Short overview of the reception system


Country Report: Short overview of the reception system Last updated: 30/05/24


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 and coordinates the Directorate General of Migration (Dirección General de Migraciones), the Directorate General for the Humanitarian Assistance and Social Inclusion of Migrants (Dirección General de Atención Humanitaria e Inclusión Social de la Inmigración) and the Directorate General for the International Protection and Temporary Protection Reception System (Dirección General del Sistema de Acogida de Protección Internacional y Temporal).[1] The SEM is competent for developing the Governmental policy on foreigners, immigration and emigration. In addition, through the DGSAPIT, it develops and manages the comprehensive system for reception and integration of 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] During many years, and until 2022, detailed rules on the functioning of the Spanish reception system were provided through a non-binding handbook,[3] as the Regulation implementing the Asylum Act was pending from 2009. Finally, on March 2022, the Government adopted the Royal Decree 220/2022 of 29 March, approving the Regulation governing the international protection reception system.[4] The new Regulation entered into force on 31 March 2022. It provides that the 2021 Reception Handbook and its Annex (version 5.0) on the procedure on managing the international protection reception plan will be applicable in case certain rules are not developed and detailed by the same Regulation. The DGSAPTI, trough the General-Sub direction of Programs of International Protection, is working on a new version of the Reception Handbook (version 6.0) together with the NGOs participating in the asylum reception system. The new handbook is expected to be published and implemented in the course of 2024.[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 (accommodation, assistance and financial support) should last 18 months, which can reach a maximum of 24 for vulnerable cases, following the exceptional authorisation by the competent authority. The reception system is currently divided into three phases: 1) initial assessment and referral; 2) reception; 3) autonomy.

On 15 December 2022, the SEM adopted an instruction detailing the requirements for accessing and staying in the international protection reception system.[6] Among other issues, the instruction foresees that the phase of initial assessment and referral, despite being part of the reception system, does not count while calculating the 18-month (or 24-month) period of stay, and that just the other two phases are taken into consideration for the calculation of the duration.

In July 2023 the Disciplinary Regime of the asylum reception system entered into force.[7]

The State Secretary for Migration of the Ministry of Inclusion, Social Security and Migration directly manages four reception facilities for asylum seekers, which are collective centres. In addition, 20 NGOs run reception centres for asylum seekers, through funds granted by the State Secretary for Migration. Many of these facilities are apartments. It has to be noted that in 2022 there has also been a change for what concerns funding of reception facilities managed by NGOs, with the provision of direct funding to certain organisations.[8]

To address the situation at the external borders, the European Commission continued to provide support to frontline Member States by offering financial assistance and operational responses in coordination with EU agencies, international organisations and other relevant stakeholders. Assistance was provided on different matters (i.e. managing arrivals, setting up adequate reception, ensuring efficient asylum and return procedures, improving border management, protecting unaccompanied minors and other groups with vulnerabilities, etc.), and Spain was one of the EU countries targeted by such initiative. Support to Spain focused on the reform of the national reception system to increase its capacity in facing increases in arrivals. EU funding has also supported the reform of the Spanish Asylum Office, which included recruiting additional case officers. In addition, in August 2022 the European Commission awarded EUR 171 million for projects to support the reception, asylum and return systems in Cyprus, Spain, Greece, Italy and Poland, through a competitive call under the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF). Support for Spain would reinforce the capacity of the reception system in Ceuta and on the Canary Islands.[9]

As highlighted by the EUAA in its 2023 annual report, Spain allocated additional funds to improve reception conditions. Concretely, EUR 50 million were allocated for the improvement of reception conditions on the Canary Islands, focusing on the care of unaccompanied minors, education, healthcare and supporting countries of origin. In addition, EUR 10 million were allocated to reinforce the asylum and reception systems in Ceuta, financed 90% from EU funds. The arrival of displaced persons also prompted the activation of an extraordinary budget of EUR 1.2 billion to strengthen the Spanish reception system overall. [10]

Despite that, the European Commission considered that Spain failed to transpose the recast Reception Conditions Directive in a correct manner, and in January 2023 sent a letter of formal notice.[11]

Following a proposal made by the Minister of Inclusion, Social Security and Migration, in July 2023 the Council of Ministers approved the funding of EUR 1.5 million until 2026 to the Spanish Olympic Committee with the aim of promoting sports within the reception systems for migrants and refugees.[12]

In November the Spanish Ombudsperson suggested to the Government Delegation in Santa Cruz de Tenerife (Canary Islands) cancel a fine of EUR 14,529 that was addressed to the NGO ‘CEAR’ for allowing migrants accommodated in its facilities for the humanitarian assistance to enrol in the municipality register (empadronamiento) using the address of such centres.[13]

In February 2024, the Government reached an agreement with the Autonomous Community of the Basque Country to transfer to the latter the competence on the reception of migrants, asylum seekers and refugees, as well as their integration.[14]






[1] Ministerio de Inclusión, Seguridad Social y Migraciones, ‘Organización Administrativa – Secretaría de Estado de Migraciones’, available in Spanish at:

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

[3] The first version of the Reception Handbook was published in January 2016 and other four versions were published in the following years. Please refer to previous updates of this report for more information on this regard.

[4] 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:

[5] Information provided by Accem’s reception service on March 2024.

[6] Migrar con Derechos, ‘Instrucción SEM de 15 de diciembre de 2022. Acceso y permanencia sistema acogida protección internacional’, 15 December 2022, available in Spanish at:

[7] Boletín Oficial del Estao, ‘Ministerio de Inclusión, Seguridad Social y Migraciones – Orden ISM/922/2023, de 6 de julio, por la que se desarrolla el régimen disciplinario del sistema de acogida en materia de protección internacional’, 3 August 2023, available in Spanish at:

[8] 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:; Ministerio de Inclusión, Seguirdad Social y Migraciones, ‘Real Decreto 1059/2022, de 27 de diciembre, por el que se modifica el Real Decreto 590/2022, de 19 de julio, por el que se regula la concesión directa de subvenciones a determinadas entidades para la financiación del Sistema de Acogida de Protección Internacional’, 28 December 2022, available in Spanish at:

[9] EUAA, Asylum report 2023, July 2023, available in Spanish at:, 39-40.

[10] Ibidem, 185.

[11]  European Commission, ‘January Infringements package: key decision’, 26 January 2023, available at:

[12] Europa Press, ‘Aprobada una subvención al COE de 1,5 millones para favorecer el deporte en los centros de acogida’, 4 July 2023, available in Spanish at:

[13] EFE, ‘El Defensor pide retirar una multa a CEAR por empadronar a migrantes en centros de acogida’, 29 November 2023, available in Spanish at:

[14] El País, ‘El Gobierno cierra un acuerdo con el País Vasco para traspasar las políticas de integración de inmigrantes’, 28 February 2024, available at:; Público, ‘El Gobierno acuerda con Euskadi el traspaso del sistema de acogida de personas migrantes’, 28 February 2024, available at:; RTVE, ‘Euskadi asume las competencias de Cercanías, homologación de títulos extranjeros y acogida de refugiados’, 11 March 2024, available 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