SIS II: Schengen Information System II
The purpose of the Schengen Information System II (SIS II) is to enable the Member States of the Schengen area to establish a common policy for monitoring entry into the Schengen area and thus to facilitate the free movement of their nationals while maintaining public order and security.
of alerts in 2019 in the SIS II database
In 2019, the Schengen Information System was the subject of 6.6 billion searches or queries by member states, an 8% increase over 2018.
The main purpose of the database is to ensure a high level of security within the Schengen States in the absence of internal border controls, by allowing the competent national authorities, such as police forces and border guards, to enter and consult alerts on persons or objects.
This file consists of:
- a central system (the “Central SIS II”);
- a national system (the ‘N.SIS II’) in each of the Member States, consisting of the national data systems which communicate with Central SIS II. A N.SIS II may contain a data file (a ‘national copy’), containing a complete or partial copy of the SIS II database. The national IT system of the Schengen Information System "N.SIS II" is placed under the authority of the Directorate General of the National Police of the Ministry of Interior;
- a communication infrastructure between the central system and the national systems, providing a virtual encrypted network dedicated to SIS II data and to the exchange of data between the bodies responsible for the exchange of all supplementary information.
Who is responsible for the file?
The Ministry of Interior, Directorate General of the National Police, is responsible for the national system N. SIS II.
At the European level, the European Union Agency for the Operational Management of Large-Scale IT Systems (eu-LISA) is responsible for the operational management of the central SIS II and the communication infrastructure (its surveillance, security and coordination of relations with the EU countries).
Criteria for inclusion in this file
An alert may be entered in this file on persons wanted for extradition or arrest on the basis of a European arrest warrant; missing persons who need to be placed under protection and/or whose whereabouts need to be established; persons such as witnesses or persons summoned or sought for their assistance in legal proceedings; persons or vehicles, vessels, aircraft or containers for the purpose of discreet and specific checks for the repression of criminal offences and for the prevention of threats to public safety and, in the case of objects, when they are clearly associated with serious criminal offences; objects (such as motor vehicles, trailers, firearms, blank official documents, identity papers and banknotes) sought for the purpose of seizure or evidence in criminal proceedings.
Information contained in this file
The second generation Schengen Information System ("SIS II") is a large database containing information on wanted or missing persons, persons under police surveillance and persons who are not nationals of a Schengen Member State and who are prohibited from entering the Schengen area, as well as information on stolen or missing vehicles and objects, such as identity documents, vehicle registration certificates and vehicle number plates.
The information on persons in relation to whom an alert has been issued shall be no more than the following:
- surname(s) and forename(s), name(s) at birth and previously used names and any aliases, which may be entered separately;
- any specific, objective, physical characteristics not subject to change;
- place and date of birth;
- whether the person concerned is armed, violent or has escaped;
- reason for the alert;
- authority issuing the alert;
- a reference to the decision giving rise to the alert;
- action to be taken;
- link(s) to other alerts issued in SIS II in accordance with Article 37;
- the type of offence.
The N-SIS II (national system) includes the following data:
- marital status (surname, first names and aliases, date and place of birth), gender and nationality;
- specific, objective, physical characteristics not subject to change, as well as an indication on whether the person concerned is armed, violent or has escaped;
- the reason for the alert;
- what to do in case of discovery;
- authority issuing the alert;
- the references of the decision which gave rise to the alert;
- links to other alerts entered in the SIS II;
- the type of offence.
For alerts on objects, the data recorded in the national computer system N-SIS II is as follows:
Nature, category, type, trademark; Serial number, registration or other identification number; Nationality or country of registration; Photograph(s) and date; Date of theft, loss, report of loss or complaint; Marital status of owner, complainant or holder; Additional descriptions and characteristics, including currency, face value and issuing body; Action to be taken in the event of discovery.
Who can register?
Each Member State appoints an authority ("N.SIS II Office") which has central responsibility for the N.SIS II.
SIS II data is entered, updated, deleted and searched via the N.SIS II systems of each Member State. Each Member State shall transmit its alerts via its N.SIS II office.
Alerts issued by the French State in the N.SIS II are derived from the alerts entered in the “Fichier des personnes recherchées (FPR)”(Wanted Persons database), the “fichier des objets volés et signalés (FOVeS)” (Stolen and Reported Objects database), the “fichier des titres électroniques sécurisés (TES)” (Secure and Electronic Documents database) and the DOCVERIF (an auti-fraud system for identity documents).
How long is the information kept?
For alerts on third country nationals:
Alerts entered in the SIS on third-country nationals shall be kept in the processing operation only for as long as is necessary to achieve the purposes for which they were entered.
Within three years of the alert being entered into the system, the Member State shall examine the need to keep it. Each Member State may set shorter review periods.
Alerts on a person who has acquired citizenship of a State whose nationals enjoy the right of free movement in the Community shall be erased as soon as the Member State issuing the alert becomes aware or is informed that the person has acquired citizenship.
For alerts on persons:
Alerts on persons shall be kept only for the time necessary to achieve the purpose for which the alerts were entered in the processing.
However, within three years of the alert being entered into the processing system, the Member State shall consider whether it is necessary to keep it there. The Member State may therefore decide on a shorter retention period, after which the alerts are automatically erased.
The retention period for data recorded in the national N-SIS II processing system is as follows:
- Data relating to alerts on individuals are kept for a maximum of three years. This period is reduced to one year for alerts for discreet or specific checks;
- Data relating to alerts on objects are kept for a maximum of ten years. This period is reduced to five years for alerts for discreet or specific checks;
- The periods mentioned in 1° and 2° may be extended if their retention is necessary for the purposes for which the alert was issued, under the conditions set out in Articles 29 of the Regulation and 44 and 45 of the Decision mentioned in 1° of Article R. 231-3;
- In any case, the data of each alert may not be kept once the retention period provided for by the national processing operation from which it originated has expired;
Updating or deleting data in the original national processing operation means updating or deleting the corresponding data in the N-SIS II processing operation.
Who consults this file?
At the French level
The following have access to the file:
- agents of the French Sirene bureau and the French N-SIS II office;
- officials of the national police, the national gendarmerie and customs officers acting within the framework of their general administrative and judicial police duties;
- agents of the vehicle registration services, exclusively for the purpose of verifying whether the vehicles presented to them for registration have been stolen, misappropriated or lost, or are sought as evidence in criminal proceedings;
- the agents of the prefectures and the central administration of the Ministry of the Interior who are competent in matters of entry, stay and removal of foreigners and the search for missing persons, whether adults or minors, for the sole purpose of consultations falling within their powers;
- the agents of the services of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, consulates and consular sections of embassies responsible for issuing visas, for information only concerning foreigners for whom an alert has been issued for the purposes of refusing entry or stay in the Schengen area;
- the agents of the national service called "Passenger Information Unit" attached to the Ministry of the Budget.
The information recorded in the file may be communicated to:
- the judicial authorities;
- authorities and approved services of other States parties to the convention of June 19, 1990 implementing the Schengen agreement of June 14, 1985.
At the European level
In the other Member States of the European Union, the legally designated competent national authorities responsible for
- border controls,
- police and customs controls,
- prosecution in criminal proceedings and judicial inquiries, before indictment or charge,
- visas and residence permits,
- the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation (Europol). This agency can search for data directly, but the use of information found in the course of such searches requires the authorization of the Schengen country concerned,
- Eurojust national members and their assistants, but not Eurojust staff. Users can only access the data necessary for the performance of their tasks.
How are people informed?
Concerning wanted persons or stolen objects: The competent national authority decides what information can be communicated and how.
Concerning foreign nationals: Third country nationals who are the subject of an alert are informed in writing of their alert entered in the processing system, accompanied by a copy of the national decision giving rise to the alert or at least a reference to this decision.
How can I access my file or have my information rectified?
In order to exercise his/her rights, the person must contact the Ministry of Interior:
Ministère de l'intérieur
75800 Paris Cedex 08
The Ministry has 2 months to answer from the date of receipt of the request.
If the ministry refuses to answer (by sending a letter or remaining silent beyond the 2-month deadline), the person may contact the CNIL to request its intervention:
Commission nationale de l'informatique et des libertés
3 Place de Fontenoy
75334 PARIS CEDEX 07
The person must then imperatively communicate to the CNIL:
- a copy of an identity document;
- any element justifying the sending of the request to the Ministry (copy of the answer sent to him by the Ministry, of the letter sent to the Ministry or of the acknowledgement of receipt of this letter);
- the applicant's mailing address.
The SIS II Supervision Coordination Group
In order to ensure the coordination of the supervision of the second generation Schengen Information System, representatives of the national data protection authorities ("national DPAs") and the European Data Protection Supervisor usually meet twice a year. The national DPAs represented are those of the 27 EU Member States, with Ireland participating as an observer. The national data protection authorities of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland are also part of the group, as their countries also participate in the Schengen Information System.
You can find more information on the work of this group (minutes of meetings and recently adopted documents).
Revision of the SIS II legal framework
On November 19, 2018, the Council adopted three regulations on the use of the Schengen Information System, which gradually replace the Regulation and Decision with a view to closing any potential loopholes in the system and introducing several major changes related to the types of alerts introduced (see the summary "A strengthened Schengen Information System").
The new legal framework consists of the following regulations
- in the area of police cooperation and judicial cooperation in criminal matters: regulation (EU) 2018/1862;
- in the field of border checks: Regulation (EU) 2018/1861;
- for the return of illegally staying third-country nationals: Regulation (EU) 2018/1860.
The new regulations, to be gradually implemented by December 2021, introduce additional categories of alerts into the system, including:
- alerts entered for the purpose of investigative checks, an intermediate step between discreet and specific checks, which allow individuals to be questioned;
- alerts on unknown suspects or wanted persons, which allow fingerprints or palm prints found at the scenes of serious crime or terrorist incidents and considered to belong to the criminal to be entered into the SIS;
- alerts for preventive purposes for children at risk of abduction by a parent, and for children and vulnerable persons who, for their own protection, should not be allowed to travel (for example, if the travel may involve a risk of forced marriage, female genital mutilation or trafficking in human beings);
- alerts for the purpose of return for illegally staying third-country nationals, thus improving the exchange of information regarding return decisions.
They also extend the list of objects for which alerts can be entered, including false documents and identifiable objects of high value, as well as computer equipment.
In addition, the entry of alerts on entry bans for third country nationals in the SIS is now mandatory.
The regulations introduce the possibility to use facial images for identification purposes, in particular to ensure consistency in border control procedures. They also allow for the inclusion of a DNA profile to facilitate the identification of missing persons in cases where fingerprints, photos or facial images are not available or do not allow identification.
Europol can access all categories of data in the SIS and exchange additional information with the national SIRENE Bureau in the EU. In addition, EU countries must inform Europol of any hits found when a person is wanted in connection with a terrorist offence. For the reasons set out in its mandate, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency will also have access to the categories of alerts in the SIS.