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VERIFY: Can a registered sex offender obtain a passport?

WUSA-TV Washington, D.C. logo WUSA-TV Washington, D.C. 7/12/2019 Rhea Titus
a group of people posing for the camera: Maureen Kanka, left, Jeremy Kanka,16, and Jessica Kanka, 19, center, watch acting New Jersey Gov. Donald T. DiFrancesco sign a bill that will create an internet registry of sex offenders in New Jersery at Megan's Place in Hamilton, N.J. Monday, July 23, 2001.  Anyone with internet access will be able to check information concerning all high-risk sex offenders. At right is Assemblyman Joel Weingarten, R-Union/Middlesex and former Mercer County Assistant Prosecutor Kathryn Flicker. Megan Kanka was raped and killed by a neighbor in 1994 in Hamilton. (AP Photo/Brian Branch-Price) © ASSOCIATED PRESS Maureen Kanka, left, Jeremy Kanka,16, and Jessica Kanka, 19, center, watch acting New Jersey Gov. Donald T. DiFrancesco sign a bill that will create an internet registry of sex offenders in New Jersery at Megan's Place in Hamilton, N.J. Monday, July 23, 2001. Anyone with internet access will be able to check information concerning all high-risk sex offenders. At right is Assemblyman Joel Weingarten, R-Union/Middlesex and former Mercer County Assistant Prosecutor Kathryn Flicker. Megan Kanka was raped and killed by a neighbor in 1994 in Hamilton. (AP Photo/Brian Branch-Price)

QUESTION:

Can registered sex offenders be issued a passport?

ANSWER:

Yes, but the passports must be labeled with their status as a registered sex offender.

a close up of a sign: Congressman Chris Smith's Website on International Megan's Law. © https://chrissmith.house.gov Congressman Chris Smith's Website on International Megan's Law.

SOURCES:

  • U.S. Department of State 
  • U.S. Congressman Chris Smith’s website
  • U.S. Marshals Service

PROCESS:

After a viewer heard convicted sex offender Jeff Epstein was coming back to the United States from Paris when authorities arrested him on sex trafficking charges in New Jersey, he said he thought registered sex offenders are not allowed passports.

So, we're verifying: Can a registered sex offender have a passport?

This question ties into the 1994 murder of young Megan Kanka and the creation of Megan’s Law. 

a group of people posing for the camera © Provided by TEGNA Inc.

It requires federal and state law enforcement to make registered sex offender information available to the public.

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According to the State Department since October 2017, International Megan's Law requires the agency to put a unique identifier on passports of convicted and registered sex offenders involving minors.

That identifier label is printed inside the passport book cover and explicitly says: "The bearer was convicted of a sex offense against a minor and is a covered sex offender according to U.S. Code 22."

a close up of a sign © Provided by TEGNA Inc.

Now, convicted covered sex offenders cannot be issued a passport card, since the identifier label cannot be printed on there.

So we verified, yes, registered sex offenders are allowed to have passports as it’s labeled with their status. 

But remember, it's still up to those governments to either deny or allow entry into their countries.

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