How to Travel With a DUI or DWI Conviction

Written by brooke julia
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How to Travel With a DUI or DWI Conviction
Canada has the most stringent laws barring those with criminal records from entering the country. (o" Canada image by Kathryn Palmer from

Most people don't know that a DUI or DWI conviction can get them barred from international travel, even if the conviction is years old. Since 9/11, the United States and Canada, for example, have an open information agreement by which Canada can gain quick access to the history of anyone trying to cross its border. Many people have been unpleasantly surprised to find themselves transferred to an immigration interrogation room instead of boarding the plane that was supposed to take them to their holiday destination. In many cases, they never do board that plane.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging


  1. 1

    Apply for an individual rehabilitation to be allowed access to Canada. The waiting time following the completion of sentencing is five years and can be more, depending upon the severity of the DUI/DWI. The application can be downloaded from Canada's citizen and immigration website, listed in references. You can request that the forms be mailed to you at the same website.

  2. 2

    Provide information about yourself, your criminal record, sentencing type and date, the circumstances surrounding the criminal act and why you feel you're rehabilitated, meaning that you live a safe and clean life with no indication of repeating your past mistakes.

  3. 3

    Mail your application plus the attached fee (ranging from £130 to £650, depending on the seriousness of the offence) to the Visa office nearest you. There are offices from Seattle, Washington, to Buffalo, New York. Click on the link below for Canada's citizen and immigration website and follow the prompt for a list of Visa offices. Or call 1-888-242'2100 for further assistance.

  4. 4

    Apply for a temporary residency visa if you are not eligible for rehabilitation. Temporary visas are determined on a case-by-case basis. Submit the same application as above but check the box that says "for information only." An officer will make a determination based on your information. A fee of £48 per single visit applies if you are approved.

Tips and warnings

  • Be prepared for the application process to take a long time -- even a year in some cases.
  • Apply for rehabilitation or a temporary visa well ahead of a planned visit.
  • Several other countries are making it more difficult for those with DUI convictions to cross their borders. Australia and England, for example, can turn you away if you have a criminal background.

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