A criminal record can have a significant impact on one’s life, affecting employment opportunities, travel plans, and even personal relationships. In Canada, individuals with criminal records often seek a pardon, formally known as a Record Suspension, to alleviate the burden of past mistakes. But does a pardon truly clear your record in Canada? In this blog post, we’ll delve into the process of obtaining a pardon and what it means for your criminal record.

What Is A Pardon In Canada?

In Canada, a pardon is a legal process known formally as a Record Suspension. It is a measure provided by the Canadian government to remove certain criminal convictions from an individual’s record, essentially setting aside those convictions. A Record Suspension, when granted, does not erase a person’s criminal record entirely, but it significantly reduces its accessibility to the public and most employers during background checks.

Key points about a Record Suspension (pardon) in Canada:

Eligibility: To be eligible for a Record Suspension, an individual must have completed their sentence, including any probation, parole, or fines, and adhere to a waiting period (usually 5 or 10 years, depending on the offense). Some serious offenses, such as sexual offenses involving minors, are not eligible for Record Suspensions.

Application Process: Obtaining a Record Suspension involves gathering various documents, including court records and police certificates, and submitting a formal application to the Parole Board of Canada (PBC). The PBC assesses each case individually.

Effects: Once granted, a Record Suspension means that your criminal record is no longer accessible to the public or most employers during background checks. It can significantly improve employment prospects, travel opportunities, and personal well-being for individuals with past convictions.

Limitations: While a Record Suspension can provide a fresh start for individuals with criminal records, it has limitations. Some government agencies, law enforcement entities, and certain professions may still have access to pardoned convictions. Additionally, if an individual commits a new offense or violates the conditions of their Record Suspension, it may be revoked, and their criminal record could become accessible again.

Does A Pardon Clear Your Record In Canada?

A pardon in Canada, formally known as a Record Suspension, does not completely clear your criminal record, but it significantly reduces its impact and accessibility. 

When you obtain a Record Suspension, your criminal convictions are set aside, which means they are no longer visible to the public or most employers during standard background checks.

This can greatly improve your employment prospects, travel opportunities, and personal well-being.

However, it’s important to note that there are limitations:

Access by Certain Authorities: Some government agencies, law enforcement entities, and certain professions may still have access to your pardoned convictions, especially if security clearances or specific background checks are required.

Revocation: If you commit a new offense or violate the conditions of your Record Suspension, it may be revoked, and your criminal record could become accessible again

So, while a Record Suspension doesn’t completely clear your record, it does provide a significant level of relief and a chance for individuals with past convictions to rebuild their lives and move forward with reduced barriers.

How Much Does It Cost To Clear a Criminal Record?

The cost of clearing a criminal record, whether through a process like a Record Suspension (pardon) in Canada or expungement in other countries, can vary widely. It depends on factors such as the type of conviction, legal fees, administrative costs, and document requirements. 

In Canada, for instance, there is an application fee for a Record Suspension, which covers administrative processing and can be several hundred dollars. Legal fees, if you choose to hire a lawyer, can add to the cost.

Additionally, you may need to obtain various documents, provide fingerprints, and undergo background checks, each with associated fees. 

Travel costs, postage, and notary fees may also apply. It’s crucial to consult the relevant authorities or legal professionals for the most up-to-date and accurate information on the costs involved in clearing a criminal record in your specific situation and jurisdiction.

How To Remove Criminal Records From Background Check?

Removing criminal records from a background check typically involves a legal process, and the specific steps and possibilities can vary depending on your jurisdiction and the type of records involved. Here are some general steps to consider:

Understand Your Eligibility: Determine if you are eligible to have your criminal records removed or sealed. Eligibility criteria vary widely and depend on factors such as the type of offense, your age at the time of the conviction, and the laws in your jurisdiction.

Consult Legal Professionals: It’s highly advisable to consult with an attorney who specializes in criminal record expungement or sealing. They can provide guidance on your eligibility and help navigate the legal process.

Gather Necessary Documents: Collect all relevant documents related to your criminal record, including court records, arrest records, and sentencing documents. These will be needed during the expungement process.

File a Petition or Application: In many cases, you’ll need to file a formal petition or application with the appropriate court or government agency. This petition will request the expungement or sealing of your criminal records. Your attorney can help you prepare and submit this paperwork correctly.

Attend a Hearing: In some cases, you may need to attend a court hearing to present your case for expungement. Your attorney will guide you through this process.

Follow Waiting Periods: In many jurisdictions, there are waiting periods that must be observed before you can apply for expungement. These waiting periods vary depending on the seriousness of the offense

Check Your Record: After the expungement is granted, periodically check your background to ensure that the removed records are no longer visible in background checks.

Remember that the process for removing criminal records can be complex, and success depends on various factors, including your jurisdiction’s laws and your specific situation. Consulting with a legal professional who specializes in this area is crucial to navigate the process effectively and increase your chances of a successful outcome.


In Canada, obtaining a Record Suspension, formerly known as a pardon, can be a crucial step towards a fresh start for individuals with criminal records. While it does not completely erase your record, it significantly reduces its accessibility and can open up new opportunities. It’s essential to consult with legal experts or organizations specializing in Record Suspensions to navigate the process effectively and understand the impact on your specific situation.