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Written by Attorney Seth Morris


The consequences of a criminal conviction are hard to comprehend when your sentence is first handed down. In many cases, they trickle in. You may discover that you’ve been passed over for a job because of your criminal history or that your long-awaited vacation is no longer an option.
Here’s how a criminal record could affect your travel plans.

Added Security Measures for Convicted Criminals

Some features that make travel more convenient are unavailable to people with criminal histories. TSA PreCheck is a common example. The PreCheck program involves a background check on every applicant, and low-risk travelers qualify.

Everyone else must go through the standard, time-consuming security screenings. Other programs, like Global Entry and Clear, have similar requirements that may keep you from enrolling.

Are You Banned from Traveling Abroad?

Frequently, this is a question without a straightforward answer. Every country has the right to decide who they will and will not allow in, and many countries have a vested interest in keeping their citizens safe. This means they may have strict requirements regarding visitors with criminal backgrounds.

Countries that Forbid Felons

Some countries that forbid felons from visiting include Australia, China, Japan, the United Kingdom, and Argentina.

Countries That Might Permit Felons

Still, this leaves you with lots of options for international travel. Some countries that may permit felons to visit include Thailand, Mexico, Peru, and several Caribbean countries.

Before making travel plans, you should talk to a travel agent or confirm the country’s entry requirements. Some countries require you to provide proof of a clear criminal record or a certificate of good conduct, including your criminal background.

You May Lose Your Passport

Another problem to consider is your passport. In some situations, the United States government will revoke your passport if the court takes away your right to travel internationally. Those with felonies on their record may still be able to get a passport, although those with convictions of international drug trafficking or a violent crime may not be granted a passport.

Travel Restrictions to Canada

If you have a criminal record, Canada may deny your entry. If you have a felony, you will be forbidden from entering. However, many misdemeanors will also keep you out.

Furthermore, those who try to sidestep the rules by sneaking in will likely face stiff penalties. The American and Canadian governments share substantial information about criminal convictions, and your criminal record will probably be just a click away when you stop at the border.

Canada May Forbid Entry for DUIs

People are often surprised at the offenses that can keep them out of Canada. For example, many in the United States consider driving under the influence a “minor” crime, especially since many states consider a first DUI a misdemeanor. However, it’s a severe offense in Canada. Even one DUI or DWI conviction may keep you out of Canada.

How Long Will It Take to Enter Canada?

You may be considered rehabilitated ten years after a misdemeanor conviction. This would allow you to enter Canada. This may not be an option for those who have multiple convictions. In these situations, you must petition the government for special permission.

How To Overcome Travel Restrictions?

Depending on your record, there may be ways to get around travel restrictions and regain some of your freedoms. For example, if you have a criminal conviction expunged or sealed, it will become much more difficult for some countries and private entities to find out about those crimes.

This doesn’t mean you’ll be granted entry into your country of choice. Some countries specifically ask about expunged or sealed records, as they will still deny admission to those who have had their slates wiped clean.

If you’re frustrated at your limited travel options after a conviction, talk to a criminal defense attorney. They can help you explore expungement and other options.

Morris Law Can Help You

A criminal conviction can affect every single aspect of your life. Whether you’re fighting a current charge or trying to overcome a past conviction, you can trust Morris Law to represent your best interests. Call our team at (510) 225-9955 or contact us online to set up a consultation.