How to Enter Canada if you have a Criminal Record

Some people are denied entry to Canada because of a criminal record. In the past, people have been denied entry to Canada for criminal offenses they never thought would catch up with them – such as an arrest for marijuana possession decades ago or a DUI conviction. Rest assured, a criminal record of any kind can result in your being denied entry to Canada. How to Enter Canada With A Criminal Record

Admission to Canada with a criminal record

Even if you have a criminal record and have been denied entry to Canada, you can apply for a Temporary Resident Permit, also called a visitor’s visa. An application for a Temporary Resident Permit can often be made at the Canadian border if you are a US citizen, otherwise they can be applied for at your local Canadian Embassy or consulate.

Other ways to enter Canada with a criminal record

Aside from applying for a Temporary Resident Permit to enter Canada, there are other options for people with criminal records. For example, one could apply for a criminal pardon or criminal rehabilitation, which would eliminate your criminal inadmissibility.

Which option is best for me?

How you can enter Canada with a criminal record depends on your individual situation, your desired timeframe when visiting Canada as well as your original criminal offence. These factors combined need to be considered when determining which option is best for you.

For more information on applying for a Temporary Resident Permit or how to enter Canada with a criminal record, contact us at the form on the right.


Criminal Pardons denied entry to Canada Enter Canada with a Criminal Record Temporary Resident Permit Visitor Visa Canada

About Michael Niren

Michael is a graduate of Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto. He is a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada, the Canadian Bar Association’s Citizenship and Immigration Section and the Associate Member of the American Bar Association. Read more

61 Responses to “How to Enter Canada if you have a Criminal Record”

  1. Rohan Clacher says:

    Hi , sister passed away in Canada. Would like to attend funeral however I’m worried my offences may prevent me entering Canada. .
    It’s a worry as my mother at 79 cannot travel on her own.

    • owen says:

      Hello Rohan,

      I am sorry to hear about your sister. We can definitely assist you in obtaining the appropriate waiver which will allow you to enter Canada. We would be happy to help you immigrate, and once you fill out our free online assessment form, one of our immigration professionals will be in touch with you shortly


  2. Steve says:

    I am currently a resident in Ireland and have recently been convicted of a minor assault charge. I have not received any jail sentence but have been given a two year suspended sentence which will still be in effect when I plan to travel.

    I do not want to work in Canada, only visiting for a period of 2-3 weeks.

    On a second note I may wish to travel by bus from Ontario across the border to Detroit. Is there any criteria I need to meet when making this journey?

    Any information and advice on the situation would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you in advance,

  3. rudy says:

    I have a question i am married and i have a daughter i want to apply for my PR butbi have a record in the u.s 95 percent of my record happened as a juvenile can it still be held againt me?

    • owen says:

      Hello Rudy,

      Thanks for the question. We would have to examine the specifics of your criminal history in order to properly advise you, although the fact that this is a juvenile record will probably work in your favor. Please contact us to setup a consultation with one of our experienced immigration lawyers who would be able to provide you personalized advice and would maximize your chances of entering Canada. You may also require a Temporary Resident Permit which we can assist you obtain.


  4. juliet says:

    Hi I would like to visit Canada next year to see my family. I am going with my daughter, sister & grandson but I have a criminal record for possession of cannabis which was 15 years ago what are my chances of entry

  5. liz says:


    My husband overstayed in the Uk for some years, returned back to africa on his own expense, but was found out when he tried to apply for a visa to join me ( i was on a work permit then), as his biometrics indicated that he had been previously arrested for driving without insurance in the UK.

    I intend to apply for a Canadian study permit, and he for a work permit on my account ( if granted a study permit) .

    what do you think our chances are?

  6. Anonymous says:

    Hi, please I need your advice on how to get a visa to Canada. I was convicted for drug trafficking in 2006 and was given 2 years but was released one year later. Now 7 years have passed since this happen and since then I have not involve in any problem , I’m doing my degree in accounting now. Any chance of getting to Canada.

    • owen says:


      Thanks for the question. Although you are facing an uphill battle given your previous conviction, if you have one of our experienced immigration lawyers assisting you, there is still a good chance that you will be able to come to Canada. In order for us to further assist you, please fill out our free online assessment form and one of our immigration professionals will be in touch with you shortly


  7. Anthony says:

    Hi my name is Anthony. How are you doing? Im here to see if I can get an answer for case.
    My wife is a Canadian citizen she applied for me to receive a Canadian lawful permanent resident but was denied late last month because they found me inadmissible because I was convicted of a first degree robbery. I was released from the state parole, and I decided to take a trip to go see my then fiancée, with two friends of mine, driving across the border coming from New York State. We got stopped by the Canadian Border Agents and they run my finger prints and saw that I had a conviction in New York State. They turned me around and going to New York State, that is when I faced my biggest nightmare, I was also stopped by the US Custom Border patroller,
    They also saw that I had an old conviction, they decided that I should have been deported and they placed on one a holding cell and later on I was transferred to the nearest county jail and one week later I was in a detention jail, I was ordered deportation and I stayed there for 18 months and was released because if my country situation they couldn’t send me back to my origin country.
    2011 my and I decided to apply for canada since we were married. I applied for the criminal rehabilitation application and last year December we were granted an interviewed with the consul and which they found us to be genuinely married and was waiting on the criminal rehabilitation application for an answer and yes! I received the answer last month, it’s was very hurtful both to me and my wife, which they found me inadmissible ground to entry Canada.
    Now, Where can we go now and what can we do?
    Since I am no longer a US lawful permanent resident and I was denied entry canada and my country is and a bad condition and which my wife and my step-daughter had never been there. Can someone help me please with this situation?

    Thank you and God bless you

    • owen says:

      Hello Anthony,

      Thank you for the question. Since you were approved for criminal rehabilitation, that is great news because it means that there is hope and that with our experienced immigration team by your side, you will be able to maximize your chances of coming to Canada. Please don’t hesitate to contact us directly if you have any further questions (


  8. John Smith says:

    Good afternoon,

    I have a UK Drink Driving conviction from July 2001. My reading was 0.073. I received an 18 month driving ban and a 250 pounds fine.

    I am planning to visit Canada in November 2015 which will be almost 13 years since my driving ban was completed.

    Im now a permanent resident of australia working as a Civil Engineer.

    Do I need to declare this when entering Canada? Do i nee dto inform them in advance of entering? What do I need to do?


    • owen says:

      Hello John,

      Prior to entering Canada, you should go to the Canadian consulate in Australia and obtain a TRP or complete a Rehabilitation application (which is a permanent designation that will allow you to apply for any Canadian visa without restriction). Although this can be a lengthy process, it is well worth it and we would be happy to assist you in coming to Canada. Please fill out our free online assessment form and one of our immigration professionals will be in touch with you shortly


  9. Ashish says:

    I got 1 dUI and a charge for possession of less than a gram of pot back in the US, can I enter Canada ?

    • renata says:

      Hello Ashish,

      We can help you with your enquiry, you may apply for a Temporary Resident Permit, but we need more detail information regarding your charges. Please fill out our free online assessment and our immigration team will contact you.

      Best regards,

  10. chris says:

    Hi im living in jamaica but I got a felony criminal record in the us for shop lifting. My fiance lives in canada and she wants to file for me to come there is there a possibility that they will deny me because of my offense in the us ?

    • Hello Chris,

      Thank you for your recent post.

      There are many factors that we need to consider, and we require more information from you with respect to your criminality in USA to determine whether you will be able to come to Canada if your fiance sponsor you. If you would like to speak to one of our Canadian Immigration Specialists about your case, please fill out this Free Online Eligibility Assessment Form: Once you submit your information, someone from our office will be in contact within 24 hours.

      Yours Truly,


  11. Jayd H says:

    I am a Canadian citizen through decent
    I am looking at applying for my proof of citizenship but I havw a DUI ON my record in the UK will this matter?

    • Sarah Jane MacDonald says:

      Hello Jayd,
      If you are a Canadian Citizen your citizenship can not be revoked due to a DUI.

      All the best,
      Sarah Jane

  12. James says:


    I entered Canada a couple years ago on the tourist waiver for a holiday but I didn’t realise at the time I needed to apply for criminal rehabilitation for a previous DUI in the UK which 6 years had passed since the conviction at the time, and now 8 years. My wife and I now are preparing for a PR application on the FSW program with me as the spouse, but I am unsure if I should disclose on the PR application that I travelled into Canada on the trip as I am worried that as I didn’t apply for the rehab previously then this will jeopardise everything?! Or do I just state what happened was a mistake as I was unaware it was a criminal conviction and through it was a driving offence.

    Many thanks

    • Sarah Jane MacDonald says:

      Hello James,
      Your situation is a delicate one. I recommend that you speak to one of our experienced immigration consultants to get some advice on how to proceed. I have submitted your name and email address to a colleague and you should be contacted soon. Our firm has many years experience in helping people in similar situations.

      All the best,
      Sarah Jane

  13. Chuck says:


    I would like some advice on entering Canada from the US with a prior DUI conviction. I have read the information on the Canada Consulate website but it is a bit confusing what I should do given my situation. I was arrested for a DUI in December of 2002 and convicted early in 2003. This being 2014, the conviction happened 11 years ago. The sentence was 1 yr suspension of license, some fines and a 3 month court ordered program. I cant remember exactly but it may have taken me into 2005 to complete the program. Do you have any advice on what measures I should take to plan for a trip to Ontario to visit friends for 10 days next month? I am unsure of I would be deemed “rehabilitated” or if I will need to apply etc.

    • Donnell Kent says:


      Thank you for your post. We would be happy to assist you regarding your situation. From your post, it seems like you will have to complete an application for a Temporary Resident Permit and Criminal Rehabilitation.

      Please visit , fill out our free on-line assessment and book a consultation with one of our qualified consultants who can provide you with details about the Temporary Resident Permit and Criminal Rehabilitation applications and what our firm can do for you.

  14. Kali Jack says:

    I would like to apply for a tourist work visa. I have a criminal record for assult back in March 2011. What is the possibility of me getting rejected? Should I just wait until it has been 5 years since the offence?

    • Sarah Jane MacDonald says:

      Hi Kali,

      Unfortunately, criminal records are very difficult to get around in regards to admissibility into Canada. That being said, it would be tough to answer your question without a full understanding of your circumstances. Although getting into Canada with a criminal past isn’t unheard of, each case is different. If you’d like further advice, we’d be happy to provide you with a consultation to discuss your situation in greater detail.

      Best Regards.

  15. David says:

    Hello, i would like to know when travelling to canada from the Uk how will the canadian customs know if you have.a criminal record? As you travel from the Uk you do not need a visa so how do they know about convictions?

    • Donnell Kent says:

      Hello David,

      Thank you for your post. To answer your question, Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) will know right away if you have a criminal record. If you have been convicted of any offence, it will go in a database which CBSA can refer to when processing your passport. You are right, as a citizen of the United Kingdom you do not require a Temporary Resident Visa to travel to Canada; however, since you have a criminal conviction, you are now deemed inadmissible to Canada based on criminality and you are now required to complete and submit an application for a Temporary Resident Permit.

      We would love to assist you to travel to Canada. Kindly visit and fill out our free on-line assessment. From there we will be able to complete a thorough assessment of your situation and then be able to give you immigration advice as to how you can travel to Canada.

  16. Antt says:

    Hi, I got working Visa through Your company (thank You once more) and now 40 days before expiration I am charged with assault. Am I eligible to apply for Visitor extension online while I am waiting for a court date? Thank You

    • Hello Antt
      You are most welcome! Glad we can help. Since you are charged with an offence you may require a Temporary Resident Permit or TRP. Contact us for help.

  17. Jane says:

    Hi, I have a question. My fiance has a DUI conviction that happened 13 years ago. What are the chances that he will be denied entry to Canada? Also, will that DUI affect his chances on ever getting a good job here in Canada?

    Thank you!

    • Hi Jane
      Since your fiance DUI happened more than 10 years ago, he will likely be “deemed” rehabilitated and there is admissible to Canada. However. it is important that he have copies of his record to prove when this happened. I do not think that he will be denied entry to Canada given how long ago he had a DUI. If his offence was less than 5 years ago, he may beed a Temporary Resident Permit (TRP) to qualify to enter Canada. In terms of his DUI effecting him getting a job in Canada, you would have to consult with his prospective employer for that.

  18. Raymond says:

    I went to the Canadian Border by to Detroit, to get my TRP and because i had a retail theft 10 years ago and DUI 6 years ago they denied me and they where very mean about it, I need trp to sail as a merchant marine in canadain waters, I dont even step foot in canda, but i cant get a job without it, what do i do?

    • Hello Raymond
      That is unfortunate. You may have to apply for a TRP at the Canadian Embassy. We can take a look at your case and see what we can do to help with this one.

  19. Dear sir says:

    Hello sir , just want to ask you a question about my husband criminal record my husband lives in UK and he came to canada tow times the first time which he came that we got married and after that he came again for a visit , but when he return to UK he drove his car with out insurance he had a insurance but by the time he went back from canada he didn’t realized his insurance was expired and he was on the way to work the pice stopped him and that time his case was on proses ,but unfortunately cuz of that they refused his case and I have to go to court in 120 days to apele his case in canada . I’m just wondering if he can come to canada just for a visit would you please help ? If you could give me the right answer I appreciate it sir. Thank you

    • Hello

      Depending on your nationality he be able to visit Canada without a visa eg. If he is from the UK. But if he has a deportation order, he will have to apply for an Authorization to Return to Canada (ARC) which can take a number of months to process. If he has a criminal record but he was not deported then he may have to apply for a Temporary Resident Permit (TRP). So there are options for him. We would require more information to be sure.

  20. Gary says:

    Hello I will be travelling to Canada for three months with my girlfriend next February and I have a criminal record which involves theft from a shop in 2002 and criminal damage under the value of £500 in 2012 and again in 2012 I had to go court and I paid a fine both times and the matter was dealt with. What will happen when I get into Canada?

    • Hello Gary
      You may need a TRP to qualify to enter Canada given your record. You should consider applying for this or preparing the paperwork as soon as possible or you could be prevented from entering Canada. You must always disclose your record to Canada customs when coming in.

  21. Hi All. Just to let you know that we are now accepting online appointment bookings. This means that you if wish to speak with us about your case, you can book an appointment securely online.

    Just go to

    Michael Niren

  22. sherese says:

    oh and also we have mail every thing they ask for.

  23. sherese says:

    my husband have record 12 years ago for weed. we have went for an interview and they stated that all they need is the record and the receipt of payment because he get a fine. how they wrote me just to confirm my and his address so they going to mail us a letter.

    also we have a child together. Is it possible to be denied, so nerve racking.

    • Hello Sherese

      Thank you for the question. Yes, there is a possibility they can refuse his entry to Canada. He may need a Temporary Resident Permit (TRP) to be admitted to Canada. Were you told when they would give you an answer?
      Michael Niren

  24. Shane Ranauro says:

    Ive been done for drink driving twice once over the limit of 0.080% I want to get a working visa in Canada just wondering the best way to go about it?

  25. Max says:

    I’ve got a gun violation that happened four or five years ago, and I’ve been to the boarder and they denied me access, they said I’ve got to wait the five years. So I was wondering if there’s any chance Ill be able to come into Canada, and my wife’s a Canadian citizen. So idk what I’m suppose to do to get in. Any advice?

    • Hello Max

      Thank you for your message. You may be eligible for a Temporary Resident Permit (TRP)
      Here is some information on TRPs If you wife is Canadian, she may be able sponsor you but your case must be looked at in more detail.
      Hope this helps

  26. Nate says:

    I have a reckless on my record. What do I need to do to enter Canada from buffalo driving to Toronto. I go there regularly to visit friends and family. So is there something to do to permanently not have a issue. It had been 1 year since my conviction of reckless.

    • Hello Nate
      There is something that could be done depending on when your reckless driving recorded occurred. If you apply for Criminal Rehabilitation your record with Canada immigration could be removed for entry purposes, otherwise you can apply for a TRP.

      Hope that helps

  27. Lisa says:

    Thanks Michael!!!! :-)

  28. Lisa says:

    Hello! I want to VISIT Canada, but I have a criminal record…more specifically, I have a felony assault conviction on a corrections officer, a misdemeanor DUI, and a misdemeanor assault..all related to the DUI (I know it sounds bad but I pled guilty only to avoid any chance of going to prison)…I completed all of my probation requirements in June of 2011, I’ve researched online and looks like Canada will reject me, but is there any way around this, just to vacation there???? THANKS!!!!

  29. Heather says:

    I am considering getting married in Victoria. However my fiancé was convicted of a DUI over 10 years ago. He also has friends with criminal records over 10 yrs. what are my odds? Will we have a lot of hoops to jump through?


  30. Sean Walsh says:

    Can you please tell me your fees for applying for a temporary work permit into Canada if I already have a job offer on writing

  31. Nicki says:

    Wondering what the chances of extending visitors visa are, even with 2 drink driving charges, both from longer than 5 years ago!
    If there’s a chance of it working are you able to help and submit all forms for us?

    • Hello Nicki
      Having 2 DUIs may impact the application for TRV extensions. It really depends on the case. It is good that they took place 5 years ago. You must disclose this information when applying. In some cases, a TRP may be required.

  32. Ashley burbeary says:

    Hey I just would like to know if I can get my record clean in u.k iam wanting to work in Canada for 12 months but I got a DUI in the u.k back in 2009 just wanted to know if I need to see a law firm???

    • Hello Ashley

      Thank you for your question. If you have a DUI you may be inadmissible to Canada so you would need a TRP to be admitted. We would need more information about your case to perform an assessment as to your eligibility for a TRP. You can certainly contact us at to set up a consultation. Regards Michael Niren

Leave a Reply

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

  • You could be eligible for prizes
Start Your FREE
Top of page