Biometrics (Fingerprinting)

From March 2010, the Irish Government began collecting biometric data in the form of fingerprints as part of the visa application process.

This commenced in Nigeria, and is likely to be rolled out in other locations at a later date.

Biometrics - Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is Biometric Information? 
  2. Who needs to provide fingerprints? 
  3. Will my children need to provide their fingerprints? 
  4. How will you take my fingerprints? 
  5. Is the equipment used for taking my fingerprints safe? 
  6. Will I have to provide my fingerprints every time i apply for a visa to Ireland? 
  7. What happens if any of my fingers are missing? 
  8. What happens if any of my fingers are injured or decorated? 
  9. What will happen if I refuse to give my fingerprints? 
  10. What will you do with my fingerprint records? 
  11. What happens on my arrival in Ireland? 
  12. Who will have access to my fingerprint records? 
  13. How fingerprint records be shared with? 
  14. How long will you keep my fingerprint records? 

 

Q1. What is Biometric Information?

Biometric Information means information about the distinctive physical characteristics of a person 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.

From March 2010, the Irish Government will begin collecting biometric data in the form of fingerprints as part of the Visa Application Process.

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Q2.  Who needs to provide fingerprints?

Collection of biometric data will commence in Nigeria in March 2010 and is likely to be rolled out in other locations at a later date.

Therefore, all visa applicants aged 6 years and over, residing in Nigeria (irrespective of nationality), must present in person to one of the Ireland Visa Application Centres (VAC) in Abuja or Lagos, as currently operated by VFS Global.

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Q3. Will my children need to provide their fingerprints?

If your children are aged 6 years or over they will need to provide their fingerprints and therefore should accompany you to the relevant VAC. Persons between the ages of 6 and 17 years (inclusive) should be accompanied by their parent/guardian or other responsible adult while their prints are being taken.

Children under 6 years are not required to provide their fingerprints but will still require their own visa to enter Ireland.

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Q4.  How will you take my fingerprints?

This process will take place when you are submitting your documents to the Visa Clerk at the VAC in Abuja or Lagos. 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.

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Q5. Is the equipment used for taking my fingerprints safe?

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

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Q6. Will I have to provide my fingerprints every time I apply for a visa to Ireland?

Yes. You will be required to provide your fingerprints each time you apply for a visa to Ireland.

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Q7. What happens if any of my fingers are missing?

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

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Q8. What happens if any of my fingers are injured or decorated?

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, the applicant, 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.

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Q9. What will happen if I refuse to give my fingerprints?

If you refuse to provide your fingerprints 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.

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Q10. What will you do with my fingerprint records?

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.

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Q11. What happens on my 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.

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Q12. Who will have access to my fingerprint records?

Authorised Irish Government Officials will have access to these records.

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Q13. Who will my fingerprint records be shared with?

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.

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Q14. How long will you keep my fingerprint records? 

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.

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July 2011