Are you planning to visit another country soon but have worries about your criminal record? Finding a clear response as to what inquiries a nation’s immigration office is making about criminal histories can be challenging.
The impact of a criminal violation on one’s travel opportunities is a valid concern, whether you got a speeding ticket in the past or spent several years in prison.
Restrictions on travel will depend on the type of offense you committed, your current status under the law, and which country you plan to visit.
People having a criminal background are frequently not warmly welcomed in many nations. However, the length of time that should pass before you are granted permission to enter varies from nation to country, depending on how significant your offense is. Some are tougher than others, and it’s possible that in those cases, we will have separate information.
Being under probation or parole prohibits you from traveling anywhere outside your city, state, or the U.S. until you complete your parole period. You should heed the recommendations given to you by your probation officer if you are on probation. Otherwise, your license terms may be broken if you leave the country without authorization. Learn more about probation and if you are going to jail if you violate it by visiting lookupinmate.org’s blog.
Felony convictions can also be problematic as several countries ban foreign tourists with such records.
The most serious kind of crime is a felony. While the federal government defines a felony as a crime with a punishment of more than one year, states are less rigid about the definition. This means that the term “felony” is not used consistently across the country. Criminal offenses in Maine and New Jersey are not categorized at all. While some states don’t define the term, others do.
However, the majority of states, 43 in all, define and use the phrase most frequently in relation to either the length of a sentence or the location of incarceration, occasionally both. For instance, the definition of a felony in Georgia is “a crime punished by death, imprisonment in a state prison, or both,” while the definition in Idaho is “a crime punishable by death, imprisonment in a state prison, or both.”
What criminal convictions carry travel restrictions? In what countries are travelers with criminal records welcome and not welcome?
Read on to discover past violations that may prevent you from visiting specific countries. This article also lists alternative destinations for those with past convictions who are itching to explore the world.
Nations That Ban Felons
Under the law, a crime is a felony if the court requires the law offender to spend more than one year in prison as punishment for the violation. Authorities send the inmates to a state or federal facility instead of jail.
Violent crimes and sex-related offenses such as murder, voluntary manslaughter, driving under the influence of alcohol leading to death, robbery, and rape or sexual assault fall under this crime category.
Felony crimes include drug manufacturing and sales, cybercrime, tax evasion, child pornography, human trafficking, and animal cruelty.
Countries That Bar Entry to Visitors with Crime Records
The following countries do not welcome travelers with felony records:
South and Central America:
- South Africa
- New Zealand
The U.S. shares arrest information with Canada, so it will be easy for Canadian border officials to check their records to verify your background.
When filling out Canada’s electronic travel authorization (ETA), answer “yes” if you previously received a criminal conviction.
When the ETA undergoes review, the Canadian Embassy will decide whether you are “deemed rehabilitated.” You will also have to apply for “rehabilitation.”
“Deemed rehabilitated” means that at least 10 years have passed since you completed your crime sentence. Also, you must no longer have any pending fines. The embassy will not require any extra fees for securing such approval.
Authorities do not issue passports to violators of some crimes, particularly international drug trafficking. Moreover, persons with felony records do not qualify for pre-clearance programs given to Mexico and Canada-bound travelers.
These programs include NEXUS, FAST, and SENTRI, which the Department of Homeland Security manages.
Meanwhile, individuals with sex offense convictions can secure a passport. However, if the offender’s crime involves a minor, the person’s booklet will bear an identifier stating the conviction.
Only two types of sex offenders cannot receive a passport:
- Individuals who received a conviction for sex tourism
- Persons who crossed international borders to commit the offense
The following activities fall under sex tourism:
- Adult and child sex trafficking
- Committing illicit sexual conduct (sexual acts with minors involving contact with their private parts) in a foreign country or going to an overseas location for that purpose
In some instances, the government may withhold the issuance of your passport even if you’re not under conditional release or didn’t commit a crime. The non-issuance of your passport may be due to the following:
- Overdue child support payments worth at least $25,000
- Unpaid government loans
Countries You Can Enter With a Criminal Record
Immigration officials of the countries below do not require you to present documents showing your criminal details upfront. However, officers can still bar you from entering if they discover it.
Some countries may ask you to show certification of good conduct. The Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs runs travel.state.gov, which offers information on such documents.
Go to the “While Abroad” tab under the site’s International Travel menu to get guidance on “Criminal Record Checks.”
Securing this certificate may be wise, especially if the court has sealed or expunged your conviction. You can show this document to immigration authorities if they need to check your background.
Here are some destinations you can consider visiting if you have a criminal record.
- The Dominican Republic
- United Arab Emirates
Conducting due diligence is still the best way to ensure you can proceed with plans in your intended travel destination. If you’re not sure what might show on your own criminal record, you may want to conduct your own criminal record check using a digital service open to the public, such as Information.com.
Check the country’s website to determine the offenses that may prohibit your entry. Also, seek legal advice if necessary to settle any pending cases.