Even though the Unites States normally allows people with a DUI to cross its borders, the same thing doesn’t apply to Canada as well. In fact, Canadians have one of the strictest policies in what concerns allowing people who have a DUI on their record to cross their borders. But what if you did get a DUI many years ago and now you absolutely have to go to Canada? There might be a way out for you. Today, we are going to answer the question: can you go to Canada with a DUI? Furthermore, we will look at all the options you have if you want to travel to Canada and you have a DUI.
Can You Go to Canada with a DUI?
Even though it depends a lot on the officer who is there at the border, the answer to the question can you go to Canada with a DUI is most likely no. Canada has very specific and severe laws regarding DUIs, which is quite visible in how they deal with people who have one and want to cross their border.
If you plan on travelling to Canada and you have a DUI, there are a couple of things you should know. First of all, it doesn’t matter how long ago you got a DUI, it will still count for the Canadian authorities. Second of all, you don’t even have to be the one driving for them not to allow you to cross the border. Even as a passenger, you run the risk of being sent right back to the United States. And if you thought that flying to Canada will do the trick, then you should know that once you land, border security will still check for a DUI, at which point you will have to return to the U.S.
Furthermore, even if you don’t have a car with you or you don’t intend to drive at all while you’re in Canada, you will still get declined entrance at the border. Even if your conviction was switched from a DUI to a wet reckless, or it is considered a misdemeneaour or felony, you are not allowed to cross the Canadian border.
What if you are an official and have an important business to attend to there, or you have to go to a special event?Regardless of who you are and what the reason for which you want to go to Canada is, the Canadian authorities will not let you trough if you have a DUI conviction on your record.
However, you should know that you entering the country or not is at the discretion of the officer you find at the border. Some might decide to grant you access, while others might look at your record and decline instantly. It also depends on how long ago you got the DUI. In some cases, if it was a long time ago, you might have more chances of crossing the border to Canada.
What Are My Options?
Now, if you don’t want to run the risk of getting stopped at the border and sent back, it is worth seeing what you can do beforehand if you have a DUI and want to travel to Canada. Basically you have two main options, depending on why you want to go to Canada and how much time you have to spend there.
Temporary Resident Permit (TRP)
The first option is applying for a so-called Temporary Resident Permit, that will allow you to spend a fixed amount of time in Canada. However, in order to qualify for this, you have to have a really explicit and valid reason why you want to go there. It will take a while before you get this permit, which is why we advise you to apply as early as you can, and not wait until the last moment or, even worse, hope that if you simply try to pass they will allow you to.
Depending on how strong your application is you might use it for more than one visit, for a period of up to 3 years. This is a great option for you if you cannot, for any reason, get the more permanent solution, namely the Criminal Rehabilitation.
The process of Criminal Rehabilitation is even more complicated that the Temporary Resident Permit one, because you would be asking Canadian authorities to forgive your DUI conviction. The first thing you should know is that not everybody qualifies for this kind of application. For instance, in order to be able to apply, at least 5 years have to have passed from the completion of your sentence. Moreover, you have to have completed all of the required penalties, such as paying the fines, doing community service, probation, and whatever else the court has decided upon. You should also remember that this only works if you have a single DUI offense, not more.
If you do get this Criminal Rehabilitation, you will be able to travel to Canada whenever you want and as many times as you want, without worrying that you will get stopped at the border. So it is basically a clean slate for you. You never have to renew it, as in the case of a Temporary Resident Permit, and that is why this option is much more appealing to people who want to go to Canada but have a DUI on their record.
Summing Everything Up
We hope our short yet comprehensive guide has successfully answered the question can you go to Canada with a DUI. The most important thing you should remember is that Canadian authorities are very strict in what concerns allowing Americans who have a DUI to cross their border. So instead of taking that risk, the best course of action would be to think whether you qualify for a Temporary Resident Permit or a Criminal Rehabilitation. Then, contact the respective authorities and start the process before you know you have to travel to Canada.