Update on travel experience

By TM…

I want to give an update and recap of my international travel this year. In February/March this year I travelled to Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, and Turkey. I had no issues leaving the United States and no issues entering Bosnia. I did have a bit of a scare at the Bosnian-Croatian border. I drove out of Bosnia and was stopped by the Bosnian border patrol for about 15 to 20 minutes. I know my RSO issue was holding things up and I think they had no idea what to do with me. But eventually they released me and I was able to enter Croatia. I later entered Turkey with no issues.
I then returned back to the United States in the summer of this year. I had a quick stop over in Germany and that is a great place to have a stopover. I actually had to go through passport control to re-check my bags on another airline and was given no hassle what-so-ever. When I re-entered the United States, I went to the passport kiosk, scanned my passport and noticed that I have a large black “X” over my picture. Obviously, this means I was “flagged” for a second screening. The immigration officer was very polite and discreet. He asked me to come to a holding room with my wife and daughter. We waited about 10 to 15 minutes and then an immigration officer interviewed me. She asked basic questions. Did you bring anything illegal in? Did you bring in more than $10K? What was the purpose of your travel? She did ask one odd question. She asked, “Have you gained citizenship in any other country while abroad?” I thought that question was odd. But that was it. I was on my way after that, so pretty harmless re-entry into the United States.
This fall I returned back to Turkey. Leaving the United States was no issue. However, because of cheap airline ticket prices I chose to fly through Gatwick, London International Airport. My wife and I arrived at Gatwick and we only had a two- and half-hour layover until our next flight took off. I had to go through passport control, because I had to re-check my bags on a connecting flight. I walk up to the passport window and the fellow was polite as the English can be. He scanned my passport, looked at me, scanned it again. Looked at me and said he needed to speak with his supervisor. He comes back and starts writing on a piece of paper, then hands me the paper (see attachment). I was being detained for additional screening. He then politely guides me to a glass encaged cubicle directly next to passport control. He then asks where my destination is and how long I plan on staying in England. I show him my tickets and explain that I have a flight leaving in two hours. I still need to run, re-check my bags, and find my gate. I have no intention of staying in England for any amount of time. He politely nods and then confers with his supervisor. After about 30 minutes he returns with a smile and says, “ok, you are cleared to go”. I was very relieved. I looked at my passport and it was stamped for a 48 hour entry (See attached photo). We then ran to re-check our bags and catch our next flight. I had no problems entering Turkey. They are the friendliest of people even at the customs desk.

Lessons Learned:
1. Don’t give more than 21 days’ notice to your local law enforcement agency. You have to remember that when you give notification your local law enforcement notifies the Marshal’s Office. Then they notify the State Dept, Angel Watch, and InterPOL. These folks then notify the law enforcement and State Dept of the governments to the countries you want to travel to. Once they receive notification they have to update their databases. Bottomline, is all this is time consuming. The more time you give them, the more time they have to update their database. The law says “at least 21 days notice”, that’s all you want to give them.
2. Don’t talk about your offense. Don’t feel like you need to contact the country you want to visit and tell them about your situation, you don’t, so don’t! Don’t contact the State Dept and tell them about your situation and feel like you need a scarlet letter passport. Trust me, the State Dept will notify you by certified mail that your passport has been revoked. Don’t tell your local law officer about exactly where you are going, what you are doing, how much fun you are going to have, etc. It’s none of their business. Formally inform them on paper exactly what International Megan’s Law (IML) requires and get a copy for yourself to take on the trip. You may need it when you return to the states to prove you provided notice to the govt.
3. Plan your trip carefully. I was trying to get through England on a layover because it was cheap. That could have been a fatal mistake if they had denied me entry. But these tickets were extremely cheap and I was just curious if I could get through England after everything I heard online. You need to do your homework and figure out if the country you want to travel to will allow RSOs. If they don’t and you really, really want/have to go to that country, then you need to look at alternate routes. Flying into a country is the worst way, because you are screened like crazy and they have the best data bases. Remember there are other methods of travel. Car, bus, boat, trains, walking/hiking. I personally know RSOs that have traveled to Mexico by walking across the border. Once you are over the border, then just take a plane, train, or bus wherever you are going. Let’s say you can’t walk. Like you want to go to Korea. Go to a country nearby that allows RSOs, then take a ferry boat, train, or bus into the country you want to go into. You will have to be creative if you want to travel sometimes.
4. Don’t travel alone. I think when border agents see I’m with my wife they relax a bit. I’m not seen as a threat, because I’m not, never have been. But that is a story for another day.
5. Finally, if you are ever denied entry into a country, you need to make a stink about it. Write your Congressman and Senator, write the president, fill out a complaint to the UN about human rights violations. https://www.ohchr.org/en/hrbodies/hrc/complaintprocedure/pages/hrccomplaintprocedureindex.aspx

Do not make denial of entry easy on these people. They will just keep passing shitty laws if we don’t make a stink about the shitty laws they have already passed.

If you have any questions about my post, please feel free to ask. I have visited five countries so far since being an RSO, I hope to do plenty more traveling. Before being on the RSO I have visited over 15 countries, so I’m a pretty well experienced traveler.

  1. Question: What about cruising to Mexico? Can you get off the ship? Leaving from Los Angeles to Ensenada and Cabo and back. 5 days total.

  2. WE HAVE BEEN OFFERED A FREE TRIP TO MUNICH WITH AN ADVERTISING GROUP THAT HAS NO CLUE OF MY HUSBANDS HISTORY. FROM THERE IWOULD LIKE TO CONTINUE ON TO SCOTLAND, PARIS, LONDON, AND WALES BY CAR. HE IS A RSO FROM TEXAS WHO WAS GIVEN DEFERRED ADJUDICATION AND 8 YEARS PROBATION WHICH HE HAS SUCCESSFULLY COMPLETED. BEING FROM TEXAS, REGISTRATION IN MANDATED FOR LIFE. HE GOT A PASSPORT EIGHT YEARS AGO WITHOUT ISSUE, AND HAS NOT RECEIVED ANY NOTICE OF IT BEING REVOKED. DO YOU SEE ANY PROBLEMS FOR US

    1. Ann, I see no problems traveling to Munich. German’s don’t much care to be told what to do with their boarders by other countries and do not bother visitors regardless of their past history. Love Germany! Paris will be no problem either. However, I don’t not see Scotland, London (England), or Wales as a possibility. They will not let anyone with a felony into their country and they are directly linked with the US database. They also have strict RSO laws. However if you want to try and let everyone know how it goes, I’m curious. Make sure you attempt entry from Germany or France, not the US, because they will return you to your place of origin. Also, try the Chunnel from France to England, maybe that will work? Once you are in the UK you can travel anywhere in the UK (Ireland, Wales, England, Scotland). Good luck and let us know how your trip went.

      1. Thanks TM. I have just found out that part of our tour will be a tour to Salzburg via but. Do you know if this will cause any problem. Also, if he got deferred adjudication and his felony charge has been dismissed, does he still have to report to the registration office. We will just be gone 10 days, does that make any difference.

        Thanks, for your help and expertise with this…..not the easiest of topics.

      2. Ann,

        Salzburg should be no problem as it is in Austria on the Southern German boarder; which is within the Schengen Area. (See website link below). Make sure you visit Adolf Hitler’s Eagles Nest while there. Once you are in the EU you can travel freely and I have had no issues traveling within the EU. I believe Europe learned allot about the value of free travel from WWII. As for your husband’s requirements under the IML (International Megan’s Law), I’m not sure. Is he a RSO? If so, then yes, the 21 day travel notification is required. If he is not, then I don’t see how or why he would need to. I would suggest contacting a lawyer that specializes in RSO laws to seek solid legal counsel before your trip. It could save you a bunch of heartache. Hope all goes well. Please report to all of us how your trip went. TM.https://www.schengenvisainfo.com/schengen-visa-countries-list/

  3. I’m confused by 21 day notification. My parole officer says he needs 4 months notice for international travel and I’m planning a work trip to Munich in June. Is this Smart notification different from my notice I give to my PO? I’ve been on supervision in NJ for nearly 13 years and will be applying for removal from supervision and notification soon also. Im also the lowest risk offender on the tier structure here. Also my sister in law is planning on getting married in 2020 in Aruba, Jamaica, DR or Turks and Caicos. Any experiences with those countries?

    1. For sex offenders that are not on supervision, the time frame is at least 21 days (the SMART notification). However if you are on parole/probation you need to get permission and you have to abide by their time frame. The PO gave you a time frame of 4 months probably because POs are so overwhelmed with work, that’s how long it takes for them to get to your request.

      You shouldn’t have any problems getting into Aruba, but I’ve heard that Jamaica has been rejecting RSOs. Also not sure about T&C because they are an overseas territory of the UK so I’m not sure if they do or don’t.

  4. I’m also off from the registry and off probation. I got my passport before the IML and my registry and probation ended right around the time my passport would need updating. I haven’t updated yet but I’m *assuming* that I won’t get the scarlet mark on it since my registration has ended.
    My worry in regards to international travel is just the record of criminal conviction since it’s a felony.
    Aren’t Mike Tyson and Snoop Dogg still restricted from traveling to the UK and certain other countries due to their felonies? Because for some time both of these celebrities couldn’t go to countries who screened for felons.

    1. Mike Tyson, Snoop Dogg, Martha Stewart and a few other entertainers have all been turned away from traveling to the UK because of felonies. In fact, Mike Tyson went to Chile a few years ago and was sent back to the US at the airport because of his criminal record.

  5. I was removed from the sex offender registry in Pennsylvania over a year ago. I no longer report and have no other legal obligations, such as probation, and haven’t for 10 years. In the last 10 years I’ve traveled on a Mediterranean cruise, and two river cruises in France and an international cruise on the Danube from Budapest to Germany then, after the cruise, traveled to Prague. Since my travel was into and through Schengen countries, I had zero problems and was never questioned or held up, until I returned home and went through customs which required that I be interviewed because my passport was flagged. The interview was merely a slight inconvenience.

    I have not traveled since the implementation of International Megan’s Law. The next time I travel out of the country I won’t have to send the 21 day advance notice to the Pennsylvania State Police and, I assume, Interpol and other organizations won’t know of my past. My passport has not been revoked. It’s not restricted or marked with a unique identifier.

    My question is, if I want to travel to a country which restricts entry to registered sex offenders, and I am not, do I need to worry about where I can travel now? I know some countries, such as Canada, deny entry to anyone with a criminal record. But will any country’s data bases still contain information about my past, or if I’m not sending a 21 day notice am I “safe” from being flagged or denied entry? Thanks for any information you can provide.

    1. It is hard to know what other countries keep in their databases and what info the State Dept/Justice Dept share with certain countries. But, if you are not required to give a 21 day notice, then you are sure they are not send an advanced notice via Angel Watch. Like I said in my post, be safe and enter a country you know you will not have an issue with, then take another mode of transportation. I could not imagine flying all the way over the Atlantic and then being forced to return and loose all that money. Good luck on your travels and keep us all posted.

    2. I have a weird story, I traveled to Canada with my girlfriend at the time. She was French Canadian citizen . We flew into Montreal. I told her to be prepared I may be denied entry. Upon entering all we needed to do was place our passports on a scanner. I got a green light and on our way we went. Returning to U.S. has always been the inconvenience. I have gone to Europe, Canada, Cruises in the Mediterranean. Including to Mexico. Haven’t had a problem. My conviction was in 1996. Only given probation. Released from that in 2003. However, I have not traveled out of the country since 2017 last time I went to Europe.

  6. I was convicted in the US (state of Illinois) in November 2006 of possession of child pornography (no production or distribution charged). I received a sentence of 30 months’ probation (no prison). I was also placed on lifetime sex offender registry (mandatory for all offences in Illinois).

    I traveled to the UK in 2014 and was denied entry at Heathrow (customs found my record from the US on their computer) and made to purchase a ticket back to Chicago on the next flight.

    I have read about the UK Rehabilitation of Offenders Act and wonder if I could use that to be permitted to visit the UK some time in the future. I would definitely qualify under the “spent convictions” provision.

    My wife and I traveled to London many times in the past and would love to visit again. Should I apply for a visitor’s visa, and then when declined, appeal in some way.

    I wouldn’t know how to proceed with this process and would be ready to engage an attorney to help. Please let me know if you have any advice.

    1. Try flying into Germany or France and then take the “Chunnel” into the UK. If you get turned around at the boarder, then take a vacation in France or Germany. If not, enjoy the UK. I would not fly directly into the UK, I do believe they would deny you entry.

      1. I travelled to Italy having a layover at Heathrow. As long as your layover is not over an hour, because you will be staying airside, you will have no problem.

  7. Which 5 countries have you visited ?
    Iam planning a trip to Egypt next Spring. Any chance i would be permitted? :Canadian rso here

    1. Turkey, Bosnia, Croatia, Monte-Negro. (Been through passport control in England and Germany, but did not stay any length of time). I doubt you would have any issues in Egypt. I want to travel there in the near future, so please post your experience.

      1. I will most definitely let you know about my Egyptian trip next summer.
        So far I went to China and Hong king as an rso not brave enough for Philippines just yet
        Heard they have food fingerprint scanning systems st the airport

      2. What about Lebanon
        Would you think there’s any chance of me traveling there the following year after Egypt?

      3. Did you stay for any length of time in Germany or France? I’m trying to figure out where to honeymoon as an RSO in Canada.

      4. As a RSO is there any problems currently traveling to Hong Kong? I tried to visit a friend in the Philippines in 2017 and I did not do my research, and had a layover in Korea and wasn’t even allowed to get my boarding pass at the airport in SFO because Korea was denying my entry. I don’t want to have the same experience again. I was out a lot of money due to that.

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