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  • Passports for Registered Sex Offenders: What You Need to Know

    Passports and Sex Offender Registry

    If you or someone that you know has been convicted of a sex crime that requires registration on a federal and/or local sex offender registry, you may have a lot of questions about what that means with regards to travel outside of the country.

    (Please note that this article should not be construed as legal advice. We have gathered information that is accurate to the best of our knowledge, but you should consult with a lawyer to verify your complete rights and restrictions.)

    People who are registered sex offenders may be able to get a passport in the U.S.  The one big exception is for people who have been convicted of sex crimes against children. Last May, the federal government enacted a new statute that requires anyone convicted of a sex crime against a child to be issued a special registered sex offender passport that identifies that person as a child sex offender.

    If you have been convicted of such a crime and still have your old passport, it is likely no longer valid. You should have been notified via letter that your passport is not valid and that, if you wish to travel internationally, you must reapply for a new passport that identifies you as a sex offender.

    Practically speaking, this new marked passport works the same way as anyone else’s passport. However, you should be aware that having such a passport may mean that you are barred from entering certain countries. It is up to the discretion of each country to decide who they will let in.

    There are also some registered sex offenders who cannot get passports at all. If you have ever been convicted of a sex tourism crime — traveling to another country with the intent of engaging in sexual acts with minors — or a sex trafficking crime, you may be barred from ever traveling internationally.

    What if I have been removed from the registry?

    Every state has different rules about sex offender registration. Some states require people who have been convicted of sex offenses to register for life. Others require periods of registration ranging from five years to life depending upon the severity of the crime.

    In most cases, sex crimes against children are considered aggravated crimes, and this means that they come with harsher penalties. In most cases, people convicted of sex crimes against children will be required to register for life.

    However, if a past conviction is overturned or if you are pardoned, you may be able to get your name off of the registry. That said, sex crimes against children cannot be expunged from your record, so even if you are pardoned, your conviction might stay on your record, which means that you would still need to have a passport that identifies you as a sex offender, even if you are no longer required to be registered.

    This is where things get murky and we highly suggest speaking to a lawyer. You can also reach out to us any time to learn more about this sensitive topic.

    3 thoughts on “Passports for Registered Sex Offenders: What You Need to Know”

    1. This is coming from an RSO who has just recently renewed an expired passport. My old one expired in Oct 2017, I did not renew until Oct 2018. I filled out all the paperwork and used a third-party to expedite it. I was fully expecting to receive a new passport with the new notation on p 27. What I received was a new passport with no nothing on it at all. I have a trip booked for next week to a country that from my research, allows us to enter. Last week I started getting nervous about my passport, so I went to my local passport processing center. They were VERY helpful. When she entered my information it showed NOTHING, no alerts and no notations. Now this would be good news if we did not have to do the Angel Watch notification, but since we do, the info would not match up and I would have very likely been accused of using a fake passport. So I went ahead and had them issue me a new, corrected passport. A couple of things I want to share so people can get it done correctly the first time as well as quash any rumors.
      1) When submitting a renewal or first time passport, you must also submit a brief letter stating that you are on the National Sex Offender Registry. There is no question to answer or box to check, nor does it say this anywhere on their site, we are EXPECTED to know this. Not fair, but it is wnotation “at it is.
      2) There is NOTHING on the main page of your passport that shows you are a RSO. No red R, no SEX OFFENDER, no Scarlet Letter. On the front page there is a section called ENDORSEMENTS and there it does say See P 27. On P. 27 is the following “The bearer was convicted of a sex offense against a minor and is a covered sex offender pursuant to 22 United States Code Section 212.B(C)(1).

      I will update my story next week when I actually use it for the first time.

    2. I wanted to give everyone an update as my vacation started on Monday. I had zero issues at my US airport. When I landed in Amsterdam I went through customs and, drum roll please, had ZERO issues. The customs officer looked at picture page and found a page to stamp and that’s it.

      So I can tell you for certain that Amsterdam is a safe place to go.

      Next update on the return home on Friday.

    3. tried visiting out of there country had a n old pass port just before i was to board the plane bag baggage on the plane al ready was called to verify my passport which then i learned of this new reg sex off policy… i was denied travel .. security kept my passport stating it has been revoked… never getting a letter …. once i finally got home there was the letter from UPS waiting stating the issues go R S O travel… so sad

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