How does Canada know if you have a US DUI record? Many Americans plan on entering Canada with a DUI or DWI case on their record. Nowadays, Canadian border authorities are able to find out if a visitor has a criminal record in order to determine security risks when allowing someone to enter the country.

Suppose you are traveling to Canada and have been convicted of impaired driving back home in the United States. You might stop and think, “how does Canada know if you have a DUI?” especially if it happened in the US. Do you ever wonder if Canada has access to the U.S. criminal records? You might be surprised to learn that since 2015, the agents working for the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) have had full access to the FBI’s criminal database as well as to county court record systems.

The CBSA’s primary purpose is to screen visitors and identify any security risks travelers may pose to Canadians. So how does Canada check for DUI? By scanning your passport and checking for any prior convictions or pending criminal charges. All it takes is a few minutes for border agents to determine if you are allowed into the country.

A DUI charge does not always automatically disqualify you from entering Canada. However, it does make it more complicated and requires preparation on your part.

Canada’s DUI laws: How does it affect American citizens?

Entering Canada with a DUI is not as straightforward as you might think. Even if you were convicted of impaired driving decades ago, it could still affect your chances to enter the country.

DUIs used to be considered minor offenses in Canada. But by the end of 2018, impaired driving was upgraded to a major criminal offense. With these new rules, foreigners convicted of DUIs were banned from entering Canada. Even if you don’t plan on driving when in Canada, you will still be denied permission to enter the country.

How do I enter Canada with a DUI?

If you are forbidden from entering Canada, there are a few ways to overcome this before planning your visit.

Temporary Resident Permit (TRP)

Obtaining a TRP allows Americans with a DUI conviction to enter Canada for a specific period. It also may allow for multiple entries. These permits need to be processed and approved before showing up at the border.

Criminal Rehabilitation (CR)

Applying for criminal rehabilitation is the permanent solution if you’re looking to enter Canada without complications. Once 5 years have passed since the completion of the conditions of your sentence, you are allowed to submit an application to the government. Processing time is approximately 6-12 months.

Deemed rehabilitation 

Deemed rehabilitation is for those with a single DUI charge before 2018. If more than 10 years have passed since the end of your sentence, it might make you eligible for deemed rehabilitation.

However, to avoid any issues at the border, we strongly recommend speaking with an immigration lawyer about how to enter Canada with a DUI.

Get accurate and professional legal advice

If you’re an American citizen prevented from entering Canada because of a DUI, learn your options. Get a free consultation with a Canadian Immigration attorney at KLM Immigration. Contact one of our attorneys specializing in inadmissibility today at 1-888-603-3003. Let us help you find options for entering Canada legally.