What is a Red Notice?
A Red Notice is a request to law enforcement worldwide to locate and provisionally arrest a person pending extradition, surrender, or similar legal action. It is based on an arrest warrant or court order issued by the judicial authorities in the requesting country. Member countries apply their own laws in deciding whether to arrest a person.
It contains two main types of information:
- Information to identify the wanted person, such as their name, date of birth, nationality, hair and eye colour, photographs and fingerprints if available.
- Information related to the crime they are wanted for, which can typically be murder, rape, child abuse or armed robbery.
Red Notices are published by INTERPOL at the request of a member country, and must comply with INTERPOL’s Constitution and Rules.
Why are Red Notices important?
Red Notices are important because they are used to simultaneously alert police in all our member countries about internationally wanted fugitives.
Red Notices help bring fugitives to justice, sometimes many years after the original crime was committed.
Are the individuals wanted by INTERPOL?
No, they are wanted by a country or an international tribunal.
INTERPOL cannot compel the law enforcement authorities in any country to arrest someone who is the subject of a Red Notice.
Each member country decides what legal value it gives to a Red Notice and the authority of their law enforcement officers to make arrests.
Who are the subjects of Red Notices?
Red Notices are issued for fugitives wanted either for prosecution or to serve a sentence in relation to serious ordinary law crimes such as murder, rape and fraud. This follows criminal proceedings in the country issuing the request. This is not always the home country of the individual.
When a person is sought for prosecution, it means the person has not been convicted and should be considered innocent until proven guilty. A person sought to serve a sentence means that this person has been found guilty by a court in the country that requested the publication of the Red Notice.
Offences for which a Red Notice may not be issued
Article 83 of INTERPOL’s Rules on the Processing of Data sets out the specific conditions for the publication of Red Notices.
Red Notices may be published only if the offence concerned is a serious ordinary-law crime. They may not be published for the following categories:
- offences that raise controversial issues in some countries relating to behavioural or cultural norms. For example, prostitution or offences related to damaging honour;
- offences relating to family/private matters. For example adultery, bigamy/polygamy or homosexual acts;
- offences originating from a violation of laws or regulations of an administrative nature or deriving from private disputes, unless the criminal activity is aimed at facilitating a serious crime or is suspected of being connected to organized crime. For example, traffic violations, defamation, or issuing unfunded cheques (unless there was a fraudulent or malicious intent at the time the cheque was issued).
The General Secretariat maintains a non-exhaustive list of specific offences that fall within the above categories.
The current list of offences that are not compliant with our rules can be downloaded from the Related Documents section below.
What checks are done before a Red Notice is issued?
All Red Notice requests are reviewed for compliance with INTERPOL’s Rules by our Notices and Diffusions Task Force, a specialized multilingual and multidisciplinary task force comprising lawyers, police officers and operational specialists.
When assessing the compliance of a Notice, the task force considers all of the information available to it at the time. For example, information from the National Central Bureau requesting the Notice, other member countries and open sources.
Examples of reasons why a Red Notice may be found to be non-compliant with INTERPOL’s Rules include:
- It is contrary to Article 3 of INTERPOL’s Constitution, i.e. the request is of a predominantly political, military, religious or racial character;
- It is contrary to Article 2(1) of INTERPOL’s Constitution, according to which the Organization must conduct its activities in the spirit of the “Universal Declaration of Human Rights”. For example, a Red Notice may not be published for a refugee who has fled that country and fears persecution;
- Failure to satisfy minimum penalty requirements;
- The offence described in the Red Notice falls under one of the categories of excluded offences, e.g., prostitution or bigamy;
Whenever new and relevant information is brought to the attention of the General Secretariat after a Notice or Wanted Persons Diffusion has been published, the task force re-examines the case.
If a notice or diffusion is assessed as no longer being in compliance with INTERPOL's Constitution and rules, it is cancelled. All member countries are informed of the decision and requested to remove any information from national databases.
What should I do if I have information on an individual?
Please inform your local police authorities and/or the INTERPOL General Secretariat.
Can I find out if a Red Notice has been issued for me?
You can contact the Commission for the Control of INTERPOL’s Files (CCF), an independent body. Applications to the CCF are free of charge and treated confidentially.