FOR FURTHER READING ON TRAVEL-RELATE ISSUES, VISIT THE FOLLOWING:
- OnceFallen.com’s page on International Megan’s Law — https://oncefallen.com/internationalmeganslaw.html
- Registrant Travel Action Group (covers international travel and maintains “Travel Matrix” list of countries turning away traveling registrants)
- Atwo Zee, Registered Traveler: A blog covering interstate travel (offers a spreadsheet covering traveling to other states as a Registered Person) — https://a2twozee.blogspot.com/
The Traveling Registrant: Your Right of Travel as a Registered Person
Derek W. Logue 
20 April 2013, Updated 18 Nov. 2020
- Registered Citizens have a fundamental right to travel, but are expected to notify the authorities before traveling or face state and/or federal prosecution for Failure To Register (FTR). Courts thus far have ruled registering your travel plans does not infringe upon your right to travel as it does not prevent you from traveling.
- For interstate travel, check with your local registration office as well as the registration office of your travel destination, because each jurisdiction (even those within Adam Walsh Act compliant states) have different rules for travel.
- For international travel, register with your local registration office and contact the Embassy/Consulate of the nation of destination. There is no guarantee of entry into a foreign entry even with a Passport or Visa.
- The so-called “World Passport” is not accepted as a valid document in nearly all nations, and cannot be used as a substitute for an authentic US Passport.
- International Megan’s Law requires 21 days advance notice of International travel, and places a “unique identifier” on the passports of Registered Citizens with offenses against minors. Also, those with offenses against minors cannot receive a “Passport Card.” (The mark was not implemented until October 2017.)
In the summer of 2013, a Registered Citizen prepared for months to celebrate his 25th wedding anniversary, spending over $16,000 for a European cruise to enjoy with his wife. On August 28, 2013, the happy couple went to the Detroit Metropolitan Airport to board a plane to Europe. After checking in, the registrant was pulled off to the side and arrested for failing to properly notify the authorities of his impending trip .
While at first glance, readers may conclude registered citizens cannot travel, but that isn’t necessarily true. However, registered citizens often have special requirements that make traveling difficult. Whether you are traveling to Europe to dance at your daughter’s wedding, heading from LA to Chicago to attend a conference, or working as a long-distance truck driver, your ability to travel is regulated by the registry. This fact guide should help you understand some of the difficulties faced by traveling registrants.
A SUMMARY OF THE RIGHT TO TRAVEL
The right to travel is considered a fundamental right both within the US and internationally.
The “International Bill of Human Rights” is an informal name given to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (adopted in 1948), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966) with its two Optional Protocols, and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1966). The United Nations recognizes the right to travel as a fundamental human right.
Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights reads:
- Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each State.
- Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.
Article 12 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights incorporates this right into treaty law:
- Everyone lawfully within the territory of a State shall, within that territory, have the right to liberty of movement and freedom to choose his residence.
- Everyone shall be free to leave any country, including his own.
- The above-mentioned rights shall not be subject to any restrictions except those provided by law, are necessary to protect national security, public order,
public health or morals or the rights and freedoms of others….
As of 1997, over 130 nations have ratified the entire Covenant. The United States, however, has ratified only the ICCPR, and even that with many reservations, or formal exceptions, to full compliance . It seems ironic that the United States played a role in the creation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights but has yet to sign the Declaration.
From its earliest decisions in the 1790s, SCOTUS has used international law to help resolve major legal controversies. Direct application of customary international law, treaties, or the use of international law as an interpretive tool – numerous cases and lines of cases demonstrate the material role played by international law . In other words, the US is not beyond the reliance of International Law to determine the rights of its citizens.
The United States recognizes a fundamental right to travel. The Articles of Confederation, Article IV, states that “the people of each State shall have free ingress and regress to and from any other State, and shall enjoy therein all the privileges of trade and commerce, subject to the same duties, impositions, and restrictions as the inhabitants thereof respectively.” There are several constitutional bases for the right to travel; the Privileges and Immunities Clause of Article IV, Section 2 of the Constitution; the Privileges and Immunities Clause of the 14th Amendment, and the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment.
“[T]he ‘constitutional right to travel from one State to another’ is firmly embedded in our jurisprudence.” Justice Stevens listed three component parts of the right to interstate travel:
- It protects the right of a citizen of one State to enter and leave another State;
- The right to be treated as a welcome visitor rather than an unfriendly alien when temporarily present in the second State; and
- For those travelers who elect to become permanent residents, the right to be treated like other citizens of that State .
LIMITATIONS ON THE RIGHT TO TRAVEL
The right to travel may be a “fundamental right” but that does not make travel unlimited. The most obvious example is restrictions placed upon those on supervision (i.e., probation or parole). Your P.O. can restrict your activities beyond the guidelines set for non-supervised registrants. It should be assumed if you are on probation or parole, you MUST obtain permission before traveling anywhere, especially out-of-state, even for emergencies. The Pennsylvania statutes offer the following guidelines as one example of this rule:
PA Rule 1405, Sec. 4: “The defendant will not travel outside of Pennsylvania or the community to which he/she has been paroled or placed on probation as defined by his/her Probation/Parole Officer without prior permission .”
107. “The terms and conditions of probation, unless otherwise prescribed, shall be as follows: The probationer shall… (c) Obtain the probation or parole officer’s permission before changing residence or employment or traveling out of State .”
For those of us off supervision but still forced to register as “sex offenders,” the rules are a bit more confusing. Exacerbating this problem is the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act (AWA) of 2006. The AWA was intended to create a minimum yet universal standard of registration and management of those forced to register, but this has proven to be more of a problem than a solution. Currently, only 16 states, 3 territories, and 36 American Indian nations have been deemed “substantially compliant” with the AWA .
A primary problem is state and federal laws differ greatly in determining what triggers the need to register. First, let’s examine the federal statute.
The US Code, 42 USC § 16913 states that sex offenders have a duty to register “not later than 3 business days after each change of name, residence,
employment, or student status.”
The US Code, 18 USC § 2250 establishes the penalties for “Failure to Register:”
(a) In General.— Whoever—
(1) is required to register under the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act;
(2) (A) is a sex offender as defined for the purposes of the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act by reason of a conviction under Federal law
(including the Uniform Code of Military Justice), the law of the District of Columbia, Indian tribal law, or the law of any territory or possession of the
United States; or (B) travels in interstate or foreign commerce, or enters or leaves, or resides in, Indian country; and (3) knowingly fails to register or update a registration as required by the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act; shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 10 years, or both.
(b) Affirmative Defense.— In a prosecution for a violation under subsection (a), it is an affirmative defense that— (1) uncontrollable circumstances prevented the individual from complying; (2) the individual did not contribute to the creation of such circumstances in reckless disregard of the requirement to comply; and (3) the individual complied as soon as such circumstances ceased to exist.
The language of the law is confusing because 42 USC 16913 allows three business days to register a change of “residence, employment, or student status,” but 18 USC 2250 states that if you fail to update your registration while traveling across state lines, onto Indian reservations, or to foreign nations, you are in violation of federal law. This is why the man traveling from Detroit to Europe was arrested; while traveling as a registrant was not illegal, he was required to notify the registration office in advance of his travels.
THE TRAVELING REGISTRANT AND THE COURTS
There are two major cases that have dealt with the issue of the Traveling Registrant.
The case US v. Shenandoah  involved a registrant convicted in 1996. In 2007, Shenandoah’s employment as an iron worker required that he travel to, and relocate in, York County, Pennsylvania. He failed, however, either to register as a “sex offender” in Pennsylvania, or to modify his New York registration to reflect his change of residence and employment, leading to his indictment. The 3rd US Circuit Court ruled against Shenandoah’s claims SORNA did not apply to him because neither New York nor Pennsylvania adopted the AWA. Among the arguments raised in this case:
- The Court ruled SORNA was applied to “individuals” not “states;” SORNA requires you to register in your state of residence and employment;
- An ex post facto claim was raised, but because Shenandoah moved after the AWA was implemented, he could not make the claim;
- The court ruled Shenandoah could not have been ignorant of the duty to register; and,
- The court ruled SORNA did not violate the Commerce Clause.
Tackling the issue of right to travel directly, the 3rd Circuit Court stated, “Shenandoah may travel interstate, but when he does, must register in the new state, while a convicted sex offender who remains within a state need only remain properly registered therein. There is simply no Constitutional violation. Moreover, moving from one jurisdiction to another entails many registration requirements required by law which may cause some inconvenience, but which do not unduly infringe upon anyone’s right to travel. The essential part of the charged crime in this matter is the failure to register; Shenandoah’s right to travel is incidental to this obligation, and not constitutionally offended. Finally, it is worth noting that the Constitutional right of interstate travel is not an absolute right, and the burden imposed upon Shenandoah is necessary to achieve a compelling interest.”
A more recent case arose in the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, US v. Robbins . In August 2011, after traveling from New York to Nevada, Nathan Robbins knowingly failed to update his registration as a “sex offender’ and was arrested for violating SORNA. There is more to this story, of course. Robbins was on probation and tested positive for illegal drugs, which led to eviction from his approved residence. A county court in New York issued a warrant on August 11 for Robbins’ arrest for violation of the terms of his probation. On August 25, U.S. Marshals located Robbins at a casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. Robbins told the marshal who arrested him that he knew about his obligation to register as a sex offender, but had not done so because he knew that a warrant had been issued for his arrest.
It is no surprise here under the circumstances of Robbins, the 2nd Circuit Court ruled in favor of SORNA. The main arguments made by Robbins stem from the decision from the landmark “NFIB” US Supreme Court Ruling (aka, the Obamacare case), in which the majority of Justices agreed individual mandate to buy mandatory health insurance was not a proper use of Congress’s Commerce Clause or Necessary and Proper Clause powers. Robbins argued the 2010 decision of US v. Guzman , the decision that held SORNA was a proper use of Congressional Power under the Commerce Clause. In other words, Robbins argued that because Congress overstepped its authority to force citizens to buy insurance, Congress also overstepped its boundaries by passing a bill forcing people convicted of sex crimes into mandatory registration schemes. It was a clever argument but the 2nd Circuit failed to consider it.
The Robbins case is only worth noting here because of the following remark made by the 2nd Circuit:
“But unlike the uninsured in NFIB, the sex offenders who are subjected to SORNA’s requirements have all, in a sense, “opted in” to the regulated group through their prior criminal activity . And more significantly, whatever else SORNA might require. The registration requirement that Robbins himself failed to meet was triggered by activity: his change of residence and travel across state lines… The Guzman Court may not have explicitly considered how long after travel the federal government’s period of regulation may extend—when, in other words, travel ends and inactivity begins—but since that is a question which NFIB does not itself address, we cannot say that any intervening decision of the Supreme Court undermines the reasoning behind our settled precedent.”
In summary, both Robbins and Shenandoah decisions were not decisions based upon the simple act of traveling instead they involved a failure to properly notify authorities of traveling to another state. It is the act of failing to notify the authorities before traveling that led to criminal sanctions. In other words, the courts have ruled you are reasonably expected to register your travel plans.
INTERSTATE (AND INTRASTATE) TRAVEL
Besides packing sunscreen and downloading itineraries, the Traveling Registrant must register in advance. Each department has different procedures for noting travel plans (though most might simply make a note in your files and just tell you to have fun). My personal suggestion is contacting both your local registration office and the registration office in the county you are going to visit, even when traveling intrastate. It is a hassle, but it may save you some grief in the long run.
The reason for doing this well in advance is states because states define “establishing residence” differently, which triggers mandatory registration at various times . I know what you are thinking at this point—“I am not looking to move to another state, I’m just going on vacation.” Most states do not have statutes for “travel,” but most have laws defining when a person “establishes” a “residence,” even a temporary residence, and it is up to the courts to interpret the statutes and determine whether you ran afoul of the laws. If you wish to travel to Alaska (a non-AWA state), for example, you literally have a single business day to register with the authorities . Oregon law states that registrants “moving into” the state have 10 days to register . I should note that while Oregon does not define “establishing residence,” it defines working/ carrying on a vocation as “works or carries on a vocation means full-time or part-time employment for more than 14 days within one calendar year whether financially compensated, volunteered or for the purpose of governmental or educational benefit .” Alabama’s definitions of “residence” are even more confusing :
(6) FIXED RESIDENCE. A building or structure, having a physical address or street number, that adequately provides shelter at which a person resides.
(7) HABITUALLY LIVES. Where a person lives with some regularity on an intermittent or temporary basis. (8) HOMELESS. A person who has no fixed
(20) RESIDENCE. Each fixed residence or other place where a person resides, sleeps, or habitually lives or will reside, sleep, or habitually live. If a person does not reside, sleep, or habitually live in a fixed residence, residence means a description of the locations where the person is stationed regularly, day or night, including any mobile or transitory living quarters or locations that have no specific mailing or street address. Residence shall be construed to refer to the places where a person resides, sleeps, habitually lives, or is stationed with regularity, regardless of whether the person declares or characterizes such place as a residence…
(30) TEMPORARY LODGING INFORMATION. Lodging information including, but not limited to, the name and address of any location where the person is staying when away from his or her residence for three or more days and the period of time the person is staying at that location.
If you are a resident of Alabama and wish to travel for three days or more, you must acquire a travel permit, which requires you to provide the dates of travel and temporary lodging information . Because Alabama does not make a definitive line separating what constitutes establishing a residence, it is better to play it safe by contacting the county you plan to visit to ensure you will not endure any hardships while visiting Alabama.
Pennsylvania gives a pretty clear guideline for determining when you expected to register. “Residence” is location where an individual resides or is domiciled or intends to be domiciled for 30 consecutive days or more during a calendar year. The term includes a residence which is mobile, including a houseboat, mobile home, trailer or recreational vehicle. “Temporary lodging” is the specific location, including street address, where a sexual offender is staying when away from the sexual offender’s residence for seven or more days . Upon commencement of such “temporary lodging”, the registrant must notify the State Police of their length of stay, dates of travel and location .
The reason I chose to compare Alabama and Pennsylvania is because these states are both considered “substantially compliant” with the Adam Walsh Act. Thus, rules can vary greatly even in AWA-compliant states.
Whatever special rights granted by your state of conviction, they are meaningless in a new state unless that new state recognizes those rights in a statute. Without that statute those rights cease to exist in the new state! The following applies to ANYONE who has EVER registered in ANY state, at some point in their past. Once someone goes on the registry they must sign certain forms, one of the forms they sign may read, “If you move to another state you must register when you get there.” That form and statement is applicable to you for the rest of your life. Courts are taking that as notice of Federal Law (SORNA sec. 2250) which requires you to appear in the state you move to, and follow their registration procedures. That is applicable even if you no longer must register in the state from which you moved!
You can read the laws yourself, but can save time and effort by simply contacting the registration offices both in your home locale and the locale where you will be visiting and inquire about the duties to register as a traveler. Remember, the AWA kicks in the moment you cross a state line , so doing these simple steps will save you from the threat of 10 years in federal prison and, if in one of the 20 states with civil commitment laws, may find yourself indefinitely detained.
If your desire is traveling outside the US, the rules are a little different. First, you must understand that SORNA, the part of the Adam Walsh Act that covers the registry, also dictates rules for registered persons who travel abroad.
“Relevant provisions include SORNA § 128, which directs the Attorney General to establish a system for informing domestic jurisdictions about persons entering the United States who are required to register under SORNA, and 18 U.S.C. 2250(a)(2)(B), which makes it a federal crime for a sex offender to travel in foreign commerce and knowingly fail to register or update a registration as required by SORNA. To carry out its responsibilities under these provisions, the Department of Justice needs to know if sex offenders registered in U.S. jurisdictions are leaving the country, since such offenders will be required to resume registration if they later return to the United States to live, work, or attend school while still within their registration periods. Also, both for sex offenders who are convicted in the United States and then go abroad, and for sex offenders who are initially convicted in other countries, identifying such sex offenders when they enter or reenter the United States will require cooperative efforts between the Department of Justice (including the United States Marshals Service) and agencies of foreign countries. As a necessary part of such cooperative activities, foreign authorities may expect U.S. authorities to inform them about sex offenders coming to their jurisdictions from the United States, in return for their advising the United States about sex offenders coming to the United States from their jurisdictions. For this reason as well, federal authorities in the United States will need information about sex offenders leaving domestic jurisdictions to go abroad in order to effectively carry out the requirements of SORNA § 128 and enforce 18 U.S.C. 2250(a)(2)(B).” [emphasis added] 
The SORNA-created and ironically named “SMART Office” (which has become the US Attorney General’s voice on “sex offenders”) established the International Tracking of Sex Offenders Working Group, in cooperation with representatives of the Department of Justice, Department of Homeland Security, Department of State, and Department of Defense. The goal of this Group for “developing this international tracking system for registered sex offenders is to assist law enforcement in protecting public safety domestically and abroad by accurately identifying any registered sex offender who enters or departs the United States and immediately relaying that information to appropriate law enforcement agencies for any additional action that might be warranted .”
In 2009, U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (NJ-04) wrote and attempted to pass a bill known as International Megan’s Law. It is exactly what you expect—the US is expecting the rest of the world to adopt the same standards as the US in tracking Registered Citizens. While the law itself did not pass, the SMART Office still incorporated International Megan’s Law provisions into the SMART Office guidelines published on January 11, 2011 . What this means for the Traveling Registrant is in order to travel abroad, you are expected to notify the authorities of your intent to travel abroad.
The Michigan registrant arrested at the Detroit Airport at the beginning of this article ran afoul of Michigan law, which gives the following rule:
“An individual required to be registered under this act who is a resident of this state shall report in person and notify the registering authority having jurisdiction where his or her residence or domicile is located not later than 21 days before he or she changes his or her domicile or residence to another country or travels to another country for more than 7 days. The individual shall state the new country of residence or country of travel and the address of his or her new domicile or residence or place of stay, if known. The department shall update the registration and compilation databases and promptly notify the appropriate law enforcement agency and any applicable sex or child offender registration authority .”
The Michigan Coded Law provision is aligned with the federal SORNA guidelines (MI is considered substantially compliant with the AWA). In response to a GAO survey question about advance notice of international travel requirements, 28 reported that they require sex offenders to provide such advance notice, whereas the other 22 do not, primarily because their jurisdiction’s laws do not permit them to do so . This adds to the confusion because SORNA requires a 21 day advance notice of intent to travel internationally , while some states do not even require advance notice of international travel. Furthermore, the National Sex Offender Targeting Center (NSOTG), a division of the US Marshals under the direction of the SMART Office and INTERPOL (using their “RissLEADS server”), even devised a form you can fill out and submit to them prior to travel .
The idea behind this scheme is that the US will grant other nations ample time to be notified and made aware of your intent to travel and of your status as a “sex offender,” and giving that country the option to prevent you from entering the country. The justification for this is the panic over “sex/ human trafficking.” Of greater concern is the intent of this law is an attempt to compel other nations to adopt American sex offender laws, as stated in the GAO report:
“ICE officials explained that it is important for their ICE attachés to inform their foreign law enforcement counterparts about traveling registered sex offenders to assist the counterparts with tracking offenders visiting that country, such as by developing a shared spreadsheet designed to help the country establish its own sex offender registry, and to monitor sex offenders’ activities while in that country.” [emphasis added] 
A handful of nations prevent “sex offenders” or those with criminal records in general from entering the country. It has become well known that Canada has banned anyone with a criminal record from crossing the border (probably thanks to American media shows like America’s Most Wanted in which it was often discussed how fugitives often traveled to Canada to hide from the law). However, someone with a criminal record can obtain a permit to travel into Canada under certain conditions. You must apply for a “Certificate of Rehabilitation;” it is an expensive process and your chances of obtaining it are very slim . Traveling to Mexico has been largely unregulated, though a few individuals have stated they have been recently denied entry into the country .
Appendix II of the GAO report  lists instances where Registered Citizens were denied entry as the result of the advance notices from the US Border and Customs Patrol’s National Targeting Center (NTC) program between October 2011 and September 2012. It is interesting to note that entry was not denied 100% of the time by any nation. Canada, Panama, and The Philippines topped the list in terms of percent denied entry and total number of denials. Other countries that denied entry to at least one occasion were Costa Rica, South Korea, Brazil, Japan, Great Britain, Mexico, Thailand, and Jamaica.
Sex offender registries have thus far been adopted in Australia, Austria, Canada, France, Japan, Ireland, Kenya, the Republic of (South) Korea, and the United Kingdom. The European Union, New Zealand, and Singapore have also been reported as having expressed interest in adopting registries, but have yet to do so . The Island of Malta  and Jamaica  are small island nations with sex offender registries. As found even in the GAO report, registrants have successfully entered countries with registration requirements, though rejections were higher for these countries. As the panic over “sex trafficking/ sex tourism” continue to grow, expect so see the number of denials of entry increase, especially in countries generally considered destinations for those seeking illicit sexual activity .
International Travel can be more confusing than interstate travel because there is honestly no way of guaranteed entry into the country. In the case of the Detroit traveler, there was the possibility that he could have been turned away in Europe and be forced to return to America. Each nation has their own rules for entry, and in many places, nothing more than a passport is required for visits not exceeding 90 days. The place to gather the most accurate information is the nation’s Embassy or Consulate . One other fact worth noting is most European nations—Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland—have adopted the “Schengen Borders agreement,” which allows free travel between nations in the agreement under most circumstances once granted entry into any of the Schengen nations . Various internet websites, blogs and web forums may discuss their personal experiences with international travel, so there are plenty of ways to discover any potential problems with traveling abroad .
Recently, Mexico has been denying entry for registered citizens under an “international exchange program” called “Guardian Angel”; the program boasts of preventing 38 entries over a 9-month period . One can only assume this “Guardian Angel” is Mexico’s immigration network collecting info from INTERPOL. When INTERPOL receives notice a registered citizen is traveled, a “Green Notice is issued to provide warnings and criminal intelligence about persons who have committed criminal offences and are likely to repeat these crimes in other countries. It is an effective way to share key police intelligence on a global scale and to prevent offenders from crossing borders .” No doubt the US is part of this information exchange program, so expect more travel problems for registered persons in the future.
Other nations that have announced programs preventing registered citizens from entering include Sri Lanka  and The Phillipines .
In 2016, the National Association for Rational Sex Offense Laws (NARSOL) created a supplementary group called “Registrant Travel Action Group” (RTAG); RTAG is maintaining a list of nations that have turned registered citizens at the border. This report is based largely upon self-reports from registered citizens in the US who ravel abroad. As of October 27, 2017, 30 countries across the globe (15.4% of the world’s 195 nations) have reportedly turned away at least one registered citizen at the border. 
PASSPORTS AND VISAS
International travel requires an official US Passport for entry. The US Passport is merely a form of ID, not a guaranteed entry into another country. If you are a Registered Citizen living in Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, Delaware, Tennessee, or Oklahoma, there are special marks on your state-issued license identifying you as a Registered Citizen. However, NJ Rep. Chris Smith’s “International Megan’s Law” [HR 515 (114th Congress, 2015)], as passed by the House and Senate, will require registrants to have a “unique identifier” placed on their passports . This bill would cause an affirmative restraint on the ability to travel as a registered citizen.
Registered Citizens, like any other American citizen, can obtain a passport good for 10 years for about $140 plus a $25 “Execution Fee.” (prices as of the original writing of this article) Under previous versions of “International Megan’s Law,” a Registered Citizen’s passports would have been limited to a single year or whatever the Secretary of State decided was an appropriate period to force a Registered Citizen to renew the Passport. This means a Registered Citizen would have had to pay $1650 over the same ten year period for the privilege of carrying a US Passport. In addition, a special registration fee had been proposed to pay before traveling internationally . Thankfully these provisions were taken out of more recent versions of International Megan’s Law without passing.
A “Visa” is a document (or sometimes simply a stamp or mark placed on a valid passport) that allows a conditional entry into a foreign nation. The country issuing the visa typically attaches various conditions of stay, such as the territory covered by the visa, dates of validity, period of stay, whether the visa is valid for more than one visit, etc. A visa generally gives non-citizens clearance to enter a country and to remain there within specified constraints, such as a time frame for entry, a limit on the time spent in the country, and a prohibition against employment. The possession of a visa is not in itself a guarantee of entry into the country that issued it and can be revoked at any time; the applicant’s circumstance, such as financial security, reason for applying, and details of previous visits to the country can be taken into consideration. Some countries require that their citizens, as well as foreign travelers, obtain an “exit visa” to be allowed to leave the country. In some cases, visas are not even issued at all .
One persistent rumor going around is acquiring a so-called “World Passport” to circumvent potential problems as a Registered Traveler (as if being an American Traveler in general is viewed with any less disdain in many parts of the world). American expat Garry Davis created the World Passport in 1948 after renouncing his American citizenship, and wanted to create a world without borders. There are only a handful of nations that have “officially” recognized the World Passport as an acceptable Passport—The Vatican, Ecuador, Tanzania, Mauritania, Zambia, Burkina Faso, and Togo. Two of these nations have since rescinded recognition of the World Passport .
In short, the US Passport should be sufficient for most travels, though Visas may be issued under certain circumstances, particularly in long-term stays abroad. The World Passport is not worth obtaining unless you find small and mostly poor African nations interesting this time of year.
INTERNATIONAL MEGAN’S LAW AND THE “UNIQUE IDENTIFIER”
Most distressing is the adoption of a “unique identifier” to the passports of certain registrants as part of “International Megan’s Law,” which passed into law last year. Since the signing of IML into law on February 8, 2017, registrant activists have been rightfully concerned about the nature of this “unique identifier” to be placed in a “conspicuous location” on the passport.
On October 30th, 2017, the US State Department released the following statement regarding the unique identifiers:
“The IML prohibits the Department of State from issuing a passport to a covered sex offender without a unique identifier, and it allows for the revocation of passports previously issued to these individuals that do not contain the identifier (22 USC 212b).
The identifier is a passport endorsement, currently printed inside the back cover of the passport book, which reads: “The bearer was convicted of a sex offense against a minor, and is a covered sex offender pursuant to 22 United States Code Section 212b(c)(l).” Since endorsements cannot be printed on passport cards, covered sex offenders cannot be issued passport cards.
Only the DHS/ICE Angel Watch Center (AWC) can certify an individual as a “covered sex offender.” Therefore, any questions by the applicant about such status must be directed to and resolved by AWC. (NOTE: We know for certain that “covered sex offense” means an offense against a minor, i.e., anyone under 18 years of age, no matter the offense type.)
Applicants who have questions for AWC regarding their status or believe they have been wrongly identified as a covered sex offender as defined in Title 22 USC 212b(c)(1) should contact AWC at DHSintermeganslaw@ice.dhs.gov.”
Now that the “unique identifier” has finally been implemented, litigation against the US government can continue (prior lawsuits against IML were tossed out on the basis of the law not being “ripe”, i.e., not being established at the time of the lawsuit.
My advice for traveling as a Registered Citizen, regardless whether you are traveling to another state or another country, or even an extended stay in another part of the state, is to check in with your registration office as well as the registration office/ proper authorities of your travel destination to ensure your freedom to travel without arrest. Most of the time, this will be a fairly informal process, but the burden falls on you to understand follow the registration requirements. Even the GAO report admitted there is really no way of knowing if anyone is traveling without notifying the authorities. Just remember there is a Registered Citizen who spent his 25th Wedding Anniversary sitting in a Detroit jail cell instead of in Europe.
Below is an article I wrote covering Interstate Travel for the Informational Corrlinks Newsletter (Issue # 41, March 2019). I am posting it here because I have summarized the right to Interstate travel and added the results from a registry survey conducted by Shawn Rolfe.
One question I get a lot is what happens when a registered person merely travels to another state to visit family or to just take a vacation. There honestly is not an easy answer. Part of the problem is many states do not have laws that address rules for travel. Thankfully, one researcher published a study that helps answer this question.
(Reference: Rolfe, Shawn. “When a Sex Offender Comes to Visit: A National Assessment of Travel Restrictions.” Criminal Justice Policy Review. Nov. 2017. Found online at https://www.researchgate.net/publication/321062728_When_a_Sex_Offender_Comes_to_Visit_A_National_Assessment_of_Travel_Restrictions)
Here are the key findings of this report:
30 states place “visiting” registrants’ information on their state’s SOR website. Of those 30 states, 22 states (AR, CA, CT, FL, GA, ID, IN, KY, MD, MA, MS, MO, MT, NC, SC, SD, TX, UT, VT, VA, WI, WY) never remove the registrant’s information once they have left the state and returned to their permanent place of residence. For these states that do remove nonresident sex offenders from their public sex offender registry, the process for removing a nonresident registrant from their registry appeared to be complex and further time-consuming. For instance, the registrant had to either complete a checking-out process with the registration office in which they originally registered at when they arrived in the state, or the registrant must have their resident state send confirmation to the state in which the registrant visited that they have returned to their place of permanent residence. 22 states never remove nonresident registrant from their public registry; however, MO did state that registrants were removed from the registry, but removal occurs 1 year after the registrant had left their state.
46 states do require nonresident SOs to register with their state. RI suggested that registrants who want to visit their state should first contact the state’s SORN office to determine whether or not they had to register. Three states (NY, OR, PA) did not require registrants who were visiting their state to register. Despite there not being a requirement, each state’s SORN office highly recommended that nonresident registrants contact the registration office closest to where the sex offender will be staying. AL requires their resident registrants to submit a travel permission form (requiring approval) at least 3 business days prior to wanting to travel outside of the state.
29 states (AL, AR, CA, CO*, FL, HI, IL, IA, KY, ME*, MI, MS, MO, MT, NE, NJ*, NM, NC, ND, OH, OK, SC, TN, TX* UT, VA, WA, WI*, WY) indicated that residence restriction laws, where applicable, would need to be followed, too. (States marked with an asterisk did not have a statewide mandate, but nonresident registrants are still required to follow any local residence restriction ordinances, when applicable.) Six states (HI, NM, ND, TX, UT, WA) have residence restriction laws only for registrants currently on probation or parole that also applied to nonresident registrants. There was one state (SC), however, that mandates that any registrant who is required to abide by a residence restriction law in their resident state must adhere to those same guidelines when visiting SC. For example, if a registrant who lives in OH cannot reside within 1,000 feet from schools and daycare centers, then they cannot stay in a location that would violate this policy.
While all but three states (NY, OR, PA) require nonresident registrants to register with the state they are visiting, the maximum number of days allotted in which nonresident registrants can be in the state before having to register varies by state. Depending on the state, such allotments can range from 2 days (NV) to 30 days (AK). Alaska’s SORN Office did, however, state that nonresident registrants were still required to submit a “visitor’s form” to them prior to entering the state. If the registrant is going to be in Alaska longer than 30 days, then they are required to register in-person at one of the state’s designated SOR offices.
The number of days allotted for nonresident registrants to register in another state is not universal; states also have varying definitions on what constitutes as “days.” Some states define “days” as consecutive, which means the registrants’ allotted number of days starts once they have entered the state, regardless of whether it is a business day or not. Some states such as AK, CT, DE, IA, NE, and WY require registrants to register within so many business days after arriving in their state. If the registrant arrives in the state during the weekend or on a holiday, the number of days allotted for the registrant does not start until the first available business day, and is also consecutive.
15 states also include stipulations for a specified number of aggregate days in a calendar year; when a registrant travels in and out of one of these states, they are required to register with that state once the total number of days permitted in a calendar year has been exhausted. The number of aggregate days allotted can range from one state to the next: 3 Days- FL, 5 Days- AR, IL, 7 Days- MO, 10 Days- UT, 14 Days- MA, 30 Days- CA, CO, KY, ME, MN, NM, NC, ND, SC, WI
The location of where nonresidents are required to register when visiting a state also varies. For the states that require nonresident sex offenders to register, one of four law enforcement agencies were used for the purpose of registration: State Police, Sheriff Departments, Department of Corrections, and Local Police Departments. Most states rely on their Sheriff Departments to carry out this task, and in these states that require a visit to the Sheriff’s Department to register, there are usually numerous registration facilities at which nonresident registrants can register. For other states with different registration locations, however, location options are more limited. In Ct, nonresident RSOs are required to register at CT’s State Police Headquarters, which is located in Hartford. This means that regardless of where a registrant plans to stay in CT, the nonresident SO must travel to Hartford within 5 business days of entering the state to register.
Every state had a minimum set of guidelines and requirements for registering nonresident RCs: valid identification, criminal background check, SOR forms, picture taken, fingerprinting, and the physical address of where the registrant will be staying. Some states required nonresident registrants to submit their DNA. And depending on the state, the cost associated with collecting the registrant’s DNA was at the registrant’s own expense. Additionally, some states (n = 12) required registrants to pay a registration fee. These fees ranged from as low as $10 (Alabama) to as high as $100 (Illinois). Anecdotally, the author also learned that the registration process for nonresident registrants could take, on average, an hour or two longer.
Most states relied on the same language or law used to register sex offenders who moved into their state and became a permanent resident for registering nonresident sex offenders. For example, Delaware explicitly states that all sex offenders are to be designated as a “move-in” offender, regardless of the RC’s purpose or how long they intend to be in the state. While most states followed a similar course, a few states did in fact have a statute specifically addressing registrants visiting their state. It should be noted that many of them were not easily interpretable, especially for the layperson.
- This article was created with some assistance from information presented at the 2013 RSOL Conference. However, the article in its current form was created by Derek Logue/ Once Fallen. The info is presented here as a public service to our readers.
- Jameson Cook (Sept. 3, 2013). Child molester in Macomb County stopped from leaving country. Macomb Daily. http://www.macombdaily.com/general-
news/20130904/child-molester-in-macomb-county-stopped-from-leaving-country, Accessed Oct. 16, 2013
- Nancy Flowers (1998). Human Rights Fundamentals Part 1B: A Short History of Human Rights. University of Minnesota Human Rights Resource Center. http://www1.umn.edu/humanrts/edumat/hreduseries/hereandnow/Part-1/short-history.htm, Accessed Oct. 17, 2013.
- See, e.g. Saenz v Roe, 526 U.S. 489 (1999). (quoting United States v. Guest, 383 U.S. 745, 757 (1966)).
- Warren-Forest Court of Common Pleas, Thirty Seventh Judicial District of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. “Rule 1405. Probation/Parole General Rules and Regulations.” http://www.warrenforestcourt.org/Rules/1405
- RULES OF THE SUPERIOR COURT OF THE STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE APPLICABLE IN CRIMINAL CASES FILED IN SUPERIOR COURT AND IN DOMESTIC RELATIONS CASES FILED IN THE CHESHIRE COUNTY SUPERIOR COURT- TERMA AND CONDITIONS OF PROBATION. http://www.courts.state.nh.us/rules/sror/sror-h3-107.htm
- For more on the Adam Walsh Act, visit my Adam Walsh Act fact page here: http://www.https://oncefallen.com/AdamWalshAct.html
- US v. Shenandoah, No. 09-1205. [3rd Circuit, February 09, 2010]
- US v. Robbins, Docket No. 12-3148-cr [2nd Cir., September 3, 2013]
- National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius, 567 U.S. ___ (2012)
- United States v. Guzman, 591 F.3d 83 (2d Cir.2010)
- See also See United States v. Cabrera–Gutierrez, 718 F.3d 873, 879 (9th Cir.2013).
- As an example of the complexity of interstate travel as a registrant , read this 2003 survey of travel requirements from the Interstate Compact website, http://www.interstatecompact.org/Portals/0/library/surveys/SexOffender_Travel_01.pdf
- Alaska Stat. § 12.63.010. (a) A sex offender or child kidnapper who is physically present in the state shall register as provided in this section. The sex offender or child kidnapper shall register (1) within the 30-day period before release from an in-state correctional facility; (2) by the next working day following conviction for a sex offense or child kidnapping if the sex offender is not incarcerated at the time of conviction; or (3) by the next working day of becoming physically present in the state.
- See ORS § 181.597.
- See ORS § 181.594
- See Code of Alabama 1975, Section 15-20A-4
- See Code of Alabama 1975, Section 15-20A-15
- 42 Pa.C.S.A. § 9799.12
- 42 Pa.C.S.A. § 9799.15(g)
- The Adam Walsh Act, Subtitle B, sec. 141-146, granted Federal involvement in sex crime cases; US Marshals given Jurisdiction in investigating and apprehending those who fail to register and cross state lines.
- International Tracking of Sex Offenders Working Group White Paper, Dec. 2010, (p.2) http://www.ojp.usdoj.
- Ibid., p. 3
- eAdvocate/ Sex Offender Research. “Topic: Traveling to Foreign Countries.” eAdvocate: Community Room, May 20, 2011. http://eadvocate-community.blogspot.com/2011/05/topic-traveling-to-foreign-countries.html
- MCL Section 28.725 (7)
- GAO. “REGISTERED SEX OFFENDERS: Sharing More Information Will Enable Federal Agencies to Improve Notifications of Sex Offenders’
International Travel.” February 2013, p.11. http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/652194.pdf
- SMART Office, “International Travel Form.” Spring 2012. http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/smart/smartwatch/12_spring/resources-2.html, Retrieved Nov. 7, 2013
- You can find the interactive application here: http://www.interstatecompact.org/Portals/0/library/misc/USMS_InternationalTravelForm.pdf
- GAO, p.24
- Citizenship and Immigration Canada. “Rehabilitation for Persons Who Are Inadmissible to Canada Because of Past Criminal Activity.” http://www.cic.gc.
- “International Travel – Mexico.” California RSOL, Feb. 8, 2014. http://californiarsol.org/2014/02/international-travel-mexico/
- Chart found on page 39 of GAO report
- Elisabeth K. H. Pasqualini, “Sex Offender Laws Expanding Internationally.” Avvo, Nov. 2012, http://www.avvo.com/legal-guides/ugc/sex-offender-laws-expanding-internationally
- “Three men are on sex offenders’ register.” Malta Star, Oct. 20, 2012. http://www.maltastar.com/dart/20121020-three-men-are-on-sex-offenders-register
- “Sex Offenders’ Registry Being Finalised.” The Gleaner, Oct. 8, 2013, http://jamaica-gleaner.com/latest/article.php?id=48501, Retrieved Nov. 7, 2013.
- As one example, see Park Si-soo, “American Sex Offenders Denied Entry to Korea.” Korea Times, May 8, 2008. http://www.koreatimes.co.
kr/www/news/include/print.asp?newsIdx=23879, Retrieved Nov. 7, 2013. “Americans with a record of committing sex crimes will be forbidden entry into Korea and other Southeast Asian countries, the Ministry of Justice said Thursday… The 21 have been identified as possible child sex tourists to Asian countries and records indicate they have frequently visited Asian countries including Japan, the Philippines, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Korea for sex with child prostitutes,” the U.S. government said in the document.”
- A rather comprehensive list (of unknown date of creation can be found at http://www.paep.uscourts.gov/images/Travel%20Restrictions.pdf. Still, it is suggested to contact the Embassy or Consulate of that nation to request info on current policy.
- “Schengen FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions).” US Dept. of State, http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_4361.html, Retrieved Nov. 7, 2013
- See, for example, “International Travel for Ex Sex Offenders.” http://constitutionalfights.wordpress.com/international-travel/, Retrieved Nov. 7, 2013
- “‘Guardian Angel’ Keeps Sex Offenders Out of Vallarta.” BanderasNews.com, May 9, 2014. http://www.banderasnews.com/1405/nb-mexico-guardian-angel-program.htm, Retrieved July 1, 2014.
- “Sex Offenders.” INTERPOL. http://www.interpol.int/Crime-areas/Crimes-against-children/Sex-offenders, Retrieved July 1, 2014
- “Foreign Child Molesters not allowed into Sri Lanka.” Hiru News. Rayynor Silva Holdings. Asia Broadcasting Corporation. 21 March 2013. Web. <http://www.hirunews.lk/55662>
- Ramirez, Jun. “Manila Bulletin: Sex offenders to be barred from entering Philippines.” Travel Impact Newswire. 7 June 2014. Web <https://www.travel-impact-newswire.com/2014/06/manila-bulletin-offenders-to-be-barred-from-entering-philippines/>
- “Travel Matrix.” Registrant Travel Action Group. Oct. 27, 2017. http://registranttag.org/resources/travel-matrix/, Retrieved Oct. 30, 3017.
- See HR 515 as it left the Senate Committee: https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/114/hr515/text/rs.
- H.R. 1623, 111th; H.R. 5138, 111th; H. R. 3253, 112th
- Andrew Henderson. “Is the World Service Authority passport a real second passport?” Nomad Capitalist, May 28, 2013. http://nomadcapitalist.
com/2013/05/28/is-the-world-service-authority-passport-a-real-second-passport/, Retrieved Nov. 7, 2013
- “Newsroom: Passports and International Megan’s Law.” US Department of State. Oct. 30, 2017. https://travel.state.
gov/content/passports/en/news/passports-international-megans-law.html, Retrieved Oct. 30, 2017