top of HQ building

The Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) was established in 1909 as the Foreign Section of the Secret Service Bureau. The Foreign Section's responsibility for overseas intelligence collection has been retained ever since by SIS under a variety of names and acronyms. This responsibility was placed on a statutory basis in the Intelligence Services Act 1994.

SIS contributes to the larger inter-departmental national intelligence community, where it works closely with the other two British intelligence and security agencies, Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) and the Security Service (MI5).

Statutory basis

Until 1994 SIS did not have a statutory basis and its existence was not publicly confirmed before it was formally avowed in 1992. The Service was put on a statutory basis with the Intelligence Services Act (ISA) 1994.

The Intelligence Services Act was very important for SIS because it: