Biometrics

You may be required to provide your biometric information as part of the visa application process.

Biometric information means information about your distinctive physical characteristics including -

  • (a) measurements or other assessments of those characteristics, and
  • (b) information about those characteristics held in automated form,
  • and references to the provision by a person of biometric information mean its provision in a way that enables the identity of the person to be investigated or ascertained.

For the purposes of the visa application process it refers to the capture of your fingerprints and, in some cases, a digital image of your face.

Countries in which visa applicants are required to provide their biometrics

Since March 2010, visa applicants residing in Nigeria (irrespective of nationality) have been required to provide their biometric information as part of the application process.

If you are resident in China, India or Pakistan you are required to provide your fingerprints each time you apply for a visa to Ireland.

The requirement to provide biometric information as part of the visa process is likely to be rolled out in other locations in the future.

Capture of biometric information

Capture of your biometric information will take place at an Irish visa application centre (VAC). Visa applicants, other than those who are exempt from the requirement to provide their biometric information are required to present in person to one of the Ireland VACs in Abuja or Lagos, as currently operated by VFS Global.

The capture of your biometric information will take place when you are submitting your documents to the Visa Clerk at the VAC. Your four fingers and thumb of each hand will be electronically scanned. It may be necessary in certain circumstances for your prints to be taken a second time, and you will be required to return to the VAC for this purpose.

The equipment complies with international safety standards. No ink, liquids or chemicals are used in the capture of your fingerprints.

Children

If your children are aged 5 years or over they will need to provide their fingerprints and therefore should accompany you to the relevant VAC.

Persons between the ages of 5 and 17 years (inclusive) should be accompanied by their parent/guardian or other responsible adult while their prints are being taken.

Children under 5 years are not required to provide their fingerprints but will still require their own visa to enter Ireland.

Missing fingers

If any of your fingers are missing you will still need to provide the prints of your remaining fingers. A note will be taken by the Visa Clerk at the VAC of the fact that some fingers are missing.

Injured or decorated fingers

If you have cut or injured any of your fingers you should wait until the injuries have healed before you submit your visa application. If you attend at the VAC while you have any injured fingers, your visa application will not be accepted and you will be asked to return when your injuries have healed.

Likewise, if you have applied any decoration to your fingers (e.g. henna) you should wait until this has faded completely before applying for your visa. If you attend at the VAC with any decoration on any of your fingers your visa application will not be accepted and you will be asked to return when all of your fingers are undecorated in any way.

The onus is on you to provide a set of fingerprints of sufficient quality to be of use to the system. Failure to do so is likely to result in the refusal of the visa.

Refusal to give biometric information

If you refuse to provide your biometric information your visa application will be deemed incomplete and will be refused. Any appeal you subsequently submit will not be considered without your fingerprints first being provided.

Storage of biometric information

Your fingerprints will be stored on a central official database in Ireland and will be checked against all records held on this database. In some cases it may be necessary for you to return to the VAC to have your prints retaken before a decision can be made on your visa application.

Arrival in Ireland

Amongst other checks, an Immigration Officer may require you to provide fingerprints on arrival at an Irish Port of Entry for the purposes of confirming your identity and/or immigration history.

Access to your biometric records

Only authorised Irish Government officials will have access to these records.

Sharing of biometric information

Your fingerprint records, and the results of any database searches, may be disclosed to other Irish Government Departments and/or Agencies, including An Garda Síochána (Irish Police), as well as to public authorities of the European Union/EEA and/or other States, including for the purpose of identification and/or immigration history.

Retention of biometric information

Your fingerprint records will be kept for 10 years from the date they were provided, and will then be destroyed. This period is subject to review in accordance with Irish law.