Yes, a Record Suspension is the same as a pardon. Until the government of Canada changed the name in 2012, a record suspension was called a pardon. The RCMP refers to a record suspension on its website as “formerly called pardon.” While in many materials you may see the words “pardon” and “Record Suspension” used interchangeably, you can assume they are the same thing.

In 2012, the government introduced many changes to the process of obtaining a pardon. They increased the waiting period to apply for pardons of both summary conviction and indictable offences and made new rules about who is eligible to receive a Record Suspension.

While a pardon implies your criminal record is free and clear, in actual fact, the contents of your record are just set apart for the purpose of most background checks. If you want to visit the US or travel abroad, you will probably have to disclose your criminal history. To go to the United States, you may want to consider obtaining a US Entry Waiver.

Since a criminal record can have a huge impact on your quality of life, from obtaining employment and housing to travelling freely, don’t be afraid to ask for help to obtain a pardon. Someone who knows the system can go a long way in reducing the burden on you and your loved ones as you try to move forward.