Can You Fly if You Have a Warrant?

Can you fly if you have a warrant? The answer varies based on your specific situation. While it is generally feasible to enter a plane in the United States with an outstanding warrant, the likelihood of the flight departing is another matter. Airlines have the authority to refuse boarding if there is reasonable suspicion that the individual is trying to evade prosecution or obstruct an investigation.

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Having an open arrest warrant can make everyday activities seem intimidating, including air travel. Questions like, “Is it possible to board a plane with an existing warrant?” or “Will you be arrested at the airport?” are valid worries. This guide offers an in-depth exploration of the obstacles and dangers involved in air travel with an open arrest warrant under your name.

Where can I fly with a warrant?

Where can I fly with warrant

Wondering, “Can you fly with a warrant?” or “Is it possible to fly when you have a warrant?” With the appropriate documents, flying with a warrant becomes nearly the same as flying without one. For international journeys, a valid passport and the necessary visas for the nations you’re visiting are required. Nevertheless, if you are under an active warrant, such as a misdemeanor one, it’s vital to understand potential differences to evade major impediments or worse.

Generally, flying domestically within the United States shouldn’t entail legal issues if your warrant is confined to one state. But, if your warrant spans multiple jurisdictions, it’s recommended to consult both the airline and local law enforcement about whether they’d permit entry into their destination country before confirming your flight. You might wonder, “Will I get stopped at the airport if I have a warrant?” or “If you have a warrant, can you fly?” The responses to these inquiries hinge on the specific conditions tied to your warrant.

Regardless of the presence of active warrants, it’s mandatory to present a legitimate form of ID like a driver’s license or passport and inform security personnel as needed for appropriate screenings. This can help guarantee safe flight experiences while diminishing unexpected disturbances or problems during travel.

Who cannot fly with a warrant?

Who cannot fly with a warrant? This can vary depending on the destination country. For example, in the United States, individuals with an active warrant for their arrest are not permitted to fly, as the TSA (Transportation Security Administration) has access to a database of individuals with warrants. However, in other countries like Canada, it may be possible to fly even with an active warrant.

Additionally, there are specific groups of people who are universally prohibited from flying, regardless of the warrant status. These groups include individuals wanted for serious criminal offenses, fugitives, and those deemed to be flight risks. If you are on the no-fly list, you will not be able to board a plane even if you have a valid warrant.

Air travel and security checks

Air travel and security checks

TSA’s Purpose – The primary function of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) revolves around ensuring the safety of passengers, conducted through the screening for threats such as weapons, explosives and other banned items. They do not actively seek out individuals with arrest warrants.

Verification of Identity – TSA does indeed verify the identities of passengers against secure flight databases to mitigate risks. However, these databases primarily focus on potential threats to civil aviation and national security, rather than on arrest warrants.

Connection with Law Enforcement – Even though the TSA does not actively seek out warrants, if they encounter a circumstance that necessitates local law enforcement intervention, like a disagreement, suspicious activity, or detection of prohibited items, the authorities summoned may check your information and uncover a warrant.

Risks at destination and origin airports

Local Law Enforcement & Warrant Checks – Major airports often maintain a substantial police force. If, for any reason, you have direct interactions with them, there’s a chance they might research outstanding warrants.

Traveling to a Different Jurisdiction – If you’re traveling to another state and your warrant was issued in a different state, it’s pivotal to grasp the particulars of the warrant. Some warrants have enforceability confined to the state they were issued in, while others extend to more comprehensive jurisdictions.

International Travel – Embarking on or returning from international trips enhances complexities. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers carry out checks, and any outstanding warrants could lead to your arrest upon entry into the U.S.


Immediate Detention – A primary outcome of being associated with an unresolved warrant is confinement by local or federal law enforcement.

Extradition Proceedings – If apprehended beyond the jurisdiction where the warrant was issued, there is the possibility of extradition, a formal procedure through which one jurisdiction returns an individual to another for legal processing.

Travel Interruptions – In addition to the immediate legal implications, your travel arrangements, such as return flights, accommodations, and obligations, could face significant disruptions.

Can you travel on domestic flights with a warrant?

travel on domestic flights with warrant

When pondering over questions like, “Is it possible to travel from one state to another with a warrant?” or “Can one fly between states with a felony warrant?”, note that domestic flight operations differ from international ones. There are no surefire ways to evade security checkpoints, and flying with a warrant, be it a bench warrant or a felony warrant, remains a risky venture.

On national flights, passengers’ names aren’t announced during boarding, and airlines don’t consistently cross-check passenger names against specific databases to examine if there are any active warrants, even if they are checking in online or in person at the airport. This infers that occasionally, it might be feasible to travel from one state to another with a warrant unnoticed. However, this is not a certainty, and there’s always a risk getting caught during the security process.

Bear in mind that even with a bench warrant, travelling domestically or with any warrant in general, could lead to serious problems if authorities learn of the warrant during the security check. To lessen the chance of unexpected trouble, it’s sensible to confer with a legal advisor prior to attempting to travel with an active warrant.

Can you travel internationally with a warrant?

Is international travel possible with a warrant? The typical response is no, as global travel is perceived as a heightened risk for individuals violating a warrant. In severe cases, departing the country could be interpreted as a tacit admission of guilt. If a person travels while being investigated or having an outstanding warrant, they could be apprehended at the border by law enforcement and accused of evading justice. Consequently, it’s preferable to avoid international travel in possession of a warrant. Consulting with a legal expert before taking any action with potential legal consequences is always recommended.

The difficulty with international travel lies in entering another country. Although your home country’s airport may not pose an issue, the nations you aim to visit might refuse to issue a visa due to your criminal history.

Unlike domestic trips, international flights entail database checks as part of the security protocol. What does this mean for a wanted person? Even if their name isn’t on the airline security database, they would still need to clear numerous additional security measures.

Passports that were legally issued before an arrest, issuance of a warrant, or court summons could be confiscated. Alternatively, officials can retain the individual’s passport while ordering them to remain within the country.

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Interpol Lawyer Dmytro Konovalenko
Dmytro Konovalenko
Senior Partner
Lawyer specializing in extradition and Interpol cases, with membership in the International Bar Association. In five years of practice, Dmitry has defended clients against persecution by law enforcement agencies in the United States, Russia, Uzbekistan, Ukraine, Russia and other countries. He has successfully applied measures to prevent a manhunt at early stages and specializes in defending in complex cases involving economic, political and military charges.

Fly with a Warrant FAQ

Does TSA check for warrants?
TSA staff typically don't search for outstanding warrants, but there remains a possibility of detention, particularly when traveling internationally.
Will I get stopped at the airport if I have a warrant for my arrest?
At airports, individuals with active arrest warrants might face detention or arrest. International flights pose a greater risk, as airport security tends to perform more comprehensive identity verifications on passengers.
What does TSA check on your ID
Generally, the TSA doesn't scrutinize your identity but often conducts basic checks to ensure that the name on your ID aligns with that on your boarding pass. They also verify that the ID photo matches your appearance and may check the validity and expiry of your ID. Special devices like ultraviolet scanners are used to detect forgery. Such devices can potentially uncover more details about you, including any existing warrants.
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