How can Americans enter Canada with a criminal record?

United States citizens travel to Canada often and for a number of reasons – whether it’s for a ski trip to Mont Tremblant in Quebec, a fishing trip in the Ontario Muskokas, visiting Canadian relatives or to attend one of our many great annual festivals such as the Calgary Stampede, the Ottawa Tulip Festival or the Toronto International Film Festival. Some also enter for business or work purposes.

US Citizen with a Criminal Record. How can I enter Canada?

United States citizens only need a valid passport to cross the border into Canada. However, if a United States citizen has a criminal record, their travel plans could be seriously derailed if they are turned away – resulting in disappointment, embarrassment and the money spent on hotel reservations and travel being wasted. Criminal convictions can make someone inadmissible to Canada – including convictions for driving offenses like negligent driving and DUI – even a mistake made years ago can have a lasting effect.

How can I enter Canada?

There are steps that United States citizens with criminal convictions can take to ensure their travel to Canada goes smoothly:

1. Answer as truthfully as possible at the Canadian border. False information can result in border officials being less likely to grant you entry to Canada, and can also lead to a temporary ban from Canada.

2. Five years after a person’s sentence for the offence is completed, they, in many cases, can apply for Criminal rehabilitation in the United States. If five years has not yet passed, the person can apply for a Temporary Resident Permit (TRP), which will allow a person into Canada on a temporary basis.

Consult an immigration lawyer as much in advance as possible in order to secure a Temporary Resident Permit to ensure that you will be ready to visit Canada on your arrival date. A Temporary Resident Permit will not remove inadmissibility for a criminal conviction, but it will allow you entry to Canada on a temporary basis.


Michael Niren

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

  • felicia williams

    Well I had a little difficulty entering throught the canada border because I have a criminal backgroung for which I didn’t know I would I would like to get some help to see if I could always come to canada with no problems can you please contact me

    • Michael Niren

      Hello Felicia

      Thank you for your question. If you are American and need to cross into Canada, you may need a Temporary Resident Permit (TRP) to get though. TRPs are not easy to get but if you are approved, Canada will admit you for a temporary period. Visi our web page on denied entry to Canada

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