China / Society

Schengen Visa applications will require biometric data from Chinese tourists

By Chen Yingqun ( Updated: 2015-10-09 18:51

Schengen Visa applications will require biometric data from Chinese tourists

Tourists take selfie at the Grand Place in Brussels, August 22, 2015. [Photo/IC]

People in East Asia, including China, will need to provide biometric data when applying for the Schengen Visa from Oct 12 onwards, said Hans-Dietmar Schweisgut, European Union ambassador to China today in Beijing.

Schweisgut says that the European Union's Visa Information System(VIS), which was launched in 2011, and which receives applications from all over the world, will be implemented since next Monday in East Asia, including China. People who apply for the Schengen Visa will have to provide biometric data, including the fingerprint of both hands and also a digital photo. But the procedure is quite simple and only takes a few minutes.

The biometric data and application form will be recorded in the database of the VIS for five years, so tourists and business visitors don't need to provide the information again within five years.

The system will be applied in South Asia later, and be applied globally by the end of this year.

Schweisgut says this system will simplify the visa application procedure, strengthen the border protection of the European Union and also increase security. It will also protect the applicants better, and combat identify fraud and illegal immigration.

The VIS is to strengthen security for the 26 countries in the Schengen area and also for visitors. With a Schengen Visa, visitors are able to travel freely in the 26 countries.

Certain people will be exempt from providing their fingerprints, including children under 12 and people whose health conditions do not allow them to input their fingerprints.

Schweisgut says China and the EU have also decided to strengthen the visa service for Chinese visitors to the EU. A first step is to open visa application centers in 15 locations in China, even in places where there is no European consulate.

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