Whether you’re looking to travel abroad for a holiday or business, having any type of conviction could potentially cause you some problems. However these may be escalated if you’re under the sexual offence notification requirements. Here Alan offers some useful tips in dealing with the more common issues you may face.
I’ve been subject to notification requirements for the past five years and during that time I’ve travelled extensively around the world, between 12-15 times a year. Although my experiences will be different to yours, I really hope that what I share will help you to understand a little more about the processes you’re likely to go through.
I’d like to dispel some of the myths and stop you from getting too many surprises whilst you travel.
No 1 – Informing the police of your intention to travel
Before you visit the police station, print off a summary of all the information you’ll need to provide on the travel form (in the correct order). The desk staff will then be able to complete the form very quickly – they’ll only need to copy your data into their form. Give your summary a bold heading such as ‘travel notification’ to avoid having to say anything out loud – really handy if there are other people at the front desk and you want to be discreet.
Make sure you take some ID with you.
Ask the desk staff for a photocopy of the registration form once it’s been filled in. I’ve never had a problem but it’s always good to have evidence that you’ve followed the process correctly. If there are any discrepancies on the form, check with your dedicated PPU officer – the front desk staff at the police station aren’t always aware of the latest processes.
In the section which is marked ‘optional’ always provide further information. Although you’re not legally obliged to, it always raises suspicion if you don’t.
No 2 – Travelling out of the country
Scanning your passport at check-in and/or the boarding gate doesn’t display any information to staff about your conviction.
When you’re travelling within the EU, the SIS information sharing system will usually place a marker against your passport. This hasn’t caused me any problems, however I’ve noticed some changes over the last 3-4 months and I now find that Immigration Officers in EU countries want to gather more information about my visit than they previously did. The officers are discreet but it’s still obvious that they’re asking you more questions than other people.
If you’re travelling with a group who aren’t aware of your situation, let them go through the passport check first. People behind you will see that you’re being asked more questions and this may raise suspicion.
When travelling outside of the EU, information isn’t usually shared with the country you’re visiting. An exception of this would be if your PPU officer issues an Interpol ‘Green Notice’. This may be done if they feel you’re travelling to commit an offence abroad. Depending on the country you’re visiting, you may be denied entry. You may want to check with your PPU officer whether they’ve any intention of doing this so that you can decide whether to continue the visit or not.
No 3 – Arriving back into the UK
eGates will always reject you and point you to a manned desk. This isn’t too much of a problem as people are asked to go to a desk for a variety of reasons.
If you’re travelling with somebody else and you both go to a manned desk, always let the other person go first. After your passport is scanned, an alert will appear on the UKBA officer’s screen and the officer will ask where you’ve travelled from etc. Although the questioning is discreet, the desk won’t accept other people behind you for a couple of minutes (I imagine this is the time it takes for the system to update your entry) so might raise suspicion.
No 4 – Visas
Countries which require visas (or visa waivers) are unlikely to be aware of the details of your conviction. Whether you choose to declare it or not is down to you and I’m not going to offer an opinion on this either way.
If you do declare, it’s unlikely you’ll be issued a visa within a reasonable time frame. Many countries will choose to deny a visa application completely depending on the severity of your conviction and/or the amount of time which has passed since you received it. I’ve now applied twice for a US visa and been refused both times.
I hope you’ve found my information useful and it doesn’t put you off travelling. Being aware of what will/may happen should help you to mentally prepare equip yourself.
By Alan (name changed to protect identity)
- Comment – Let us know your thoughts n this post by commenting below
- Information – We have practical self-help information on travelling abroad and sex offence notification requirements
- Discuss this issue – There are some interesting discussions related to sexual offences and travel on our online forum.