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Current Law



SORNA is the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act, which is Title I of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006 (Public Law 109-248). SORNA is codified at 34 U.S.C. § 20901 et seq. SORNA provides a comprehensive set of minimum standards for sex offender registration and notification in the United States. SORNA aims to close potential gaps and loopholes that existed under prior law and generally strengthens the nationwide network of sex offender registration and notification programs. Additionally, SORNA does the following:

  • Extends the jurisdictions in which registration is required to include federally recognized Indian tribes, in addition to states, the District of Columbia and the principal U.S. territories.
  • Incorporates a more comprehensive group of sex offenders and sex offenses for which registration is required.
  • Requires sex offenders to register and keep their registration current in each jurisdiction where they live, work or go to school.
  • Requires sex offenders to provide more extensive registration information.
  • Requires sex offenders to make periodic in-person appearances to verify and update their registration information.
  • Expands the information available to the public regarding registered sex offenders.
  • Makes changes in the required minimum duration of registration for sex offenders.

Legislation That Amended SORNA

Keeping the Internet Devoid of Predators Act (KIDS Act). To address the issue of online safety, the 2008 KIDS Act made the following changes to SORNA —

  • Required jurisdictions to collect sex offenders' internet identifiers in the registration process.
  • Exempted posting of internet identifiers on any registration jurisdiction's public sex offender registry website.

Military Sex Offender Reporting Act. As part of the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act of 2015, and as an amendment to SORNA, these sections —

  • Required the Department of Defense to submit information on any sex offender convicted via court-martial to NSOR and NSOPW.

International Megan's Law. To address international travel by registered sex offenders, this 2016 law mandated the following —

  • Required offenders to provide advance notice of any intended international travel.
  • Required jurisdictions to submit international travel information. (See the Information Required for Notice of International Travel below for more details.)

Attorney General Guidelines

In addition to SORNA’s codified requirements, the Attorney General has issued guidelines and a rule to assist jurisdictions with implementation of the law, and the SMART Office has issued implementation documentation with additional guidance. Jurisdictions should use these documents, along with the statute (P.L. 109-248) and the guidelines and regulations issued by the Attorney General, when developing legislation and policies to substantially implement SORNA.

Supplemental Guidelines for Juvenile Registration Under the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act

The Attorney General issued these Supplemental Juvenile Registration Guidelines to provide guidance regarding the substantial implementation of the juvenile registration requirement under SORNA.

Effective date: August 1, 2016

Supplemental Guidelines for Sex Offender Registration and Notification

The Attorney General issued these Supplemental Guidelines to address a number of issues related to implementation of the SORNA requirements, including public website posting of sex offender information such as email addresses and other internet identifiers, public notification of juveniles adjudicated delinquent for serious sex crimes, international travel reporting requirements and the treatment of Indian tribes newly recognized by the federal government subsequent to the enactment of SORNA.

Effective date: January 11, 2011

The National Guidelines for Sex Offender Registration and Notification

The Attorney General issued these Final Guidelines to interpret and implement SORNA. The Final Guidelines provide jurisdictions with guidance, explanation and advice regarding the administration and implementation of SORNA.

Effective date: July 2, 2008


Retroactive Applicability of the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA)

The Attorney General published this Rule to specify that SORNA applies retroactively to all sex offenders, including sex offenders convicted of the offense for which registration is required before the enactment of SORNA.

Interim Rule effective date: February 28, 2007 | Final Rule effective date: January 28, 2011

SORNA Implementation Documents

The SMART Office has developed a series of documents related to SORNA. These documents provide further definition, guidance and direction on a number of topics to assist jurisdictions with the implementation of SORNA.

SORNA implementation documents address the following topics:

  1. Substantial Implementation of SORNA
  2. Byrne JAG Grant Reductions under SORNA
  3. In Person Verification
  4. Community Notification Requirements of SORNA
  5. Using Risk Assessment Under SORNA
  6. Determination of Residence, Homeless Offenders and Transient Workers
  7. Text of Registration Offense
  8. Military Convictions Under SORNA
  9. Fingerprints and Palm Prints
  10. Registering Tribal Convictions under SORNA
  11. State and Tribal Information Sharing
  12. Clarification of Registration Jurisdictional Issues
  13. Tribal Election, Delegation to the State and Right of Access
  14. Information Required for Notice of International Travel
  15. Juvenile Registration and Notification Requirements Under SORNA