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How You Can Get Into Canada If You Have Been Convicted of a DUI in the United States

Jun 11, 2014

There are a variety of things that you have to remember if you are vacationing in another country. Some of them are simple and easy to forget, like packing a cell phone charger. Others are a bit more important, like making sure that your passport is in order. Then there are the things that you probably did not even know were a factor, but that could make it difficult, or in some cases impossible, to get to your destination. For Americans who are vacationing in Canada, being convicted of Driving Under the Influence (DUI) can be one of those factors. Here is what you need to know if you’re an American traveling to Aikens Lake or another Canadian destination, and have a DUI on your record.

Canada’s Tough Stance on DUIs
In general, Canada takes a much tougher stance on drinking and driving than the US does. Here you are considered to be driving while impaired if you have a blood alcohol content (BAC) level beyond .08. A first timeDUI conviction in Canada usually results in a $1000 fine, at least two years of driving prohibition, and a criminal record. You will also find that Canada takes a tough stance if you are convicted of a DUI in another country and are trying to get in. This is especially true for citizens of the United States since the US and Canada share a lot of information with each other regarding security and criminal records.

If you’re a US citizen who has been convicted of a DUI, you can only enter Canada if you have been deemed rehabilitated,if you go through the individual criminal rehabilitation process, if you get a record suspension in the US, or if you get a temporary resident permit. Let’s take a look at each of these four ways.

Deemed Rehabilitated
This is the easiest of the four methods that an American citizen can use to get into Canada. In order to be deemed rehabilitated, you have to wait a period of time after completing the imposed sentence of your DUI conviction. This sentence can be anywhere between 5-10 years and has to include being suspended from driving for a period of time.

Individual Criminal Rehabilitation
If you have not been deemed rehabilitated, then you can apply for individual criminal rehabilitation. This process can only begin five years after being convicted of the DUI and if you have not been convicted of another DUI since that time. If you meet those criteria, then you need to do the following:

  • Provide copies of court documents indicating the charge, section of law violated, the verdict, and sentencing
  • Provide proof that you have completed your sentence, paid all of the appropriate fines and court costs, and ordered any necessary treatments.
  • Fill out the application form IMM 1444E
  • Get a passport size photograph
  • Provide copies of your passport data pages
  • Get an FBI police certificate
  • Get a state police certificate
  • Describe in detail the offence for which you were convicted 
  • Three letters of reference from responsible citizens
  • Pay a non-refundable processing fee of $180 USD
  • Provide copies of the text of the law describing the offence

Temporary Resident Permit
Of the four ways for a US citizen with a DUI conviction to get into Canada, the hardest is the Temporary Resident Permit. This is because you must establish a strong precedent for your entry into Canada and you may be required to show that you are not a threat to the health of Canadian citizens. This permit is issued for a very specific period of time and if you need to stay longer you would need to apply for a new one.

Record Suspension
It’s also possible to get into Canada from the US if your original DUI has been suspended. This can be tricky, however, since you basically are trying to wipe the DUI from your record and this can only be done in specific circumstances. Even if you do get a record suspension, then you still have to check with the US Visa Office in order to verify that you are eligible to enter Canada.

If you are from the US and are planning a trip to Aikens Lake or another Canadian destination, you should take a look at our guide on crossing the border into Canada to make sure you don’t have any other hurdles to jump through.