Cruising from, to or through Canada- A DUI or Other Conviction May Deem You Inadmissible to Canada

Canada is an exciting country to explore from coast to coast, boasting several cruise destinations that are bustling with activity.  Cruising hotspots include cities like Vancouver, St. John’s and Halifax, where visitors are introduced to Canada’s culture and breath-taking landscapes. What may come as a surprise to many is that a past criminal offence may make a non-Canadian passenger inadmissible to Canada, which will prevent them from entering the country.

Unfortunately, cruise lines often neglect to inform travellers about the possibility of denied entry, which results in different consequences depending on the cruise’s travel itinerary and its destinations of departure and arrival.

If your ship is departing from a Canadian port and you are found to be inadmissible to Canada by a Canadian immigration officer, you may be denied entry at the border, miss your ship’s departure, and receive no refund from the cruise line. Travellers may also be affected if their cruise itinerary incorporates visits to Canadian ports. Canadian immigration officers may not allow inadmissible individuals to come ashore onto Canadian destinations, thus these passengers are required to forego the excursion. Finally, if your cruise concludes at a Canadian port and you are inadmissible to Canada, you may be required to depart immediately on the first flight available at your own expense.

A Canadian immigration infographic exploring the implications for inadmissible individuals travelliing on Canadian Cruises
An infographic explaining the implications for individuals with criminal records travelling on cruises to Canada.

“What will make me inadmissible?”

In Canadian law there is no distinction between misdemeanours and felonies, therefore even a misdemeanour may prevent an individual from entering Canada. If the person’s conviction is equivalent to a federal offence under the Canadian Criminal Code, they will be inadmissible to Canada.

A common conviction that creates issues of inadmissibility for travellers is a DUI. Because driving under the influence is a federal offence in Canada, individuals with one DUI are inadmissible to Canada even if the offence occurred 8 years ago. Bearing this in mind, one reckless driving charge in the US may be considered as a serious federal offence in Canada.

What you do not want to miss out on!

Canada-bound cruises stop at some of the country’s greatest coastal cities. It would be a shame to miss out on exhilarating adventures in these destinations:

Located in the province of British Columbia on the west coast of Canada, Vancouver sits happily between the Pacific Ocean and the picturesque Rocky Mountains. Interesting activities include lounging on one of the city’s many beaches, paying visits to the Olympic flame cauldron from the 2010 winter Olympics, and observing the magnificent art-deco architecture of the Vancouver Marine Building. The city also receives recognition for its ethnic diversity, attributable in part to the steady influx of newcomers to Canada each year.   Finally, Vancouver is home to many parks, boutiques, and the second-largest Chinatown in North America next to San Francisco.

St. John’s
The oldest English-founded city in North America is located in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador on the Atlantic coast. The city boasts beautiful landscapes and invites visitors to participate in several outdoor activities including whale and iceberg-viewing (in season). Enjoy afternoon tea at the Anglican Cathedral of St. John Baptist or stroll through Bannerman Park in the historical downtown area. There is much to see and do around this old maritime city.

A must-visit port for Canada-New England itineraries! Passengers are welcomed by bagpipes and a traditional greeting performed by the 78th Highlanders. Halifax is located in the province of Nova Scotia on the Atlantic coast and hosts a wonderful selection of intimate music venues, friendly locals and great restaurants where you can enjoy the catch of the day.

Do not despair if you are inadmissible and you have already booked your trip

Even if you are inadmissible, steps can be taken to allow you to enter Canada.  Applying for a temporary resident permit (TRP) or Criminal Rehabilitation will resolve inadmissibility issues to Canada. Given that a thorough knowledge of Canadian law exponentially increases the chances of an applicant’s success, retaining the services of a Canadian immigration lawyer will equip you with the legal expertise in order to overcome denied entry to Canada on the basis of criminality, especially if you have already booked your cruise.

Temporary Resident Permit (TRP)

This permit will allow an inadmissible individual to enter Canada for a specific period of time. TRPs grant temporary access to Canada on a one-time basis and an individual must actively request an approval for temporary resident permits at the border. Canadian immigration officers will assess whether the applicant has a significant reason for entering Canada. If less than five years have elapsed since completing the sentence for your criminal conviction, you will be required to apply for a temporary resident permit in order to successfully enter Canada for your cruise.

Criminal Rehabilitation

This is a process during which inadmissible individuals request the Canadian government to absolve them of their denied entry to Canada on a permanent, rather than temporary basis. Once approved, the past conviction will no longer prevent the individual from entering Canada and they will be able to cross the border freely. In order to be eligible for criminal rehabilitation 5 years must have passed since the completion of your sentence if you are inadmissible to Canada.

About the Authour 
Sarah Mae Dalgleish is a content writer and marketing intern at FWCanada Immigration Law Firm in Montreal, Canada. Presently, she is studying International Business, French and Spanish at McGill University.

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