This document is for U.S. citizens only. It is not meant to be legal advice. For more help with this issue, tribal members may call PTLA Native American Unit at: 1-877-213-5630.
Please Note - If you are from a country other than the United States or Canada, or if you have more questions, go to the Canadian Citizenship and Immigration website.
What type of ID is required to enter Canada?
- Valid identification and travel documents, such as a passport
- Tribal members: Have your Tribal ID and Drivers License or State ID
While at the border, you may be asked to answer some questions. The customs agent wants to find out the nature of your visit, where you plan to go, and when you plan to return home.
The customs officer may ask you if:
- You have relationships with family/friends that will take you home after your visit
- You intend to leave Canada after your visit
- You have a valid reason for visiting Canada
- You have enough money to pay for your expenses while in Canada
Why would I be denied entry into Canada?
Some people are not allowed to enter Canada because they have been:
- Convicted of a crime
- Involved in a human rights violations, or
- Involved in organized crime
You may not be able to enter Canada if you:
- Have been convicted of a crime in Canada
- Have been convicted of a crime in another country
- Have committed an act in another country that is a crime under Canadian law
Also, you can be denied for security, health or financial reasons.
What can I do if I have been denied entry to Canada because of a past criminal conviction?
The answer depends on the crime and how long it has been since that crime was committed. You may be able to re-enter by:
- Being “deemed” rehabilitated
- Applying for a determination of individual rehabilitation
- Being granted a pardon or discharge
- Receiving a temporary residence permit
1. Being Deemed Rehabilitated
You can be “deemed rehabilitated” if enough time has passed since your conviction, or since all conditions of your sentence have been met. The standard amount of time is 10 years. So if it has been 10 years or more since you committed a crime or completed a sentence for a crime, you may be able to enter Canada. This can be risky, since you won’t know if you can enter until you reach the border. The customs agent is the one who decides if you meet the requirements to enter Canada.
When making that decision the agent may consider:
- The type of crime committed
- Whether you have committed more than one crime
- The stability of your life: if you are employed, if you have family commitments
- Whether you are likely to commit another crime
Note: You can be “deemed rehabilitated” only if the maximum sentence for the crime is less than 10 years under the laws of Canada. If you were convicted of a crime that had a possible sentence of more than 10 years, you will need to get special permission to enter Canada.
2. Applying for a Determination of Individual Rehabilitation
“Individual Rehabilitation” is a process that allows you to get a formal decision. This gives you certainty about your ability to cross the border before you get there. You will need to submit a written application to the Canadian Government and pay a fee. You are eligible to apply if:
- It has been at least five years since you committed the crime, and
- It has been at least five years since you completed all requirements of your criminal sentence
Get "Application for Rehabilitation for Persons Who are Inadmissible to Canada Because of Past Criminal Activity" here
3. Getting a Pardon or Discharge
Sometimes the state or country where you were convicted “pardons or discharges” your crime. Even so, you must check to see if Canada will accept the pardon. Contact the Canadian Citizenship and Immigration office (CIC) closest to you.
Go here to find a listing of CIC offices
4. Obtaining a Temporary Resident Permit
If it has been less than 5 years since the end of your sentence and/or you have special circumstances, you may be able to get a “temporary resident permit.” This will allow you to enter or remain in Canada.
Get more information on temporary resident permits here
For more information, see Canada's Citizenship and Immigration page