Crimes That Will Make You Inadmissible To Canada

Canadian Immigration Entry Graphic

If you plan to visit Canada, it is crucial to understand the country’s rules and regulations before attempting to cross its borders. Understanding Canadian immigration law and entry requirements is particularly vital for individuals with a criminal record, as their past offenses could result in them being denied entry. This article will examine some crimes that make an individual inadmissible to Canada. In short, serious and indictable offenses will make you inadmissible to Canada. Before delving into specific offenses, we’ll distinguish between serious and non-serious crimes.

Serious vs. Non-Serious Criminality

In Canadian law, there are two categories of criminal offences: serious crimes and non-serious crimes. Serious crimes, also known as indictable offenses, are considered more severe and pose a more significant threat to public safety. Examples include DUIs, sexual assault, drug trafficking, and robbery. Convictions for serious crimes can result in being denied entry into Canada.

Non-serious crimes, also called summary offenses or petty crimes, are less severe in nature. These offenses often carry lesser penalties. Examples include public intoxication, loitering, minor theft, or certain traffic violations. While non-serious crimes may still have legal consequences, they are generally viewed as less significant and may not impact an individual’s admissibility to Canada.

Moreover, Canadian law may classify certain crimes differently from the country where they originated, even if those offenses are considered minor in the originating country. When individuals enter Canada, the border authorities conduct a thorough security screening, which includes reviewing the person’s past offenses, such as arrests, warrants, pending charges, convictions, and even misdemeanors from their home country. Thus, we advise all prospective visitors with a prior conviction to familiarize themselves with how Canada views their criminal record.

Indictable vs. Hybrid Offenses

According to the Criminal Code, indictable offenses are considered the most serious criminal convictions and carry significant penalties. On the other hand, hybrid offenses have indictable and summary offenses (non-serious) characteristics.

Individuals sentenced to an indictable offense must apply for specific permits to enter Canada. Canadian border agents may defer to a higher authority for hybrid offenses to determine how the crime should be classified. In such cases, a Crown Prosecutor is responsible for deciding whether to proceed with the offense “summarily” or by “indictment.” The decision is based on the severity of the crime and the individual’s prior convictions.

“Indictable Offenses” are deemed the most serious according to the Criminal Code. Individuals with a history of being sentenced for a crime falling under this category must apply for specific permits to gain entry into Canada.

Crimes that Make You Inadmissible to Canada

At this point, you may be curious about what factors in your criminal history make you ineligible to enter Canada. Generally, unless your convictions fall under the category of “Summary Offenses,” most convictions will result in you being considered inadmissible. However, there are avenues to enter Canada still and overcome inadmissibility—namely, Temporary Residence Permits and Criminal Rehabilitation.

Serious Criminal Offenses

Indictable offenses are the most serious crimes under Canadian Law and typically carry sentences ranging from 10 years to life imprisonment, making individuals criminally inadmissible to Canada. Let’s explore some offenses falling under this classification, as each will result in your inadmissibility to Canada.

Offenses Involving Vehicles

Generally, offenses committed while operating a vehicle are considered serious offenses. This applies not only to land vehicles but also includes criminal behavior involving boats and aircraft of all sizes. Examples of such offenses are:

  • Driving Under the Influence (DUI)
  • Vehicular Manslaughter
  • Hit and Run
  • Reckless Driving
  • Driving While Impaired

Canadian immigration authorities consider these offenses serious and can deny entry to individuals with such convictions.

Offenses Involving Drugs

While Canada has legalized recreational marijuana, visitors with a criminal conviction related to drugs, including cannabis, will still be considered inadmissible to Canada. Common examples of these offenses include:

  • Possession with Intent to Distribute
  • Drug Manufacturing or Cultivation
  • Drug Trafficking
  • Drug Possession

A Canadian immigration officer will review drug-related offenses carefully when determining admissibility.

Weapons Violations

Canada has strict regulations regarding firearms and other weapons. Carrying a weapon is generally prohibited, and even if the weapon itself is not illegal, an individual may be arrested if an officer perceives them as a potential risk to society. Concealment of weapons is also prohibited, regardless of whether the weapon has a license and registration certificate. Offenses in this category include:

  • Unauthorized possession
  • Illegal use of a firearm
  • Assault with a Weapon
  • Weapons Trafficking
  • Possession of a Restricted or Prohibited Firearm

Theft or Fraud

Theft and fraud encompass a wide range of crimes that are considered serious offenses. These crimes can involve misappropriating someone else’s property or mismanaging company funds for personal gain. While direct violence may be absent in most cases, some offenses, like extortion, can also be considered violent crimes under Canadian law. Examples of theft and fraud offenses include:

  • Money Laundering
  • Credit Card Fraud
  • Tax Evasion
  • Embezzlement
  • Extortion

Consulting a Canadian immigration lawyer can help individuals understand how these offenses impact their admissibility.


Crimes involving violence are considered severe and will make individuals with past convictions inadmissible to enter Canada unless their sentence was completed over ten years ago. While numerous crimes fall under this category, some frequently encountered by Canadian border authorities are:

  • Assault and Aggravated Assault
  • Kidnapping
  • Murder
  • Vehicular Manslaughter (voluntary or involuntary)
  • Rape

Please note that the crimes listed above are only a sample from each category and serve as references. They do not represent an exhaustive list of offenses that can make a visitor inadmissible to Canada. For further guidance on visiting Canada with a criminal record, it is recommended to consult with professionals.

How Dogen Law Can Help

If you’re planning to visit Canada but have past convictions that could make you inadmissible, seeking guidance from an immigration lawyer can significantly simplify the entry process. At Dogen Law, we have extensive experience helping clients navigate the various legal pathways to enter and stay in Canada. Our team can assist you with applications for Temporary Residence Permits and Criminal Rehabilitation to help you overcome criminal inadmissibility to Canada and provide advice on the best program for your situation.

Further Reading

Gain deeper insights into criminal rehabilitation, temporary resident permits, and overcoming criminal inadmissibility to Canada by reading our articles below:

Assault Charges

Border Checks, Criminal Inadmissibility, and Expunged Records

Criminal Rehabilitation & Temporary Resident Permits

DUI Resources

Felony Resources