Migration and Home Affairs

Alerts and data in SIS

What are the requirements for issuing an alert?

SIS only contains alerts on persons or objects falling under one of the following alert categories:

  • Refusal of entry or stay (Article 24 of Regulation (EC) No 1987/2006) This alert category covers third-country nationals who are not entitled to enter into or stay in the Schengen Area.
  • Persons wanted for arrest (Article 26 of Council Decision 2007/533/JHA) This alert category covers persons for whom a European Arrest Warrant or Extradition Request (Associated Countries) has been issued.
  • Missing persons (Article 32 of Council Decision 2007/533/JHA) The purpose of this alert category is to find missing persons, including children, and to place them under protection if lawful and necessary.
  • Persons sought to assist with a judicial procedure (Article 34 of Council Decision 2007/533/JHA) The purpose of this alert category is to find out the place of residence or domicile of persons sought to assist with criminal judicial procedures (for example witnesses).
  • Persons and objects for discreet or specific checks (Article 36 of Council Decision 2007/533/JHA) The purpose of this alert is to obtain information on persons or related objects for the purposes of prosecuting criminal offences and for the prevention of threats to public or national security.
  • Objects for seizure or use as evidence in criminal procedures (Article 38 of Council Decision 2007/533/JHA) This alert covers objects (for example vehicles, travel documents, credit cards, number plates and industrial equipment) being sought for the purposes of seizure or use as evidence in criminal proceedings.

What kinds of data are entered in the SIS?

An SIS alert always consists of three parts:

  1. A set of data for identifying the person or object, subject of the alert,
  2. A statement why the person or object is sought and
  3. An instruction on the action to be taken when the person or object has been found.

The quality, accuracy and completeness of the data elements enabling identification are the key conditions for the success of SIS. For alerts on persons the minimum data set is name, year of birth, a reference to the decision giving rise to the alert and the action to be taken. When available, photographs and fingerprints must be added in order to facilitate identification and to avoid misidentification. The system also offers the possibility to add links between alerts (e.g.: between an alert on a person and a vehicle).

Furthermore, the use of biometric data (i.e. fingerprints) is gradually becoming a reality. Since 2013, SIS can store fingerprints which may be used to confirm the identity of a person (a “one-to-one” search) located by other means (alphanumeric search). However, the introduction of an AFIS (Automated Fingerprint Identification System) since March 2018 also allows identifying persons just on the basis of his/her fingerprints (a “one-to-many” search). Thanks to the AFIS, criminals and other persons of interest will find it even more difficult to enter and move within the EU using counterfeited, forged or other persons’ documents (imposters).

How is SIS designed and who is responsible for its management?

SIS consists of three major components: a central system, the national systems and a communication infrastructure (network) between the systems. An alert entered in SIS in one Member State is transferred in real time to the central system. It then becomes available in all the other Member States so that authorised users can search the alert on the basis of the entered data-elements.

Each Member State using SIS is responsible for setting up, operating and maintaining its national system and its national SIRENE Bureau. The EU Agency for large-scale IT systems (eu-LISA) is responsible for the operational management of the central system and the communication infrastructure. The European Commission is responsible for the general supervision and evaluation of the system and for the adoption of implementing measures where uniform conditions for implementation are needed, such as the rules for entering and searching data.