Traveling to Other Countries with a Criminal Record
Traveling is something most people enjoy. But what if you want to travel and have a criminal record? Will this affect your ability to travel? The short answer is that it depends. It depends on what country you’re traveling to and what is on your criminal record. Before traveling with a criminal record it is important to consider both.
It Depends Where You’re Traveling
The first thing to consider is what country you are traveling to. Some countries are easy to travel to with a criminal record, while others can be very difficult. Traveling to Mexico is generally fairly easy with a criminal record. It’s typically uncommon for Mexican immigration to run background checks on Americans entering Mexico. In contrast, it can be difficult to get into Canada if you have a criminal record.
Canada frequently denies entry to those with convictions for seemingly minor offenses such as shoplifting, drug possession, dangerous driving, or theft. More serious offenses can make traveling to Canada even more difficult. Convictions for drunk driving often prevent admission to Canada, and will almost always result in additional questioning.
Canada and the US have an information sharing agreement that allows the Canadians to see the same information that is available to most US law enforcement. For this reason, it is almost always a good idea to take legal steps to clear up your criminal record if traveling to Canada. This isn’t always an option, but if it is, getting an expungement will improve your chances of entry into Canada.
Other countries like the United Kingdom have strict laws on individuals with a criminal record entering that respective country. For example, model Jeremy Meeks was banned from the UK for serving a three-year sentence for possession of a firearm. According to the UK’s immigration rules, border patrol officials can refuse entry to the UK to anyone who has been sentenced to a jail term of between twelve months and four years, until ten years after the sentence has ended.
The Benefits of Expunging Criminal Records to Travel
Remember, the rules and regulations of entry varies by each country. If you are able, expunging your record will most likely make the travel process much easier. It will increase your chances of crossing international borders and security checkpoints without having to worry, allowing you to enjoy your travel plans much more. What occurs at the border will vary on a case-by-case basis, however, it is rare for other countries to be able to access criminal records that US law enforcement cannot. Taking the legal steps to expunge, vacate, seal, or set aside a conviction will typically prevent foreign immigration from seeing your record.
The first step is to see whether you can do something about your criminal record. Our law firm has created an online expungement eligibility tool to help you do this. It only takes about 5 minutes and should give you a better idea of what your options are. We’ve helped thousands of clients clear up their criminal record, and our staff is very familiar with these issues. If you would like to learn more, you may also call our experienced legal team at 844-947-3732 to discuss your options in making international travel easier for you.