Millions of people travel to and via Canada each year, and most are welcomed with open arms. However, some people may be denied entry into Canada, even for a layover of a few hours at the airport as Canada takes certain criminal charges very seriously, including DUIs, DWIs and other alcohol-related offenses. If you have one of these charges on your record, you could be denied entry into the country, even if you don’t plan on staying in Canada and will only remain at a Canadian airport while awaiting your next flight.

Many travelers are shocked to learn that their DUI can cause problems when stopping at a Canadian airport for a layover flight. Even though DUIs are usually charged as misdemeanors in the US, they are deemed a felony in Canada in some cases. Therefore, having this mark on your record is likely to cause problems at the border. Canadian border agents have the right to deny entry to anyone they feel could be a threat to the country, even if your DUI was classified as a traffic violation in the US.

Options for Legally Entering Canada with a DUI for a Layover Flight

You have two options for entering Canada for a layover flight with a DUI on your record: applying for a temporary resident permit (TRP) or in certain cases, obtaining a legal opinion letter from a Canadian attorney. Let’s discuss these options in more detail to determine which one is right for you.

Temporary resident permit (TRP)

A temporary resident permit allows a person to enter Canada for a specified purpose and time frame. Once your application has been approved, you will be allowed to enter Canada with a DUI for a flight layover. When time permits, the application for a temporary resident permit will be submitted to the Canadian government for review, or, if your trip is coming up soon, an application can also be presented at a point of entry to Canada to be reviewed immediately by a border agent.

Legal opinion letter

Another option which is available in some specific cases is to get a legal opinion letter from a Canadian attorney. In a legal opinion letter, a Canadian immigration attorney will state that you are not inadmissible to enter Canada and that you should not be turned away at the border. Legal opinion letters only work in certain situations. For example:

  • You are deemed rehabilitated. If it has been more than 10 years since you have completed all the conditions of your DUI sentence, and this was the only offense you have had on your record, you are no longer inadmissible to Canada due to the passage of time, and could be admissible to enter Canada once again.
  • You have charges on your record that don’t deem you inadmissible. Certain charges do not render you to be inadmissible to enter Canada. However, they can still cause problems at the border, which is why a legal opinion letter is helpful. Examples of these types of charges are disturbing the peace or committing an indecent act.

It is always best to plan ahead and make sure that you obtain a temporary resident permit prior to entering Canada with a DUI or similar charge on your record. If you attempt to enter Canada without a TRP and a DUI on your record, not only may you be denied entry, but also you may be banned from any future trips.

Flight Attendants and Airline Pilots

Canadian laws apply to everyone, not just tourists. If you are a flight attendant, airplane pilot, business traveler or government official, a DUI or DWI can cause the same problems. It is imperative that you plan ahead for your trip to avoid being turned away at the border. The same is true if you fly into Canada on a private jet. You are still expected to check in with border security, just as those on commercial flights are expected to do.

Avoid Problems at the Border by Planning Ahead

If you have an upcoming trip planned for business or leisure purposes and you have a DUI on your record, contact KLM Immigration Law today. Our immigration attorneys work quickly and efficiently to find a solution for our clients, whether it be a temporary resident permit or a legal opinion letter. If you are eligible for criminal rehabilitation, a permanent solution to inadmissibility, we can work with you on this as well. Call us today at 1 (888) 603-3003 to discuss your options for entering Canada on a layover flight with a DUI.