The register will allow data from the 250 million or so travelers who enter the country every year to be checked against police records, as part of a new structure in place to fight terrorism.
Minister Juan Ignacio Zoido assures that all personnel and IT systems are ‘ready and waiting’ to start work on the PNR, but a new law allowing it to be used will have to be passed by the central government first.
The PNR will rely on the Passenger Information Unit, part of Spain’s Intelligence Centre for Terrorism and Organised Crime (CITCO), made up of 250 National Police and Guardia Civil officers.
Both units will receive data from millions of airline passengers a day after they land in Spain, including their identities, booking date, travel itinerary and method of payment.
It is not known how far this will affect residents returning to Spain from holidays.
Data will be stored on the system for six months, after which it will be encrypted and, after five years, wiped altogether in compliance with the requirements of the national Data Protection Agency, which will monitor the system periodically.
Zoido says a PNR would have allowed authorities to trace the movements of the infamous Iman from Ripoll, Girona province, who is said to have been the brains behind the fatal attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils, Tarragona province in August, and who was killed before they took place after a house in Tarragona, loaded with explosives, blew up.
Once the PNR is in place, it is likely that, at least at first, passport control queues for entering Spain will become longer, although it is hoped that extra border police will be on duty to prevent exceptionally long delays.