Short overview of the reception system


Country Report: Short overview of the reception system Last updated: 22/05/23


The coordination and management of the reception of asylum seekers falls under the responsibility of the State Secretary for Migration (Secretaría de Estado de Migraciones, SEM) of the Ministry of Inclusion, Social Security and Migration. The SEM also supervises the Directorate General of Migration (Dirección General de Migraciones) and the Directorate General of Social Inclusion and Humanitarian Assistance (Dirección General de Inclusión y Atención Humanitaria – DGIAH).[1] The SEM is competent for developing the Governmental policy on foreigners, immigration and emigration. In addition, through the DGIAH, it develops and manages the comprehensive system for reception and integration of migrants, asylum seekers, refugees, stateless person, persons with temporary protection, and beneficiaries of the subsidiary protection.

The Asylum Act provides that reception services shall be defined by way of Regulation.[2] However, detailed rules on the work within the Spanish reception system for asylum seekers are provided by a non-binding handbook, as the Regulation implementing the Asylum Act has been pending since 2009.

The first version of the Reception Handbook was published in January 2016. The 2018 version of the handbook (Version 3.3) has been in use since November 2018,[3] and was updated in early 2019.[4] It was updated again in June 2020, thus the version in use at the time of writing is the Version 4.1.[5]

In principle, applicants for international protection are granted reception conditions and thus referred to a shelter as soon as they apply for asylum. Nevertheless, there have been major shortcomings in the reception system in recent years, rendering the access to reception difficult in practice (e.g. waiting periods reaching up to 1 month) and resulting in homelessness in certain cases.

The duration of reception conditions is independent from the asylum procedure and the possible grant of international protection, as it foresees a 18-month period of accommodation, assistance and financial support, that can reach a maximum of 24 months for vulnerable cases.

The reception system is currently divided into three phases. However, a new Instruction was adopted in January 2021 by the SEM, establishing that persons can access the second phase (i.e. the last phase) only if they have been granted international protection, while the rest of asylum applicants will – as formulated in the instruction- “complete the full itinerary” in the previous phase. Depending on each phase, asylum seekers and beneficiaries of international protection receive different forms of reception conditions (i.e. assistance, accommodation, financial support, etc.), with the aim to increase the integration process.

Four reception facilities for asylum seekers are directly managed by the State Secretary for Migration of the Ministry of Inclusion, Social Security and Migration, which are collective centres. In addition, more than 20 NGOs run reception centres for asylum seekers, through funds granted by the State Secretary for Migration. Many of these facilities are apartments.


[1]  Article 21 Royal decree 139/2020 of 28 January; Royal Decree 497/2020 of 28 April 2020.

[2] Articles 30(2) and 31(1) Asylum Act.

[3] DGIAH, Sistema de acogida e integración para solicitantes y beneficiarios de protección internacional – Manual de gestión (“Reception Handbook”), Version 3.3, November 2018, available in Spanish at:

[4] 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 aplicación del Reglamento Dublín, 20 December 2018, available in Spanish at:

[5]  Ministerio de Inclusión, Seguridad Social y Migraciones, Sistema de Acogida de Protección Internacional. Manual de Gestión. Versión 4.1, 1 June 2020, available in Spanish at:

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