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  • By: Kevin Leckerman, Esq.
  • Published: April 1, 2011
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Most United States citizens believe that it is relatively easy to travel to Canada for business or vacation. Generally, this belief is true. However, if you have been convicted of a crime, then Canada will bar any admission into the country. This bar applies to DUI convictions as well. According to Canadian regulations, a DUI is considered a criminal conviction. This is also the case when the DUI charge was only considered a traffic offense in the state where the conviction occurred.

Border patrol has computer access to a data base of U.S. records that shows whether any traveler has a DUI conviction. And that person will be denied entry when trying to cross the border, even if he or she will not be driving in Canada.

Nonetheless, there are exceptions to the rule. A Canadian Approval of Rehabilitation can be obtained. The Approval of Rehabilitation will allow someone with a DUI conviction passage to Canada. To obtain rehabilitation, you must show that you have a “stable lifestyle” and that it is unlikely you will be involved in future criminal activity. One glitch is that an application cannot be made until five years have elapsed since the end of your sentence for the DUI offense. According to Canadian rules, a DUI sentence is not completed until any period of probation has ended and the full payment of fines and restitution has been made.

A second exception is the Temporary Resident Permit. The same five-year bar applies. “Compelling reasons” must be shown to convince Canada that you should be admitted. Numerous documents must be provided, including state police certifications from every state in which you lived for over six months since turning 18 years of age. Furthermore, three letters of reference from clergy, parole officers, public officials or “respectable citizens” must be provided.

So, if you had a recent DUI conviction and have an upcoming trip to Canada, you may want to switch directions and head to Mexico.

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