

First phase

Accommodation during the “first phase” of reception can take place in:

  • Refugee Reception Centres (Centros de acogida de refugiados, CAR) managed by DGIAH;
  • Reception facilities managed by NGOs, subcontracted by DGIAH.

The typologies of reception places vary depending on the institution or entity that manages the centre. The reception system relies on places within big reception centres and apartments, but some reception places are in urban neighbourhoods while other are located in rural areas. The different types of available accommodation also differ from the point of view of provided services and spaces.

The Ministry directly manages the Refugee Reception Centres (CAR), part of the first phase reception centres for asylum seekers. There is a total of 4 CAR on the Spanish territory:

Capacity of CAR in 2021
CAR Capacity
Alcobendas, Madrid 80
Vallecas, Madrid 96
Mislata, Valencia 120
Sevilla 120
Total 416

Source: DGIAH.

There are two Migrant Temporary Stay Centres (CETI) in the autonomous cities of Ceuta and Melilla. This type of centre hosts any migrant or asylum seeker that enters the Spanish territory undocumented, either by land or by sea and arrives in the Ceuta and Melilla enclaves.

Every third country national who enters irregularly the Spanish territory through the two cities is placed in one of the two centres before being moved to the peninsular territory as an asylum seeker or an economic migrant. The capacity of the CETI is 512 places in Ceuta and 782 in Melilla, including places in tents in the latter. Overcrowding in such facilities and the poor living conditions is a persisting problem in Spain, as explained in Arrivals in the enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla and below under Conditions in CETI.[17]

Moreover, reception places for asylum seekers are available inside the reception centres and private apartments managed by NGOs, funded by the Ministry. At the beginning of 2020, the reception system counted 10 organisations.

The process of assigning reception places takes into consideration the availability of places and the profile of the asylum seekers, giving special attention to vulnerable persons.




[1] Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA), ‘Migration: key fundamnetal rights concerns. Quareterly bulletin’, 25 February 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/3GxRWj6, 16.

[2] Foro para la Integración Social de los Inmigrantes, ‘Situación de las personas migrantes y refugiadas en España Informe anual 2020. Efectos del estado de alarma declarado en el marco de la pandemia de COVID-19’, November 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/3I9yB8r.

[3] Defensor del Pueblo, Informe anual 2020. Resumen de las actuaciones realizadas en 2020. Volumen I – Informe de gestión, May 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/3twks0o.

[4] Europapress, ‘El Defensor del Pueblo pide atender a los refugiados que piden asilo: “Si no hay instalaciones, habrá que crearlas’”, 27 November 2019, available at: https://cutt.ly/Fric0lK.

[5] Ministerio de Trabajo, Migraciones y Seguridad Social, ‘Real Decreto 450/2019, de 19 de julio, por el que se modifica el Real Decreto 441/2007, de 3 de abril, por el que se aprueban las normas reguladoras de la concesión directa de subvenciones a entidades y organizaciones que realizan actuaciones de atención humanitaria a personas inmigrantes’, 20 July 2019, available in Spanish at: https://cutt.ly/ct1ghYJ; El País, ‘El Gobierno cambia la legislación para acoger refugiados en centros de atención para inmigrantes’, 19 July 2020, available in Spanish at: https://cutt.ly/dtT2sIV; La Moncloa, ‘Referencia del Consejo de Ministros. 19 July 2020, available in Spanish at: https://cutt.ly/RtT2ciq.

[6] EASO, ‘EASO Executive Director welcomes Spain’s commitment to reform reception system’, 17 May 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/3rcxopU.

[7] El Diario, ‘El Gobierno negociará con la Sareb la cesión de pisos vacíos para acoger a solicitantes de asilo sin techo’, 27 February 2020, available in Spanish at: https://cutt.ly/fteg8m1.

[8] Efe, ‘41 personas duermen en la calle al negarse a ser trasladados al campamento de Las Canteras’, 17 March 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/3rlT56O.

[9] El Salto Diario, ‘Los albergues madrileños cierran antes de lo previsto “dejando en la calle a personas vulnerables”’, 31 March 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/3FwiLCS.

[10] El Diario, ‘La Policía Nacional investiga la muerte de un migrante en Las Palmas de Gran Canaria’, 2 March 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/3FHbUGX.

[11] Cadena Ser, ‘Migrantes viviendo en la calle y pidiendo auxilio al Ayuntamiento de Santa Cruz’, 5.4.21, available at: https://bit.ly/3nniRq7.

[12] Europa Press, ‘Unas cien personas en la calle tras el cierre de la Plaza de Toros de Melilla como centro de acogida temporal’, 11 May 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/3A0Yfcl.

[13] DGIAH, ‘Instruction DGIAH 2020/03/20 approving instructions for the management of the international protection reception system and the grants that finance it, in the framework of the public health emergency caused by COVID-19’, 19 March 2020, available in Spanish at: https://cutt.ly/vtUC8eQ.

[14] Servicio Jesuita a Migrantes – SJM, ‘Urgen el compromiso y la responsabilidad para proteger a las personas migrantes con mayor vulnerabilidad en el contexto de emergencia sanitaria’, 24 March 2020, available in Spanish at: https://cutt.ly/jtUB3wS; Accem, ‘Covid-19: La necesidad de proteger’, 13 March 2020, available in Spanish at: https://cutt.ly/ftUNqNO; APDHA – Asociación Pro derechos Humanos de Andalucía, ‘APDHA Huelva reclama medidas especiales para frenar el contagio en los asentamientos chabolistas’, 25 March 2020, available in Spanish at: https://cutt.ly/etUNxve.

[15] Save the Children, ‘La protección de la infancia migrante y refugiada en Europa. Resum ejecutivo y conclusiones sobre España’, September 2020, available in Spanish at: https://bit.ly/38IiijW.

[16] Público, ‘Aumentan los abusos policiales al calor del estado de alarma’ 1 April 2020, available in Spanish at: https://cutt.ly/RtUMqqH.

[17] Melillahoy, ‘El CETI acoge a 900 personas tras el traslado de 90 migrantes a Melilla’, 12 June 2018, available in Spanish at: https://bit.ly/2FybXu5; Europapress, ‘El CETI de Ceuta acoge a 878 extranjeros tras la salida de cien hacia la Península’, 30 August 2018, available in Spanish at: https://bit.ly/2FzOY1G.

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