Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Feb 6, 2020

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Whether or not you can travel on an airline with an outstanding warrant depends in large part on just where you are traveling.

Travelling on Domestic Flights

Not all airlines check passenger names against certain databases for domestic flights, specifically databases that might provide a list of individuals with outstanding warrants. Because these databases are large and tedious, to incorporate database checks booking and check-in procedures would be a huge time and financial undertaking for airlines. While it would be challenging to perform database checks for all domestic flights, international flights are a different matter altogether. 

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International Air Travel

The security procedures for international travel do involve checking databases. If you are traveling internationally, it is possible that your name will show up in an airline security database. If your name does not show up as you are leaving the country, you still have several additional security checks to pass.

For starters, once you arrive at your destination, you must provide a visa upon entering. The visa must be obtained in advance or at the airport. In order to obtain a visa, a background check is required. If you have any outstanding warrants, you will not receive a visa and you will be refused entry into the country. If you are already in the country, you will be taken into custody. Security checks and procedures vary from country-to-country, but you will not know exactly what the procedures are until you get there.

The Best Option: Take Care of the Warrant

The best thing you can do for yourself is to avoid attempting to sneak in and out of your state or country. Find out if you have a warrant, and take care of the warrant as soon as possible. Even if you make it to your destination, if you lied to get there, meaning, if airport security or any other airport employee asks if you have any warrants or are on trial for a crime, and you answer “no,” you have just committed yet another criminal offense.

If you have outstanding warrants and you need legal help, you should contact a criminal defense attorney in your area. Read our article on how to find out if you have an outstanding warrant. Until the warrant has been cleared from your record, you will not be able to travel in and out of the country legally. In addition, even if you do not travel, a simple traffic stop will result in a background check. Once your status has been revealed, you will be arrested in the spot.