Updated and edited November 4, 2019

Thinking of a trip to the Land Down Under sometime soon? Most Canadians can enter Australia with just an ETA (electronic travel authorization). If you have a recent DUI in Canada you may not be able to get an ETA, but don’t despair, you may still be able to enter Australia.

If you were convicted of a crime with a sentence of 12 months or more, you cannot apply for an ETA and must do the normal visa application even if you did not end up serving the full 12 months. This also includes suspended sentences.

What is an ETA?

An ETA is a simple travel authorization that allows tourists to enter Australia for up to three months. It is valid for 12 months. There is also a business version that will allow you to attend meetings and conferences, but won’t allow you to work for a company.

It is simple to apply for an ETA. The travel agent or airline can submit the application or you can submit it on your own online. Usually, it is approved on the spot, however, sometimes you can experience a delay. This means that they are doing further processing of your application, which may include an investigation. You must wait 12 hours before inquiring about the status of your application.

The ETA requirement does give authorities more time to investigate the background of visitors. You may assume that Australian authorities will not have access to Canada’s national database of criminal records, but there are other places where information about your record could exist, for example, in databases of court records.

In fact, we have heard of Canadians being denied the ETA for common charges such as DUI, and on other occasions, people have been granted the ETA, but once they arrive in Australia they are denied entry. Remember that entry to any foreign country is generally at the discretion of the border guard.

How to enter Australia with a record

If you are denied an ETA, or you already know you are not eligible given the length of your sentence, you should apply for a normal tourist visa. While this takes longer, it gives the authorities a chance to investigate the details of your application and make a decision based on all factors, such as the seriousness, the amount of time that has passed and your intentions in visiting the country.

If your visa is denied based on the nature of your criminal record, you will not be able to apply again.

A pardon can help support your application for a tourist visa to Australia. If you are eligible for a pardon it is strongly recommended that you apply in order to increase your chances of hassle-free travel. You will still need to declare your record, but they will take the pardon into consideration along with all the other relevant factors. A pardon means that your background has been thoroughly investigated by Canadian authorities and they have determined that you are rehabilitated.

Currently, a pardon in Canada is called a Record Suspension. If you are interested in travelling with a DUI or other criminal record, a Record Suspension can support your application for a visa. Contact us today for a free consultation about how a Record Suspension can help you travel at 1-866-972-7366.