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  • Canada DUI

    Can I Go to Canada if I have a DUI?

    Canada DUI

    Did you know that having a DUI on your record could prevent you from visiting Canada?

    Canada treats DUI convictions as very serious offenses, especially following a significant Canadian law change in December 2018. In fact, customs agents have the authority to not allow you into the country if you have a DUI on your record. Of course, if your driving record is less than perfect that doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t be allowed to visit Canada. Usually, if your DUI is more than 10 years old (and your conviction pre-dates the December 2018 law change) and you don’t have any other criminal record, you’ll be allowed to enter Canada because you won’t be considered a risk to public safety; you still need to be prepared to show evidence that your sentence was completed more than 10 years ago.  However, if you have a recent DUI or a DUI accompanied by other criminal charges, you may be considered high risk and not allowed to enter Canada.

    As a general rule, Canada doesn’t allow anyone with DUIs or any other criminal record to enter the country. However, it is possible to obtain a waiver in order to show the Canadian government that you are not a high risk. To do this, you may want to contact a Canadian attorney, we recommend Attorney Marisa Feil and her associates at FWCanada, they offer a free consultation on travel to Canada post-conviction. The people who work in this office are extremely helpful and should be able to provide you with the information that you’ll need in order to obtain a waiver.  Calling the Canadian government may not be your best option because any information you provide to them could be held against you at future travel.

    If your trip to Canada is just around the corner and you don’t have time to obtain a waiver, you may still be able to enter Canada with minimal problems. Customs agents don’t do full background checks on everyone who enters the country; only a small sampling of individuals. It’s possible that if your DUI is more than 10 years since your DUI, you may be required to prove it has been 10 years since full completion of sentencing (which can be as much as 15 years after the date of conviction depending on the length of probation).  That being said, and you haven’t committed any other criminal acts, customs can let you through without any problems. There is also the option of purchasing a travel guide which is a great DIY option.

    For those individuals where it has been more than 5 years since you completed your sentence on any conviction, you may be eligible for what Canada calls Criminal Rehabilitation, which is like an expungement of your record.  Once an application for rehabilitation has been approved, you can travel unrestricted to Canada, as any other American can. So while it may seem like a lengthy process (around 1 year to process) it’s a great permanent option.

    DUI or not, we highly recommend that you travel to Canada if you have the chance. It’s a wonderful country filled with kind people and unimaginably beautiful scenery. You don’t need a visa to visit Canada, just a valid US passport. Visit Montréal to experience North America’s version of Paris, or head to the Canadian Rockies to see some of the most pristine mountains, forests, and lakes anywhere in the world. If you have any questions or concerns about visiting Canada from the United States, for a free consultation you can call 1-855-316-3555 toll free anytime or complete the form below.

    5 thoughts on “Can I Go to Canada if I have a DUI?”

    1. If you have a DUI less than 10 years old, or multiple offenses you will require a Temporary Resident Permit, if you need to travel soon. Otherwise, if you have the luxury of time and if you qualify, you can opt for a permanent solution by applying for a Criminal Rehabilitation. It is not advisable you do this alone, you should retain legal representation.

      1. Thanks for the great advice on this topic. Its really interesting how often we are asked this question. Does this policy apply for air travel as well?

    2. Hi Rob. Thanks for making this blog post! One of our clients actually brought it to our attention, and I just wanted to clarify one point because it caused them a bit of confusion. You won’t necessarily be allowed into Canada if it has been more than 10 years since your DUI, you may be required to prove it has been 10 years since full completion of sentencing (which can be as much as 15 years after the date of conviction depending on the length of probation). Thanks.

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