All visa applicants will be required to provide their biometric data (fingerprints and photograph) when applying for a Schengen visa. It is normally a simple procedure that only takes a few minutes.
When applying for the first time, all applicants have to appear in person at VFS Global. Biometric data, along with the data provided in the Schengen visa application form, will be recorded in the VIS database and stored for 59 months if the visa is granted. If biometric data have been taken within the last 59 months and is usable, the biometric data do not have to be retaken.
The VIS database contain all Schengen visa applications and the decisions taken by the Schengen States. This will facilitate visa application procedures and checks at external border of the European Union, as well as enhance security. The recourse to biometric technology will better protect visa applicants against identity theft and prevent false identifications. This will also allow to establish more easily the lawful use of previous visas and applicant's travel history (e.g. when applying for a multiple-entry visa).
The following applicants is exempted from the requirment to give fingerprints:
(a) children under the age of 12;
(b) persons for whom fingerprinting is physically impossible.
(c) heads of State or government and members of a national government with accompanying spouses, and the members of their offical delegation when they are intivted by Member States' governments or by international organisations for an offical purpose; sovereigns and other senior members of a royal family, when they are invited by Member States' governments or by international organisations for an offical purpose.