The Visa Information System (VIS) is a system for the exchange of visa data between Schengen Member States. It essentially links the Schengen consulates in third countries, the competent national authorities and all the external border crossing points of the Schengen States. It consists of the Central Information System (CS-VIS), a contact point in each Member State (NI-VIS), through which interconnection with the respective central national authority of the Member State concerned is achieved, and the communication structure between the Central Visa Information System and the national contact points.
This system was created on the basis of Council Decision 2004/512/EC establishing the Visa Information System (VIS). Furthermore, Regulation (EC) No 767/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 9 July 2008 on the Visa Information System (VIS) and the exchange of data between Member States on short-stay visas (VIS Regulation) sets out the purpose, functions and responsibilities of the system.
The system was set up to improve the implementation of the common policy on visas, consular cooperation and to specify the conditions and procedures for exchanging data in the context of the issuance of short-stay visas and to combat visa soliciting. Biometrics (photos and fingerprints) and alphanumeric data are entered and kept on the database.
It came into effect gradually since 2011 and the development of the system was completed in 2016. The system is used by 30 States, i.e. all Member States participating in the Schengen acquis (Schengen zone), the four Member States of the European Economic Area (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland), as well as Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus and Romania, which, although not yet Member States of the Schengen Area, have a visa policy based on the Schengen acquis, while the United Kingdom and Ireland do not participate.
The Hellenic Data Protection Authority (HDPA) exercises the supervision of the national system (N.VIS) and controls the lawfulness of the processing of personal data carried out by it, including their transmission to and from the VIS.