Office of Justice Programs

International Tracking of Sex Offenders

The SMART Office provides guidance on the implementation of the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA) and has been continually involved in the efforts to improve tracking of registered sex offenders traveling internationally since its inception. Through collaborative actions with other federal agencies, the development of policy and guidelines and the publication of relevant resources, the SMART Office plays a vital role in the U.S. government’s overarching efforts to notify foreign countries when registered sex offenders are traveling abroad.

International Tracking of Sex Offenders Working Group

SORNA and the SORNA Final Guidelines tasked the U.S. Department of Justice with creating a tracking system for sex offenders who enter and depart the United States. To that end, the SMART Office organized the International Tracking of Sex Offenders Working Group in 2008. This working group, comprising more than 20 component agencies and offices within the Departments of Justice, Homeland Security, State and Defense, proposed a system using existing resources, outlined in the International Tracking of Sex Offenders Working Group White Paper. The working group, chaired by SMART, has met regularly over the past 10 years, most recently in May 2017.

SORNA & Advance Notice of International Travel

In 2011, the Department of Justice released the SORNA Supplemental Guidelines that require registered sex offenders to inform their residence jurisdiction of any intended travel outside of the United States at least 21 days prior to their departure, and the registration jurisdiction to collect information about the offender’s intended international travel. The jurisdiction is required to send that information to the U.S. Marshals Service’s National Sex Offender Targeting Center, who, in turn, reviews and forwards it to INTERPOL-Washington for foreign country notification.

International Megan’s Law

In 2016, Congress passed International Megan’s Law, which codified the 21-day advance travel notification requirement, and built on the work of the U.S. Marshals Service’s National Sex Offender Targeting Center. It also specifically authorized the work of the Department of Homeland Security’s Angel Watch Center, which uses passenger manifest data and criminal history record information to detect persons convicted of sex offenses against minors who are traveling to countries where the sexual exploitation of children is most likely to occur.

The SMART Office published a two-page summary of International Megan’s Law shortly after its passage.

Additional Resources

In 2013, the Government Accountability Office issued a comprehensive report detailing the efforts to track registered sex offenders traveling internationally, including the work of the SMART Office and the International Tracking of Sex Offenders Working Group.

The SMART Office published a Global Overview of Sex Offender Registration and Notification Systems, most recently updated in 2016. 

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