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How a Criminal Record Can Prevent You from Traveling

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Having a criminal record can present a host of obstacles in your everyday life, from affecting your employment opportunities to jeopardizing plans for Canadian immigration and permanent residency status. A criminal record can also prevent you from being able to travel throughout the world. There are a number of international destinations that won’t admit people who have a Canadian criminal record, even with a valid passport. One of the most frequented destinations by Canadian visitors is the United States.

If you book a flight to any of these locations, you may be turned away upon entering customs. This can end up costing you a significant amount of time and money in travel expenses and other administrative fees. A criminal record can also prevent you from being able to obtain a Canadian passport, without which you won’t be able to travel internationally at all. The best way to avoid this scenario is to obtain a record suspension before booking any international vacations. Here is some more information about Canadian criminal record pardons and what you can do if you want to plan an international vacation with a Canadian criminal record.

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What Is a Pardon or Record Suspension?

If you’ve ever been charged for a crime in Canada, even if the charges were dropped or dismissed or you were found not guilty, it will appear in a criminal record. A Canadian pardon, also known as a record suspension, is a government-granted sanction that separates your criminal record from your publicly visible record. It is important to note that a pardon does not erase your criminal record—it simply makes it inaccessible to anyone, including customs officials, without written permission from you or the Public Safety Minister of Canada.

People who have been charged with a sexual offence related to a minor or individuals who have been indicted for 4 or more offences in which 2 or more years of jail time was served are ineligible to receive a pardon. For all other circumstances, a record suspension is generally a possibility.

Travelling to the USA

For the majority of international destinations, a pardon will be enough to allow you entry into the country. However, when traveling to the United States, a Canadian pardon will not be valid if you have a criminal record. If you’re planning to visit the United States, you must obtain a US Entry Waiver. With this, you’ll be able to enjoy your vacation without encountering any administrative roadblocks.

A criminal record can prevent you from being able to leave Canada. It’s important to remember that obtaining a Canadian passport is no guarantee of being able to enter foreign destinations. Even if you obtain a valid Canadian passport, you may still be denied entry into a foreign country due to the presence of a criminal record. In order to prevent your criminal record from interfering with your travel plans to the US, find out if you qualify for a US Entry Waiver today.