Interpol Notices & Q&A

Interpol Notices & Q&A

Interpol Notices

An Interpol notice is an international alert circulated by Interpol to communicate information about crimes, criminals, and threats from police in a member state (or an authorized international entity) to their counterparts around the world. The information disseminated via notices concerns individuals wanted for serious crimes, missing persons, unidentified bodies, possible threats, prison escapes, and criminals' modus operandi.

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There are eight types of notices, seven of which are color-coded by their function: Red, Blue, Green, Yellow, Black, Orange, and Purple.

What is Red Notice?

A Red Notice aids in providing information to law enforcement officers in a country to notify about the arrest of a certain person sought by another country. It incorporates comprehensive data related to the wanted person. It includes photograph, name, nationality and date of birth. Description of the respective charge and alleged actions seem to have committed by the person who is wanted is also included in the issued notice. A red notice is an international alert to give notification about crimes, criminals and threats from police. 

At the request of the NCB (National Central Bureau), an electronic alert is issued by INTERPOL which constitutes a Red Notice. It can be reached by police as well as immigration authorities throughout the globe. The information regarding Red Notice is stored on INTERPOL’s databases. Red Notice brings about a request worldwide published by INTERPOL to assist in finding the location of a person (wanted) pending surrender, extradition, arrest or similar lawful action.

The most well-known notice is the Red Notice which is the "closest instrument to an international arrest warrant in use today. "An eighth Special Notice is issued at the request of the United Nations Security Council.Notices published by Interpol are made either on the organisation's own initiative or are based on requests from its member states".

What is NCB?

National Central Bureaus (NCBs) The National Central Bureau is a country's focal point for all INTERPOL activities. Each of our member countries hosts an INTERPOL National Central Bureau (NCB).

National Central Bureaus (NCBs) or authorized international entities such as the United Nations and the International Criminal Court. All notices are published on Interpol's secure website. Extracts of notices may also be published on Interpol's public website if the requesting entity agrees. Interpol can only publish a notice that adheres to all the proper legal conditions. 
 Notices can be issued in any of the four official languages of Interpol: English, French, Spanish, and Arabic. In addition, Notices are used by the United Nations, International Criminal Tribunals and the International Criminal Court to seek persons wanted for committing crimes within their jurisdiction, notably genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity.
 Similar to the Notice is another request for cooperation or alert mechanism known as a 'Diffusion'. This is less formal than a notice but is also used to request the arrest or location of an individual or additional information in relation to a police investigation. A Diffusion is circulated directly by a member states or international entity to the countries of their choice, or to the entire Interpol membership and is simultaneously recorded in Interpol’s databases.

Types of INTERPOL Notices

Blue Notice: 
To locate, identify or obtain information on a person of interest in a criminal investigation. 
 Green Notice: 
To warn about a person’s criminal activities if that person is considered to be a possible threat to public safety.

Yellow Notice: 
To locate a missing person or to identify a person unable to identify himself/ herself. 

 Black Notice:
To seek information on unidentified bodies.

Orange Notice: 
To warn of an event, a person, an object or a process representing an imminent threat and danger to persons or property. 

Purple Notice: 
To provide information on modi operandi, procedures, objects, devices or hiding places used by criminals.

Interpol-United Nations Security Council Special Notice:
To inform Interpol’s members that an individual or an entity is subject to UN sanctions.

What is a Diffusion?

A Diffusion is also an alert which notifies law enforcement authorities that another country seeks the arrest of a specific person. It differs from a Red Notice in that it is not published ‘by’ INTERPOL at the country’s request; instead, it is circulated through INTERPOL’s channels by the country itself. However, Diffusions and Red Notices can have many of the same effects.

If I am subject to a Red Notice / Diffusion, can I travel?

There is a significant risk of your being arrested, both at home and when travelling, if you are subject to a Red Notice / Diffusion. In many countries, border agents are required to arrest persons subject to Red Notices, so you could be arrested on arrival or departure at an airport. Equally, in some countries hotels will forward information about guests to the local police, who check the names against INTERPOL lists, which could also lead to your arrest.

I think I may be subject to a Red Notice or Diffusion. How do I find out?

Will I be able to find out by checking online?

You can check the ‘wanted persons’ section of INTERPOL’s website at
This page contains extracts of some, but not all, Red Notices. If your name does appear on this page, it will also include a very broad indication of what sort of offence you are wanted for: ‘theft’, for example. To obtain more specific information, you will have to follow one of the other procedures described in this Note.
 However, if you are not listed on this page, this is not conclusive: only some Red Notices feature on this page. The rest are available only on INTERPOL’s restricted networks which are visible only to national law enforcement authorities. In addition, if you are subject to a Diffusion, this will never feature on INTERPOL’s website.

Can I ask police in my country to check INTERPOL’s files for me?


 Some people FTI has spoken to have been able to obtain information by simply asking police in the country where they live. There may not be a formal procedure provided for this, but in some cases people have obtained answers on an informal basis. 
You should however be aware that police may not be allowed to consult INTERPOL records and disclose information to you. Further, even if police inform you that there is no information on file, this is, again, not conclusive, as they may not have access to the relevant INTERPOL database. 
You may also be able to make a request using ‘data protection’ laws in your country. In the European Union, for instance, countries are required to have mechanisms allowing a person to gain access to information about them held on government files.

However, these laws provide exceptions for law enforcement authorities. You should consult with a lawyer in your country about this.

Can I find out directly from INTERPOL?

You can make a request to the Commission for the Control of INTERPOL’s Files (‘CCF’) asking for access to your file. The CCF is a panel of data protection experts which handles requests from individuals wishing to gain access to information about them stored on INTERPOL’s files or to challenge such information. 
Any request you make to the CCF needs to meet the ‘admissibility requirements’ (see # below). 

The address to write to is: 

The Commission for the Control of INTERPOL’s Files (CCF) 

200 Quai Charles de Gaulle 69006 Lyon, France

Note that it is important to specify the CCF as the addressee on your envelope. Mail addressed to INTERPOL (which has the same address) can be opened by INTERPOL’s General Secretariat and used for police cooperation, that is to say, it can be recorded on databases and may become available for NCBs to see.

What are the CCF’s ‘admissibility requirements’?

There are certain specific requirements which your request must comply with in order for the CCF to consider it (these are available at: governance/CCF/Access-to-INTERPOL's-files): 
 It must be an original signed letter; AND
 It must be accompanied by a copy of an identity document. Although the rules do not specify this, FTI would suggest a passport, identity card or driving license; AND
 If you would like someone else to write on your behalf, it is necessary to include a power of attorney (a model is provided with this Note). You must include the signed original (not a copy) of this document with your letter; AND
 You should also complete and attach the Access Request Form (available at the link above). In the section asking for reasons, state ‘request for access as of right under Article 18 RPD’.

What information should I include in the request to the CCF?

An application to access your personal information on INTERPOL’s files should also include a statement that you are making the request under Article 18 of the Rules on the Processing of Data. 
This provision entitles you to make the application and you do not have to ‘justify’ or explain your interest in obtaining access to your information. It is your right to ask for it.
The only limitation is the CCF is only obliged to consider a request if the person has reasonable grounds to think that there may be information concerning them on INTERPOL’s files.
What is CCF?

The CCF is an independent body that ensures all personal data processed by INTERPOL conforms to our rules. ... INTERPOL processes a large volume of personal data through our Notices and databases on criminals and crimes; for example names, photos, identifying features and fingerprints.

Is the CCF obliged to grant me access to INTERPOL’s files?
No. When it receives a request like this, the CCF has to ask the NCB of the relevant country for its authorization to disclose to you whether or not there is any information on file. This is because, under INTERPOL’s rules, information on INTERPOL’s files belongs to the NCB which sends that information to INTERPOlL.

The NCB is therefore able to tell the CCF not to disclose the information at all, or even whether there is any information on file. You may therefore get an answer like this: 
‘In application of the principles of national sovereignty and indirect access to information, on which INTERPOL’s applicable rules for processing information are based, the Commission is not authorized to disclose whether or not there is any information in INTEPROL’s files about the person subject of the request, or to allow access to such information if it exists, unless it obtains the necessary authorization from the appropriate authorities of any countries concerned by the request.

However, the Commission has not been authorized by the NCB to disclose to you whether or not there is any information about you registered in INTERPOL’s files.’ Note that if you receive such a response, it does not imply that there is, or that there is not, any information on file. 

It simply means that the CCF has not been allowed to tell you either way. However, if there is information on file and the NCB does not object to the information being disclosed to you, the CCF may respond saying something like this:
‘The Commission has been authorized by the National Central Bureau of [country] to inform you that you are wanted by virtue of an arrest warrant dated [date] issued by [the relevant court]. This arrest warrant is the basis for a [Diffusion / Red Notice] issued against you with the following summary of facts:

 [the letter will then include a short description of the allegation, possibly only of a few lines in length, supplied by the NCB]’ Equally, the NCB may consent to you being informed that there is no information on file at all. 
We do not currently know what the wording of such a response looks like.

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