European Criminal Records Information System: What is ECRIS and how was it created? 

The acronym ECRIS refers to the European Criminal Records Information System, created in 2012 in order to allow the exchange of information among all Criminal Records Offices in the different European states.

More precisely, it is the information included in national Criminal Records that is electronically exchanged. Judges, public prosecutors, and administrative authorities are those who benefit the most from this, since they can more easily check the criminal background of any EU citizen (or any non-EU citizen who has been living in Europe), irrespective of the Member State in which he/she has been sentenced.

With the exception of Malta, Portugal, and Slovenia, almost all Member States are connected to ECRIS.

The principles on which ECRIS is based can be summarized as follows:

Decentralized information system, i.e. crime-related judicial information is stored in national data-bases and can be exchanged in digital form between the central authorities of the different Member States, upon request of one of them;

All records are managed by the Member State where the author of the crime belongs. Each state has to keep and update all information and, upon request, it has to communicate it to the other Member States; 

If a Member State sentences a citizen from a different Member State, it has to inform immediately the State where the author of the crime belongs;

Information about the sanctions applied are given electronically, by means of a standardized European form.

Pursuant to European Council's Framework Decision 2009/315/JHA, the exchange of information extracted from Criminal Records is allowed also for purposes other than criminal proceedings.

European Criminal Records Information System: How to apply for it and how much does it cost? 

In Italy, the interested person or a delegate can apply to any local Criminal Records Office, i.e. in any Public Prosecutor's Office, for general, criminal, or civil Records, either in person or by mail.

For submitting the application, it is necessary to show a valid ID card or a passport. Non-EU citizens without passport have to show a copy of their residence permits.

Once the document is issued, it is valid for six months.

The costs are as follows:

Certification rights: € 03.87;

Revenue stamp: € 16.00 each (1 stamp every 2 pages).

In case of urgent application (delivery on the same day) there will be an additional cost of € 03.87.

In some special cases, the record will be issued for free, for example if it is needed for adoption or child custody purposes, for labour, social security, and mandatory assistance disputes, for proceedings where the interested person is entitled to legal aid, or for being enclosed in claims for miscarriages of justice.

European Criminal Records Information System: What can you find out? 

ECRIS allows:

- The Italian judicial authority acting against a person to access information relating to any criminal proceedings pending against any Italian, European or non-European citizen;

- The judicial authority of each Member State acting against an Italian citizen to access any information from the Italian Criminal Records relating either to criminal judgments issued in Italy, or to other final judgements issued by the judicial authority of another Member State;

- The Italian public administration to apply to any local Criminal Records Office for

1. European Criminal Records relating to Italian citizens

2. Official information (legally binding) about all judgements issued in Europe against a citizen from another Member State;

- The interested person to apply to any local Criminal Records Office for:

1. His/her European Criminal Records;

2. Official information (legally binding) about all judgements issued against him/her in Europe (in case he/she is a EU citizen).

European Criminal Records Information System: what is different after the introduction of ECRIS? 

If, on the one hand, ECRIS represents a practical and functional system allowing all EU Member States to collect information about possible convictions of its subjects, on the other hand it is not equally efficient in case of records about non-EU citizens.

Indeed, since there is no general archive, it is necessary to turn to the digital archives of each Member State, if one wants to collect records about non-EU citizens. 

Because of this lack, the European Commission has decided to adopt a proposal for a Directive modifying the Framework Decision 2009/315/GAI, with the introduction of a proposal for a Regulation establishing a centralized system which could allow to identify which Member State keeps records about non-EU citizens and stateless persons.

The new ECRIS-TCN system, which will be managed by the European Agency for the operational management of large-scale IT Systems (EU-LISA), will allow, once established, to collect identity records about all non-EU citizens convicted in the EU. 

The proposals for Directive and Regulation, anyway, are still under negotiation, adaptation and approval.

It is also worth noticing, that by circular of 5 April 2018, the Italian Ministry of Justice has announced the beginning of the second phase of the Criminal Records IT Service, which, apart from providing lawyers with information concerning Criminal Records (Article 22 of the Presidential Decree No. 313/2002), will allow local Criminal Records Offices:

- to issue European Criminal Records;

- to provide Criminal Records about non-EU citizens;

Further, pursuant to Art. 28b(3) of the Presidential Decree No.  313/2002, a Central Criminal Records Office will be responsible, upon request of another Member State, for providing European Criminal Records about Italian citizens.

European Criminal Records Information System: Arnone&Sicomo Law Firm 

Our Law Firm gives assistance to foreigners in applying for Criminal Records. Thanks to the new European information network, we are able to check if a foreign clienthas ever been convictedin Europe and why.

Whenever possible, we take care of criminal rehabilitation processes, starting the  Criminal Records Deletion procedure. 

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.