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.


  1. Chris Clark says:

    How long does a pardon take to grant? What are the requirements and what’s the cost?

  2. Edward charlie says:

    I have a criminal record and would like a waiver to travel to New Zealand for a wedding of a classmate the charge is 18 years ago, Is it possible to get a waiver?

    • Paul Pardons says:

      Hi Edward, thanks for your question. If you are interested in travelling to New Zealand, you will need to confirm if your conviction is criminally inadmissible or not under New Zealand law. Dependant on the charge, you may be able to complete a waiver at the New Zealand airport on your way to the wedding. If you would like to check your admissibility or for further advising, we’d be more than happy to help! You can give us a call us toll-free at 1-866-972-7366.

  3. jason says:

    so, i was recently convicted of theft under $5000 and was sentenced to a years probation (ending in may 2016). once my probation is over would i be able to travel to the us, and should i apply for my passport in the time i’m waiting for my probation to end?

    • Paul Pardons says:

      Hi Jason, thanks for your question. A criminal record will not usually forbid you from getting a Canadian passport, as it is just a proof of identity and citizenship. Given that you have a summary offence of theft under $5000, you are not automatically inadmissible. That said, it is up to the discretion of the US border security officer as to whether you will be granted entry to the US. Even though you may have entered the United States without hindrance in the past, you may be denied entry at a future date based upon disclosure/discovery of your criminality. Not all criminal convictions create an ineligibility to enter the U.S., but any past criminal record must be declared.

      As the US does not officially recognize a Canadian record suspension, it is highly recommended that you apply for a US entry waiver for your travel to the US. A waiver eliminates the risk of being turned away and denied admissibility. Waivers are valid for periods ranging from one to five years and can be applied for during your probation. Unfortunately Passport Canada can deny you from getting a passport while still on parole/probation, so you will have to wait to apply until your probation is complete in May 2016. If you’d like any more information or have questions regarding a US entry waiver, feel free to give us a call toll-free at 1-866-972-7366

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