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Am I Allowed to Travel Internationally as a Registered Sex Offender?

Posted on August 13, 2023 in Sex Crimes

Being convicted of a sex crime in Arizona can have wide-ranging consequences. One possibility is becoming a registered sex offender – something that will follow you for life. As a registered sex offender, you may be barred from entering certain countries. Whether or not you can travel to an international destination depends on the rules in that country.

Approval for Entry Varies From Country to Country

Unfortunately, it is not always possible to predict whether a foreign country will allow you to enter with a sex crime conviction on your record. This is because the decision to permit or deny someone entry is left up to authorities in that country. In many cases, individuals do not know whether they can enter a country until they get to the customs checkpoint at the airport in that country. The decision can depend on many factors, including the circumstances and severity of the crime. 

One thing you can check is whether the foreign country permits convicted felons to enter its borders. While not all sex crimes in Arizona are charged as felonies, if you were convicted of a felony sex crime, this could bar you from entering many countries around the globe based on the felony alone. Countries that do not allow convicted felons to enter include China, Kenya, India, Japan, New Zealand, Israel, South Africa, Iran, the United Kingdom, Cuba and Taiwan.

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How to Travel Internationally as a Registered Sex Offender

If a criminal case against you in the United States required you to register as a sex offender, anticipate problems entering a foreign country. While this is not a guarantee, it is in your best interests to prepare as much as you can for this possibility ahead of time. Take the following steps before traveling:

  • Research the laws in the country where you wish to go. You may be able to find information about a country’s rules for entry online. Several countries have published information about prohibiting registered sex offenders from entering, including Canada, The United Kingdom, China, Thailand, Japan, Australia and Russia.
  • Read accounts given by past travelers. During your research, look for accounts published by other registered sex offenders on travel websites and blogs. Some people have had no problem entering foreign countries as registered sex offenders, while others have been barred from entering with the same or similar criminal histories. Read as many accounts as you can for a better idea of what to expect.
  • Be honest. Do not lie about your criminal history during interviews with a customs officer in a foreign country. Officials can most likely gain access to your criminal records. If they find out you have lied, they could turn you away based on this even if they would have allowed you entry as a registered sex offender.
  • Be prepared to be turned away. If you are denied entry at the airport in your destination country, you will have to get on another plane and return to the United States immediately. Even if you believe a foreign country will allow you entry as a registered sex offender, prepare for this possibility mentally and financially. Being prepared for the worst can make it easier to deal with the consequences if you are denied entry.

No law in the United States prohibits registered sex offenders from traveling abroad, as long as they are not on probation or under restrictions that require them to stay in the country. However, whether or not a country will allow you to enter with a sex crime on your record depends on the rules in that country. For more information about traveling as a registered sex offender in Arizona, consult with a criminal defense lawyer at AZ Defenders. We can help you understand how a sex crime conviction might impact your future, including international travel.