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Migration and Home Affairs


  • In the global migration context, non-punitive administrative measure ordered by an administrative or judicial authority(ies) in order to restrict the liberty of a person through confinement so that another procedure may be implemented.
  • In the EU asylum context, confinement (i.e. deprivation of liberty) of an applicant for international protection by an EU Member State within a particular place, where the applicant is deprived of their personal liberty.



  • BG: задържане
  • CS: zajištění
  • DE: Abschiebungshaft; Schubhaft (AT)
  • EL: κράτηση (διοικητική)
  • EN: detention
  • ES: internamiento
  • ET: kinnipidamine
  • FI: säilöönotto
  • FR: rétention
  • GA: coinneáil
  • HU: őrizet
  • IT: trattenimento
  • LT: sulaikymas
  • LV: aizturēšana
  • MT: Detenzjoni
  • NL: detentie; vreemdelingenbewaring (NL) (in context of return)
  • PL: detencja / zatrzymanie
  • PT: detenção
  • RO: custodie publică
  • SK: zaistenie
  • SL: pridrževanje / omejitev gibanja
  • SV: förvar
  • NO: forvaring
  • KA: დაკავება
  • UK: тримання під вартою

Narrower Term(s)

Related Term(s)


1.  EU provisions differentiate between different migration situations in which third-country nationals can be detained: detention of applicants for international protection, detention in order to prevent irregular entry into the territory of  EU Member States and detention of irregular migrants involved in return proceedings .
2.  Applicants for international protection may be detained at any stage of or throughout the asylum process, from the time an initial application is made up to the point of removal of an unsuccessful applicant for international protection. According to Art. 26 of Directive 2013/32/EU (Recast Asylum Procedures Directive) it is not acceptable to detain a person solely for the reason that they have lodged an application for international protection. To ensure the non-arbitrariness of detention and the respect of fundamental rightsof applicants for international protection, Directive 2013/33/EU (Recast Reception Conditions Directive) introduced an exhaustive list of detention grounds (Art. 8) and put in place a number of procedural guarantees.The Directive also regulates the conditions in detention facilities (Art. 10).
3.  In an EU return context, EU Member States may only detain or keep in a detention facility a third-country national who is the subject of return procedures in order to prepare the return and / or carry out the removal process, in particular when: (a) there is a risk of absconding; or (b) the third-country national concerned avoids or hampers the preparation of return or the removal process. Any detention shall be for as short a period as possible and only maintained as long as removal arrangements are in progress and executed with due diligence, see Art. 15 (1) of  Directive 2008/115/EC (Return Directive)
4. For further information, see EMN: The use of detention and alternatives to detention in the context of immigration policies, 2014 and EMN: Detention and Alternatives to detention in international protection and return procedures, 2021.