How to Access Sex Offender Registries in All 50 States, U.S. Territories, and Tribal Lands

George J. Ziogas
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Are you concerned about whether there are any convicted sex offenders living in your neighborhood? Are you considering relocating to a new area and wondering whether any known sex offenders reside there?

The answers to these questions are at your fingertips. Federal, state, territorial, and tribal governments have developed online resources that make checking for sex offenders in all 50 states, approximately 130 tribal lands, and four U. S. territories a quick and easy process.

You can access all of these resources using two websites maintained by the US Department of Justice and the FBI.


Until Congress passed the Jacob Wetterling Act in 1994, no federal statutes addressed the establishment of registries for those convicted of certain types of sex crimes. Wetterling offered funding to states to incentivize creation of their own registration programs.

In 1996, Wetterling was amended by Megan’s Law, which gave states discretion in determining how notifications regarding offenders should be made and who should receive them. That same year, the Lyncher Act required the Attorney General of the United States to establish a national sex offender database hosted by the FBI that would be used to track violent sexual predators and those convicted of offenses against minors.

Various additional statutes adding clarification and strengthening existing law were passed in the years that followed. In 2006, the original Wetterling Act standards were repealed and completely revamped with the passage of the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA). Since then, SORNA has been revised with several housekeeping bills.

These federal statutes, along with laws and regulations enacted at the state, tribal, and territorial levels, have resulted in creation of the current extensive network of sex offender registry search sites readily available to anyone with an Internet connection.

Primary sex offender search sites

There are two ways to search sex offender registries — by address or general location or by offender name. The FBI sex offender site at includes a clickable interactive map displaying locations of, and links to, the numerous state and territorial registries and their searchable resources. Below the map is an alphabetized list of the links to 50 state and four territorial registries.

Scrolling down, you’ll find another map with clickable location markers for tribal lands along with an alphabetized list that, as of June 1, 2021, included 130 links to tribal registries. The local sites you’ll access using this page and its links will differ in appearance and functionality, but all are designed to provide the sex offender information you’re searching for.

The FBI site also includes links to additional resources where you’ll find information about how to better protect your children from predators, how to browse the Internet safely, and details regarding common crimes and scams.

If you have an individual’s name you’d like to search to determine whether he or she is listed in a sex offender registry, the Department of Justice National Sex Offender Public Website at is the place to start. In addition to searching by name, you can also enter a specific address at this site and set a search perimeter, which comes in handy if you’re looking for registered offenders within a certain distance of a particular location.

The home page provides both of these resources, but clicking on the “search” link in the page header will take you to a page that allows you enter more search parameters including searching specific zip codes or names of tribal lands.

Like the FBI site, the DOJ site includes links to additional resources to help you and your kids stay safe. They include how-to articles to assist you with identifying potential threats, preventing assaults, and responding if your child reports an assault. Also included is a list of frequently asked questions and answers.

Typical search results

You’re not going to get all the details about sex offenders that law enforcement agencies can access, but you’ll probably get all the information you need and more when you examine search results from a registry site.

Typical results will include the offender’s name, risk level assigned to the offender, race, physical descriptors, address, age/birth date, sex, and how long the offender is required to remain in the registry.

You may also find details about the specific type of offense committed, for instance sexual assault of a minor, along with the conviction date and sentencing information. Sometimes the victim’s age at the time of the offense is also provided.

Results may identify the law enforcement agencies to which the offender is required to periodically report along with reporting dates. Photographs of the offender, sometimes multiple images taken over time, may also be provided.


Information from sex offender registries is readily available to anyone with an Internet connection. These registries may provide valuable data that you can use when deciding whether to relocate to a new area.

Not all sex offenders pose an ongoing threat to society. In fact, some have remained in the registries for decades after committing a single, non-aggravated offense much earlier in their lives.

Still, having this information available if and when you need it may prove invaluable. The additional resources provided on the two federal sites might also help you to protect yourself and your children from predators.

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