DWI Checkpoint in New Haven, CT by http://www.flickr.com/photos/versageek/

DWI Checkpoint by versageek / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

If you have been convicted of DUI (Driving Under the Influence) or DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) charge in the last ten years, or more than once ten years ago or longer, you are what is known as “criminally inadmissible to Canada.” This means that if you try to enter Canada from the USA or any other country with these convictions on your criminal record, you will almost certainly be refused entry into the country.

Of course this restriction also applies to other criminal convictions as well - both felonies and misdemeanors will keep you out of Canada.

When you come to the border to enter Canada, the customs officer will frequently ask if you have ever been convicted of a crime. Keep in mind that even small or minor crimes still count, and it is misrepresentation (a federal crime) to lie to a border officer. For this reason it is better to tell the truth if you have any criminal convictions. It is at the officer’s discretion whether to admit you to Canada or determine that you are inadmissible.

Also keep in mind that Canadian border officers can almost always see any convictions in your criminal record when they scan your passport because of information sharing agreements between the US and Canada.

Even if you are told that you are inadmissible to Canada, there is a solution. If you need to enter Canada but have a criminal conviction, you have to apply for a Temporary Resident Permit (TRP) in order to enter the country. You can apply for a TRP at the point of entry (land or sea border, or airport customs), or you can also apply by submitting your application to the Canadian consulate in your country of residence.

If you have only had one DUI or DWI conviction which is older than 10 years, you are “deemed rehabilitated”, and you do not need a TRP to enter Canada.

A TRP is a temporary document and you have to apply for a new one every time you enter Canada. However, you may also be able to apply for criminal rehabilitation, which is a permanent solution to being denied entry to Canada. If you become rehabilitated, you will never need to apply for another TRP to enter Canada even if you have been convicted of a DUI or DWI in the past.

The cost of a TRP is $400 for the government application fee, and the cost for a criminal rehabilitation application is $200 - $1000 depending on the crime for the government application fee. If you hire an immigration professional such as a consultant or lawyer to help with your application, they will charge you legal fees inaddition to the government application fees.

Tips for entering Canada with a DUI or DWI

·    Do not lie to the border officer
·    If you have been convicted of a DUI, DWI, or other crime, you are almost always inadmissible to Canada
·    Even if you are criminally rehabilitated, you are not guaranteed entry to Canada – it is at the discretion of the border officer to deny entry to anyone who is not a Canadian citizen
·    If you are not criminally rehabilitated, you have to apply for a new TRP every time you want to enter Canada.
·    If you would normally need a visitor visa to enter Canada, you must still have one even if you are granted a TRP


TRP (Temporary Resident Permit) – A document that is issued to someone who is inadmissible to Canada which will allow them to enter Canada one time.

Criminal Rehabilitation – The process of eliminating the reason that you are inadmissible to Canada such as a criminal conviction.

DUI (Driving Under the Influence) or DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) – Criminal charges that can prevent you from entering Canada even from the USA if you have been convicted.

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