by Renee Robinson, Pardon & Waiver Officer with Pardon Applications of Canada
Having a criminal record in Canada can prevent you from doing several things, including travel. The majority of Canadians automatically assume that once they have a criminal record they also cannot obtain a passport. This is not entirely true.
Does a Criminal Record Make it Harder to Get a Canadian Passport?
A passport is simply an official document that verifies the identity and nationality of its holder for international travel. The Canadian passport application process does not include questions about the applicant’s criminal history or a criminal record check of any kind, so you would not have any issues obtaining a passport in that regard. Most people with a criminal record can still apply to obtain a passport as long as their terms of sentencing do not deny them the right to one.
What Makes it Difficult to Get a Passport?
If you have a criminal record, you can still apply for a passport through Passport Canada, at any Service Canada location. Passport Canada can deny you from getting a passport for simple things like not fully completing the application form or for already having a valid passport. Although, chances are, what you are probably more concerned about are the more complicated situations like applying for a passport while currently serving a sentence or while being charged with an indictable offence. In other words, if you are being charged with a crime that you could be sentenced for two years or more while waiting for trial, you may be denied a passport. Even if it turns out you are completely innocent, you will more than likely be denied a passport until you have been proven innocent by a judge.
Does a Valid Canadian Passport Grant You Unlimited Access to Travel?
If you have a criminal record, have no upcoming legal matters, have completed all sentencing, and are a Canadian citizen, you are probably eligible for a passport. However, having a passport does not mean you can travel freely with a criminal record. It is always best to use caution when making travel plans as you may be permitted to leave Canada, but may have trouble entering your destination country. When traveling internationally “aliens” or “foreigners” may be required to obtain a visa before attempting to enter a country. If the destination country runs a background check as part of their visa issuing process, then your criminal record could prevent you from being granted entry. The safest thing to do in cases such as this is to obtain information about your destination country’s visa issuing process before booking your trip.
In addition, the United States is known to be very strict regarding entry to their country and does share a criminal database system with Canada. If you are looking to travel to the United States with a criminal record, it is highly recommended that you obtain a U.S. Entry Waiver, in addition to your passport, as it is the only thing that can guarantee you entry. Even if you are transferring flights in the United States or merely traveling over U.S. airspace, it is important to have a U.S. Entry Waiver to avoid any issues when you arrive at your destination.
Contact Pardon Applications of Canada to see if you qualify for a U.S. Entry Waiver now.
Renee Robinson is an A+ Accredited Pardon (Record Suspension) & U.S. Waiver Officer with Pardon Applications of Canada. Established in 2011, the private firm with nationwide offices in Vancouver, Edmonton, Ottawa, and Toronto has responded to and processed more than 75,000 record suspension inquiries and applications.
Pardon Applications of Canada is A+ Accredited via the Better Business Bureau, uses RCMP Accredited fingerprints, and has real reviews by actual applicants. Communication and transparency are at the heart of the Pardon Applications of Canada service.