Coordination group for supervision of VIS

Thanks to the Visa Information System (VIS), the Schengen countries can exchange visa data.

Thanks to the Visa Information System (VIS), the Schengen countries can exchange visa data. It consists of a central computer system that is linked with the national IT systems of the governments that are authorised for visa issuance in Schengen countries as well as the consulates in non-EU countries. Even the computer systems at all border crossings of the Schengen countries that border with non-Schengen countries, are linked to the central infrastructure. The system processes data and decisions about visa applications for a short stay in or a transit through the Schengen zone. Biometrics, mainly fingerprints are used for identification in the system.

The VIS is used to check whether someone who is on an external border of the Schengen zone or within a Schengen country has a valid visa. It also helps to fight visa fraud and identity theft. Furthermore, the system also accelerates the issuance of visa, and facilitates the handling of asylum applications.

When someone applies for a visa, they contact the competent authority where a digital photo and ten fingerprints are taken, which are entered in a central database and are stored there for five years. They need not transfer the data again for every new visa application.

All countries in the Schengen zone require the VIS. The competent authorities for visa issuance in these countries have access to the central database for all visa applications. Even the authorities that are responsible for identification and checks on the external borders of the Schengen zone may refer to the system, just as the authorities that handle the asylum applications. In exceptional cases, the VIS is also used to investigate crimes. Thus, the VIS may only be consulted by authorised services in the exercising of their specific tasks. The data in the VIS system is stored for five years, to be counted from the last date of validity of a visa, the date on which a negative decision is taken or the date on which a decision to change a visa is taken.

The European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) monitors the data processing in the central part of the VIS system. The national supervisory authorities, which also include the Authority, monitor the legitimacy of the data processing at the national level, as well as the sending of the data to the central part of the system.

Every single person has right to information about his/her data in the VIS, and may request to delete incorrect data and/or to delete incorrectly registered data.

The request for information, correction or deletion must be sent to the Immigration Service by email or ordinary post: 

Immigration Service
Management of Entry and Stay
Pachecolaan 44, 1000 Brussels.
email :