Security Clearance & Reporting Your Foreign Travel

Despite strict stay-at-home orders issued by governors across the nation after the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) was declared a national emergency, many people are eager to get outside and proceed with their travel plans. For some, this means a road trip, but for others, it means a honeymoon, a vacation abroad, or an overseas trip to visit family. It can also mean traveling to another country to complete a foreign adoption.

If you’re planning a trip overseas for business, family, or pleasure and you hold a security clearance, you’ll have to do a little more preparation than a traditional civilian. Before you step on that plane or boat, you’ll have to report your travel plans to your security office and you’ll have to obtain pre-authorization.

Security Executive Agent Directive 3

Effective June 12, 2017, Security Executive Agent Directive 3 (SEAD-3), expanded the rules about the reporting requirements for foreign travel on behalf of all security clearance holders across the government, regardless of the level of security clearance held.

Under SEAD-3, all covered individuals are required to report foreign travel. What’s more, they are required to submit an itinerary for their “unofficial foreign travel” to their agency head and receive approval before they can leave the United States on their trip. Here are some additional notes to keep in mind:

  1. If you’re traveling to Puerto Rico or Guam, or another U.S. possession or territory, it’s not considered “foreign travel” and you don’t have to report it.
  2. If you make an unplanned day trip to Canada or Mexico, you must report it within five business days of your return to the U.S.
  3. If your agency head or designee requires that you receive a defensive security and counterintelligence briefing, you need to agree to it and have it before you leave.
  4. If an emergency arises and you need to travel overseas, at the minimum, you are expected to verbally advise your supervisor of the emergency travel and provide them with the relevant specifics before your departure.

While this is a basic overview of SEAD-3, it is not an exhaustive l description. If you have questions about foreign travel, we recommend that you read SEAD-3 carefully and contact your manager with any questions that you have. You can also contact our security clearance attorneys if you have legal questions.