Good Luck Entering Canada with a DUI Conviction

By Garth O'Brien | November 4, 2007 
Filed Under DUI

Canada DUICanada, like every other nation, restricts certain non-citizens from entering their borders. Non-citizens that are not permitted to enter the nation of Canada are classified as members of an Inadmissible Class. Not only are these individuals prohibited from crossing the border into Canada, but it is a serious crime remaining within Canada as a member of the Inadmissible Class.

There are various factors taken into consideration for declaring that a non-citizen should be part of the Inadmissible Class. The factor that is relevant for this site is a criminal conviction for Driving Under the Influence. Canada views DUI as a very serious criminal offense. If you have a DUI conviction do not expect to travel to Canada for any purpose.

There are some exceptions however. Individuals with DUI convictions may apply for a Temporary Resident Visa with the Canadian Government. This can be a time consuming process and does require payment of fees. Allow a many days or, preferable, weeks in advance of applying for a Temporary Resident Visa. The Temporary Resident Visa allows qualifiying individuals to travel within Canada for specific purposes for a restricted duration.

Finally, the Inadmissible status can be removed after a period of many years. Those with DUI convictions must wait for a period of fivce years since the termination of the custodial portion of the imposed sentence. Then the individual can apply for a Minister’s Approval of Rehabilitation. These Canadian Consulates located throughout the United States can assist with these applications:

Consulate General in Buffalo, New York
Consulate General in New York, New York
Consulate General in Detroit, Michigan
Consulate General in Los Angeles, California
Consulate General in Seattle, Washington

If you are required to travel to Canada for visiting relatives, conducting business on a regular basis, or any other purpose you must not drink and drive. Otherwise, if you are convicted of DUI expect to be turned away at the Canadian customs.

DUI Blog Comments

4 Responses to “Good Luck Entering Canada with a DUI Conviction”

  1. Todd on November 6th, 2007 8:47 pm

    Mr. O’Brien,

    I am somewhat familiar with this Inadmissibility statute in Canada. I am curious as to whether this is for all DUI related cases, such as if it is reduced to reckless driving, even though the initial charge was a DUI. Any help on this would be great as I would like to make plans in the future to visit Canada.

  2. Garth O'Brien on November 7th, 2007 5:38 pm


    Very good question, but the answer is not very clear. What makes the answer a messy one is the fact that you are dealing with customs. Border agents can refuse anyone entry for just about any reason.

    I know of individuals that were turned away at the Blaine, Washington border crossing because they had a Negligent Driving 2 Degree traffic infraction on their driving record. Not a crime, but a traffic ticket. Maybe that one can be chalked up to poorly trained border agents. Maybe that customs official was having a bad day.

    A majority of my colleagues across the United States believe a Reckless Driving or Negligent Driving criminal conviction will not prevent entry into Canada. However, a Canadian government sponsored website states the following:

    Members of Inadmissible Classes include those who have been convicted of MINOR OFFENSES (including shoplifting, theft, assault, DANGEROUS DRIVING…


    Those who have received TRAFFIC VIOLATIONS (including parking/speeding tickets, etc.) and other minor violations (i.e. littering, etc.) most likely will NOT be prohibited from entering Canada.

    Government of Canada.

    That is why it is difficult to provide a definite answer to your question. The statements above sound like Canada is not sure who can cross into their country and who cannot. “Most likely” does not inspire much confidence.

    Those seeking clarity should consult with an immigration attorney. If you do not know an immigration attorney contact your state Bar Association and ask for an attorney referral service.

    You also could work with the Canadian consulates (web-link above takes you to the one located in Seattle). It is also a good idea to scout this out in advance of your trip. If a Temporary Resident Permit is required it may take some time securing that document.

    Sorry there is not a simple yes no answer for your question.

  3. john on January 23rd, 2008 2:52 am

    What would be the case if you have a “DUI Diversion” in Oregon. (This does not constitute not a conviction in Oregon), and no other convictions.

  4. Garth O'Brien on January 23rd, 2008 2:20 pm


    I do not know. I am not familiar with the laws of Oregon. I suggest you contact a DUI defense attorney in Oregon to ask that question.