Frequently asked questions about Dublin Procedure and Eurodac

Dublin Procedure

The Dublin Area comprises the 28 EU member states and Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and Liechtenstein. It is based on two regulations of the European Council and the European Commission that determine which Dublin member state is responsible for conducting the asylum procedure, the aim being to prevent persons from lodging multiple applications in different countries. The Dublin Procedure does not set a unified asylum procedure for the whole of the Dublin Area, it simply determines which Dublin member state is responsible for handling a given application. Once it has been determined which member state is responsible, this country applies its own national law.

There are a number of criteria determining which member state is responsible for conducting the asylum procedure. For example, a Dublin member state may be responsible if the asylum seeker has already lodged an asylum application or been through the asylum process in that country. It may also be responsible if a close family member of an asylum seeker has already lodged an asylum application in that country or resides there legally. A member state may also be responsible if it has issued a visa or residence permit to the asylum seeker or if the asylum seeker has lived illegally in the country for any length of time.

By making just one member state responsible for each asylum seeker, the aim of the Dublin System is to prevent a person from submitting multiple asylum applications in different countries. The Dublin Procedure only applies to citizens of third countries, i.e. persons who are not nationals of Dublin member states. It does not apply if someone from a Dublin member state applies for asylum in Switzerland; instead, bilateral reassignment agreements usually apply.

When someone lodges an application for asylum in Switzerland, they are questioned and their fingerprints compared with the Eurodac central unit in order to ascertain whether they have already undergone the asylum procedure in another Dublin member state.

In most cases, it is clear which member state is responsible. If not, the asylum seeker is questioned in order to discover other relevant information, e.g. if close family members are residing in other Dublin member states, which will also help to determine responsibility. If the Swiss authorities consider that another Dublin member state is responsible, this country is asked to accept the asylum seeker (‘outgoing procedure’). If the other member state accepts this, Switzerland dismisses the application and the asylum seeker has to leave the country and return to the member state responsible, which is required to process the asylum application. Of course, the same applies to Switzerland: if an asylum seeker lodges an application in another Dublin member state and it is determined that Switzerland is the state responsible, Switzerland must admit the asylum seeker (‘ingoing procedure’) and process their asylum application.

Eurodac

No. Access to Eurodac data is restricted. Member states can only store and compare data, but not request other data. Also, the fingerprint forms contain a numerical code that is issued by the competent member state and can only be decrypted by the same member state. The code does not reveal the identity of the person.

Depending on the category of the person, fingerprints are stored for 10 years (asylum seekers) or 18 months (illegal migrants to the Dublin Area). The fingerprints of people who reside illegally in a Dublin member state are not stored but merely transmitted to Eurodac for comparison. The storage period is the same as the standard Swiss periods for asylum seekers.

A member state that has granted a person asylum or naturalised that person must ensure that his or her fingerprints are deleted from Eurodac as soon as the asylum or naturalisation decision is made. The Council Regulation on Eurodac grants any person affected the right to access information and to have incorrect information corrected. Accordingly, if the person affected requests information on the stored data, the Dublin member state taking the fingerprints must provide this and delete the data if requested to do so. Persons whose fingerprints are taken in the course of a Eurodac procedure must be informed in advance why this is done and that they have a right to access information and to have incorrect information corrected.

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