The API system is based on Regulation 2004/82/EU on the obligation of carriers to communicate passenger data.
The obligation of air carriers to communicate API data is governed by
Articles 104 to 104b FNIA.
Purpose of the System
The national API system aims primarily to improve border controls and to combat illegal entry to the Schengen area and through international transit zones at the airports. By requiring air carriers to communicate passenger information to the border control authorities in advance of landing, the authorities can use the time the flight is in the air to conduct preliminary enquiries about arriving passengers and prepare more efficiently for specific flights. The system is also used to combat organised and international crime, terrorism, espionage, acts preparatory to the illegal trade in weapons and radioactive materials and illegal technology transfers
(see Art. 104a para. 1 FNIA).
Access rights and data categories
The authorities responsible for the controls on persons at Schengen external borders may retrieve data from the API system and the results of comparisons with peripheral systems
(Art. 104a para. 3 FNIA).
If it is suspected that a person is committing or preparing to commit organised or international crime offences including terrorist offences, the Federal Office of Police (fedpol) may also retrieve data from the API system
(Art. 104a para. 3bis FNIA).
In order to check whether air carriers are complying with their duty to provide data, and to enforce sanctions, the State Secretariat for Migration SEM may retrieve data from the API system
(Art. 104a para. 2 FNIA).
The API data shall also be transmitted automatically in electronic form to the Federal Intelligence Service FIS
(Art. 104b FNIA).
The following data must be transmitted by air carriers immediately after departure
(Art. 104 para. 3 FNIA):
- biographical data (name, first name, sex, date of birth, nationality) on the passengers;
- number, issuing state, type and expiry date of the travel document held;
- number, issuing state, type and expiry date of the visa or residence permit held, provided the air carrier has these data;
- airport of departure, transfer airports or destination airport in Switzerland as well as details of the flight itinerary booked by the passengers, provided this information is known to the air carrier;
- code of transport;
- number of passengers being carried on the flight concerned;
- planned date and time of departure and arrival.
These data are automatically compared by the API system with the data in peripheral systems (RIPOL, SIS, ZEMIS and ASF-SLTD).
Passenger data is anonymised after 24 hours and stored for statistical purposes.
Flight destinations subject to the duty to provide data
At the request of the border control authorities, fedpol or the FIS, SEM specifies the flight destinations to which the duty to provide data applies and requires the air carriers to transmit personal data on passengers and flight data. Orders imposing or revoking the duty to provide data are issued as general rulings and are published in the Official Federal Gazette.
Air carriers must notify passengers on the flight routes concerned about the collection and transmission of data
(Art. 104 para. 4 FNIA).
Any enquiries about API should be sent to the following e-mail address:
 RIPOL (Recherches informatisées de police): Computerised system that is operated by the Federal Office of Police and consists of a database on wanted persons and lost or stolen vehicles, and a database on unsolved offences and missing property;
SIS: Schengen Information System; database on stolen property and persons wanted by the police, either for extradition, because they are subject to a ban on entry or because they are missing;
ZEMIS: Central Migration Information System (ZEMIS) is a comprehensive database for the processing of personal data in the field of asylum and aliens;
ASF-SLTD: Interpol database for stolen and lost travel documents (SLTD).
Last modification 20.03.2020