Duration of detention


Country Report: Duration of detention Last updated: 30/04/24


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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, they cannot be 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 because 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 46 days in 2023, thus decreasing from 52 days in 2022 and 57 days in 2021. This refers to an average 47 days for men and 40 days for women in 2023 (compared to 53 and 37 days respectively in 2022).[4]

In their concluding observations on the eighth periodic report of Sweden the Committee against Torture (CAT) emphasised that detention of asylum seekers should only be used as a last resort and, where necessary, for as short a period as possible.[5]




[1] Ch. 10, Section 4(2) Aliens Act.

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

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

[4] Swedish Migration Agency, ‘Annual Report 2023’, Dnr: 1.3.2-2024-2238, 22 February 2024, available in Swedish at: https://tinyurl.com/Arsredovisning2023, p.78.

[5] CAT, Concluding observations on the 8th periodic report of Sweden, 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/3ws6gGn.

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