Information sharing is a question that comes up a lot when travelling with a criminal record. Unfortunately, the US and Canada do share information about criminal records.
There are two main databases that US and Canadian citizens need to be concerned about:
CPIC: This is the database that contains Canadian criminal convictions
NCIC: This database contains US criminal convictions
Due to information sharing agreements, border officials on both sides can search these databases. This is more likely to happen at secondary screening. It takes some time to perform a search. While you are waiting for the officers to search your trunk, another officer is likely at his or her desk running your name through the system. This is why many people with records will tell you that they have had no problem crossing the border. In reality, they haven’t yet been referred to the secondary screening. Most regular travellers have been sent to secondary screening at some point. If you haven’t been pulled over, it’s only a matter of time.
Information sharing can stop you at the border
Also, keep in mind that you could be accused of misrepresentation if you try to cross the border with a conviction. The other downsides if you do get flagged are:
- Losing out on your vacation bookings, reservations and tickets
- Spending hours in secondary screening
- Facing embarrassment in front of the friends, family or colleagues travelling with you
Overcoming a refused entry to USA / Canada
Once you have been flagged and told you are inadmissible, you cannot go back until you obtain a:
US Entry Waiver: For Canadians with a criminal record to enter the United States.
TRP: A temporary solution for Americans wanting to enter Canada for a particular purpose.
Criminal Rehabilitation: An application that is available five years from the sentence end. This would allow an American with a record to enter Canada freely as long as there are no further charges.
Deemed Rehabilitation: A status reached 10 years after your sentence ended if you only have one indictable offence (with a sentence of less than 10 years) or only summary offences.
Note: Canada will evaluate your offence on the Criminal Code of Canada. Our free consultation can help you determine whether your offence is summary or indictable.
Once you are flagged, your record will show up at the primary screening level. This will advise the officer that you need a waiver to enter.
Can a pardon hide your conviction at the border?
Unfortunately, the two countries do not recognize each other’s pardons or Record Suspension processes.
A pardon, expungement, or Canadian Record Suspension will usually oblige the police agencies to seal your record and remove it from their databases. However, there is no requirement for border officials to do so.
If you have a criminal record that makes you inadmissible you must get a waiver in order to cross the border.
To learn more about US Entry Waivers and Canadian Waivers, contact us for a free consultation at 1-866-972-7366.