Duration of detention


Country Report: Duration of detention Last updated: 10/06/22


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The duration of detention of adults is governed by Chapter 10, Section 4 of the Aliens Act. Generally, detention may not exceed 2 weeks, unless there are exceptional grounds for longer detention.[1] Persons who are issued with an expulsion or refusal of entry order may be detained for up to 2 months, with a possibility of extension if there are exceptional grounds.[2] Even if there are such exceptional circumstances, the alien is not detained longer than 3 months or, if it is likely that the execution will take longer because of the lack of cooperation by the alien or it takes time to acquire the necessary documents, more than 12 months. The time limits of 3 and 12 months do not apply if the alien is expelled by ordinary courts because of crimes.

The 2-month time limit therefore does not apply to asylum seekers throughout the examination of their claim, unless a deportation order has already been issued against them. Asylum seekers are in principle detained for up to 2 weeks. Moreover, detention for the purposes of investigating the alien’s right to remain in Sweden under Ch. 10, Section 1(2)(1) cannot exceed 48 hours.[3]

The average period of detention was 57 days in 2021, thus increasing from 55.3 days in 2020 and 27.8 days in 2019. This refers to an average 58 days for men and 40 days for women in 2021 (compared to 58 and 31 days respectively in 2020).[4]  The continued long detention periods in 2021 are probably due to the continuing COVID-19 situation, as travel restrictions hindered the Agency to carry out departures from Sweden.

[1] Ch. 10, Section 4(2) Aliens Act.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ch. 10, Section 4(1) Aliens Act.

[4] Migration Agency. Annual Report 2021, available in Swedish at: https://bit.ly/3LvJe6y  

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