Travel to Europe can be complicated by a criminal record. Visitors to European countries may be denied entry for past convictions and misdemeanors. When applying for a visa, you may want to inquire about the specific immigration laws of your destination country.
Many European countries are part of the Schengen area comprising 26 countries. Travelers to one of the member countries may also travel to other countries with little restriction. However, travel plans through multiple Schengen countries may be disrupted if you are denied entry to one country.
Deportable offense will vary from country to country. For instance in Germany, drug offences with a sentence of more than 2 years may render you inadmissible to Germany. As would a conviction of a public order offence with a sentence of more than 3 years.
For some European countries, criminal convictions may be considered “spent” after a period of time after which you are considered naturally rehabilitated.
In the UK, you may overcome your inadmissibility if you committed or were convicted of an offence that would carry less than a 5 year prison term.
You may be deemed rehabilitated after 5 years or less if your conviction resulted in a fine or imprisonment of less that 6 months. Imprisonment of 6 to 30 months may take 10 years to be deemed naturally rehabilitated.
In most cases, you may not be deemed rehabilitated if you were convicted of a crime that resulted in imprisonment of more than 30 months (5 years).
What Can You Do ?
If you want to travel to Europe and intend to stay for a considerable period of time, you may require a travel visa. You may also be subject to a criminal record check. If you do not meet the criteria for natural rehabilitation, you may be denied entry.
If you have a criminal record, applying for a travel waiver before you travel may be a safer bet than hoping your destination country does not check for past convictions and misdemeanors.
If you are a frequent traveler however, obtaining travel waivers each time you travel may not be a durable solution. In which case you may apply for a Record Suspension.
To erase records of criminal conviction, you must apply for and be granted a Record Suspension. After a waiting period of 5 or 10 years, most records of criminal conviction become eligible for suspension.
While a Canadian pardon may not be automatically transferrable to your destination country, it can act as proof for your rehabilitation, should you need it.