About e-Document formats used in the European Criminal Records Information System (ECRIS)


ECRIS is an ICT system that was implemented to enable an efficient exchange of information on criminal convictions between EU member states. The system is based on a decentralised IT architecture: conviction data is stored solely in national repositories and exchanged upon request from another member state. As it is obligatory for a Member State to share the conviction data of their citizens upon request, it is obligatory for a convicting Member State to send information and updates on the conviction of EU nationals to the Member State of nationality.

The ECRIS system was expected to be implemented in all Member States by April 2012. To date, 25 Member States are exchanging criminal record information through ECRIS.

The exchange of information is done electronically through a standardised European format which was set up specifically for the exchange of criminal records, as described in the Council Decision of 6 April 2009 on the establishment of ECRIS:

Therefore, a standardised format allowing information to be exchanged in a uniform, electronic and easily computer-translatable way as well as any other means of organising and facilitating electronic exchanges of information on convictions between central authorities of Member States should be set up”.


  • Number of available e-Document formats: in the Business Analysis, four e-Documents formats are described:
  1. Notifications: Criminal records and sanctions;
  2. Requests: Specific request for a specific person (this includes nominal information, identity information and the associated criminal record)
  3. Response on requests: “Notification” in specific information flow;
  4. Acknowledgements: administrative and error messages.

In the ECRIS Framework Decision, the two annexes A and B describe all the codes of the offences and sanctions included in the common reference tables and the national reference tables. 188 offences categories are counted in the reference table, along with 70 penalties and measures categories.


  • Number of known implementations in production-grade software: in 2012, ECRIS RI was developed by DG JUST. ECRIS RI represents the Reference Implementation software to exchange data concerning criminal records between Member States: “The ECRIS RI offers an integration interface which by means of web services allows external access to the RI functionalities. This enables the connection of the RI with Member States legacy systems such as the criminal record registers for example.”

The Reference Implementation software is designated to be used by all Member States. Currently, of the 25 participating Member States, 21 use the Reference Implementation, while the 4 others (Luxemburg, Spain, Lithuania and Finland) use their own implementation software complying with the standards. In the long-term, when all 28 Member States will be interconnected, 24 of them should be using the Reference Implementation, while the 4 others use their own implementation as mentioned before. This leads to a total of five implementations.

  • Number of e-Document exchanges annually: in 2013, 862.643 e-Documents were exchanged. 71.887 e-Dcouemnts were exchanged per month. As the project matures, this number is growing.

e-Document engineering method

  • Methodology: No standardised e-Document engineering method has been used.
  • Library of data elements: The ECRIS domain model constitutes a reusable library of data elements. The domain model has both a UML (conceptual model) and XSD (logical model) representation. ECRIS itself does not reuse existing data elements.

At value level, ECRIS promotes the use of reference tables, which categorizes offences and penalties based on codes, facilitates automatic translation and enhances the understanding of information transmitted.

The ECRIS Technical Specifications - Business Analysis further elaborates on the use of reference tables (General Secretariat of the Council, 2010).

Some of the information elements described in the domain model have been codified and only allow using one of a list of predefined values.

The common reference tables define lists of values that are common for all Member States. The definitions and detailed content of these common reference tables can be found in the spread sheet “Common Reference Tables”.

In addition to the common reference tables, the domain model foresees that for some fields national reference tables may be used. These tables are not common but are specific to the sending Member State. Each Member State may decide to share its national reference table with one or more other Member States so as to facilitate the information exchanges.

The ECRIS format is documented in the ECRIS Technical Specifications – Technical Architecture and the ECRIS Detailed Technical Specifications.

  • Naming and design rules: There are no XML Schema design rules, however, the naming conventions are based on ISO 11179. Furthermore, an “Object:Property” scheme is used, where Object is the class term, and Property is an element belonging to the referenced class term. The names are written with a CamelCase format. For example, the “Person” class has a property named “PersonSurName”.
  • e-Document engineering tools: XML Spy from Altova.
  • Representation techniques: the format is defined using XML Schema, derived from a conceptual model in UML.


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European Commission
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