Border guards have various ways to find out about travellers’ criminal records. Canada and the US have advanced information sharing agreements. This makes it very difficult for Canadians with records to travel.
Border guards often wave people through without checking criminal databases. Many of our clients complain that they crossed numerous times until they got that one border guard. We all know how busy the border gets. They do not have time to pull over everyone and run their names. However, officials will flag your name once you are denied entry. That means they’ll be looking out for you. If you try to cross again without a Waiver they could ban you completely.
What databases do US border guards access?
In addition to keeping up with outstanding warrants, stolen cars and potential security issues, the US border has a lot of information about ordinary Canadians with records.
They get this information from the database of the Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC). They also have records about crimes for which a pardon or Record Suspension has been issued. The US does not recognize Canadian pardons. Even if you have a pardon or Record Suspension, you will still require a Waiver.
Some companies say that if you have never been denied entry, you only need a Record Suspension. The theory is the US border will not find your record in CPIC. However, this is not true. The US border will not update old databases to remove your record. Plus, they have other ways of finding out about your record. They can even find out if you have been charged, but not convicted.
What about the Canadian side?
The information sharing agreements between Canada and the United States are reciprocal. This means Canadian border guards can access similar information about US citizens. In this case they would turn to the FBI’s National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database.
US residents who wish to travel to Canada with a criminal record can apply for a Temporary Resident Permit (TRP). This lets you enter for a specific purpose, for example, a wedding or conference. However, you also have the advantage of being able to apply for Criminal Rehabilitation. This is a permanent solution. You can enter freely as long as all other regulations are met.
If you need to enter the United States or Canada with a criminal record, contact us today to discuss your options at 1-866-972-7366.