What kind of personal data and for what purposes can be kept in the Visa Information System?

The  Visa  Information  System  ('VIS')  is  a  system  for  the  exchange  of  visa  dat between Member  States. Its purpose is  to  facilitate  the  visa application  procedure,  prevent  visa  shopping  and  fraud,  facilitate  border  check as  well  as identity  checks  within  the  territory  of  the  Member  States  and  to  contribute  to he prevention  of  threats  to  the  internal  security  of  the  Member  States.  To  this  end,  the  VIS provides a central repository of data on all short-stay Schengen visas.

Legal grounds for the creation and operation of the Visa Information System are:

  • Regulation (EC) No 767/2008, hereinafter “VIS Regulation”[1]
  • Council Decision 2004/512/EC, hereinafter “VIS Decision”[2]
  • Council Decision 2008/633/JHA[3]


What kind of personal data and for what purposes can be kept in the Visa Information System?


Pursuant to Article 9 of the VIS Regulation, the visa authority shall enter i.e the following data in the application file:

a)     surname, surname at birth (former surname(s)); first name(s); sex; date, place and country of birth;

b)     current nationality and nationality at birth;

c)     type and number of the travel document, the authority which issued it and the date of issue and of expiry;

d)     place and date of the application;

e)     type of visa requested;

f)      details of the person issuing an invitation and/or liable to pay the applicant's subsistence costs during the stay, being: in the case of a natural person, the surname and first name and address of the person or in the case of a company or other organisation, the name and address of the company/other organisation, surname and first name of the contact person in that company/organisation;

g)     main destination and duration of the intended stay;

h)     purpose of travel;

i)      intended date of arrival and departure;

j)      intended border of first entry or transit route;

k)     residence;

l)      current occupation and employer; for students: name of school;

m)   in the case of minors, surname and first name(s) of the applicant's father and mother;

n)     a photograph of the applicant

  • o)     fingerprints of the applicant

Fingerprints are not required from children under the age of 12 or from people who physically cannot provide finger scans. Frequent travellers to the Schengen Area do not have to give new finger scans every time they apply for a new visa. Once finger scans are stored in VIS, they can be re-used for further visa applications over a 5-year period.


Who has the access to information kept in the Visa Information System?

Pursuant  to VIS Regulation, different types of authorities can have access to VIS data such as:

  • visa authorities which are responsible for examining and for taking decisions on visa applications or for decisions whether to annul, revoke or extend visas, including the central visa authorities and the authorities responsible for issuing visas at the border,
  • authorities responsible for carrying out checks at external border crossing points in accordance with the Schengen Borders Code,
  • authorities competent for carrying out checks within the territory of the Member States
  • competent asylum authorities

With regard to access to the VIS by law enforcement authorities, that besides the access of the Europol, according to Article 3  of  Council  Decision  2008/633/JHA,  Member  States  shall  designate  the  authorities  which are  authorized  to request access to VIS  data  for  the  purposes  of  the  prevention,  detection and  investigation  of  terrorist  offences  and  of  other  serious  criminal  offences.  Member States  shall notify  in  a  declaration  the  list  of  those  authorities  and of  the  chosen central access   point(s)to   the   Commission   and   the   General   Secretariat   of   the   Council.   The Commission  shall  publish  these  declarations  in  the  Official  Journal  of  the  European  Union.


[1]  Regulation (EC) No 767/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 9 July 2008 concerning the Visa Information System (VIS) and the exchange of data between Member States on short-stay visas (VIS Regulation)

(OJ L 218, 13.8.2008, p. 60–81)

[2] Council Decision of 8 June 2004 establishing the Visa Information System (VIS) (OJ L 213, 15.6.2004, p. 5–7)

[3] Council Decision 2008/633/JHA of 23 June 2008 concerning access for consultation of the Visa Information System (VIS) by designated authorities of Member States and by Europol for the purposes of the prevention, detection and investigation of terrorist offences and of other serious criminal offences (OJ L 218, 13.8.2008 p. 129–136)