Traveling Through Canada

Please be advised that the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative states that as early as January 1, 2008, ALL persons, including U.S. citizens, traveling between the U.S. and Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean, and Bermuda by Land or Sea (including ferries), are required to present a valid passport or other documents as determined by the Department of Homeland Security.

Who Can Enter Canada.
Most people assume, without question, that just about anyone can enter Canada. This is not true. The Canadian Customs and Immigration Officers have ultimate authority to permit and deny anyone entry to Canada. No one has an automatic right to enter Canada. However, most people if they have no criminal record are allowed entry. What if you have a criminal conviction?

Who Can’t Enter Canada.
In general, if you were convicted of an offence in Canada or outside of Canada that is considered a crime in Canada, you are considered to be criminally inadmissible to Canada. Offences involving operation of a motor vehicle while impaired by alcohol or drugs will, with very rare exceptions, render persons criminally inadmissible to Canada. To begin, in Canada a DUI is a felony and therefore an excludable offense under the Immigration Act. A DUI is an indictable offense in Canada that may be punished by imprisonment for up to a five year term. Anyone with a conviction in the U.S. that is treated as a felony or indictable offense in Canada is excludable from Canada, but even if the offense is not a felony or indictable offense in Canada, Customs and Immigration Officers have ultimate authority to permit and deny entry to Canada.

Almost all convictions (including DUI, DWI, reckless driving, negligent driving, misdemeanor drug possession, all felonies, domestic violence (assault IV), shoplifting, theft, etc) can make a person inadmissible to Canada, regardless of when they occurred. For this reason, it is not recommended that persons with past convictions attempt to enter Canada without first obtaining necessary documents. It is always the final decision of officers at ports of entry to decide whether a person should be allowed into Canada.

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