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Criminal Inadmissibility and Canadian cruises

Cruise Lines and Criminal Inadmissibility to Canada

Entering Canada on a Temporary Resident Permit might be possible if you are criminally inadmissible

With the holidays here, many don’t realize that they might be criminally inadmissible to Canada. Among Canada’s most scenic ports of call, Vancouver, St. John’s, and Halifax are popular points of departure for holiday cruises that attract international passengers.

Amid all the vacation planning, however, it’s easy for non-Canadian travelers to overlook prior criminal offences that may render them criminally inadmissible to Canada. Being detained as a foreign national may seem unthinkable, but it is a real possibility if you have committed certain criminal infractions in the past. Cruise lines frequently neglect to brief their passengers about the risks of criminal inadmissibility to Canada, which can have varying outcomes for your voyage depending on its itinerary.

Border regulations are as strictly enforced for visitors as they are for immigrants. The laws still apply if you are briefly passing through Canada on a stopover or entering for an extended stay. For example, if you are an American citizen scheduled to embark from Vancouver on a cruise for Hawaii or Alaska, you must still travel in accordance with Canadian law, and could thus be denied entry to Canada for having a criminal record. This article will outline some of the major consequences and common causes of criminal inadmissibility, as well as your options in the event that you are deemed criminally inadmissible to Canada.

If you are a traveler with a criminal record, it may affect your voyage under such circumstances as the following:

  1. Your cruise is scheduled to depart from a Canadian port, and you are denied entry at the Canadian border. If you miss you the departure as a result, it is likely that the cruise line will not refund your fare.
  2. Your itinerary includes a Canadian port of call. In this case, you may be forbidden to come ashore, and will be forced to miss the voyage.
  3. The final stop of your cruise is at a Canadian port. In this event, you may be forced to leave the cruise at once on the first available flight, paying for your own fare.

Which offences will make you criminally inadmissible to Canada?

American travelers should note that the Canadian Criminal Code does not distinguish misdemeanours from felonies. Offences that render you criminally inadmissible to Canada include DUI, Drug Possession, Assault and Fraud. You can learn more about how to enter Canada with a DUI here. A single reckless driving charge from the United States may also mean that you are criminally inadmissible to Canada, and cannot enter Canada without special permission.

Before traveling, criminal record holders should determine whether or not they are criminally inadmissible to Canada.

What can you do if you are criminally inadmissible to Canada?

If you have already booked your cruise and subsequently discover that you are criminally inadmissible to Canada, you may still enter the country by successfully applying for a Temporary Resident Permit or Criminal Rehabilitation. These measures require advanced planning.  The expertise of a Canadian immigration lawyer will be helpful in determining your best course of action and securing the success of your application.

         Temporary Resident Permit  Criminal Rehabilitation
  • Required if fewer than five years have passed since the convicted offender completed the sentence
  • Enables temporary access to the country for one or more trips
  • Applicant must request TRP approval from A POE or consulate
  • Applications are assessed by Canadian Customs and Immigration, which considers the date and nature of the conviction, the sentencing, and the reason for entering the country
  • Applications are filed with the Canadian Consulate and may take 1-6 months to process


  • Applicants must have completed sentencing at least five years ago
  • Criminal inadmissibility is absolved on a permanent basis with no need for renewal
  • Successful applicants will be able to cross the border freely
  • If you are a one-time offender who completed your sentence at least a decade ago without further incident, you may be ‘deemed rehabilitated’
  • Applications for rehabilitation documents range from $200-$1,000 depending on the nature of your conviction, and take from 6 months to one year to process

Due to complicated Temporary Resident Permit and Criminal Rehabilitation application procedures and lengthy processing times, it is advisable to make arrangements to rectify criminal inadmissibility well in advance of travel.

Cruises bound for Canada or departing from Canada’s coastal cities are an exciting opportunity that you don’t want to miss out on.  Our Canadian immigration law firm has years of experience helping those who are criminally inadmissible to Canada. For more information about entering Canada with a criminal conviction, contact First Immigration Law Firm toll-free in North America @ 1-855-360-4333.