Can You Travel to Canada With a Felony: Every Detail You Need To Know

Can You Travel to Canada With a Felony: Every Detail You Need To Know

Are you looking to go to Canada but don’t know if your criminal record allows you to? Does Canadian law allow US felons to enter?

This blog post will cover the topic thoroughly and give you a straight answer to the big question: “Can you travel to Canada with a felony?” You’ll know if you can cross the border by sea, land or air and if you need permission from a Canadian government official.

Traveling to Canada with a felony conviction – gaining entry

The security personnel on the Canadian border will have access to US criminal records. They will check your criminal history thoroughly. 

A US citizen with a felony conviction will not gain entry to Canada. Even a misdemeanor conviction can cause a denial of access. Indeed, if you have only been arrested for a felony but not yet sentenced, you will still be criminally inadmissible to Canada. Only a judicial statement confirming your innocence may change a border guard’s decision. If you have such a paper, take it.

There are 2 (two) ways to ensure you successfully cross the Canadian border. Both involve obtaining permission from the Canadian government.

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Travel to Canada with a felony: Temporary Resident Permit

Canada Temporary Resident Permit (CTRP), issued by the Canadian Immigration Authorities, is a document allowing a US felon to stay in Canada for up to 3 (three) years.

The document will be obtainable after presenting good arguments for your stay. Acceptable justification in such situations most often revolves around:

  • accepting a job offer;
  • staying closer to family;
  • an emergency that requires your presence.

When applying for the permit, a felon should write down:

  • the exact reason for the trip;
  • that you will be a law-abiding guest;
  • express remorse for past transgressions.

It is easier to acquire a CTRP if the felony that makes you inadmissible was a 4th- or 5th- or 6th-degree felony such as drug abuse, DUI or disorderly conduct. If your criminal history includes more severe crimes, the application will not be accepted. These serious crimes include:

  • murder
  • rape
  • burglary
  • robbery
  • kidnapping
  • arson
  • tax evasion, fraud, and other white-collar crimes.

Issuing a CTRP may take up to 4 (four) months.

Travel to Canada with a felony: Criminal Rehabilitation

Criminal Rehabilitation will allow criminally inadmissible individuals to enter Canada. You can apply for the document if you’ve completed your sentence at least 5 (five) years prior. According to Canadian immigration lawyers, obtaining the document will take between 6 (six) months and 1 (one) year and will allow you to pass through the Canadian border freely.

Obtaining the document relies on:

  • the severity of the crime a felon has committed in the past;
  • how much time has passed since the sentence;
  • if you’ve committed criminal offenses after completing the sentence.

You can begin applying for Criminal Rehabilitation after 5 (five) years have passed since completing the sentence.

Can felons go to Canada: passage of time

It is irrelevant how much time has passed since you’ve committed a crime or completed a sentence. You may have been charged 8 (eight) or 15 (fifteen) years ago, and you can still be denied entry.

Border guards will not let you pass based on the amount of time that’s passed.

Travel to Canada with a felony: summary

The Canada border services agency makes sure that no person with criminal activity in their file can enter the country. Regardless if you’ve committed a major crime or were convicted of a misdemeanor, you will be deemed inadmissible. Only by showing documentation clearly stating that you were innocent do you stand a chance of successfully entering Canada.

However, you can apply for the Canada Temporary Resident Permit or a Criminal Rehabilitation document. The first one may take up to 4 (four) months, while the second one takes at least half, but not more than a year (12 months).

Can You Travel to Canada With a Felony: FAQ

Here you will find the most common questions on the topic of entering Canada with a felony.

Can a US citizen with felony travel to Canada?

An American citizen with a felony cannot go to Canada. They need permission. A felon can obtain the Canada Temporary Resident Permit. Another item enabling entry is the Criminal Rehabilitation document. Acquiring one of them is necessary for an American to enter Canada.

Can non-violent felons go to Canada?

Even non-violent felons will find it impossible to enter Canada without either the Temporary Resident Permit or the Criminal Rehabilitation document. The nature of the criminal offense will certainly affect the process of acquiring sufficient documentation.


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