International Prisoner Transfer Program

The International Prisoner Transfer Program began in 1977 after Congress passed enabling legislation (18 U.S.C. §§4100-4115) and the Federal Government negotiated the first in a series of treaties to permit the transfer of prisoners from countries in which they had been convicted and sentenced of crimes to their home countries.  After transfer, the home or receiving country assumes responsibility for administering the transferred sentence.  The transfer program is intended to facilitate the rehabilitation of the transferred offenders and to relieve some of the administration and diplomatic issues that arise with the incarceration of foreign nationals.  In addition to foreign national prisoners in federal custody and Americans sentenced abroad, foreign national prisoners in state custody are also eligible to participate in the program.

Prisoners may only be transferred to and from those countries with which the United States has a treaty.  (Participating countries are listed on this site.)  While all prisoner transfer treaties are negotiated principally by the U.S. Department of State, the program itself is administered by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).  The transfer decision is a discretionary one based on the satisfaction of statutory and treaty requirements and is informed by internal guidelines that are applied to the unique facts of each case.


For additional information or questions about the International Prisoner Transfer Program, contact the International Prisoner Transfer Unit (IPTU) at the Department of Justice.

Paula A. Wolff, Associate Director
International Prisoner Transfer Unit
Office of International Affairs
Criminal Division
U.S. Department of Justice
1301 New York Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530

Telephone:  (202)514-3173      Fax:  (202)514-9003


For information on the Federal Bureau of Prisons’ Program Statement on International Prisoner Transfer, visit http://www.bop.gov/inmates/custody_and_care/treaty_transfers.jsp

For information from the U.S. Department of State regarding information on Americans incarcerated Abroad, visit: http://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/legal/travel-legal-considerations/International-Prisoner-Transfer-Program.html 

Updated August 31, 2018

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