The reception system is organised in two phases, the first being under federal and the second under cantonal responsibility. During the first phase – which should not exceed 140 days – asylum applicants are accommodated in federal asylum centres under the responsibility of the State Secretariat for Migration, while upon allocation to a canton, their accommodation is managed at cantonal level.
Asylum applications can be submitted in one of the six federal asylum centres with processing facilities, located in Zurich, Bern, Basel, Chiasso/Balerna, Boudry and Altstätten. Once the application for international protection has been lodged, the applicant can be transferred to one of the other centres within the same category. All applicants (except from those falling under the airport procedure) spend the first weeks after their application and up to 140 days in those centres, where they are accommodated and where the first steps of the procedure are carried out.
If their application is dismissed or rejected, asylum seekers are transferred to a federal asylum centre without processing facilities (so-called “departure centres”), from which their Dublin transfer or removal to their country of origin is organised. In cases where the removal has not taken place within 140 days from the lodging of the asylum application – inter alia due to difficulties in organising the travel documents, awaiting of a Court decision or any other reason – the persons will be allocated to a canton.
The second phase of reception is managed at cantonal level. A transfer in cantonal facilities occurs: a) when a person receives a positive decision or a temporary admission within an accelerated procedure; b) when the extended procedure is ordered; c) when a person is accommodated in a federal asylum centre for more than 140 days, even if his or her application has been dismissed or rejected.
Cantons are in charge of their own reception centres. Usually, asylum seekers and beneficiaries of protection will be first accommodated in collective centres, and in a second stage in shared apartments or private apartments in case of larger families. For those rejected asylum seekers who have lost their right to social assistance, the cantons provide for emergency aid shelters (see Forms and levels of material reception conditions).
Persons who have been recognised as refugees and temporarily admitted persons have the right to social assistance, including accommodation, without time limit.
Both the Confederation and the cantons are responsible for providing material reception conditions to asylum seekers, depending on whether the person is in a federal or a cantonal reception centre. The first phase of the asylum procedure takes place in one of the 6 federal asylum centres with procedural facilities, and can be followed by transfer to a federal asylum centre without procedural facilities. Asylum seekers stay in federal centres for up to 140 days, and are then allocated to a canton (see section on Freedom of Movement).
A. Access and forms of reception conditions
- Criteria and restrictions to access reception conditions
- Forms and levels of material reception conditions
- Reduction or withdrawal of reception conditions
- Freedom of movement
C. Employment and education
D. Health care
F. Information for asylum seekers and access to reception centres
 The setup of federal reception and processing centres is foreseen by Article 26 AsylA; the Ordinance of the FDJP on the management of federal reception centres in the field of asylum (the Ordinance of the FDJP) provides operating rules for all federal centres; further internal rules are applied in each centre.
 Article 24(4) AsylA.