U.S. Tourists with DUI Convictions Cannot Enter Canada

by baronedefensefirm on September 21, 2009

According to The Daily News and the Seattle Times – United States Citizens with drunk driving convictions will be denied entry into Canada.

This practice has expanded post-9/11 because the U.S. and Canada now do a better job sharing computer information.

Like Seattle, Detroit is very close to Canada, and because of this we at the Barone Defense Firm always ask our clients if they travel to Canada for business or pleasure. 

We want our clients to know about this collateral consequence before they consider pleading guilty to any drunk driving crime.  In Michigan this might include OWI, OWVI, OUIL, UBAL and any of the enhanced crimes such as OWI Causing Death or Serious Injury.

We have also published on this topic previously and have done so to inform the public.

However, even with a prior DUI there are ways to gain admittance to Canada.  According to the TDN.com article:

Getting right with Canada

There are three ways to get admitted into Canada once you’ve been convicted of a DUI. But you have to be prepared for lots of hassles, paperwork, fees and months of waiting for the Canadian bureaucracy to process your application.

  1. If the completion of your DUI sentence is less than 5 years old, the only way to get into Canada is with a temporary resident permit, which costs $200 Canadian. (Having had your DUI knocked down from a gross misdemeanor to negligent or reckless driving can still prevent you from going to Canada.)

    You’ll need to show the reason for your visit is “urgent,” said Peter Lilius, immigration program manager for the Canadian Consulate in Seattle.

    A ski trip to Whistler is not deemed urgent. Think more along the lines of having an ill relative in Canada or an important business meeting you need to attend.

    Even then, being admitted is not guaranteed.

    The officers at the port of entry, said Lilius, “have the discretion.”

    Before driving to the border, you can click on the Seattle Canadian Consulate Web site at www.canadainternational.gc.ca/seattle.

    You can download an application for a temporary visit and either mail it in or bring it in person.

    “Processing times may be lengthy,” says the consulate.

    The Web site also contains frequently asked questions about visiting that country.

    2. If you completed your DUI sentence more than five years ago, you can apply for Approval of Rehabilitation. The nonrefundable fee is either $200 or $1,000 (Canadian), depending on the seriousness of your crime.

    The Canadians want proof “that you have a stable lifestyle and that it is unlikely that you will be involved in any further criminal activity.”

    It involves considerable paperwork. You will need to provide your FBI file. You will need to provide a “police certificate” of criminal history, if any, from every state in which you lived more than six months since age 18. You will need to explain each offense. You will have to provide dates and all your home addresses and places of employment since age 18.

    Processing time can take a year or more.

    But, if you’re approved, then you’ll no longer have problems at the border because of your past.

    3. If you have had only one DUI, and sentencing was completed more than 10 years ago, you can drive to the border with basically the paperwork for the Approval of Rehabilitation.

    A border officer can approve you on the spot, at no charge, and that past DUI will no longer be a problem when crossing the border.

    Again, it’s at the officer’s discretion.


This post was written by...

– who has written 203 posts on Michigan DUI and License Restoration Lawyers.

Patrick T. Barone is the author on two books on DUI defense including the well respected two volume treatise Defending Drinking Drivers (James Publishing), and The DUI Book – A Citizen’s Guide to Understanding DUI Litigation in America. He is also the author of a monthly DUI defense column for the Criminal Defense Newsletter, published by Michigan’s State Appellate Defender’s Office. Mr. Barone is an adjunct professor at the Thomas M. Cooley Law School where he teaches Drunk Driving Law and Practice. He is also on the faculty of the Criminal Defense Attorney’s of Michigan’s Trial Lawyer’s College where he provides trial skills training to Michigan’s criminal defense practitioners. Mr. Barone lectures nationally on various DUI defense topics, and he has appeared in newspapers, on television and on radio as a drunk driving defense expert. Mr. Barone has been certified as an instructor and practitioner of the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests and has also attended a 24-hour certification course at National Patent Analytical Corporation (the manufacturer of the DataMaster) and has thereby been deemed competent by the manufacturer to operate, perform essential diagnostic verifications and calibration checks on the DataMaster. Mr. Barone is a Sustaining Member of College for DUI Defense. Mr. Barone is the principal and founding member of The Barone Defense Firm, whose practice is limited exclusively to defending drinking drivers. The Firm is headquartered in Birmingham, Michigan.

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