Travel To Canada With A Criminal Record

Traveling to Canada with criminal record may mean you will be denied entry Canada. Under Canadian law if you’ve been convicted of a crime you may be considered “criminally inadmissible” depending on the severity and time since the offence. That’ said, there are factors that will also allow you to be eligible to enter Canada with a criminal record.

Crossing the Canadian border with a criminal record is a bit complicated – for a free consultation by phone call 1-800-438-7020.

When Crossing the Canadian Border, Don’t Lie

When crossing the Canadian border, you can expect a Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) officer to ask you if you’ve ever been fingerprinted, charged with a crime, or been convicted of a crime. You should always tell the truth, Border agents are trained to ferret out the truth and the United States and Canada share access to both countries criminal databases. There’s a good chance the CBSA officer already knows the answer to the question they are asking.

If your criminal offense was committed under the age of 18, then you may be allowed entry to Canada.

Can You Get into Canada With A Felony or a Misdemeanor?

When assessing a person’s eligibility to enter with either a felony conviction or misdemeanor conviction, the judgment of admissibility is based on the severity of the crime and its penalty in Canada and not the country it occurred in. A good example of this is drinking driving. In some countries drinking driving is little more than a ticket. In Canada, DUI it is a serious criminal charge with a sentence of up to 10 years in prison. So, while the country person committed DUI resulted in only a fine, in Canada, it’s considered a valid reason for not being eligible to enter the country depending on the date of the conviction. So, the answer to the question of entry to Canada with a felony or misdemeanor is – it’s complicated. Both the nature of the crime and the time since conviction are both factors in determining eligibility.

There are many factors to consider for crimes such as:

  • DUI and impaired driving (DWI,OWI) including being under the influence of drugs
  • Theft and possession of stolen goods
  • Simple assault and assault causing bodily harm
  • Manslaughter including vehicular manslaughter
  • Simple possession
  • Possession for the purpose of trafficking in drugs or controlled substances.

Deemed Rehabilitation and Entry to Canada With A Criminal Record

Under Canada’s immigration law, a person may be deemed rehabilitated provided that enough time has passed since the conviction of the crime in question. You can be deemed rehabilitated if:

  • The crime is relatively minor, and you do not pose a threat to society
  • Enough time is passed since serving the full sentence and paying any restitution
    more than one criminal conviction
    In each of the above cases, you may only be deemed rehabilitated if the crime committed in your country has a maximum prison term of less than 10 years if committed in Canada. Anything 10 years or over as a sentence becomes a serious offense and you will have to apply for rehabilitation to enter Canada.

Free Consultations: Entry to Canada With Felony/Misdemeanor Charges

We realize that crossing the border and being denied entry into Canada could cause any number of problems, not to mention embarrassment. Owner, Mitch Jessiman is a Registered Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC) and can help you determine your eligibility to enter Canada with a criminal record. Consultations are free. Simply call Mitch at 1-800-438-7020.

61 thoughts on “Travel to Canada With A Criminal Record

  1. I’m surprised to see these restrictions. So I am 48, and had a DUI when I was 21; that was 27 years ago. A few years after my DUI, I was run over by a car, hospitalized for a month, during which time I was pronounced dead and miraculously came back to life after I was covered with the sheet. After a few years I recovered, and was a new man with a new life to start over. I rarely ever drink, and have not had any DUI since the one in my former life. That said, does that count as a DUI? I would imagine its still on my old record, but that was a long time ago plus I am not mentally that person. Would that require any special consideration to cross the border from the United States to Canada? I would love to visit and have some interest in relocating there. Its hard to believe that could affect my entry though.

    • Hi there, if that DUI is you’re only conviction in your entire lifetime then you are ‘Deemed Rehabilitated’ and able to enter as long as it’s been more than 10 years since you completed all sentencing requirements.

  2. Two years ago I was convicted of assault in Missouri. Judge determined guilt and sentenced me to ten hours of community service, a $110 fine, and two years unsupervised probation (probation period ends 6/2021). I want to go on a cruise to Alaska that departs from Vancouver. Need to cross into Canada, board the boat and not return to Canada.
    Is that even possible – or do I need to forego the cruise?

  3. hi,
    I had a DUI in 2018, this is my only charged conviction. I do not drink anymore and I work at revitalizing our Native language.
    my boss wants me to go to Canada this summer as I transcribe elders and he wants me to meet wirh our Native elders to learn more knowledge.
    will I be able to travel there for work?
    thank you,

  4. How long do I have to wait after conviction or completion of sentence to enter Canada if convicted of assault 3? There was bodily harm. Only other conviction was 37 years ago, a misdemeanor of disturbing the peace.

  5. Hi, I was convicted of embezzlement in 2008. It was a small amount of money. I served one weekend in jail and 1 year probation. I have had my rights restored. Super clean record, not even a traffic ticket since. Would I be considered inadmissible?

  6. I was charged with possession of a controlled substance back in 2015 in the United States. It was actually my prescription medication and the charge was eventually dismissed. I don’t have the police disposition anymore but I do have the dismissal paper. I’m a Chinese national living in China and I no longer live in the states. Should I be worried when applying for a visa to travel in Canada?

  7. Hi
    I was convicted of assault on 2017.
    I was under probation for 2 year and was given 150 hours of community work , which is already completed.
    If i want to fly to canada will there be any issue?

  8. I had a misdemeanor conviction in 2010. I bought safe & sane fireworks (no aerials, etc.) for the Fourth of July which are legal where I live in Calif., from a retail outlet in Nevada. To get home I had to travel through San Bernardino County, which unbeknownst to us, has a ‘no fireworks transportation’ law. Since I couldn’t afford a lawyer at the time, I pled guilty to the misdemeanor, HCS 12677 california, paid my fine and had three years probation (along with the other 15 people there for the same reason that day). Would I be eligible for travel now, in three years, or never without filing. I had no record previously or since. Thanks.

  9. In DEC 1993 I was drunk and accidentally started 3 fires one night. I was convicted on 3 felony counts of arson. I served 10 years of probation. I have been sober ever since. I have POA over health with my Uncle who lives in Canada and had to put him in a long term care facility. I also have to go there to clean out his house to get ready to sell it. What are my options

  10. Hi there. Is my US fingerprint record what Canada sees? On there I have some charges from 2002. All misdemeanors here in the US. Shoplifting, fraudulent check twice, disorderly conduct, injury to personal property, and unlawful use of telephone . Looks bad but it really isn’t. Will I be able to get into Canada?

  11. Hello – I had a conviction of theft by services (over $10k so felony level) from an auto body shop. I successfully won my civil suit, but due to a technicality in Virginia law (stop payment on a check) the conviction stands. Its been almost 20 years, and that is the only thing on the record. Do I need to go through the TRP process?

  12. I have a DUI 2007, and Has a record of assault by the year 2003 but was never charged/ convicted. Can I still enter Canada through the land border?

  13. Hi, I have an assault 4 arrest in the US, but no charges were filed (no formal complaint filed), no convictions. Can i apply for a tourist visa to canada

  14. My sister has several misdemeanors (no felonies) on her record, she’s paid all fines, etc and these were all committed during a time when she was actively using. She’s been clean for nearly 4 years and has flourished in that time, paying her own bills, mending relationships, clearing up her license, even leasing a new car. I would love her to be able to visit me in Canada, what steps should we take to see if that’s ever possible?

    • Hi Danette, you are likely still inadmissible to Canada at this time – if you’d like advise on how to overcome this please email or call my office.

  15. Brendan mullen says:

    I had 2 duis 32 years ago when I was 21 and 23 years old. 10 years later, At 33, I had my last one. It’s been 16 years since that offense and 15 years since completing the one year imprisonment I received in pennsylvania. I haven’t had a drink since that last dui and have had no criminal activity at all since that last dui. All fines associated with my conviction are paid and all Driver licensing has been restored.

    I’m 50 now, it’s been 16 years since that last dui. Would I be deemed restored or would I need to apply for rehabilitation?

    Thank you in advance for helping with this information.

    • Hi Brendan, if you have 2 convictions than you’re considered inadmissible no matter how long has passed but you can apply to overcome that. If you’re interested in doing an application please feel free to reach out to my office by phone or email.

  16. Hi. I am hoping to take the family to Canada. I have a felony theft from 33 years ago. That is the only thing on my record and I completed the restitution. Do I need to do anything? I am so confused!

  17. I myself have a disorderly conduct from 2008 my wife has the same but she also has a identity theft charge from long ago none of her charges are felony’s would she be able to come into Canada? Most the charges on her are from when she was 18 she’s almost 40 now she does have theft 50 dollars and under from Walmart and spent 10 days in jail but that’s all her recent and that was almost 5 years ago.

  18. Hi. I am a permanent resident in Canada and would like to invite my cousin who was arrested and then convicted in court for administrative misconduct (his actions and omissions resulted in the loss of government money). He was convicted for 1 year in jail, but he stayed for more than 1-2 months and the rest remained under house arrest. This happened in 2015 and his police certificate is clean. He should apply for a Visitor visa and I don’t know if it is inadmissible to get the visa or come to Can for a short visit? Thank you in advance.

  19. I had a assault that was dismissed 18 years ago , it never went to court because it was fraudulent will I be able to enter Canada

    • Hi Boby, if you were not guilty/convicted of the offence it should not make you inadmissible to Canada but I do have follow-up questions and advise if you’d like to reach out to me by phone or email instead.

  20. kyle murphy says:

    in 2017 I was stopped at Canadian border for DUI. I was released back to US, I was informed the following week by the arresting officer that due to errors the case was dismissed and my bond was returned. Does this prohibit me from entering Canada?

    • Hi there, I have follow-up questions to be able to advise properly. Please feel free to call or email my office for assitance.

  21. What about civil judgements. I was given a temporary restraining order for “domestic abuse” which lasts for 4 years. The fact that it’s a civil situation makes it unclear. So does the fact that no physical harm was ever done.

    • Hi there, I have a couple of follow-up questions in order to advise. Please feel free to call or email my office for assistance.

  22. Want to take the family on vacation to Canada. I have multiple simple possession and possession of paraphernalia misdemeanor convictions, all over 13 years old, most recent being January 2009. Even with the time passed, I”m worried that multiple convictions would prohibit my entry.

  23. I had a petty theft from stealing can of chewing tobacco in 1989. Plead no contest to a misdemeanor. In 1994, it was expunged. In 1990, has a non criminal infraction for disturbing the peace(drunk in public). Technically, I have one conviction that was expunged and one infraction. Am wanting to take kids fishing. Will this be an issue? These above issues were when I was a teenager.

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