Enter Canada with a DUI: what you need to know before you book your trip
Many US citizens may be surprised to find out that having even one single DUI can prevent you from entering Canada. An offense of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs in the state of Illinois or elsewhere can cause you to be turned away at the Canadian border, and this regardless if you are crossing by land, by air or by sea.
No matter if you are an athlete, an artist, a pilot or a sales manager, the rules are the same: a DUI can render you inadmissible to enter Canada for whatever the reason of your trip may be. Similarly, even if you have a DUI and are planning to only transit through Canada from the US on your way to Europe and remain at a Canadian airport for only a few hours, or if you are simply driving through Canada to board an Alaskan cruise, you still fall under a category of persons who cannot freely enter Canada.
But, there are several solutions available to overcome such an obstacle. First, you may apply for a Temporary Resident Permit (TRP), which is a visa like authorization that will allow you to enter Canada with a DUI for a pre-specified period of time and as many times as necessary during the duration of the validity of the TRP. The TRP can be granted for business travel or for leisure and personal reasons. In addition, if your offenses occurred more than five (5) years ago and all of the conditions of your sentence were also satisfied over five (5) years ago, you may be eligible to apply for Criminal Rehabilitation, which, once approved, would allow you to travel to Canada as would be allowed any other person having no criminal convictions at all.
Finally, it’s important to know that if you had only one DUI from over ten (10) years ago and have completed all of the conditions of the conviction, you would be considered rehabilitated by the effect of time, and in some cases, may not need to apply for a TRP or for criminal rehabilitation at all.