Discreet Confidential Consultation (213) 374-3952


Can a Sex Offender Travel to Another Country?

Posted by Ronald D. Hedding | Apr 04, 2024

Under various laws, registered sex offenders can typically obtain a passport and travel internationally, but there might be some restrictions on where they can travel.

Under United States federal laws, they are allowed to travel outside the country, but other countries might have entry restrictions against registered sex offenders.

Simply put, a registered sex offender is allowed to leave the United States to travel internationally as there are no local laws prohibiting traveling abroad, but there are some countries that will refuse entry.

Any refusal to allow a registered sex offender entry into a country is often based on someone's criminal history, as many countries will ban travelers if they have a felony conviction, regardless of the type of crime.

Can a Sex Offender Travel to Another Country?
Sex offenders in the United States can travel internationally but have some conditions.

Registered sex offenders can generally travel to any country that does not conduct a criminal background check before letting someone enter. Most countries do not review the criminal record of a United States citizen before allowing them to visit. 

Most countries only require a valid passport issued by the U.S. government to enter. Only a few require disclosing someone's criminal record on their visa application. There will also likely be notification requirements to meet before leaving, and sex offenders might also receive extra screening on return.

Being required to register as a sex offender will typically have restrictions on where they can work or live but will not generally affect their ability to travel internationally. However, it's important to note that some countries will turn away sex offenders.

Sex offenders who travel abroad and are denied entry into their destination country will have to return to the United States by the same airline. To ensure you can travel to a particular country, seek legal advice from a local attorney or call the country's consulate or U.S. embassy.

Which Countries Will Not Allow Sex Offenders to Enter? 

Sex offenders must typically notify local authorities of their travel plans, especially international travel. As noted, the U.S. allows you to travel outside the country, but you could have trouble with border officials when entering other countries. Some countries will not usually allow a registered sex offender to enter their country, including the following: 

  • Australia,
  • Canada,
  • China,
  • Jamaica,
  • Japan,
  • Korea,
  • Mexico,
  • Philippines,
  • Russia,
  • Thailand,
  • United Kingdom.

Further, having a criminal record might cause issues with visa eligibility or entry permits in some countries. Sometimes, the visa may be denied, or you might be asked to explain your crime and why you are in their country.

In some countries, sex offenders are required to register with their local authorities after arrival. This means they must personally report to a police station in the area and give detailed information about their plans while in the country. Failure to comply could result in deportation.

Sometimes, a registered sex offender might have trouble getting back into the United States as it reserves the right to deny entry to registered offenders. If you followed all protocols, you could still face intense screening and questioning upon re-entry.

What Does Federal Law Say?

34 U.S. Code 20914 Information required in registration says, “The sex offender shall provide the following information to the appropriate official for inclusion in the sex offender registry:

(1) The name of the sex offender (including any alias used by the individual).

Sex Offender Registration

(2) The Social Security number of the sex offender.

(3) The address of each residence where the sex offender resides or will reside.

(4) The name and address of any place where the sex offender is or will be an employee.

(5) The name and address of any place where the sex offender is a student or will be a student.

(6) The license plate number and a description of any vehicle owned or operated by the sex offender.

(7) Information relating to the sex offender's intended travel outside the United States, including any anticipated dates and places of departure, arrival, or return, carrier and flight numbers for air travel, the destination country and address, or other contact information therein, means and purpose of travel, and any other itinerary or other travel-related information required by the Attorney General.

(8) Any other information required by the Attorney General.

Do Sex Offenders Have to Notify Law Enforcement?

The International Megan's Law (IML) amended the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA) by requiring registered sex offenders to report their intent to leave the country with their local sex offender registry.

This means registered sex offenders could be required to report their travel plans with a minimum notice of 21 days. The information you might be required to provide includes the following: 

  • Dates and specific places of departure and arrival.
  • Airline information and flight numbers.
  • Names of the countries you are visiting.
  • Purpose of your international travel.
  • Proposed itinerary.
  • Address and contact information abroad.

If you fail to notify authorities of your intent to travel internationally correctly, you could be charged with a crime that carries up to ten years in federal prison.


If you are still on probation from a sex offense conviction, you should expect to face additional requirements and limitations.

Sex offenders are required to notify their probation officer before they leave the county, state, or country. If your probation officer approves travel, you can leave the country. Their decision on whether to approve or deny travel is based on the reasons for making the trip.

What is the International Megan's Law?

International Megan's Law (IML) affects the international travel of registered sex offenders. It was enacted in 2016 to help prevent child exploitation and other sexual-related crimes through sharing information between countries.

The IML requires the United States government to inform officials in a foreign country when a registered sex offender is planning to visit their country. Further, the IML requires that a "unique identifier" be placed on the passport of registered sex offenders, which alerts foreign immigration officers of someone's sex offender status.

This unique passport identifier can affect the country's decision to allow the individual into its country. It also means they can only have a passport book, not a passport card.

The IML further mandates that sex offenders must report any intended travel outside the U.S. at least 21 days in advance. If they fail to comply with this requirement, it can result in criminal charges. 

Simply put, the IML has broad implications for registered sex offenders. The unique identifier on their passport often leads to increased scrutiny and denial of entry into some countries. Also, the requirement for advanced notification usually makes international travel more difficult and sometimes impossible.

What are Some Tips for Handling Legal Requirements?

Any registered sex offender who wants to travel internationally must take time to read and understand these laws to avoid unexpected scrutiny and delays. Thus, some tips on how to handle all the legal requirements include the following:

  • Consult with an attorney about your legal obligations under the law and the possible implications of your sex offender status in the country where you plan to travel or
  • Call the country's consulate or embassy in the United States.
  • Advanced planning will be required under International Megan's Law (IML). This means you will need to plan well ahead when traveling.
  • Following local laws in the destination country is essential to avoid further legal complications. It would be best if you tried to become familiar with and respect these local laws. 

Any sex offenders who travel abroad and are denied entry into their destination country are required to return to the United States on the same airline. The “Travel Matrix” indexes the country's current registrant entrance and policies and which countries deny entry to sex offenders.

Some countries may restrict registered sex offenders from entering once customs agents see the “sex offender” identifier on their passports. There might also be some notification requirements before leaving. Sex offenders often face extra screening on return to the United States.

The simple answer to the question of whether registered sex offenders can travel internationally is yes, with conditions. In the United States, registered sex offenders are not prohibited from traveling internationally, but other countries have their own rules that can make it difficult.  

Many convicted sex offenders face additional screening when returning to the United States from abroad. Contact us for more information or a case review. The Hedding Law Firm is based in Los Angeles, California.

Related Content:

About the Author

Ronald D. Hedding

What Makes Ronald Hedding Uniquely Qualified To Represent You? I've been practicing criminal defense for almost 30 years and have handled thousands of cases, including all types of state and federal sex crime cases. All consultations are discreet and confidential.

Contact Us Today

Hedding Law Firm is committed to answering your questions about state or federal sex crime issues in California and throughout the United States.

I'll privately discuss your case with you at your convenience. All consultations are free, discreet, and confidential. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.