Where can you travel with a Canadian criminal record?

hogtownposted 7 years ago

Hey fellow canucks. I've got 3 criminal offences dating back over the last 20 years. Just applied for my first US entry waiver at Pearson airport and I know it can take many months or so for a decision (based on what I've read here). The US is obviously off limits for me this summer. So where else can you travel with a Canadian criminal record? Do the European countries have the ability to do a Canadian police check? What about Asia? Or the Caribbean countries? I've haven't been out of Canada in at least 12 years and really looking forward to seeing some place different this summer. Also thinking about applying for a record suspension with Pardons Canada so I'm also interested in opinions on that.

Replies (recent first):


European countries are generally lenient with criminal records and allow for second chances after a certain time has passed. The system was set up mostly to curb illegal immigration as the continent is having a hard time to cope with a huge influx of refugees. Also, many of the newcomers have committed horrible acts towards the local population that welcomed them with open arms. This is a conversation for another time perhaps.

European countries always denied entry to suspected human and drug traffickers, agitators that preach hate and suspected terrorists. They will not deny entry for people convicted of minor crimes because many of them have the right to obtain a european passport by descent. It is a fair system and a policy that our neighbor should adopt. Unfortunately, the Republicans have a tendency to spread lies to the masses.

George S. replied 3 years ago   #53

By the sounds of it, the european process will still likely allow people with records to get the visa, provided the record isn't substantial based on where you are travelling to (ie, drug trafficking, human trafficking, murder). Supposedly the oversight and review will be done by the country that you intend to land in on your flight (when you submit the e-visa application) and you're not supposed to be unreasonably denied.

I plan on applying as soon as the visa application is available and will let people know my results.

jazzsax1 replied 3 years ago   #52


Apparently the EU is putting in a Visa system in 2021. I assume that will make it harder, but no concrete evidence yet.

As I tell everyone, the best time to get a Pardon is when you DON'T need it. There is no benefit in having a criminal record, but plenty of possible problems (many of them unknown to you) to having it.

I coach my sons basketball team (as well as high school rugby) and I always get fathers who are very knowledgeable and I ask them to help out. Sometimes they say yes but sometimes you can see they want to....but refuse. I always wonder if its the fact they might not be able to pass a police clearance.

A couple of times a year I get elderly people who had some sort of dispute with a neighbor or someone in line at a grocery store....when the police show up and run them, suddenly they become "the bad guy". Unless your running a criminal enterprise and need the street "cred", a criminal record is literally a ticking time bomb.

John Rogers replied 3 years ago   #51

just fyi I've traveled all over Europe and Asia, UK, Aruba, Africa, etc. Never had an issue with my Canadian record. AFAIK it will only be a problem visiting Australia and the US - again visiting the other countries are not a problem, but once you apply for immigration (work, school, etc) is when they will need a police clearance.

nicknack replied 3 years ago   #50

#52 @jazzsax. I assume you mean the subclass 600 visa.

casper replied 3 years ago   #49

@Casper, I call a basic DUI, where there was a small fine and no probation. DUI sentences are increasing now, even for first timers. I also also call it that if no one died, or was injured. Just my own terms...John Rogers is correct, and explained it perfect in the fact that sometimes information does not make it to the RCMP in Ottawa, due to human error.

Michelle replied 3 years ago   #48

@casper I have seen plenty of DUI's form 1981. It was a criminal offence back then but obviously looked at differently back then and the penalties reflect that. Criminal record keeping is not perfect and prone to human error. I had a woman in my office with a 10 year old DUI. We could find no trace of it at the local level or on the RCMP report. It happens from time to time, although record keeping has gotten much better recently.

John Rogers replied 3 years ago   #47

they need to apply for the 601 visa at least a month ahead of time. They can't do the short notice e-visa or they will be rejected with a record.

I know folks who have been approved. They don't neccessarily need a pardon, but depending on the charges it's pretty similar of a process to the us waivers (submit the app, tell them the charges, why they should let you in, etc). Most I've talked to that got approved had charges within the last 10 years of various stripes.... but were honest about everything. They weren't applying for the work visas though, just the tourist visa that required up front disclosure (not the e-visa)

:: @jazzsax1 added on 31 Oct ’19 · 00:06

And for the record.... if your sentence was more than 12 months, you're likely to be denied. They aren't clear though if they only look at actual incarceration or not. And they don't mention much about probation.

jazzsax1 replied 3 years ago   #46

#50, Michelle, define a basic DUI ?
I had an impaired charge in 1981 that doesn't show in my RCMP record report.
I assume It wasn't a criminal charge back then so no criminal record. Correct?

casper replied 3 years ago   #45

#49, I find most people traveling to Australia require a Pardon first. Cases that I have dealt with are people who are applying for visas as they own oil consulting business and have been offered a contract to do work there. They absolutely need a pardon, even for basic DUI. Not surprised he has been denied. There were some comments on here previous about people getting through with no problems..I personally have not dealt with anyone who has a criminal record, and was granted a visa without a Pardon.

Michelle replied 3 years ago   #44

I had a waiver client (he has a 5 year waiver) who still has his criminal record in Canada. (No pardon).

He was trying to enter Australia and was refused entry at LAX. He was basically refused a Visa.

Can anyone comment any expertise, past experience, even anecdotal evidence?

John Rogers replied 3 years ago   #43

I have been all over Europe and in Jamaica with absolutely no problem. It’s my understanding that I can go anywhere in the world but the USA with my record. I have applied for the us entry waiver 11 months ago and sent a inquiry about a month ago with no response.so I have no choice but to not travel to the states until they see fit to process my application

Hurricanedave replied 4 years ago   #42

Also curious if anyone has had any issues with Europe / Schengen? I know the ETA is coming in for 2021, but may head there before then.

Any feedback would be great!

jazzsax1 replied 4 years ago   #41

Curious if anyone with records has travelled to Israel? Debating heading there this summer.

I do have dual citizenship with a 2nd passport that also has visa free access, but I would prefer to travel on my canadian if possible.

jazzsax1 replied 4 years ago   #40

In Canada, you can get a pardon but you must pay for it after a certain time has passed, usually for minor crimes after 5 years and for major crimes after 10 years. There is a 3 strike rule and certain crimes like murder and aggravated sexual assault on minors which no longer qualify for pardons.

Australia and the UK do not have pardons but for minor crimes, your conviction is usually not erased but you no longer need to disclose it after a certain time has passed, we call this a spent conviction. Unlike the UK which recently reduced the length of time for the disclosure of said convictions, Australia kept the Canadian timeframes which are 5 years for minor crimes or 10 years for major crimes.

Obviously, if your crime was a major one like murder or violent crimes towards women or children, you will never get a Visa to visit Australia. This is a recent change implemented on Feb. 28th by the australian government.

Unfortunately, nowadays politicians leaning right or left seems to believe that punishing people for past indiscretions do not deserve second chances.

HatsBootsHatsBoots replied 4 years ago   #39

Thanks, guys, for sharing your 2 cents.

Would anybody know whether someone with 'substantial criminal record' can still technically be granted the visit visa?

With the US, once you're inadmissible, you need a waiver (along with a visa if you're not Canadian or Bermudan), how would that transfer to the case of Australia?

Is there an equivalent to a waiver for Australia? Or should someone with a criminal record should just apply for a visa (with sufficient documentation), then hope for the best?

WaiveMeIn replied 4 years ago   #38

I see a lot of questions pertaining to entering Australia with a criminal record.

Australia considers 12 months imprisonment a substantial record, therefore anyone who will disclose that on the ETA will be refused. Australia is not as difficult when it comes to criminal records as the US is.

Recently, they updated their moral character requirements, so anyone found guilty of a violent crime towards children or women will no longer be allowed to enter Australia regardless of the sentence imposed.

Anyone who has a substantial record, needs to apply for a Visa and showing remorse generally helps.

HatsBootsHatsBoots replied 4 years ago   #37

Pretty sure if you have a record you don't apply for the ETA but you apply for the 601 visa and declare everything. from there they can decide to grant or not grant based on the rules (they consider more than 12 months imprisonment substantive), but they *can* grant a visa if you don't qualify. I've heard the more info you give the better, along with proof you have means to go home, and can show reform.

AC flies direct to Sydney Brisbane Melbourne and Perth. Lots of options. Definitely don't buy a flight until you have the visa in hand.

jazzsax1 replied 4 years ago   #36

#37 @WaiveMein

Sydney to Vancouver is a non-stop flight of about 15 hours and Air Canada flies that route.

That's just one that I'm aware of. So yes there are direct flights from OZ to Canada.

And I agree... getting refused from that part of the world would suck immensely.

Adelaide replied 4 years ago   #35

Has anybody here with a criminal record been able to apply for Australian ETA, disclose the criminal record, get approved, then enter the country without issue?

Getting refused entry from that part of the world would not be fun at all, I'm not even sure how the deportation would work since there doesn't seem to be any direct flight from any Australian city to any Canadian city (correct me if I'm wrong).

It's not a simple matter of getting turned away at the Rainbow Bridge, where you can just immediately reenter Niagara Falls, ON!

WaiveMeIn replied 4 years ago   #34

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