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European Dactyloscopy (Eurodac) is the European Union (EU) fingerprint database for identifying asylum seekers and irregular border-crossers. Asylum applicants and irregular border-crossers over the age of 14 have their fingerprints taken as a matter of EU law. These are then sent in digitally to a central unit at the European Commission, and automatically checked against other prints on the database. This enables authorities to determine whether asylum seekers have already applied for asylum in another EU member state or have illegally transited through another EU member state ("principle of first contact"). The Automated Fingerprint Identification System is the first of its kind on the European Union level and has been operating since 15 January 2003. All EU member states currently participate in the scheme, plus three additional European countries: Norway, Iceland and Switzerland.
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