Reception of asylum seekers

Asylum seekers have the right to material assistance (reception) throughout the asylum procedure. The reception process starts at Fedasil's Dispatching service.

Allocation of a reception place

After submitting an application to the Immigration Office, asylum seekers go to Fedasil's Dispatching service, based in the same building. This service allocates them a reception place (the compulsory place of registration or 'code 207').

All asylum seekers older than 5 are subject to a chest x-ray for tuberculosis (TB) on their arrival at Dispatching. Those affected must be admitted to hospital. Asylum seekers must undergo this examination every six months for the first two years of their stay in Belgium.

Dispatching gives all new asylum seekers an information brochure, available in 10 languages. This informs the asylum seekers of their rights and responsibilities during the reception period.

When assigning reception places, we try to take into account the individual situation of the asylum seekers (family with children, wheelchair users, unaccompanied child, etc.). Indeed, some reception structures are better suited than others to the needs of certain asylum seekers.

The reception

Belgium has over 26,000 reception places in total. The network comprises collective and individual reception structures. The collective structures are reception centres managed by Fedasil, the Red Cross of Belgium or other partners. The individual structures are housing managed by the Public Social Welfare Centre or by NGOs.

The reception centres are 'open' centres, meaning the residents are free to come and go. They receive accommodation and meals, clothing and also social, medical and psychological support, a daily allowance (pocket money) as well as access to legal assistance and services such as interpreting and training.

End of the reception

The right to reception ends once the asylum procedure has finished and all possible appeals have failed. In the event of a positive decision, refugees (or beneficiaries of subsidiary protection) receive a resident’s permit and may start to look for their own accommodation. They are entitled to remain at the reception structure for a further two months in order to allow them to find suitable accommodation. They may request assistance from a Public Social Welfare Centre.

Following a negative decision, the 'failed' asylum seeker receives an order to leave the territory. Since 2012 and the establishment of the 'return procedure', those whose negative decision has been confirmed by the Council for Alien Disputes are invited to go to one of the four Fedasil centres that organise 'open return places'. The priority is to convince the residents of the advantage of a voluntary return as opposed to a forced return. The 'open' nature of the reception centres is guaranteed since no residents will be removed while awaiting for the order to leave the territory (generally 30 days) and during their stay in the centre the residents are free to come and go.