Foreign Agents Registration Act

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The Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) was passed in 1938 in an attempt to limit the influence of German agents in the U.S. The Justice Department states "The purpose of FARA is to insure that the American public and its law makers know the source of information (propaganda) intended to sway public opinion, policy, and laws." [1]



The act declared that an agent of a foreign principal is any individual or organization which acts at the order, request, or under the direction or control of a foreign principal, or whose activities are directed by a foreign principal who:

  1. Engages in political activities.
  2. Acts in a public relations capacity for a foreign principal.
  3. Solicits or dispenses any thing of value within the United States for a foreign principal.
  4. Represents the interests of a foreign principal before any agency or official of the U.S. government. [2]
File:FARA Example.JPG
Example of FARA disclosure

FARA registrations and disclosures are administered by the FARA Registration Unit of the Counterespionage Section in the National Security Division of the Justice Department.

FARA disclosure forms require much more information than lobbyist disclosure forms filed under the Lobbyist Disclosure Act of 1995. FARA registrants must disclose the names of each individual person they lobby in any branch of government along with the date of the contact. (This is shown in the accompanying image.) Also disclosed are any efforts outside of lobbying to influence the public at large. This can include setting up informational booths in public places, handing out flyers regarding vacation information in regards to visiting the foreign country, paid advertising, or any other paid efforts to influence public opinion in regards to the company or country. FARA disclosures also must contain the actual legal agreement between the two parties.

Online access

In May 2007, the Justice Department launched a searchable online database of filings under the act. A spokesperson stated “This has been underway for years...Part of the statute calls for this to be publicly available and we are just doing it in a way that is more user-friendly.” Previously, the FARA database had been available to the public only at the agency’s Washington D.C. office, during limited hours.[3]

Contact details

Department of Justice
Registration Unit
1400 New York Avenue, N.W.
1st Floor - Public Office
Suite 100
Washington, D.C. 20005

Articles and resources

See also


  1. Department of Justice: FARA
  2. Department of Justice: FARA
  3. Alex Knott, "Foreign Lobbying Database Up and Running," Congressional Quarterly, May 30, 2007.

External articles

External resources