This document is for U.S. citizens only. It is not meant to be legal advice. For more help with this issue, tribal members may call PTLA Native American Unit at: 1-877-213-5630.
Please Note - If you are from a country other than the United States or Canada, or if you have more questions, go to the Canadian Citizenship and Immigration website.
While at the border, you may be asked to answer some questions. The customs agent wants to find out the nature of your visit, where you plan to go, and when you plan to return home.
The customs officer may ask you if:
Some people are not allowed to enter Canada because they have been:
You may not be able to enter Canada if you:
Also, you can be denied for security, health or financial reasons.
The answer depends on the crime and how long it has been since that crime was committed. You may be able to re-enter by:
You can be “deemed rehabilitated” if enough time has passed since your conviction, or since all conditions of your sentence have been met. The standard amount of time is 10 years. So if it has been 10 years or more since you committed a crime or completed a sentence for a crime, you may be able to enter Canada. This can be risky, since you won’t know if you can enter until you reach the border. The customs agent is the one who decides if you meet the requirements to enter Canada.
When making that decision the agent may consider:
Note: You can be “deemed rehabilitated” only if the maximum sentence for the crime is less than 10 years under the laws of Canada. If you were convicted of a crime that had a possible sentence of more than 10 years, you will need to get special permission to enter Canada.
“Individual Rehabilitation” is a process that allows you to get a formal decision. This gives you certainty about your ability to cross the border before you get there. You will need to submit a written application to the Canadian Government and pay a fee. You are eligible to apply if:
Sometimes the state or country where you were convicted “pardons or discharges” your crime. Even so, you must check to see if Canada will accept the pardon. Contact the Canadian Citizenship and Immigration office (CIC) closest to you.
If it has been less than 5 years since the end of your sentence and/or you have special circumstances, you may be able to get a “temporary resident permit.” This will allow you to enter or remain in Canada.
For more information, see Canada's Citizenship and Immigration page