Situation at the border

risks and rights at the borderzone

Last update : January 2020

When you arrive in Spain, whether by land or by sea, it is very important to get away from the border, and make sure that as many people as possible are made aware that you are there, especially the media. If you are injured or ill, make sure to inform the authorities and other people present, as this is one of the main reasons you might not be pushed back.

What to do when entering Spain

Attention: The Spanish authorities are always looking for people involved in human smuggling (see chapter 13 in the guide: Glossary). If they suspect that you are involved with smuggling (this could just be because they have seen you driving a boat) they might detain you, and you might have to serve a prison sentence.

Your rights at the border

The moment you touch Spanish ground or enter Spanish territorial waters, you can not be immediately returned. The authorities have to register your entry in writing and give you the opportunity to claim asylum.

Medical assistance: If when you arrive to Spain you have problems with your health, you have to be taken to a hospital, and thus you cannot be returned.

If you are, despite what we have mentioned above, returned to Morocco after you have entered Spanish territory, this is a “devolución en caliente”. Even though these immediate returns are completely illegal, they continue to occur. Above we have given some advice on how to avoid them.

Remember: You don’t have to sign anything you did not fully understand. You have the right to the assistance of a translator and a lawyer at any moment.

What to do if they push you back to Morocco

If it was an illegal pushback, contact human rights organisations in Morocco in order to document the push-back. You can for example get in contact with Asociación Manos Solidarias in Tetuán: Av. Kitane, nº 57, Hay Moulay El Hassan, Tel: +212539717798

You can find contacts in other cities here:

If you are taken to a prison in Morocco, you have the right to make a phone call. Contact a person close to you, a trusted lawyer or the Association Manos Solidarias on their emergency number: +212662779065. They have medical and legal assistance and can inform you about your options.

Readmission agreements with third countries

At the moment, Spain has readmission agreements with several African countries. For now, the agreements which are most relevant to your situation in Spain are the ones with Morocco, Algeria, Senegal, Nigeria and Mauritania. These agreements mean that a person who has declared herself to be from one of these countries, or who has been identified as such, can be deported even if they do not have a passport or any other paper identifying them as citizen of this country. However, everyone has the right to demand international protection in Spain or in the EU and you can fight for this with the help of a lawyer and support from solidarity structures.

What to do in case of detention at the border

If you arrive directly at the “Península” (Spanish mainland), it is possible that the police will detain you and take you directly to a CIE (Immigration Detention Center ) in order to try to deport you. If they send you to a CIE it does not mean that they will be able to deport you. You still have the right to claim asylum and they can only detain you for 60 days. You can read more about what to do when you are detained here