Changes to the entry requirements for Canada were implemented in March 2016. These changes mean that UK citizens need to apply for an Electronic Travel Authorisation (eTA) to fly or transit through Canada.
If you are not a UK citizen, check the Canadian Embassy website to find out if you need an eTA or visitors visa.

You can apply online for the eTA and, in most cases, your eTA will be approved within minutes of you completing the application. However, there is a question on the application form that asks:

Have you ever committed, been arrested for, been charged with or convicted of any criminal offence in any country?

The advice from the Canadian Embassy is that you should answer yes to this question if you have ever been arrested, charged with or convicted for a criminal offence in any country. There is also some space on the form to provide details and failure to provide sufficient details may delay the processing of your application.

If you answer ‘yes’ to the question, you will be asked to provide a Police Certificate and your court records within a 30-day period.

Under Canada’s immigration law, you may be refused entry to Canada if you have been convicted of a criminal offence. However, this will depend on the crime, how long ago it was and how you have behaved since. Your application may be granted if you:

  • convince an immigration officer that you meet the legal terms to be deemed rehabilitated
  • apply for rehabilitation and this has been approved
  • were granted a record suspension or
  • have a temporary resident permit.

If your convictions are spent under the terms of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974, you will be deemed rehabilitated for the purposes of entering Canada. This is following a decision made in the 1991 case of Canada (Minister of Employment and Immigration) v. Burgon.

If your convictions are spent, you do not need to apply for rehabilitation, but you should check that you are eligible to be considered as such before you travel. For more information on how to do this, please see here.

If you need to travel to Canada for a particular reason, you can apply for a temporary resident permit. For more information on how to do this, please see here.

If you wish to emigrate to Canada, you will need to provide a police certificate as part of your application.