Security Union: European Commission welcomes the final adoption of the new European Criminal Records Information System on convicted third country nationals

This central system aims to improve the exchange of criminal records information regarding convicted non-EU-citizens and stateless persons through the existing European Criminal Records Information System (ECRIS).  

Vĕra Jourová, Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality said: “The new system will make it faster and easier for law enforcement authorities to spot third country nationals previously convicted in the EU, by a simple search in ECRIS.This will help improve police and judicial and cooperation to better fight crime and terrorism across the EU, making Europe a safer place for all of its citizens.”  

Main features of ECRIS TCN 

  • The database will be available online and authorities will be able to easily search with a hit/no-hit search mechanism: a hit will identify the Member States from which full criminal records information of a particular person can be obtained.
  • The system will contain only identity information including fingerprints and, where available, facial images.
  • The system will be managed by eu-LISA, the EU agency responsible for the management of large-scale information systems in the area of freedom, security and justice.
  • In addition to using the system for the purpose of criminal proceedings, it can also be used for other authorised purposes, such as when clearing persons to work with children, or to obtain a license, for instance for handling fire-arms. 

Next steps 

As already adopted by the European Parliament, the new rules will enter into force in all Member States upon publication in the Official Journal in the coming weeks. 

Further legislation proposed by the Commission is also under negotiation which would also make it possible to check the ECRIS-TCN database when a travel authorisation is requested to enter the EU (through the ETIAS system), when considering visaapplications (through the Visa Information System) or when investigating identity fraud.

In those cases only the identity information of those convicted for serious crime or terrorism would be made available. 


ECRIS is currently used around 3 million times a year to exchange information on previous criminal convictions. In around 30% of the cases where criminal records information is requested, a positive reply is given, meaning that actual criminal records information is provided. This is mainly for criminal proceedings. However, it can also be used for other authorised purposes, such as obtaining a licence for firearms, or for a clearance to work with children.

Improving ECRIS with regard to third-country nationals is part of the European Agenda on Security. ECRIS-TCN is also a part of the new approach set out by the European Commission towards data management for borders and security whereby all centralised EU information systems for security, border and migration management should become interoperable in full respect of fundamental rights. 

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