As of March 31, 2011, the U.S. Department of Justice's (DOJ's) FARA Registration Unit, the office responsible for administering the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), is now requiring that all new registrations and all supplemental registrations be submitted electronically using the agency's eFile system.
FARA generally requires that U.S. persons representing foreign parties in, for example, public relations or lobbying matters register with the DOJ. Along with payment of the required registration fee, registrations must disclose the nature of the relationship and other information, and must be kept current through the submission of biannual supplements. Such registrations and supplements are maintained in a public file by the FARA Registration Unit, an office within DOJ's National Security Division. The requirement to register electronically was included as a part of the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act of 2007.
In order to register electronically using eFile, registrants must have an online user account number and password. For current registrants, DOJ will be providing an account number and temporary password in connection with the registrant's six month supplemental statement invoice. New registrants may submit their registration by selecting "New Registration" in the online system. DOJ will review the submission and provide an account number and password via mail. New registrants may then log in to the system and pay the registration fee.
The eFile system requires that new registrations and supplemental statements be submitted using new PDF forms available on the FARA website (http://www.fara.gov/forms.html). For supplemental statements, the naming of the PDF form must follow the following convention: "[REGISTRATION NUMBER] SUPP APR2011." Additionally, the form must be electronically signed by pressing the "sign" button in the PDF file and making the necessary certification. After the PDF file is signed, no further edits can be made to the form.
Once the form is completed, it can be uploaded, along with any attachments, to the eFile website. Note that the registration fee can be paid either online with a credit card or electronic funds transfer, or by mail with a check. The eFile system will provide a confirmation with a transaction number to track the submission.
While there are certain to be some bugs in the initial implementation, FARA's new online registration system should ultimately help ease the administrative burden associated with FARA registration.