Published on: Thursday, November 16, 2017

Defense attorneys now have another collateral consequence to advise persons convicted of a sex offense against a minor.  Effective October 31, 2017, all new United States passports issued to covered sex offenders must have a unique identifier printed inside the back cover of their passport book that reads:  “The bearer was convicted of a sex offense against a minor, and is a covered sex offender pursuant to 22 United States Code Section 212b(c)(l),” according to a recent press release by the Department of State. 

The identifier is required by § 8 of the International Megan’s Law to Prevent Child Exploitation and Other Sexual Crimes Through Advanced Notification of Travelling Sex Offenders (IML) (Public Law 114-119). The full text of the IML is here.  The passport identifier requirement was codified at 22 U.S.C. § 212b(b)(1) and also allows for the revocation of passports previously issued that do not contain the identifier.  The State Department plans to begin revoking existing passports issued to covered sex offenders once such individuals are identified to them by the Angel Watch Center.  The Center is part of the Child Exploitation Investigations Unit of U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement in the Department of Homeland Security. The Center is responsible for certifying an individual’s status as a covered sex offender and reporting that data to the Department of State.   Only the Center can certify, or remove, an individual as a covered sex offender to the Department of State.  Passport applicants or holders who believe they have been wrongfully identified as a covered sex offender must contact the Angel Watch Center at and receive instructions on how to proceed.

Under the IML, “the term ‘covered sex offender’ means an individual who—(A) is a sex offender, as defined in section 16935b(f) of Title 42; and (B) is currently required to register under the sex offender registration program of any jurisdiction.”  22 U.S.C. § 212b(c)(1).  42 U.S.C. § 16935b(f) was transferred to 34 U.S.C. § 21503, which incorporates the IML’s definitions, codified at 34 U.S.C. § 21502, which further defines the term “covered sex offender” as “an individual who is a sex offender by reason of having been convicted of a sex offense against a minor.” 34 U.S.C. § 21502(3).  “The term ‘sex offense against a minor’ means a specified offense against a minor, as defined in section 111 of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006 (42 U.S.C. 16911).”  Id. at 21502(10)(A).

The Training Divisions provides resources to counsel about the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act here.