A criminal record can prevent you from doing many things, including travel, and so many Canadians naturally assume that they also cannot apply for a passport. This is untrue as the passport application process does not contain a criminal record check of any kind, and so you can easily get a Passport with a Criminal Record. However this doesn’t mean you can freely travel with a criminal record, and we advise you to use caution when making travel plans.
Even if you have a criminal record, you can still apply with Passport Canada (generally at a Service Canada location) and obtain a passport. If you are a client of ours currently awaiting a Record Suspension/Pardon or US Waiver application to be granted, please be aware that you do not have to wait for this process to be completed before you apply for a passport. By applying now, you will be able to travel as soon as your application is granted.
How Does the US Know About my Record then?
When travelling to the United States, the US Center for Border Protection (USCBP) is authorized to run your personal information in the Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC) database. This database houses information regarding all Canadian criminal convictions. Your name and date of birth, regardless of whether or not it was obtained from your passport, can be run by the USCBP in this database to immediately return results about your convictions.
Can I Travel Before my Application is Granted?
If you are seeking to travel immediately, you will have to check the requirements of each country before you do. The United States are very strict regarding entry to their country, and we absolutely advise against travelling there until your application has been granted- even if you are merely transferring flights in a US location. The one exception to this is if you have not committed a crime of “moral turpitude” such as a Driving While Impaired offence, or a common Assault.
The requirements for other countries are not always as specific. Generally these countries are able to conduct a criminal record check on a visitor if they wish, but will not always do so. For more specific requirements we encourage you to contact the consulate of the country to which you wish to travel to as they may be able to provide more information. Regardless, it is always a good idea to have your record cleared in order to avoid any issues when travelling, and we encourage you to begin the Pardon/Record Suspension process as soon as possible.