dui and international travel


*****Disclaimer: Holloway & Hulling attorneys are licensed in the State of Montana and are not licensed in any province or part of Canada, Mexico, Europe, Australia, or Asia. This blog post is for informational purposes only and not to be taken as legal advice. If you are concerned about whether you can legally visit any particular country, please contact a licensed attorney in that country/jurisdiction*****

If you are facing a DUI charge in the State of Montana, or any criminal charge for that matter, you should consider having a consultation with a licensed attorney in this state.

There are many collateral consequences of a DUI, and for our closest neighbor, Canada, one of them could be that you are denied entry.

This prohibition against those who have been convicted of a DUI can last for years and even up to or over a decade, even for a 1st offense.

These types of collateral consequences, in addition to the typical criminal punishments individuals receive with a DUI conviction demonstrate how important it is to take your charge seriously.

As a result we‘ll delve into the intersection of DUI’s and international travel, shedding light on how such a conviction can impact your ability to journey into different countries and regions around the world.

In addition, we will provide some tips on what you can do if you already have a DUI conviction and are planning on traveling internationally.

As our closest foreign neighbor, many people who receive a DUI conviction in Montana will consider traveling to Canada. In no way does this become impossible, but there may be added permissions which need to be granted in order for this travel to be possible.

According to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website, entrance into Canada “may or may not be allowed” to people with a DUI conviction.

Factors which affect this are the crime itself, how long ago it was committed, and the behavior of the convicted since the conviction. Dependent on these factors, you may still be allowed into Canada if:

  • You convince a Canadian immigration officer that you meet legal terms of being deemed rehabilitated, or
  • You apply for rehabilitation and are approved, or
  • You were granted a record suspension, or
  • You have a temporary resident permit.

Entering Canada and the United States with DUI offenses, Jun. 20, 2023, https://help.cbp.gov/s/article/Article-402?language=en_US.

Entering Canada and the United States with DUI offenses, Jun. 20, 2023, https://help.cbp.gov/s/article/Article-402?language=en_US.

Deemed rehabilitation under Canadian law means that enough time has passed since your conviction in order to make it non-barrable for entry into Canada. Individual rehabilitation can be applied for in order to enter Canada.

In order to apply for individual rehabilitation, you must show that: you meet the criteria showing rehabilitation and be highly unlikely to commit further crimes. In addition, five years have to have passed since the end of your criminal sentence (with probation) and the day of the offense which made you inadmissible.

If you have received a record suspension you can check with the U.S. visa office in order to see if the suspension would be valid in Canada.

To receive more information on what these factors exactly entail you can visit: https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/services/immigrate-canada/inadmissibility/overcome-criminal-convictions.html#a3

If you are planning on traveling to Canada, have a DUI conviction, and need more information on applying for the waiver process or have other questions requiring admissibility, you can contact the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) at (506) 636-5064 or (204) 983-3500. You can also visit their website at http://cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/contact/bis-sif-eng.html.

How a DUI Conviction Can Affect Travel Into Mexico

You may still be able to travel to Mexico if you have a DUI misdemeanor conviction. A Mexican immigration officer can deny a foreigner entry into Mexico if they have been charged with a “serious crime” in Mexico or elsewhere.

Examples of serious crimes are murder, robbery, terrorism, extortion, crimes against the environment, and drug-related crimes.

However, if you have a serious DUI charge such as a felony DUI, a Mexican border agent could deny your entry into Mexico. Visit our blog post “Possible Penalties for DUI in Montana” for more information on felony DUIs. 

How a DUI Conviction Can Affect Travel Into Europe

The European Union (EU) does not prohibit the entry of people with a DUI conviction into EU member nations. This is because DUIs are not considered a prohibited offense. Countries within the Schengen region, all which are part of the EU, are bound by the Schengen Agreement which also allows for free travel within member countries as long as a visa holder is granted entry and approval when they arrive in the EU.

Overcome Criminal Convictions, Aug. 1, 2015, https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/services/immigrate-canada/inadmissibility/overcome-criminal-convictions.html#a3

Entry Requirements, Nov, 25, 2020, https://embamex.sre.gob.mx/canada/index.php/en/notices/11506-entryrequirements

Schengen Area, https://home-affairs.ec.europa.eu/policies/schengen-borders-and-visa/schengen-area_en

How a DUI Conviction Can Affect Travel Into Australia

Australia may deny entry based on your criminal record. Included in these possible denial factors are:

  • Having a substantial criminal record which entails a sentenced term of 12 months or more, 2 or more terms of 12 months or more, and more serious sentences. 
  • Having a past or present criminal or general conduct which shows that you are not of good character.
  • Etc.

Based on this criterion, a DUI conviction should not greatly affect your ability to travel into Australia. If you have a DUI conviction and wish to travel to Australia complete the visa process truthfully as “all circumstances of a case” are considered.

How a DUI Conviction Can Affect Travel Into China and Japan

While not the case for all countries within Asia, criminal convictions may pose a problem when traveling to China and Japan. 


Immigration law in Japan outlines crimes which exclude someone from entering the country. Those having a conviction “of a violation of any law or regulation of Japan, or of any other country, and has been sentenced to imprisonment with or without work for 1 year or more, or to an equivalent penalty.”

As with the immigration laws in other countries, this would likely not exclude you from entering into Japan with a misdemeanor DUI conviction. Felony DUIs may lead to further analysis of the Japanese entry requirements, and most likely would present an impediment to entry. 


China has similar immigration law to Japan and may allow entry with a DUI conviction based on the length of their sentence. 

The Role of Interpol

The International Criminal Police Organization or INTERPOL helps share criminal data across many countries including the U.S., Mexico, and Canada. This data sharing helps give immigrations officers learn of past DUI conviction(s) with the use of background checks.

Character Requirements for Visas, Oct. 5, 2023, https://immi.homeaffairs.gov.au/help-support/meeting-our-requirements/character

Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act Cabinet Order No. 319, https://www.cas.go.jp/jp/seisaku/hourei/data/icrra.pdf

What is INTERPOL?, https://www.interpol.int/en/Who-we-are/What-is-INTERPOL

Overall, a DUI conviction will most likely not completely bar you from being able to travel internationally. Use your due diligence to make sure you meet all legal requirements and disclosures for international travel if you do have a DUI conviction on your record.

Ultimately if you are unsure whether you would be able to travel internationally based on your criminal history or a pending charge, it is best to contact an attorney in the jurisdiction that you seek to travel to and that has a specialty in this area of law.

If you have any further questions regarding this issue or others, or for a list of possible referrals for Canadian entry, feel free to contact our office.