Have you made a few questionable life decisions in your younger days that resulted in having to spend a bit of time behind bars? Or have you ever been caught doing something you shouldn’t? If so, you’re not alone. A significant number of Canadians have a criminal record to their name, for various crimes and violations they committed because they did something without thinking it through first.
The truth about having a criminal record
However, while your life may have since gone back to normal and you’re trying to put the past behind you, a criminal record will definitely pose a problem if you want to travel. You can swear that you’ve changed and there is no reason for anybody to doubt you, but other countries can still prevent you from entering their territory at their discretion.
Whether it’s an assault charge or a DUI, any crime that will go on your criminal record may keep you from entering certain countries, especially those that have strict immigration guidelines.
What to expect when attempting to travel with a criminal record
Before you start making a list of your dream destinations, you need to be aware that having a criminal record will limit the places you can travel to. To help you plan your vacation, we’ve compiled a list of popular tourist destinations and where they stand on Canadian tourists with a criminal record. Read on to learn how you can expect to be treated as soon as you touch down in certain countries.
1. The United States of America
Although our next door neighbor has a significant trade relationship with Canada, entering US territory with a Canadian criminal record may prove to be a lot harder than most people expect. Both are very strict when it comes to border control. Canada and the USA have some stringent policies when it comes to Canadian tourists with a criminal record. Upon learning that you have a Canadian criminal record, US immigration officers will ask you about it and use your answers to gauge whether or not they should let you in. If you want to avoid the hassle, you can just get a US travel waiver that is valid for up to five years.
2. The United Kingdom
Although Canada and the United Kingdom have close ties to each other that go back centuries, you shouldn’t expect that people with a Canadian criminal record won’t be barred from entering Queen Elizabeth’s territory. That said, the UK isn’t as strict with border protocol compared to the US, even when dealing with ex-convicts. The UK also employs a certain concept called a “spent conviction.” Through this concept, British authorities determine whether a person with a criminal record should be allowed to enter the UK or not. They will check if he or she has spent a certain amount of time after being convicted without committing another crime.
3. The European Union
Compared to North America and the UK, the EU isn’t as strict when it comes to travellers with a criminal record. While immigration officers in destinations that are part of the EU might ask you about your criminal history, you won’t have to worry about anything else unless your case has to do with smuggling or trafficking. Another factor to take into consideration when going to the EU is the length of your sentence. Those with longer sentences may be denied entry, depending on the crime they committed.
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