Canada DUI Entry: 2019 ChangesThere were major changes to Canada’s DUI entry rules in 2018 and 2019. Changes to Canada’s entry rules were not direct, but a consequence of changes to Bill-C46 coming into power on December 18th,2018. Those changes made visitors that could previously enter Canada legally after 10 years, including those from the United States, became inadmissible no matter how long has passed.

Canada DUI Changes in 2018

Bill-C46 upped the maximum charge for DUI (Driving under the influence – same as DWI ) in Canada to a 10-year prison sentence. This meant that a DUI charge was also upgraded to become a major offence or “serious criminality” for legal purposes. It’s the upgrading of a DUI to be considered “serious criminality” that changed crossing with a DUI going forward.

Border Crossing with A DUI

Prior to December 18th,2018 a foreign DUI charge was a considered a minor offence as the Canadian criminal charge was a maximum of 5 years in prison. Border officials would allow visitors from the US and other countries to enter provided that ten years had passed since they completed their sentencing requirements for their DUI charges. So basically, after any fines or time served were completed, waiting a further 10 years would give a person without other charges a very good chance of being “deemed rehabilitated”. Deemed rehabilitation would allow people with old DUI’s to enter Canada.
When the maximum charge for a DUI in Canada was increased to 10 years in prison, “deemed rehabilitation” no longer applied as the previously minor offence was now a major offence.

DUI Entry Rules Changes Affected Millions

The scope of the problem was enormous. Tens of millions of Americans and people from around the world became inadmissible over night. Truck drivers, airline pilots, visitors of all kinds, would be potentially inadmissible. The effect of the changes would also cause problems for people immigrating or seeking refugee status in Canada. From what we have been able to learn, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) did not immediately enforce the rule changes. Potentially millions of visitors would have had to pay to apply for rehabilitation and then wait up to a year to gain entry to Canada.

DUI Entry Rule Changes in 2019

Early in 2019 Canada’s Immigration Minister’s made a statement in the media, “anyone deemed rehabilitated for an impaired driving offence outside Canada before December 18, 2018…” “…would not need to reapply for relief to overcome inadmissibility due to that same offence.”
Deemed rehabilitation was grandfathered in for any foreign national convicted of a DUI prior to December 18, 2018. It should be noted that this is simply a policy and not a legal change. Policies are subject to change as the administration deems fit. This means a change in government could potentially mean a change in this policy.

How Long Do You Have to Wait to Go to Canada After A DUI?

Right now, with no other criminal charges, the waiting period for anyone with a DUI conviction prior to December 18th, 2018 is 5 years after their full sentencing requirements are completed. Any additional criminal charges will require the application for “criminal rehabilitation” be made.
A waiting period of 5 years after sentencing requirements are completed has been grandfathered


Everyone’s situation is unique and it’s always a good idea to ask questions to get the correct answers. For a free consultation simply give Mitch a call T (204) 488-6350 or 1-800-438-7020. Alternatively, you may complete the contact form on this page.

18 thoughts on “Canada DUI Entry: 2019 Changes

  1. I had a DUI in December 2005 & sentencing was completed September 2006. I have had no other
    convictions/criminal charges since. Is there anything I need to do if I plan to travel to Canada either by car or air?


    • If that single DUI conviction was your only offence in your entire lifetime, and it has been more than 10 years since you completed your sentencing requirements, then you are referred to as ‘Deemed Rehabilitated’ and are no longer inadmissible to Canada.


    If I had a DUI October 2013 and paid my fines and sentencing by September 2014 and I’ve had no other offenses, would I be ok to travel into Canada?

    • At this point in time you would be considered ‘inadmissible’ and might be refused entry. If you’d like to overcome this, my office can certainly help. Please feel free to call at (204) 488-6350, or send an email to if you are interested.

  3. I received a DUI 08/2012 and fines and sentencing were completed 01/2013. I’ve had no other convictions or tickets. Can I travel into Canada from the US?

    • At this point you would be considered ‘inadmissible’ and run the risk of being refused entry, if you’d like to overcome this there are applications you can do. Please feel free to reach out to me at (204) 488-6350 or if you have any follow-up questions.


    • Hi Janet,

      If that is her only arrest/offence in her entire lifetime and it’s been more than 10 years since she completed her sentencing requirements then she is no longer inadmissible to Canada.

    • Hi Tom, Usually two convictions of that sort would make you inadmissible to Canada however I’d need to see records to make a proper assessment. Please feel free to email me at or give my office a call: (204) 488-6350 if you’re interested in applying to overcome this.

    • Those with one DUI conviction in their entire lifetime, and no other arrests/offences what so ever, are ‘Deemed Rehabilitated’ and able to enter Canada again once 10 years has passed from the completion of all sentencing requirements.

  4. Can an expunged wet reckless ticket in California in 2015 make me inadmissible for permanent residency in Canada or Fail me in criminality checks of PR application?I am currently in Canada on a work permit.

  5. My son wants to join us on vacation August 2021. Civil motorcycle DUI in July 2019. No other record. He will not be driving. What does he need to do? Thanks!

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