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Schengen information system (SIS)

There are no internal borders between Schengen countries. Therefore, there is an information system that takes the place of border checks. This is the Schengen Information System (SIS). With this system, border, immigration, police, customs and judicial authorities in the European Union (EU) and Schengen associated countries can cooperate and exchange information.

The SIS has been in place since 1995. The second generation of SIS (SIS II) was introduced in 2013. The SIS II has additional functionalities, such as the possibility to add fingerprints and photographs to alerts.

On 7 March 2023, the new SIS entered into operation and is expanded with new alerts, improved data and wider functionalities.

Content of the SIS

Competent national authorities, such as police and border guards, may enter and consult alerts on persons and objects in a single common database. These persons and objects can be found anywhere in the EU and the Schengen area during border checks, police checks or checks by investigative services. 

Is someone going on a trip, for example by plane? Then they may have to deal with passport control by the border control authority. In the Netherlands it is the Royal Marechaussee.

Is this person registered in the SIS? Then the border control authority will receive a signal. This may mean, for example, that they are not allowed to leave or enter the Schengen area.

Users of the SIS

These organisations use the SIS: 

  • the National Police; 
  • the Public Prosecutor’s Office; 
  • border surveillance organisations (in the Netherlands: the Royal Marechaussee, Seaport Police and Customs);  
  • immigration authorities, such as in the Netherlands the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND).

Data in SIS

SIS contains alerts on persons or objects falling within one of these categories: 

  • Refusal of entry or residence: alerts on persons from third countries who are not entitled to enter or stay in the Schengen area. 
  • Persons wanted for arrest: alerts on persons subject to a European arrest warrant or an extradition request (Switzerland and Liechtenstein).
  • Missing persons: alerts to detect missing persons (including children) and to protect them if it is lawful and necessary. 
  • Requested persons: alerts to identify the place of residence or residence of persons sought to cooperate in criminal proceedings, such as witnesses. 
  • Persons and objects for discreet or targeted checks: alerts to obtain information on persons or property in order to prosecute criminal offences and to prevent threats to public or national security.
  • Objects for criminal proceedings: alerts on objects (e.g. vehicles, travel documents, registration plates and industrial equipment) sought to seize and use as evidence in criminal proceedings. Alerts on travel documents may also be issued specifically aimed at preventing their holder from travelling.

As of 7 March 2023 , SIS also includes alerts on: 

  • Return decisions: alerts on persons from third countries against whom return decisions have been issued by the Schengen countries.
  • Children: alerts to prevent children from being abducted by their parents, family members or guardians or from disappearing.
  • Vulnerable persons: alerts to protect vulnerable persons (adults or children) against illegal transfer abroad or to prevent them from travelling without the necessary consent.
  • Persons and objects for investigation checks: additional alerts to obtain information on persons or property in order to prosecute criminal offences and to prevent threats to public or national security.
  • Unknown wanted persons: alerts containing only finger and palm traces of a perpetrator of a criminal offence found at the scene of a terrorist offence or other serious criminal offence under investigation. These alerts are issued to identify the offender in accordance with national law.

Personal data in SIS

In addition to general identification data, such as name and date of birth, fingerprints and photographs, the introduction of the new SIS will increase the number of data types. From 7 March 2023 , this data will also be stored in SIS: 

  • Palm prints, finger marks and palm marks. This data can be used for biometric examinations and to confirm someone’s identity.
  • DNA profiles of persons reported missing or of their parents, grandparents or siblings. This data can be used to confirm someone’s identity.

Supervision of SIS

With the arrival of the new SIS, monitoring will take place via a coordinated monitoring platform. This is the Coordinated Supervision Committee (CSC). The CSC is part of the European Data Protection Board (EDPB) and meets several times a year in Brussels.

The CSC consists of the national data protection authorities and the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS). The Dutch Data Protection Authority (DDPA) participates in the CSC on behalf of the Netherlands. 

The DDPA is responsible for monitoring the processing of personal data in the national part of the SIS (N.SIS). This section consists of national data systems that are connected to Central SIS. Each Member State transmits alerts via its (own) N.SIS. 

The oversight of the DDPA includes: 

  • inspections of organisations processing data in N.SIS;
  • periodic audits;
  • handling complaints or requests for mediation.

More information