New Schengen visa to require nationals to scan fingerprints
R.O.C. nationals applying for long- term Schengen visas will have to have their fingerprints scanned starting Oct. 12 as part of the European Union’s ( EU) efforts to beef up border control, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said yesterday.
Speaking during a MOFA news briefing, the ministry’s Department of European Affairs’ director-general, Anna Kao ( ), said the EU officially launched a Visa Information System (VIS) in November 2011 with the aim of reinforcing external border management.
As part of the new VIS requirements, applicants are required to provide their biometric data, including 10 fingerprints and a digital photograph when applying for a visa of more than 90 days, she said.
According to the EU, the VIS will start operating in all Schengen member nation consulates in East Asia on Oct. 12, including those in mainland China, Japan, Mongolia, North Korea, South Korea and Taiwan, she noted.
Kao said representative offices of several EU countries have already been following the new procedure for some time even though the new procedures will only be expanded to all EU countries’ representative offices in Taiwan starting Oct. 12.
Kao stressed, however, that the change will have no effect on most Taiwanese traveling to the Schengen area because the EU granted R.O.C. passport holders visa-free entry privileges in January 2011.
The EU visa-waiver provision allows Taiwanese travelers to enter European countries for business and pleasure for up to 90 days within a six-month period without a visa.
The latest measure only affects those who need to apply for a Schengen visa for long-term work or for purposes other than those covered in the Schengen visa waiver program for more than 90 days, she noted.
Also, fingerprint scans are not required for children under the age of 12 or for people who cannot physically provide the scans, she said.
Fore more detailed information on fingerprint collection, travelers should check the website of the EU country they are visiting before making a visa application, she added.
According to an EU statement released in August, the VIS will facilitate visa application procedures and checks at the external borders of the European Union, as well as enhance security.
”The recourse to biometric technology will protect visa applicants better against identity theft and prevent false identifications, which in certain cases lead to a refusal of a visa or entry to a person who is entitled to enter,” the statement said.