The Visa Information System (VIS) is an IT system that allows Schengen States to exchange visa data. The main purpose of the VIS is to simplify the visa issuance process, facilitate checks at external borders and to enhance security for everyone involved, including applicants.
The Schengen States’ Visa Information System has been operational since 11 October 2011. A phased rollout is underway, connecting more of these states’ visa sections to the VIS at each stage.
The VIS works by linking Schengen States’ consulates and external border crossing points to the central VIS database. The introduction of the VIS has necessitated various changes to the visa application process:
- People applying for a visa for the first time must apply in person, so that the necessary biometric data – ten fingerprints and a digital photo – can be collected.
- Finger scans stored in the VIS can be re‑used for further visa applications within the following five years, so these later applications do not have to be made in person.
- When travellers enter the Schengen area, the border authorities are thus able to verify their identity by accessing the VIS.
For more information please consult the European Commission website at