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Registration FAQs


SORNA requires sex offenders to register and keep their registration current in each jurisdiction where they live, work or go to school.

See Part VIII of the Final Guidelines for more details.

SORNA requires that a sex offender must appear in person, allow the jurisdiction to take a current photograph and verify the information in each jurisdiction in which that sex offender is required to register (where they live, work and go to school) at least―

  • Annually for a tier I sex offender,
  • Every six months for a tier II sex offender, and
  • Every three months for a tier III sex offender.

SORNA specifies the minimum required duration of sex offender registration for tier I sex offenders to be 15 years, for tier II sex offenders to be 25 years, and for tier III sex offenders to register for life. The registration period begins upon release from custody for a sex offender sentenced to incarceration for the registration offense; in the case of non-incarcerated sex offenders, the registration period begins at the time of sentencing for the sex offense.

SORNA allows jurisdictions to reduce an offender’s registration period in two circumstances: 1) a tier I sex offender who maintains a clean record may have their registration period reduced from 15 to 10 years and 2) a sex offender who is required to register for life based on a juvenile delinquency adjudication may have their registration terminated after maintaining a clean record for 25 years.

To have a clean record, the sex offender must satisfy the following:

  • Not be convicted of any offense for which imprisonment for more than one year may be imposed,
  • Not be convicted of any sex offense regardless of the penalty,
  • Successfully complete any periods of supervised release, probation or parole, and
  • Successfully complete an appropriate sex offender treatment program certified by a jurisdiction or by the Attorney General.

Sex offenders who fail to register may be subject to failure-to-register charges depending on the jurisdiction’s laws. Additionally, if federal jurisdiction exists (such as interstate or international travel, travel in and out of Indian Country, or conviction for a federal sex offense requiring registration), a sex offender who knowingly fails to register or update a registration under SORNA can be prosecuted for a federal failure-to-register offense (under 18 U.S.C. § 2250) with up to 10 years of imprisonment.

Yes. If a sex offender convicted or adjudicated delinquent is required to register under SORNA, and knowingly fails to register or update a registration as required, and the sex offender travels between states, internationally or in and out of Indian Country, then the offender can be prosecuted for a federal failure-to-register offense (under 18 U.S.C. § 2250) with up to 10 years of imprisonment.

See Part XIII of the Final Guidelines for more details.

SORNA applies to all sex offenders, including those convicted of their registration offenses prior to the enactment of SORNA (July 27, 2006) or prior to a particular jurisdiction’s incorporation of the SORNA requirements into its program. Jurisdictions are specifically required to register sex offenders who remain in the system as prisoners, supervisees or registrants, or if they later re-enter the system because of conviction for some other crime (whether or not the new crime is a sex offense).

See Part II.C and IX of the Final Guidelines for more details.

No. Residency restrictions and safety zones are not part of SORNA. However, state and local jurisdictions may enact legislation that restricts sex offenders from living near or being in certain areas (e.g., within a certain distance of schools, parks or playgrounds). Inquiries about residency restrictions or safety zones should be directed to the jurisdiction or local officials.