Theft Conviction: Can you enter Canada?

If you have a theft conviction outside of Canada you are inadmissible to enter Canada for at least ten years. It does not matter if your conviction is a misdemeanor or a felony. However, you may be eligible for a special application to enter Canada.

Why can’t I enter Canada with a misdemeanor?

In Canada, there is no designation of misdemeanor or felony. The closest Canadian law comes to this is the distinction between “summary” and “indictable”. A theft charge could be tried as either summary or indictable in Canada. However, if you are coming to Canada with a theft conviction from outside of Canada, it will be judged under the indictable standard, which is roughly equivalent to a felony.

Canada has two main types of theft charges: theft under $5,000 and theft over $5,000. Both of these are hybrid offences. The main difference is the maximum penalties if tried in Canada.

Getting a Temporary Resident Permit with a theft conviction

Man looking at Toronto skylineA Temporary Resident Permit (TRP) is a temporary waiver that allows you to enter Canada for a specific purpose. You can apply for a TRP at the border or airport or at the Canadian Consulate. In most cases, applying at the Consulate is the better option because it has a higher approval rate.

For the purpose of entering Canada with a theft charge, your primary concern will be getting your application approved, which is up to the discretion of the officer. At the border or airport customs, you have a greater chance of being denied. The main things the officer will consider are:

  • Your reasons for travel
  • The seriousness of the offence (This is where the value of the goods might come into consideration)
  • The number of offences
  • The amount of time that has passed since the offence
  • Evidence of rehabilitation (Educational programs, life skills, restitution, gainful employment, counselling, references, etc.)

Border or airport applications are not recommended if you have serious, recent convictions. As well, they are not usually recommended for vacations. You have a better chance of crossing the border if you have an important reason for travel such as work or a family emergency. If your application is denied, you will be turned away and lose all the money you spent on your trip.

Getting a permanent waiver

Man writing in notebookFive years after the completion of your sentence you can apply for “Criminal Rehabilitation”. This is a permanent solution that allows you to cross the border without having to apply each time. This takes longer than a TRP, so many people will make both applications at the same time if they are qualified. This way they can enter for their planned trip and overcome their inadmissibility in the long term.

Deemed Rehabilitation

Ten years after the completion of your sentence, you may be deemed rehabilitated. This means that you don’t need to make a special application. However, you may need your court documents and proof that your sentence is complete.

If you are interested in entering Canada with a theft charge or any other type of criminal record, contact AllCleared for a free consultation at 1-866-972-7366.

Are you eligible?

To find out more about your eligibility to enter Canada with a DUI or other criminal record, download our free checklist. By downloading this resource, you are subscribing to our newsletter. You can unsubscribe at any time.

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