Can You Fly With A Warrant?

In The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien famously proclaimed,

 “Not all those who wander are lost.” 

Taking into account what the great British author said, we can figure out that, for example, getting off the right path in life doesn’t mean we’ll be lost forever.

Convicted felons and those still awaiting trial may have trouble getting around. After serving their term, ex-convicts are eligible to regain passport privileges and travel abroad. An important factor is the specifics of the offence.

So, “Can you fly with a warrant?” is the most commonly asked question!

What it boils down to is this: if a rough and tumble-sheriff are staring you down and pleading with you not to leave town, it’s usually not a good idea to hop on a plane. You’re pushing your luck, but as far as I know, there’s no statute protecting you from being arrested for trying to evade a minor bench warrant.

But then again, if you’ve got a drug warrant, you’re probably a free spirit!

Today, you’ll find out when you can fly even if you have a warrant, what crimes keep you from flying, and what the best thing to do is in your situation.

Let’s get started

Can You Fly With A Warrant

Can You Fly With A Warrant?

People who have been convicted of a crime in the United States can fly if their status is written on their passports. However, people who have been convicted of international drug trafficking cannot get a passport or enter the United States.

This is standard procedure for federal crimes; however, what about state convictions and warrants, or warrants that travelers may be unaware of, such as unpaid parking tickets and failure to appear?

Let’s imagine you got a ticket for something simple, like failing to register your vehicle or having it inspected. You pay the fine by mail and then take a vacation of several weeks’ duration. 

Unfortunately, while you were away, the post office lost your check, the payment deadline passed, and a warrant was issued. If your passport or another form of ID is flagged at the airport, you could be arrested as soon as you land. Alternatively, you can be denied boarding altogether.

How can TSA allow me to fly with a warrant?

Although TSA does not conduct warrant checks, this does not mean that you should always fly if you have an outstanding warrant.

As you will see below, the risk of flying while on the run isn’t so much the act of flying itself, but the many chances you have to be found out because you have a warrant.

If you know more about the TSA, any worries you might have had about getting through a security check without being stopped for a warrant will go away.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) was set up to “strengthen the security of the nation’s transportation infrastructure while making sure that people and goods can travel freely.”

The focus of the TSA is on security risks (mainly terroristic) rather than on law and order.

They are concerned about the possible presence of explosives on board and could care less about simple warrants.

Furthermore, TSA agents are not law enforcement officers, so they cannot make arrests at security checkpoints (although the Federal Air Marshal Service is part of the TSA and has significantly more authority than regular TSA agents).

There is no risk of being apprehended by a TSA agent; they are not police officers like air marshals. To be concerned about if you have a warrant is law enforcement’s potential to recommend you for arrest.

Who can’t travel if they have an outstanding warrant?

The main distinction is between domestic and international flights. Most of the time, a warrant won’t stop you from getting on a domestic flight, but it will stop you from getting on an international flight.

A huge national database has information on almost everyone in the country. This makes it easy for police to look up anything they need to know about a suspect, like if they have an active arrest warrant. The law enforcement agency will place you under arrest and take you into custody if they find a warrant for your arrest. You don’t want this to happen right at the start of your vacation.

If you fit any of the following criteria, you will not be issued a passport:

Foreign drug smugglers who have been arrested on federal charges and are in prison or on supervised release cannot leave the country if they owe any amount of child support. For example, in the United States, they can’t leave the country if they owe more than $2,500 in child support.

Traveling on domestic flights with a warrant:

Even though there is no foolproof method of bypassing airport security, domestic flights hide passenger names before they board, so you can relax. At the airport or when you check in online, there is no automated system that checks passenger names against different warrant databases.

Traveling internationally with a warrant:

In most cases, entering a new country is the most challenging part of foreign travel. Your own country’s airport might not have any issues with your criminal record, but the country you wish to visit might not issue you a visa if you are a convicted felon.

When people fly internationally, there are more security checks, like looking up their names in a database, than when they fly within their own country. That means what, exactly? Your name will be checked against a database maintained by the airline, but if it isn’t there, you’ll still need to go through numerous other security procedures.

If you are currently on trial or have a warrant out for your arrest, we recommend staying close to home until the situation has been addressed.

If you had a valid passport when a warrant was issued or when you were arrested and taken to court, it could be taken away at that time, or you could be told not to leave the country but still be able to keep your passport. Your passport will be taken away from you, but you will still be free to exit the country or state.

How can you travel if you have a warrant?

The regulations could be different for different countries and different crimes. However, domestic and certain foreign flights are available to you. You should find out if you will be accepted in the host country.

The wisest course of action is to never try to enter or leave your nation illegally. If you know you have a warrant but still make it through airport security after lying to them, you have committed a second offense.

Can a convicted felon apply for a passport?

A passport is a way to prove who you are, but it is not required to travel. This means that even convicted criminals can apply for a passport. However, as was previously said, authorities may seize your passport in certain situations.

Even though the State Department doesn’t ask about a person’s criminal history on Form DS-11, applicants are told that their information will be shared with the right people if they have an outstanding arrest warrant and are applying for a new or renewed passport.

Only a select few people who have been convicted of serious crimes are denied a passport. As part of a new government policy, ex-convicts will have greater legal protection once they’ve served their time.

If you have a warrant and are found trying to travel, what will happen to you?

Here’s where the waters start to get murky. Let’s say an airport employee saw in the paper that morning that you were wanted for an outstanding warrant. If that’s the case, the officer or agent has witnessed you attempting to violate a flight ban while carrying an outstanding arrest warrant. Unfortunately, they are largely powerless.

They might inform the police that you’re there, but if they do turn up to arrest you, it won’t be for breaking any laws while attempting to go from Atlanta to Boise by air.

However, once again, if the police have a warrant, they can arrest you whenever and wherever they find you. An air marshal might theoretically have you arrested when the plane lands if he or she is sitting next to you and finds out about the warrant. Identifying an air marshal could be useful if you’re feeling sly and want to avoid this situation.

Keep in mind, though, that being apprehended on a warrant is separate from being apprehended while in possession of a warrant.

But if you are wanted for a more serious crime, like drug trafficking, the consequences of traveling while on the run are worse. A court order prohibiting travel has the same force as law and can result in arrest if disobeyed.

Warrants can be broken down into a few categories, and those categories are as follows: An explanation of the warrant.

When someone is accused of committing a crime, law enforcement may seek to have them arrested, detained, or brought before a judge by obtaining a warrant. It is signed by a judge or justice of the peace and has the court’s approval.

Warrants come in a variety of forms, some of which are:

  • Bench warrants
  • arrest warrants, 
  • initial warrants
  • unendorsed warrants
  • final warrants.

Warrants are issued in the names of sureties, witnesses, and telecommunicators (which allows police not to have to appear in person before a justice or a judge).

If you have been charged with a crime and released on bail, but you break the terms of your release, an arrest warrant may be issued for you.

The accused person’s name and the nature of the crime they are accused of committing can be found on a warrant. The provision also allows for the arrest of the suspect provided that the arresting officer has probable cause to think that the suspect is currently or has previously been involved in criminal activity.

When making an arrest, the officer in charge must have the warrant and show it to the suspect if they ask why they are being arrested. The arresting officer or officers must also make clear that they are doing so based on the warrant.

If a warrant is not executed or properly addressed, it may remain on your criminal record indefinitely.

If the court issues a Promise to Appear instead of a warrant, the defendant will not have to be held in a correctional facility pending a future court date. The suspect wanted by the court is given a date and time to appear in court, hence the name “Promise to Appear.”

Assuming the accused agrees to appear in court at a later date, a skilled criminal defense attorney may be capable of bargaining with the Crown Prosecutor to secure their release from custody.

A promise to appear stops the pending warrant from being carried out. This means that the person with the warrant won’t have to stay in jail until their trial starts.

How can you determine if you have a warrant?

Being arrested or detained by the police is the surest sign that you are the subject of a warrant. But if you have done any of the above crimes and the police have not yet arrested or detained you, there is a good chance you have a warrant.

Not responding to a subpoena issued by a court to testify as a witness; failing to appear in court; violating the terms of a court-ordered sentence; repeatedly committing the same criminal act, as well as failing to present proper identification after being arrested.

If a police officer needs to contact you but can’t find you, they may have the warrant to do so. If the police need to question you about a criminal investigation but can’t track you down, they may apply for a warrant to have you arrested.

Officers of the law frequently use warrants to seize evidence or positively identify wanted suspects.

You can verify whether or not you have an outstanding warrant by contacting the police, the courts, or a criminal defense attorney who can speak with the Crown Prosecutor on your behalf.

Reasons why you can get detained if you try to fly with warrant:

Being detained is one thing, but being arrested and extradited is entirely different.

The rules and steps for extradition are very different depending on where the arrest warrant was issued.

Because of this, many arrest warrants are never sent to the FBI’s National Criminal Information Center (NCIC). This means that agencies outside of the state or region where the warrant is never found out about it. (The FBI claims that in the region of 60% of all warrants, the FBI number is present.)

Even if the state you’re in reports an arrest warrant to the NCIC, the state that issued the warrant might not wish to extradite you if the alleged offence was very small.

So, even if your arrest warrant is discovered, you might be able to avoid extradition and go free. Keep in mind, nevertheless, that this could still lead to your detention and a lengthy legal process.

In contrast, you may be able to get extradited from one state to another if you happen to be in a border state. Even if the warrant is for a small offence, you could end up being taken in the back of a police vehicle while handcuffed.

Reasons why you could be arrested if you fly with a warrant:

If you have a warrant out for your arrest, there are a few scenarios in which you could be detained at the airport. If you have any kind of run-in with the law, they may check their records and find out if you have an outstanding warrant.

Identity Confirmation:

If you forget to bring your ID, the process of checking your ID is likely to show that you have a warrant out for your arrest. If that occurs, police enforcement may be contacted and you may be arrested.

A participant in a dispute:

The police may be called to the scene of any disturbance, whether it’s a disagreement with a check-in agent or an unlucky brawl with another passenger.

It’s possible to run into the police if you’re the one (significantly) holding up the security queue or refusing to pass through the checkpoint.

While the TSA cannot legally make an arrest, they are allowed to hold you until law enforcement arrives.

You may first be a bystander, but you may end up playing a role if the authorities ask you to provide a statement.

Prohibited items:

If you try to bring a weapon, bladed object, or explosive through airport security and are caught, authorities may be called.

Furthermore, law enforcement could be contacted if you are apprehended with illegal drugs. You probably won’t have to worry about the police coming after you for possessing a small amount of a non-lethal substance.


If TSA officers get a “Be on the Lookout” (BOLO) alert about you, they may stop you and question you. If they find probable cause, the police may look into you further.

Someone might overhear your plans and decide to inform the authorities of your whereabouts. The cops might be waiting for you at the terminal if they think it’s worth their while.

Ill fortune:

You can get into trouble if your name is checked against a database and you are found to have an outstanding warrant. This appears to be an extremely unusual occurrence for minor domestic offences.

The airline crew would need an enormous amount of time and resources to check the names of all passengers against a database.

It would be impractical to try to apprehend the large number of people who have warrants for minor offences like unpaid parking fines without significantly disrupting airport operations.

Even though this is a very small chance, I think that anyone who is wanted on an arrest warrant and is going through an airport should always be ready to be detained.

Major transgressions:

If you have an outstanding warrant for a federal crime or a serious state crime, your chances of being arrested at the airport go up a lot.

Someone may be keeping tabs on your whereabouts and be waiting for you at the airport, either when you arrive or depart.

Foreign exchange programs:

There is a good chance that if you are planning on doing any overseas travel, your name may be run through databases looking for potentially dangerous people, such as those with outstanding warrants.

Because you’ll likely require a visa to enter your target country, authorities may start keeping an eye out for you long before you ever reach the airport. The background check that is part of applying for a visa could reveal an outstanding warrant.

However, if you have been convicted of a major crime, you may have had your passport canceled.

In the following cases, you may be denied a passport:

For example, in the United States, if you owe $2,500 in child support, you cannot leave the country while on probation or parole for a felony drug charge related to the distribution of a restricted substance.

Customs and Border Protection officers may also run your name when you leave the country and again when you re-enter (CBP). In contrast to TSA personnel, immigration officers can arrest you.

So, how do we handle ID checks?

 Agents at TSA checkpoints do not routinely run IDs.

Usually, they will scan your boarding card to see if you qualify for expedited security screening (TSA Pre-Check) or if you need to undergo further screening (enhanced security screening) 

Airport security routinely requests photo identification from passengers to ensure that they are who you say you are and that you are not trying to pass themselves off as someone else.

They may also scan your ID with UV irradiation to look for any fake identification elements, depending on the type of ID you have.

When you hand over your ID and boarding pass, they are not checking a warrant database.


We hope that by the time you conclude this essay, all of your questions about the topic “Can you fly with a warrant?” will have been answered. Even though we would recommend getting rid of your warrants before you fly to avoid stress, it is possible to fly domestically with a warrant and still pass TSA screening.

However, it’s a different issue when you’re going overseas, and the chance of getting caught is greater.

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