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I got a DUI years ago. Can I visit Canada?

Published on September 14th, 2021 at 11:00am EDT

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People commonly ask: “Can I enter Canada if I got a DUI 10 years ago?”

Perhaps your DUI was 20 years ago. Or less than 5 years ago.

Whatever the case may be, you need to keep a few things in mind.

Canada has strict rules in place if you are looking to enter the country. It is crucial for you to understand these rules so that you are not unexpectedly refused at the Canadian border. Canada is able to find out if you have a DUI. Most of the time, those with DUI convictions are looking to visit from the United States.

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U.S. citizens looking to enter Canada need to present their passport or travel document to be screened by Canada Border Service Agency (CBSA) officers. Their passports are linked to their FBI record which shows their criminal history. Any charge or conviction on your record can result in a CBSA officer deciding to turn you away at the border.

The good news is that Canada provides those with a DUI arrest or conviction with several options to demonstrate they are not a risk to the Canadian public.

You have both temporary and permanent options available to you. Your options depend on whether you were charged or convicted, the nature of your offenses, when you completed your sentence, among other factors.

The Temporary Resident Permit (TRP) is a temporary option.

Criminal Rehabilitation is a permanent solution. 

A Legal Opinion Letter is an option if you are looking to travel to Canada with a criminal charge. 

Temporary Resident Permit (TRP): A temporary option if your DUI sentence was completed less than 5 years ago

A Temporary Resident Permit is a temporary solution available to those who can demonstrate to the Canadian government they have a convincing reason to enter Canada. Key to the success of a TRP application is demonstrating that the benefits to Canada of your visit outweigh potential risks. A TRP is available to you if it has been less than five years since you finished your DUI sentence. Sentence means any judicial result following your case such as jail, probation, a fine, or community service. 

If you are travelling to Canada for leisure, you are advised to apply for Criminal Rehabilitation if you are eligible for it. 

Criminal Rehabilitation: A permanent option if your DUI sentence was completed 5 or more years ago

A Criminal Rehabilitation application is a permanent solution to clear your criminal history. If your application is successful, you do not need to worry about being turned away at the Canadian border as long as you do not commit any new offenses. 

To apply, at least five years must have passed since you completed your DUI sentence.

Legal Opinion Letter: An option if you have been charged with a DUI, but not convicted 

Finally, a Legal Opinion Letter is available to you as an option if you have been charged with a DUI but not been convicted. 

A lawyer can prepare a letter explaining to Canadian government officials the nature of the charges, the lawyer’s conclusions, and their explanation on how a potential sentence may impact your admissibility to Canada. Having a clear and convincing letter on hand can demonstrate that you should be allowed to enter Canada while your DUI case is pending.

Click here to get a free consultation with the Law Firm of Campbell Cohen: +1 (888) 940-4612

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