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O Canada! Can I Enter with a DUI?

February 26, 2008 | Posted in: Destinations,Security

Saw an interesting item about entering Canada with a DUI conviction, from the always interesting Los Angeles Times Travel Editor Catharine Hamm.

You can see her story here; essentially, someone wrote in asking if having a DUI on his record would make it difficult for him to cross the border into Canada.


Short answer: yes.

More about this, and what you might be able to do to change your record, coming up.

First of all, you should know that a DUI in Canada is a felony (and remember this, if you’re heading north to party).

And people who’ve been convicted of DUIs in other countries can and do get turned away at the border all the time (whether they’re driving or flying into Canada). Who gets in is up to the final discretion of the Customs and Immigration officers (and since 9/11, Hamm writes that “visitors have been subjected to increased scrutiny”.)

Can you be “rehabilitated” in the eyes of Canada? Yes, but apparently this can be a lengthy process (and may include a ten-year period of “good behavior” since the last DUI conviction).

But don’t rely on my information for criminal matters; check with the Canadian government. A lawyer wouldn’t hurt, either, I should think.

5 Responses to “O Canada! Can I Enter with a DUI?”

  1. gravy says:

    A friend with a DUI on his record got a letter from the state police verifying the dates of his conviction, and that his sentence has been fulfilled. He crosses the border on a weekly basis. It is still up to the guard’s discretion, but the letter helps clarify the issue. It helps that his conviction was 15+ years ago now with no other offenses on record, but he has not had a problem crossing in a loooong time.

  2. muster says:

    The US DMV database is accessible by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and likewise the Canadian license database is accessible by the US CBP. Information at this level is commonly shared between the US and Canada but not between the US/Canada and other countries. Those travelling from outside North America are unlikely to be denied entry unless the Customs agent specifically asks you about previous convictions, where obviously you should answer truthfully. US/Canadian border agents have no access to information at this level from other countries.

  3. stella says:

    The people who are travelling from outside North America are to be denied entry unless the Customs agent specifically asks them about their previous convictions, where you should answer truthfully.
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  4. macmillan says:

    Canada regards DUI / DWI as an extremely serious offense. A conviction for Driving Under the Influence (DUI or DWI) will qualify you as a member of the Inadmissible Class. Those non-Canadian citizens with such convictions will not be allowed to enter Canada freely.

    The Inadmissible status can be removed, after a period of many years, by applying for a Minister’s Approval of Rehabilitation. Although, you can visit Canada before the Inadmissible status is removed. This requires you apply for a Temporary Resident Permit. The Temporary Resident Permit allows you to visit Canada for a single purpose or for a limited period. This process requires completion of forms and paying fees.

    Persons may apply for a Temporary Resident Permit, Approval of Rehabilitation, or Permission to Return to Canada either in Canada or at one these Canadian visa offices in the United States

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  5. Bob says:

    It’s absurd that we give so many H-1b and TN visatech jobs to Canada, a country that treats our own citizens so harshly

    It’s time for a little reciprocity against Canada, next time they waltz into our labor pool

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