Many people applying for Schengen visas have heard of the Visa Information System (VIS). VIS allows Schengen countries to exchange visa data. It consists of a central IT system and the communication infrastructure connecting this central system to national systems. It processes data and decisions related to applications for short-stay visas for visiting or transiting the Schengen area. The system can perform biometric matching (mainly fingerprints) for identification and verification purposes. A common use in Schengen visa applications is to store applicants’ fingerprints (so that applicants only need to provide them once every 5 years).

The introduction of VIS also mentions that “Data is kept in the VIS for five years. This retention period is calculated from the expiry date of the visa issued, the date of the decision to refuse a visa or the date of the decision to amend a visa issued. Any person has the right to be informed about his/her data in the VIS. Any person may request rectification of inaccurate data concerning him/her and deletion of unlawfully recorded data.” However, it is difficult to find information online about how individuals can obtain this data from immigration authorities. In this article, I attempt to apply to the French Consulate General in China for personal data from a previous Schengen visa application, and also attempt to answer the rumor of whether “travel plans and other supporting documents submitted are stored in VIS”.

Submitting a Data Export Request

Taking France as an example, according to CNIL (similar to the Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data in Hong Kong), if the applicant resides outside of France, the corresponding data export request should be submitted to the local embassy. Therefore, I first sent an email to the visa-related consultation mailbox of the French Consulate General in Guangzhou ([email protected], which can be found at ) ( The automatic reply email from the French Consulate mentions that consultation must include full name, date of birth, passport number and phone number, otherwise it may not be replied, I am not sure if this is necessary):

Dear Consular Officer,

I hope this message finds you well. My name is [NAME] (Date of Birth [DOB]), Passport Number [PN]), and I applied for a Schengen visa through the French Consulate in Guangzhou (VISA No. FRAXXXXX). In line with my rights and following the instructions from CNIL (Commission Nationale de l’Informatique et des Libertés ), I wish to access the information about me entered into the VIS and any other national data system that stores information related to my visa application and entry/exit record.

Could you kindly guide me on:

​ • The appropriate contact or department for this request.

​ • Any specific documents I should provide for verification.

​ • The necessary procedures I should follow.

I truly appreciate your assistance and patience in this matter.

A few days later, I received a reply from the Consulate mentioning that I need to send a letter to the Consulate, including a photocopy of my passport, a photocopy of my ID card and a signed application, and they will forward my request to France (Please send us a formal signed mail stating your request with a photocopy of your passport and identification and we will forward this to the headquaters in France).

Then, I prepared a photocopy of my passport, a photocopy of my ID card, a photocopy of my visa (black and white is enough), and a letter applying for data export. The data export application letter was written based on the data export applicationPDF of Slovenia:

Dear Officer,

According to Art. 38 of the Regulation (EC) No 767/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 9 July 2008 concerning the Visa Information System (VIS) and the exchange of data between Member States on short-stay visas (VIS Regulation) in connection with Art. 15 of the Regulation (EU) 2016/679 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 April 2016 on the protection of natural persons with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data, and repealing Directive 95/46/EC (General Data Protection Regulation), I hereby demand:

- Information about the personal data relating to me being processed in the Visa Information System (VIS).

(If EES is established in the future, you can also apply for your entry and exit data here)

Then I attached my personal information: name, passport, address, date of birth, nationality, visa number

I sent these materials by registered mail and sent an email to remind the Consulate.

Receiving the Exported Data

After one month, I received another email from the Consulate, with a PDF attached, which contains the exported VIS data.

File Cover
File Cover

The file includes 5 chapters: photo, applicant’s basic information, applicant’s citizenship, travel document information, visa information (fields with information are marked with a *, but personal information is hidden):

OriginalEnglish Translation or Brief ExplanationInformation
Pays autorité de saisieAuthority of the receiving countryChina (Central Authority)
Lieu autorité de saisiePlace of receptionGuangzhou
Nom autorité de saisieName of the receiving institutionMinistry of Foreign Affairs
Type autorité de saisieType of receiving institutionConsulate
Lieu dépôtPlace of application submissionGuangzhou
Pays dépôtCountry where the application was submittedChina (Central Authority)
Date demandeRequest date*
Type demande visaType of visa request
StatutStatusVisa Issued
Motif séjourReason for stay
Durée prévue du séjour / transitExpected duration of stay/transit
État membre responsableResponsible member stateFrance
Autorité représentéeAuthority represented
Exemption prise empreintesFingerprint exemptionNo
Prise d’empreintes impossibleUnable to collect fingerprintsNo
Raisons absence empreintesReasons for lack of fingerprints
Personne invitanteInviter
PrénomFirst name*
Compagnie invitanteInviting company
Nom compagnie invitanteCompany nameHotel where you stayed
Adresse compagnie invitanteCompany address*
Prénom personne à contacterContact person’s first name*
Détails du SéjourDetails of the Stay
Destination principaleMain destination
Date arrivéeArrival date*
Date prévue départExpected departure date*
Frontière première entrée prévueExpected first entry border
Route prévue transitPlanned transit route
3. Etat civil du demandeurCivil status of the applicant
Nom de naissanceName at birth
Ancien noms de famillePrevious surnames
PrénomsGiven names*
Date naissanceDate of birth*
Ville naissanceCity of birth*
Pays naissanceCountry of birthChina
Nationalité actuelleCurrent nationalityChinese
Nationalité naissanceNationality at birth
Nom employeurEmployer name
Nom établissement scolaireSchool name
Nom autorité parentale / tuteurName of parent/guardian
Prénom autorité parentale / tuteurFirst name of parent/guardian
4. Document de voyageTravel document
TypeTypeOrdinary passport
Pays de délivranceIssuing country
Date délivranceIssuing date*
Date fin de validitéExpiration date*
OriginalEnglish Translation or Brief ExplanationInformation
StatutStatusVisa émis
Pays autorité de délivranceAuthority of the issuing countryCHINE (Autorité centrale)
Nom autorité de délivranceName of the issuing institutionMinistère des Affaires Étrangères
Lieu autorité de délivrancePlace of the issuing institutionCanton
Type autorité de délivranceType of issuing institutionPoste Consulaire
Date délivranceIssuing date*
Lieu délivrancePlace of issueCanton
Pays délivranceCountry of issueCHINE (Autorité centrale)
Etat membre responsableResponsible member stateFRANCE
Autorité représentéeAuthority represented
Date création décisionDecision creation date*
Délivrance sur feuillet séparéIssued on separate sheetFAUX
Territoire autorisé à circulationTerritory authorized for circulationETATS SCHENGEN
Valable pourValid forETATS SCHENGEN
TypeType (C: Short stay)C : court séjour
Date début validitéStart date of validity*
Date fin de validitéExpiration date*
Durée de validitéDuration of validity*
Nombre entrées autoriséesNumber of permitted entriesPlusieurs
Durée séjour autoriséAllowed duration of stay*


It can be seen that the exported information from VIS only includes the applicant’s own document information and the information of the inviter in the application country. It does not include more information about the travel plan, flight booking and other attachments submitted during the application. However, it is not excluded that the embassy/consulate that reviews the application will store these attachments separately in other places (but at least they should not be shared with other Schengen review institutions, nor will they be displayed to border control officers at ports of entry).