SIS only contains alerts on people or objects falling under one of the following alert categories:
- Return decisions: alerts in respect of third-country nationals subject to return decisions issued by the Schengen countries.
- Refusal of entry or stay: alerts covering third-country nationals who are not entitled to enter into or stay in the Schengen Area.
- Persons wanted for arrest: alerts for people for whom a European Arrest Warrant or Extradition Request (Switzerland and Liechtenstein) has been issued.
- Missing persons: alerts to find missing persons, including children, and to place them under protection if lawful and necessary.
- Children at risk of being abducted by their own parents, relatives or guardians: alerts to prevent such children from being abducted or going missing
- Vulnerable persons whose travel must be prevented: alerts to protect vulnerable people (adults or children) from being taken unlawfully abroad or to prevent them from travelling without the necessary authorisations.
- Persons sought to assist with a judicial procedure: alerts to find out the place of residence or domicile of people sought to assist with criminal judicial procedures (for example witnesses).
- Persons and objects for discreet, inquiry or specific checks: alerts to obtain information on people or related objects for the purposes of prosecuting criminal offences and for the prevention of threats to public or national security.
- Unknown wanted persons: alerts containing only fingermarks and palmmarks belonging to a perpetrator of an offence discovered at the scenes of terrorist offences or other serious crimes under investigation. They are issued for the purposes of identifying the perpetrator under national law.
- Objects for seizure or use as evidence in criminal procedures: alerts on objects (for example vehicles, travel documents, number plates and industrial equipment) being sought for seizure or use as evidence in criminal proceedings. Alerts on travel documents may also be issued specifically for preventing travel by the person who holds them.
Types of data entered in SIS
SIS contains the following types of data:
In relation to people:
- Identification data: Data required to identify the person sought and other information relevant for the end user carrying out a search.
- Alert reason: A ‘reason for the alert’, describing, in a structured way, why the person is sought.
- Required action: An ‘action to be taken’, describing, in a structured way, what the officer must do when the person is found.
- Criminal proceedings information: The copy of the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) of a person wanted for arrest and data on misused identity victims (where applicable).
- Photographs: Photographs of the person who is the subject of the alert.
- Fingerprints and palm prints: Dactyloscopic data (fingerprints and/or palm prints) for the person who is the subject of the alert.
- Information on objects related to persons: Data on objects entered in SIS in order to locate a person who is the subject of an alert, for example the vehicle used by the person sought – these data can only be added to alerts on persons under Article 26, 32 and 34 of the SIS Police Regulation.
- Identification documents: Data describing the identification document of the person who is the subject of the alert – a copy of the document can be attached.
- Fingermarks and palmmarks: Dactyloscopic data (fingermarks and/or palmmarks) discovered at crime scenes.
- DNA profile: DNA profile of the person who is the subject of the alert or family members (only in case of missing persons who need to be placed under protection).
In relation to objects:
- Identification data: Data required to identify the object sought and other information relevant for the end user carrying out a search.
- Alert reason: A ‘reason for the alert’, describing, in a structured way, why the object is sought.
- Required action: An ‘action to be taken’, describing, in a structured way, what the officer must do when the object is found.
- Images: Pictures/photographs of the object.
The country that enters the alert and related data in SIS is the ‘data owner’. This means that only that country is allowed or able to update and delete the alert.
The quality, accuracy and completeness of the data elements enabling identification are key to the success of SIS. For alerts on people, the minimum data set is:
- year of birth
- a reference to the decision giving rise to the alert
- 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 of adding links between alerts (for example, between an alert on a person and a vehicle).
Since 2013, SIS has been able to store fingerprints which may be used to confirm the identity of a person located by other means. However, the introduction of an AFIS (Automated Fingerprint Identification System) in March 2018 also allows people to be identified using just his or her fingerprints. Thanks to this system, criminals and other persons of interest will find it even more difficult to enter and move within the EU using counterfeited or forged documents, or documents belonging to other people.
As of March 2023, SIS also stores palm prints, fingermarks and palmmarks. These are used for biometric searches and for the confirmation of identities. From March 2023, SIS stores DNA profiles of people reported missing or of their parents, grandparents or siblings for the purpose of confirming identity.