Country Report: Dublin Last updated: 21/04/21


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The Dublin procedure was not suspended during COVID-19, with the exception of the two-weeks period in March 2020 when the Swedish Migration Agency suspended its activities. This means that the Migration Agency continued to issue and receive requests; as well as to receive and carry out transfers to countries which accepted Dublin returnees, albeit at lower levels due to travel restrictions and other applicable COVID-19 measure.



Dublin statistics: 2020

Accepted Dublin requests in 2020
Accepted outgoing requests Accepted incoming requests
Total 1,238 Total 3,977
Take charge 685 Take charge 407
Italy 143 Greece 232
Poland 112 France 49
Germany 75 Germany 34
France 57 Unkown 28
Spain 44 Belgium 13
Greece 41 Finland 9
Lithuhania 37 Italy 7
Netherlands 37 Netherlands 7
Latvia 34    
Czech Republic 25 Denmark 5
Finland 15 Switzerland 4
Switzerland 13 Spain 4
Austria 8 Cyprus 3
Portugal 8 Norway 3
Denmark 7 Great Britain 2
Croatia 6 Austria 2
Norway 5 Luxembourg 2
Belgium 4 Malta 1
Slovakia 3 Latvia 1
Estonia 3 Portugal 1
Romania 2    
Slovenia 2 Bulgaria 0
Bulgaria 2 Ireland 0
Cyprus 1 Iceland 0
Great Britain 1 Croatia 0
Ireland 0 Liechtenstein 0
Iceland 0 Poland 0
Luxembourg 0 Romania 0
Malta 0 Slovakia 0
Hungary 0 Slovenia 0
Take back 553 Take back 3,570
Germany 125 Germany 1,782
Italy 78 France 703
Denmark 73 Great Britain 275
Norway 51 Unknown 254
Finland 49 Denmark 119
France 38 Italy 95
Spain 28 Netherlands 70
Netherlands 27 Belgium 65
Austria 17 Norway 49
Switzerland 16 Ireland 35
Belgium 13 Switzerland 32
Romania 11 Finland 31
Poland 5 Austria 28
Slovenia 5 Iceland 10
Greece 3 Spain 9
Lithuania 3 Poland 4
Luxembourg 2 Luxembourg 3
Slovakia 2 Hungary 2
Great Britain 2 Greece 1
Bulgaria 1 Liechtenstein 1
Ireland 1 Portugal 1
Iceland 1 Czech Republic 1
Croatia 1 Bulgaria 0
Malta 1 Cyprus 0
Cyprus 0 Croatia 0
Latvia 0 Latvia 0
Liechtenstein 0 Malta 0
Portugal 0 Romania 0
Czech Republic 0 Slovakia 0
Hungary 0 Slovenia 0

Source: Information provided by the Migration Agency’s statistics unit. “Unknown” refers to cases where the officer has not taken an active decision in the Dublin track and is then lodged as “unknown”.

Outgoing Dublin requests by criterion: 2020
Dublin III Regulation criterion Requests sent Requests accepted
Total: 2,148[1] 1,238
“Take charge”: Articles 8-17 671 685
Article 8 (minors) 12 3
Article 9 (family members granted protection) 6 2
Article 10 (family members pending determination)
Article 11 (family procedure) 9 6
Article 12.1 (approved residence permits) 80 48
Article 12.2 (approved visa) 181 174
Article 12.4 (the applicant has a visa in another country, but unable to travel to that country) 376 302
Article 13.1 (entered country without permit) 367 52
Article 13.2 (remained in country without permit for at least 5 months) 2 0
Article 14 (visa free entry) 1 0
“Take charge”: Article 16
“Take charge” humanitarian clause: Article 17(2) 4 2
“Unknown” 96
“Take back”: Article 18 894 553
Article 18 (1) (b) 501 283
Article 18 (1) (c) 6 5
Article 18 (1) (d) 387 207
Article 20(5)
“Unknown” 58

Source: Information provided by the Migration Agency’s statistics unit. The latter also shared an “unknown” category, but it is unclear to the authors of this report what these cases refer to and which criteria was applied to them.

Incoming Dublin requests by criterion: 2020
Dublin III Regulation criterion Requests received Requests accepted
Total: 5,544[2] 3,977
“Take charge”: Articles 8-17 474 407
 Article 8 (minors) 122 90
 Article 9 (family members granted protection) 71 32
 Article 10 (family members pending determination) 19 16
 Article 11 (family procedure) 17 5
 Article 12.1 (approved residence permit in another member state) 24  


Article 12.2 (approved visa) 24 28
Article 12.4 (applicant has approved visa in another state, but unable to travel) 77 62
 Article 13.1 (entered country without permit) 0 0
Article 13.2 (remained in country without permit) 2 0
 Article 14 (visa free entry) 1 1
“Take charge”: Article 16 3 3
“Take charge” humanitarian clause: Article 17(2) 114 67
“Unknown”   91
Take back”: Articles 18 and 20(5) 3,939 3,570
 Article 18 (1) (b) 3,323 2,404
 Article 18 (1) (c) 6 5
 Article 18 (1) (d) 602 492
 Article 20(5) 8 6
“Unknown”   663

Source: Information provided by the Swedish Migration Agency. The latter also shared an “unknown” category, but it is unclear to the authors of this report what these cases refer to and which criteria was applied to them.

Outgoing Dublin transfers: 2020
  Voluntary removal Forced removal
Total 1,742 450
Germany 865 103
France 251 37
Great Britain 96 4
Italy 85 111
Denmark 84 20
Norway 68 7
Netherlands 45 3
Greece 41 25
Spain 39 27
Finland 39 5
Poland 25 48
Belgium 22 2
Switzerland 15 6
Hungary 10 1
Austria 10 7
Ireland 9 0
Portugal 8 1
Latvia 7 7
Lithuania 7 11
Estonia 4 0
Romania 4 8
Bulgaria 3 4
Iceland 3 1
Malta 2 2
Slovakia 0 1
Czech Republic 0 9

Source: Information provided by the Swedish Migration Agency.

Application of the Dublin criteria

In 2020, Sweden issued 2,148 and received 5,544 requests under the Dublin Regulation. Sweden interprets the Dublin Regulation rules rather strictly and respects the hierarchy established by the Regulation. The Swedish Aliens Act refers to the Dublin Regulation rules but not in detail since the Regulation has direct effect is Swedish law.

All asylum seekers are fingerprinted if they are 14 years or older and checked both in the Eurodac and Visa Information System (VIS) databases. In 2020, 11,639 fingerprints were submitted, and 3,903 hits were made in Eurodac and 4,342 in VIS, of which 767 indicated Dublin cases. The top five countries of origin were Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Somalia and Palestine.[3]

In 2020, the Swedish government adopted two acts relevant to fingerprinting. The first act entered into force on 1 December 2020 and foresees that the Swedish Migration Agency, the Swedish Police and Sweden’s diplomatic missions abroad are allowed to process sensitive data under the Aliens Data Act (2016:27). [4] They would also be authorised to test and develop the existing system of managing third-country nationals’ personal data. The second act entered into force on 28 December 2020 and amends the Aliens Act and the Act on the Schengen Information System (2000:344).[5] It foresees that third-country nationals will have to be fingerprinted and photographed at entry and exit for checks against the Schengen Information System (SIS). It also allows several authorities such as the Swedish Migration Agency, the Swedish Police, the Swedish Customs and the Coast Guards to take individuals’ photos and fingerprints for counter-checking against data in SIS.

The dependent persons and discretionary clauses

Sweden made 4 requests based on the “humanitarian clause” (Article 17(2) Dublin Regulation) in 2020 and none based on the “dependent persons’ clause” (Article 16 Dublin Regulation), and received 114 and 3 incoming requests on those grounds respectively.


Track 5A deals with cases under the Dublin Regulation. These cases are not sent to the Distribution Unit but channelled immediately into this track. The Dublin Unit had 34 officials in 2020.[6]

If another member state is deemed to be responsible and a transfer decision is made, a combined notification and return interview is held with the applicant. The transfer decision is enforceable and transfer travel planning can begin immediately. In Track 5A, there are no ID issues to consider so the focus of the Migration Agency is on the applicant’s attitude to transfer and the availability for executing the transfer.

The applicant is initially informed in writing and orally that a Eurodac or a VIS hit has been registered and is given the opportunity to register any objections to being sent to the assigned country. A decision is then made to formally transfer the person and this decision is communicated in person by the Migration Agency to the applicant. The applicant has to sign that this decision has been received. The reception officer then discusses the practicalities of the transfer to the designated country and indicates how soon this could take place. If the applicant appears willing to cooperate, a date is later fixed for the transfer. If the applicant does not cooperate, then the case will be handed over to the police for an enforced transfer. A decision is also made to reduce the daily allowance to the asylum seeker because of their unwillingness to cooperate. The applicant is informed of the right to appeal in person and the right to write it in their own language if need be but also told that an appeal will not have a suspensive effect unless the Migration Court makes a different assessment.The Migration Agency has produced information sheets in several languages outlining the mechanisms of the Dublin Regulation (see Provision of information on the procedure), although technical issues such as the effects of the VIS system are not easily comprehensible to asylum seekers. The asylum seeker receives a copy of these and later a copy of the acceptance by the other Member State. The asylum seeker is informed that a request is being made and about the evidence the request is based on.

 Individualised guarantees

The Migration Agency does not seek individualised guarantees prior to a transfer.[7]

In March 2019, the Migration Agency confirmed in its legal guidance regarding Dublin returns to Italy that no guarantees need be sought in advance when transferring families as the Italian authorities have reissued guarantees. It stated that: “Italy has, in a new circular to the Member States, provided new general guarantees regarding the reception of families of children transferred under the Dublin Regulation. It is the Migration Agency’s opinion that these guarantees are sufficient for transfers of families with children according to the Dublin Regulation to be made without individual guarantees being obtained.”[8]


Most Dublin transfers take place on a voluntary basis. Asylum applicants are not detained when they are being notified that another country is responsible for assessing their asylum application. However, Dublin cases are accommodated in facilities that are close to an airport or moved to such accommodation in connection with the impending transfer, instead of allowing them to settle initially anywhere in Sweden.

In 2020 Sweden received 5,544 Dublin incoming requests and issued 2,148 outgoing requests to other Dublin States. A total of 2,192 Dublin transfers were carried out to another Dublin country in 2020, of which 1,742 were under the responsibility of the Migration Agency and thus left voluntarily and 450 were under the responsibility of the Police and include both voluntary and forced removals.[9]

The average processing time for all Dublin cases in 2020, i.e. until a transfer decision was issued, was 49 days, down from 58 in 2019 and 72 in 2018.[10]

 Personal interview

According to a precedent-setting ruling by the Migration Court of Appeal,[11] all Dublin cases are subject to a personal interview conducted by the Migration Agency through an interpreter but without the presence of legal counsel. However, in the case of an unaccompanied child, the guardian is present and legal counsel can be appointed. The interview does not go into the asylum grounds in any detail but a brief outline of flight reasons is made in most of the interview documentation.

Despite COVID-19, the Swedish Migration Agency was able to carry out interviews in person, with some exceptions in Southern Sweden before they initiated and received protective equipment to protect their staff and asylum applicants.[12] In 2020, a total of 108 asylum interviews were carried out in the context of the Dublin procedure, out of which 44 were carried out by video.[13]

Questions are asked about relatives in other EU countries, previous stays in EU countries, the health condition of the applicant, any objections to being sent to the responsible EU Member State, and attitude towards leaving voluntarily.

A transcript of the interview is made but not normally communicated to the asylum seeker since it is only in Swedish. If there are close relatives in another EU country, Swedish authorities take no action to inform that country of the presence of a relative in Sweden but await a request from the other country regarding the desirability of family reunification and written consent from the family present in Sweden to be reunited


The application is dismissed as inadmissible when the Dublin Regulation applies.[14] In Dublin cases, there is no legal counsel automatically appointed at first instance (except for unaccompanied children), so the asylum seeker must either appeal alone or seek the support of friends or NGOs. The appeals procedure is no different from the appeal system that applies in the Regular Procedure: Appeal.

In line with Article 27(3)(c) of the Dublin III Regulation, if an applicant requests for their appeal to have suspensive effect, the transfer is automatically suspended until the Court decides on whether to suspend the implementation of the transfer.[15] Moreover, appeals in Dublin cases are often expedited quickly by the Migration Court and the Migration Court of Appeal. The appeal body does not take into account the recognition rates in the responsible member state when reviewing the Dublin decision.

The Migration Court of Appeal made a reference for a preliminary ruling to the CJEU in the case of Karim, concerning the scope of the right to an effective remedy under the Dublin Regulation.[16] The referring court has asked the CJEU to clarify whether an applicant is entitled to challenge a Dublin transfer solely on the basis of systemic deficiencies or also on other grounds i.e. relating to the application of the responsibility criteria. The CJEU ruled on 7 June 2016 and found that in order for a correct application of the responsibility determination procedure under the Dublin III Regulation to take place, the applicant must be able to contest a transfer decision and invoke an infringement of the rule set out in Article 19(2) of the Regulation, i.e. where the applicant provides evidence that he she has left the territory of one Member State, having made an application there, for at least three months and has made a new asylum application in another Member State.[17]

The Migration Court of Appeal decided on 24 November 2016 to refer the case back to the Migration Court for new consideration.[18] The Migration Court in turn referred the case back to the Migration Agency which decided it was still a Dublin case and this standpoint was not changed by the courts on appeal.[19]

On 26 February 2020, the Migration Court of Appeal found in the case MIG 2020:4 that a decision by the Migration Agency to not take charge of an asylum seeker upon request from another member state cannot be appealed.[20] In the present case, the Migration Court of Appeal also rejected a request from the individual concerned that the Court should request a preliminary ruling from the Court of Justice of the European Union, despite the fact that other national courts in Germany and the UK have found that asylum seekers have a right to appeal rejections of take charge requests.[21]


Legal assistance

The Migration Court of Appeal has in the case MIG 2014:29 expressed that the Migration Agency can appoint a public counsel in Dublin cases, but that it can also consider that there is no need for a counsel. In the same case, the Court also expressed that a public counsel can be appointed at second distance, in case the appeal has a reasonable prospect of success. In practice, legal counsel is not made available at first instance in Dublin cases, and the Migration Courts are also very restrictive in appointing public counsels.[22]

The Migration Court can appoint legal counsel in Dublin appeals but does take into account whether the grounds for appeal raise issues that could lead to a change in the decision. The difficulties with regard to access to legal assistance in the regular procedure are also applicable here (see Regular Procedure: Legal Assistance).

Suspension of transfers

To Hungary

In March 2019, the Migration Agency announced it considers that there are well-founded reasons to assume that there are currently such systemic deficiencies in the asylum procedure and reception conditions in Hungary referred to in Article 3(2) of the Dublin Regulation.[23] These deficiencies entail a risk of inhuman or degrading treatment within the meaning of Article 4 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.

In the event that Hungary is found to be the responsible State in accordance with the Dublin Regulation, it is not possible to transfer the applicant there. In turn, this means that the Migration Agency will in these cases continue to examine the criteria set out in the Dublin Regulation in order to determine whether another Member State can be designated as responsible. In the event that such a state cannot be determined, Sweden is the responsible state for the examination of the application.[24]

Previously, the Migration Agency had not suspended all transfers to Hungary and still delivered Dublin decisions. However, only 10 persons were forcibly removed from Sweden to Hungary during 2017 according to statistics from Kriminalvårdens transporttjänst. If the decisions to remove to Hungary are not carried out within six months then the case automatically becomes Sweden’s responsibility. In 2017, 10 persons have been transferred to Hungary even though decisions were taken to transfer 57 persons there, which Hungary had accepted. In 2018, 2019 and 2020, no persons were transferred to Hungary.

To Greece

In February 2018, the Migration Agency decided to reinstate transfers to Greece. The decision was made with reference to the recommendation from the European Commission, which was issued almost a year earlier.[25] The Migration Agency does not take any particular measures with regard to transfer to Greece, but they do take into consideration the recommendations from the Commission.[26] In 2020, 519 requests were issued to Greece, and 688 decisions were taken. This resulted in 46 take charge decisions and 3 take back decisions.[27] During 2020, 66 transfers to Greece were carried out, of which 41 were voluntary departures and 25 forced transfers.[28]

The situation of Dublin returnees

Dublin returnees with a final negative decision in Sweden are normally taken into custody on arrival and measures taken to facilitate their removal. If their case is still pending in Sweden and there is no final negative decision, then they are placed in an accommodation centre near a point of departure and continue the procedure in their ongoing case.

During 2018, the Aliens Act was amended concerning responsibility for the reception of Dublin returnees which means that the police authority takes over the responsibility from the Migration Agency regarding the reception of persons who have been accepted in accordance with the Dublin Regulation when there is a legally enforceable decision on cancellation or expulsion.[29]

Transfers to Sweden for “take back” cases with a legally enforceable removal order in Sweden are not automatically provided with accommodation by the Migration Agency or the Police on arrival if they are unwilling to return voluntarily to their home country. This applies also to families with children. Since the changes to the Law on the Reception of Asylum Seekers (LMA) in 2016 only families with minor children can be allowed to stay in this accommodation while the removal order is pending and after the one-month period for voluntary return has passed. Families who leave this accommodation for another EU country and are returned according to the Dublin Regulation have no right to re-access accommodation from the Migration Agency. There have been recent cases come to the knowledge of FARR of Afghan families returned from Germany and France who are forced into destitution unless they agree to return to Afghanistan voluntarily. In the latter case they can access accommodation

[1] This number includes 216 requests registered as “unknown” by the Migration Agency. Is is not known to the author which criteria are applied in such cases nor if they concern take charge or take back requests.

[2] This number includes 1,131 requests registered as “unknown” by the Migration Agency. It is unclear to the author of this report what these cases refer to and which criteria was applied to them

[3] Information provided by the Swedish Migration Agency.

[4]  Government. Regerings proposition 2020/21:5. Behandling av känsliga personuppgifter i testverksamhet enligt utlänningsdatalagen, available at: https://bit.ly/3jYyKR4.

[5]  Government. Regeringens proposition 2020/21:6. Ändrade bestämmelser om fotografier och fingeravtryck i SIS II-regelverket, available at: https://bit.ly/2ZqSSlB.

[6] Information provided by the Swedish Migration Agency.

[7] Information provided by the Migration Agency, August 2017.

[8]  Migration Agency, Rättsligt ställningstagande angående överföring av barnfamiljer till Italien i enlighet med Dublinförordningen (EU) nr 604/2013, SR 08/2019, 25 March 2019, available in Swedish at: https://bit.ly/2Puxgiq, which replaced the 2016 guidance.

[9]  Information provided by the Migration Agency’s statistics unit.

[10] Migration Agency, Monthly statistical report for December 2020, 12.

[11] Migration Court of Appeal, MIG 2007:4, UM 607-06, 22 January 2007, available at: http://bit.ly/2oZzsl1.

[12] Information provided by the Swedish Migration Agency, March 2020.

[13] Information provided by the Swedish Migration Agency.

[14] Ch. 5, Section 1c Aliens Act.

[15] Ch. 12, Section 9 a Aliens Act.

[16] CJEU, Case C-155/15 Karim v. Migrationsverket, OJ 2015 C198/23.

[17] CJEU, Case C-155/15 Karim v. Migrationsverket, Judgment of 7 June 2016, available at: http://bit.ly/2kKfKa9.

[18] Migration Court of Appeal, MIG 2016:24, UM 6068-14, 24 November 2016, available at: http://bit.ly/2km3Qpk.

[19] Information provided by Migration Agency, February 2018.

[20]  Migration Court of Appeal, MIG 2020:4, 26 February 2020, see EDAL summary at: https://bit.ly/3bN6BZv.

[21] See e.g. UK Upper Tribunal, MS [a child by his litigation friend MAS] v. Secretary of State for the Home Department, 19 July 2018.

[22]  There is a right to free public counsel if a person is detained for more than 3 days as a measure related to expulsion or transfer. Also, certain vulnerable asylum seekers (deaf and mute for example) can be granted public counsel.

[23] Migrationsverket, Rättslig kommentar angående överföringar till Ungern i enlighet med Dublinförordningen, SR 06/2019, 4 March 2019, available in Swedish at: http://bit.ly/2HEERcY.

[24] Migrationsverket, Rättslig kommentar angående överföringar till Ungern i enlighet med Dublinförordningen, SR 06/2019, 4 March 2019, available in Swedish at: http://bit.ly/2HEERcY.

[25] Recommendation C(2016) 8525 of 8 December 2016

[26] Information from the Migration Agency, Dublin Unit, July 2019.

[27] Information provided by the Migration Agency’s statistics unit.

[28] Information provided by the Migration Agency’s statistics unit.

[29]  Chapter 10, Section 13 Aliens Act.

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