Having a DUI can affect your ability to enter Canada legally. However, one could think that if the DUI took place, for example, 20 years ago, it wouldn’t really matter today. Sadly, you’ll come to find out that it is not always the case. Here is everything you need to know about how long after a DUI you can enter Canada.

First of all, why does having a DUI affect your entry to Canada?

Do you intend to enter Canada with a DUI? When you get a DUI, it goes directly into your criminal record. This may be a deal breaker if you want to enter the country. Indeed, Canadian laws stipulate that a criminal record constitutes grounds for inadmissibility– even if it’s only a misdemeanor DUI.

When you are convicted of an offense comparable to that which can be found in the Canadian Criminal Code, such as being convicted of driving while impaired by alcohol, you may be refused entry into the country. But you might be wondering, how long after a DUI can you enter Canada? Know that in the past, many travelers were denied at the border for having a DUI, no matter how long ago it happened.

These laws apply regardless of the purpose of your trip, whether you are traveling for business, leisure, or even to visit a family member.

How far back does Canada check for your DUI?

In the past, Canada border agents would often overlook DUI charges that happened years ago. After all, if the DUI was committed 20+ years ago, it is likely that the border agents will give you the benefit of the doubt, no?

That is unfortunately not the case in Canada. How does Canada know if you have a DUI? In fact, border agents have increased their scrutiny considerably since DUIs have become a serious crime in the country. Therefore, there is no limit as to how far back Canada could check for your DUI.

As of December 2018, DUIs are considered a matter of serious criminality under Canada’s criminal laws. This means that border agents can use their discretion to decide whether a foreign traveler with a DUI conviction should be admitted to Canada.

What to do if you need to go to Canada?

If you got a DUI before December 2018, and this is your only offense on record, and you have completed all of the conditions of your sentence over 10 years ago, you may be deemed rehabilitated by the effect of time, and could request a Legal Opinion letter to be drafted by a Canadian attorney to confirm your admissibility. This is also known as applying for deemed rehabilitation.

If you have other offenses on your record, no matter how long ago they happened, or if it has not yet been 10 years since the completion of the DUI sentence,, you may still be inadmissible to enter Canada even if the DUI itself occurred before December 2018.

In this case, you’ll most likely have to apply for a temporary resident permit (TRP) to be able to enter Canada legally. To get it, you need to prove that you have valid reasons to travel to Canada. The TRP can be valid for up to 3 years at a time, and allow you to enter Canada as often as you need while it is valid.

You may also be eligible to apply for Criminal Rehabilitation, the permanent solution, if it has been more than 5 years since you completed all of the conditions of all of your sentences.

If you have a DUI on your criminal record, always make sure to consult with a specialized immigration lawyer to enter Canada legally. An immigration lawyer will be in the best position to advise you on what to do in your situation and help you put all the chances on your side.