Can you travel to Canada with a misdemeanor charge on your record?

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A misdemeanor charge is sometimes, and mistakably so, considered to have little repercussion on international travel. However, under the relevant Canadian laws, it should be noted that even a single misdemeanor charge could potentially prevent your entry to Canada. As an example, having even just one conviction for driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while intoxicated (DWI), can cause you to be denied entry to Canada.

What is a misdemeanor?

Black’s Law Dictionary defines a misdemeanor as a criminal offense punishable by indictment or special proceedings, which do not in law amount to the grade of felony.

What are some common misdemeanour offenses that could make you inadmissible?

Some of the most common misdemeanor offenses include:

  • Driving under the influence (DUI)
  • Driving while intoxicated (DWI)
  • Reckless driving
  • Wet Reckless (a conviction for reckless driving with alcohol having been involved)
  • Simple assault
  • Petty theft

When determining if a person is inadmissible to Canada because of a past offense, for which they were arrested and/or convicted, appearing on their criminal record, Canadian authorities will need to determine the most appropriate legislative equivalent to the offense committed outside Canada. If, for example, an equivalent to a given offense exists in an Act of Parliament of Canada, and is punishable by indictable offense, the individual will be deemed inadmissible for entry into Canada. It is therefore important to understand that it is not the severity of the crime under foreign law that matters in determining whether a person is admissible to enter Canada or not, but rather its most relevant equivalent under Canadian law.

Furthermore, some misdemeanor offenses under foreign law (and more specifically in the United States), such as public intoxication, would fall under provincial jurisdiction in Canada. As they would not be acts prohibited by the Canadian Criminal Code, entry to Canada could still be possible under some circumstances despite such an offense appearing on a criminal record.

How can you enter Canada if you have a misdemeanor?

In order to be able to freely travel to Canada with a criminal record, whether it be with a misdemeanor or felony charges, one should apply for a Temporary Resident Permit (TRP). This temporary permit will allow entry to Canada for a predetermined period of time. Such a permit can be granted for up to three (3) years and can also allow its user to enter and exit Canada more than once, if specified in the permit.

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