Inmate Visitation: How To Visit Your Loved One While They Are In Jail

Inmate Visitation: How To Visit Your Loved One While They Are In Jail

Visiting your loved one in jail is an important way to stay connected. For inmates, a visit is a much-needed connection with their life outside of jail and can be a great motivator through the difficulties of incarceration. However, if you're looking to visit jail for the first time, you may have a lot of questions about the process. 

Jails and prisons have strict policies surrounding in-person visitations. These rules are in place to ensure safety and eliminate potential criminal activity from occurring inside the jail. But for people unfamiliar with the jail system, there may be confusion about preparation, etiquette, and jail rules. 

We'll explain all of the things you should know before heading to jail for a visit with your loved one. From essential preparation tasks to tips about dress codes, we'll guide you through the process of inmate visitation in county or city jails.


Knowing how to prepare to see your loved one in jail is essential for a smooth visit. Each jail may have its own rules, guidelines, and procedures, so it's important to look up the specific jail before your visit to ensure that you follow all policies. If you happen to ignore or break rules set by the jail, you may lose visitation time or face more serious consequences depending on your actions. 

In general, all jails require preparation done by the inmate and intended visitor. The first step if you would like to visit an inmate is to get pre-approved for a visit. This is a fairly simple process but will need to be done by both you and the inmate. First, an inmate will put together a visitor list to get approved by jail staff. You'll need to fill out the proper forms and possibly undergo a background check. The jail staff will then inform the inmate if the people on their visitor list are approved or not. 

Getting approved or not will be a result of several different factors. People that are close to the inmate can be approved, such as 

  • Immediate family (father, mother, sister, etc.)
  • Relatives (grandparents, cousins, etc.)
  • Friends (this category is usually limited on a visitor list)
  • Employers
  • Legal counsel 

However, there are a few reasons why people may be denied visitation. For example, people who pose a security risk will not be approved for a visit. This category could include people who have been convicted of a felony, are currently on parole/probation, or have an outstanding warrant. 

Once you've been approved, you'll likely be required to submit information about yourself to the jail. Some of the information you will be asked to provide include your full legal name, date of birth, and contact information. You'll also need to schedule your visits to the jail in advance. Check out the specific jail's website for more in-depth information on scheduling a visit. There are typically set visiting hours that the jail enforces.

Guidelines and Rules for In-Person Visitations

On the day of your visit, you'll want to be prepared to follow all of the guidelines set by the jail. Typically, there are many different rules and policies surrounding inmate visitation, so you'll want to be fully prepared on the day of your visit. If you don't follow the guidelines, you may lose out on visiting with your loved one. 

One of the most important things to remember on the day of your visit is your ID. The jail will require proof of identification to verify that you are on the inmate's visitor list. If you don't bring your ID, you will be denied the visit. Acceptable forms of identification include government-issued IDs with photographs, such as passports or driver's licenses. 

Each jail may have its own dress code for visitors. In general, most jails enforce a conservative dress code. For visitors, this means that you should wear shirts with sleeves, long pants or skirts, and properly fitting clothing. You'll also need to avoid any clothing with gang-related symbols on them. 

Other common rules for inmate visitation in jails might include strict timeframes. You'll need to comply with jail staff when they tell you that visiting time is over. Typically, visits are shorter than an hour, though this may vary depending on the facility. 

During an inmate visitation, you will not be allowed to bring in items. Leave any gifts, letters, or cards at home, as they will be taken when you arrive at the facility. It's also important to note that bringing in items classified as contraband can result in jail time. Additionally, not following the jail's guidelines may cause you to lose visitation privileges. For these reasons, it's essential that you properly prepare for the visit and keep on your best behavior. Failure to do so may result in you missing out on time with your loved one, which would be a big bummer for you and your loved one in jail.

Visiting a loved one in jail may be the morale boost they need to get through the long days inside jail. However, for those visiting, it's critical that you follow all of the rules and policies set by the jail. To visit an inmate, you'll need to get pre-approved and schedule a visit in advance. Other common policies include following a dress code, adhering to a strict time period, and bringing a verified form of ID. If you fail to follow the rules, you may lose out on visiting someone you care about. To find the policies of the jail your loved one is at, use our inmate or jail search functions.