Types of accommodation



Bulgarian Helsinki Committee

Reception centres are managed by the SAR. Alternative accommodation outside the reception centres is allowed under the law, but only if it is paid for by the asylum seekers themselves and if they have consented to waive their right to the monthly social allowance.1

As of the end of 2016, there are 4 reception centres in Bulgaria. The total capacity as of 31 December 2016 is as follows:

Open reception centre






Ovcha Kupel shelter



Vrazhdebna shelter



Voenna Rampa shelter




Central Bulgaria



South-Eastern Bulgaria



South-Eastern Bulgaria





At the end of August 2016, following a mass fight between Afghan and Iraqi asylum seekers in Harmanli led to the opening of the first national closed reception facility, while another one was opened after a riot in the same centre in November 2016. These are officially described as “closed reception facilities”, although asylum seekers residing there are not free to exit the premises (see Place of Detention).

Wherever possible, there is a genuine effort to accommodate nuclear families together and in separate rooms. Single asylum seekers are accommodated together with others, although conditions vary considerably from one centre to another. Some of the shelters are used for accommodation predominantly of a certain nationality or nationalities. For example, Vrazhdebna shelter in Sofia accommodates Afghan asylum seekers, Voenna Rampa shelter in Sofia accommodates Syrians, while some of the reception centres accommodate mixed nationalities, such as in Harmanli reception centre, Ovcha Kupel shelter in Sofia etc.

Asylum seekers are allowed to reside outside the reception centres at so called “external addresses”. This could be done if asylum seekers submit a formal waiver from their right to accommodation and social assistance, as warranted by law, and declare to cover rent and other related costs at their own expenses.2 Except those few whose financial condition allows residence outside the reception centres, the other group of people who live at external addresses are usually Dublin returnees, to whom the SAR applies the exclusion from social benefits, including accommodation as a measure of sanction within the jurisdiction for such decision as provided by the law (see Withdrawal of Reception Conditions).3 As of 31 December 2016 only a few asylum seekers lived outside the reception centres under the conditions as described above.

  • 1. Article 29(6) LAR.
  • 2. Article 29(9) LAR; Article 29(1)(2) LAR.
  • 3. Article 29(4) LAR.

About AIDA

The Asylum Information Database (AIDA) is a database managed by the European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE), containing information on asylum procedures, reception conditions, detenti