Travelling with a record
Can I travel if I have a record?
A youth record doesn't affect travelling within Canada. But, it can stop you from travelling to other countries.
Some countries won't let you in, even for a visit, if you have a record.
Other countries can find out about your youth record
When your youth record is open, it's easier for other countries to find out about it.
Border officials from other countries aren't supposed to find out about youth records. But it's possible that they will find out that you have a youth record.
This is because the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) keep some youth records. And while they have them, they might share them. But the RCMP should only keep youth records that are open.
When your youth record is closed, the RCMP is supposed to take all information about your youth record out of their system. Then it's harder for other countries to find out about your youth record.
What if I want to travel outside of Canada?
The best thing is to not travel outside of Canada until you know your youth record is closed. There are rules about when youth records close.
Checking that your record is closed
When it comes time for your youth record to be closed, make sure the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) have taken information about your youth record out of their files.
If your record is no longer in the RCMP's files, other countries shouldn't be able to get it.
If you have to travel before your record is closed
Don't try to sneak into another country. If you're caught, you won't be able to get in, then or in the future.
And don't lie if the border official asks if you have a record. If they find out that you aren't telling the truth, they can refuse to let you in just because you lied.
Things you can do
There may be things you can do before your trip if your youth record is still open. For example, you may be able to get a special permit or waiver to enter another country. But you have to apply ahead of time for this and may have to pay a fee.
You need a lawyer who deals with youth criminal justice to help you decide what to do.
Will other countries close my record?
Once another country gets information about your youth record, it can keep that information forever.
It's only in Canada that the law says that your youth record has to be closed after a certain period of time. Other countries don't have to follow Canadian laws.
Travelling to the United States
Most countries have laws to keep people with criminal records out. Some countries are very strict about this. The United States is one of those countries.
The United States is especially strict about drugs. If an American border official finds out that you have a record for a drug crime, they probably won't let you in to the United States, even for a visit.
And there is always a chance that American border officials will get information about your youth record, especially if your record is still open.
You may not have a problem every time you try to enter the United States. But there's always a chance that you won't be able to get in.
The United States doesn't close youth records
Once American officials have information about your youth record in their files, the information stays there. And they can stop you from going into the country.
It doesn't matter that it's a youth record and not an adult record, or how long ago you got it. They keep the information, even if your record in Canada is closed.
(Reviewed August 2015)