What is the Schengen Information System?
The Schengen Information System (SIS) is a highly efficient large-scale information system that supports external border control and law enforcement cooperation in the Schengen States. The SIS enables competent authorities, such as police and border guards, to enter and consult alerts on certain categories of wanted or missing persons and objects. An SIS alert not only contains information about a particular person or object but also clear instructions on what to do when the person or object has been found. Specialised national SIRENE Bureaux serve as single points of contact for any supplementary information exchange and coordination of activities related to SIS alerts.
What is the purpose of the SIS?
The main purpose of the SIS is to help preserve internal security in the Schengen States in the absence of internal border checks. The scope of the SIS is defined in three legal instruments:
- Regulation (EC) No 1987/2006 (Border control cooperation)
The SIS enables border guards and visa issuing and migration authorities to enter and consult alerts on third-country nationals for the purpose of refusing their entry into or stay in the Schengen Area.
- Council Decision 2007/533/JHA (Law enforcement cooperation)
The SIS supports police and judicial cooperation by allowing competent authorities to create and consult alerts on missing persons and on persons or objects related to criminal offences.
- Regulation (EC) No 1986/2006 (Cooperation on vehicle registration)
Vehicle registration services may consult the SIS in order to check the legal status of the vehicles presented to them for registration. They only have access to SIS alerts on vehicles, registration certificates and number plates.
In which countries is the SIS in operation?
The SIS is in operation in 30 European countries, including 26 EU Member States (only Ireland and Cyprus are not yet connected to SIS) and 4 Schengen Associated Countries (Switzerland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland).
In some EU Member States there are limitations on the use of the SIS:
- Bulgaria, Romania and Croatia are not yet part of the area without internal border checks (the 'Schengen area'). Therefore, there are still some restrictions regarding their use of Schengen-wide SIS alerts for the purposes of refusing entry into or stay in the Schengen area. Those restrictions will be lifted as soon as these countries have become a part of the area without internal border checks.
- The United Kingdom operates the SIS but, as it has chosen not to join the Schengen area, the UK cannot issue or access Schengen-wide alerts for refusing entry or stay into the Schengen area.
- Ireland and Cyprus are not yet connected to the SIS. Ireland is carrying out preparatory activities to connect to the SIS, but, as is the case for the UK, it will not be able to issue or access Schengen-wide alerts for refusing entry or stay. Cyprus has a temporary derogation from joining the Schengen area and is not yet connected to the SIS.