Entering Canada for recreational purposes with a DUI on record isn’t as simple as showing up at the border with your United States passport. If you have a DUI, DWI or other similar offense on your record, even if it was from a long time ago, you may be denied entry into Canada.

If you plan on traveling to Canada for hunting or fishing and you have been arrested and charged with driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol alcohol in the past, the issue of criminal inadmissibility is almost guaranteed to be a problem when crossing the border. People are unfortunately turned away at the border every day for these types of offenses, whether they were charged as felonies or even as misdemeanors.

Fortunately, there are options for legal entry into Canada despite having a criminal record, which we will discuss below. You should not have to turn away from the beauty of the Canadian wilderness over one past mistake.

Two Potential Options to Enter Canada with a DUI On Record

If you have more than one offense on your criminal record, or an offense more serious than a DUI or DWI, the resulting inadmissibility is almost never settled through the passage of time, something known as being  “deemed rehabilitated”. Even in instances where it is possible to be deemed rehabilitated by the passage of time, the application process is tedious and may be long, which is not helpful when it comes to planned hunting and fishing trips.

In the majority of cases, applying for criminal rehabilitation or for a Temporary Resident Permit (TRP) is a better option to ensure avoiding any issues at the border.

Criminal Rehabilitation

Applying for and being granted criminal rehabilitation is a permanent solution that essentially forgives a prior DUI or other convictions. To be eligible for criminal rehabilitation, at least five years must have passed since the completion of the imposed sentence. All fines, driving courses, probation, community service and additional conditions need to have been met in full at least five years ago in order to be eligible to apply for criminal rehabilitation. 

The advantage to being criminally rehabilitated is that you have a fresh start and can enter Canada freely to enjoy activities like hunting and fishing whenever you want. Criminal rehabilitation does not need to be renewed, so as long as you are not charged with any new offenses, you can enjoy your right to enter Canada on your terms.

However, not everyone is eligible for criminal rehabilitation due to the five year rule. Also, it can take up to 6-12 months for the application to be reviewed and approved by the Canadian government. Since most people traveling to Canada for recreational purposes such as fishing or hunting do not have the luxury to wait that long for an application to be approved, the more realistic and frequently used option is to apply for a Temporary Resident Permit right away.

Temporary Resident Permit (TRP)

A Temporary Resident Permit is a temporary solution that allows individuals with a DUI or another offense on record to enter Canada for a specific period of time. TRPs are essentially waivers of inadmissibility that do not remove inadmissibility but excuse it for a certain period of time so that travel into Canada is possible.

Temporary Resident Permits are popular among individuals who want to travel to Canada for hunting or fishing because they are faster and more efficient to obtain. While it is possible to apply for a TRP at the border, this is not recommended as Canadian border control officers expects to see supporting documentation, including criminal history reports, court records and letters of reference, to name a few.

To ensure that you are allowed to legally enter Canada with no problems, you need a well-prepared TRP application package that explains why you need to enter Canada. This is especially important when traveling to Canada for leisure purposes, as immigration officers do not always find recreation a necessary reason to enter the country. Arriving at the border and expecting to be let in by filling out a TRP application will probably result in a refusal. Showing up well-prepared is appreciated by the Canadian government and more likely to grant you entry into Canada.

The TRP can be valid for a period of up to three years and can be renewed upon expiry indefinitely, or at least until you become eligible to also apply for criminal rehabilitation.

If you enjoy traveling to Canada for hunting or fishing purposes and have a DUI, DWI, DWAI or other similar offense on your record, please contact one of our KLM Immigration attorneys today at 1-888-603-3003 for a free consultation. We will be happy to review your case and determine the best options for entering Canada for recreational purposes.