When it comes to travelling with a criminal record, things can get a little tricky. There are many countries with popular vacation destination spots that do not let individuals in who have criminal records. To complicate matters further, there are a number of countries that do accept those with a criminal record but they may be subjected to questions, additional searches and various barriers like onerous documentation before the decision is made to let them in. This is because crossing a border, whether by air, ground or sea is equated with asking for permission to enter a country. Each place has their own set of rules and guidelines –some being much harder on previous criminal histories than others.
If a person holds a criminal record in Canada, they could be subject to entry problems or refusal to the following popular vacation destinations, based on the rules of their respective countries:
- Los Angeles
- Las Vegas
- London (UK)
Contacting the Canadian Embassy before Travel
It’s important to note that countries can update their laws and procedures at any time, as they see fit. Before planning a vacation, it’s a good idea to contact the embassy (or consulate) of the vacation destination. While many countries will not refuse those with past criminal histories, it’s important to know what is needed on hand before attempting to enter certain countries. Being prepared may save missing a connecting flight and make the process a bit smoother.
Components of an individual’s criminal history, including the amount of convictions, the severity of the convictions, the time served and the time that has passed since, are all taken into consideration in varying degrees. For some countries, recent minor convictions are taken seriously while other countries only take notice to major, violent or serious crimes. It truly depends on where the individual is traveling, which is why contacting an embassy can offer some valuable insight.
The Role of Police Reports
Police reports can also affect vacation and travel plans. Even if a person does not have a criminal record, any charges laid against them or any previous trouble with the law could result in their name showing up in a police report – and as such they could be refused at a border. For example, if an individual’s name has been featured in a traffic report that has involved negligence, this can show up in national database background checks and present problems. If an individual has had close encounters with the law in recent years, it’s best to contact a local police service or the RCMP to ensure that their name is clear.
Getting a Pardon / Record Suspension
In general, it is very difficult to travel for short vacation periods with a criminal record — especially if an individual has repeated convictions for felonies or a recent conviction for a serious crime. Once probation, parole and sentences are completed and the appropriate wait time periods have been satisfied, it is highly recommended to apply for a pardon / record suspension. This will allow an individual to prove rehabilitation, conceal their previous criminal history and move on from their criminal past. Obtaining a pardon / record suspension will remove a significant obstacle to travel, and allow one to apply for visas and cross borders with less hassle.