Talk to the hand: New visa rules means applicants need to give the governor the finger, along with a photograph


People applying for a visa to Schengen-member countries will need to provide a digitally scanned fingerprint and photo at The Governor of Svalbard’s office starting Nov. 20.

A Visa Information System (VIS) being implemented in the Schengen Zone is designed to improve border security by storing applicants’ biometric data and travel history in a common database, according to a statement  from the governor. The data will be stored for five years.

“Frequent travelers will in principle only have to complete the procedure once within this period, as the fingerprints may be copied from the previous application file in the VIS,” the statement notes.

Exemptions are provided for children under 12, persons physically unable to provide fingerprints, and heads of state and their spouses during official travel.

Visas issued before Nov. 20 will remain valid until their expiration.