Dui Travel: International Travel Restrictions

can I travel abroad with a dui

A DUI conviction can impact your ability to travel abroad. While the consequences of a DUI are usually focused on within the country where the conviction took place, it can also affect your ability to enter other countries. Many countries refuse to admit those with DUI/DWI convictions, even for short vacations. For example, Canada treats all DUIs as felony charges, and those with a DUI on their record will likely not be allowed to enter for at least 10 years. Mexico also refuses entry to foreigners with drunk driving convictions within the past 10 years, as the country considers a DUI an indictable offense similar to a felony. Other countries that may deny entry to those with a DUI include China, Japan, Malaysia, the United Arab Emirates, Iran, South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand.

Characteristics Values
Countries that can be travelled to with a DUI European Union countries, United Kingdom, Colombia, Thailand, Indonesia, South Korea, Borneo, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, United Arab Emirates, Turkey, South Africa, Tunisia, Northern African countries
Countries that cannot be travelled to with a DUI Canada, Mexico, China, Japan, Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand, Iran


Entry to Canada with a DUI

A DUI (Driving Under the Influence) is considered a serious crime in Canada and can render a foreign national inadmissible on grounds of criminality. If you have a DUI on your record, you may be denied entry to Canada, even if it was a misdemeanor or felony offence in your home country. This is because Canada does not classify offences as misdemeanours and felonies; instead, they are classified as summary or indictable offences. A DUI is considered a hybrid offence in Canada, which means that the Crown attorney can elect to prosecute it as a summary or an indictable offence.

If you have a DUI on your record and wish to enter Canada, you must demonstrate that you have a valid Temporary Resident Permit (TRP) or are Criminally Rehabilitated. A TRP allows you to enter or stay in Canada for a specific period, provided you have a valid reason to visit. However, it comes with various conditions and restrictions, such as not being allowed to work or study without a permit. Criminal Rehabilitation, on the other hand, is a permanent solution that waives your inadmissibility to Canada. To be eligible for Criminal Rehabilitation, five years must have passed since the completion of your sentence, including any fines, community service, classes, or probation.

If you have a DUI on your record and wish to enter Canada, it is recommended that you consult a Canadian immigration lawyer to determine your options and assist you with the application process. Obtaining permission to enter Canada with a DUI can be a complex legal process, and incorrect or incomplete applications may result in denial of entry.

Additional Information:

  • Canada has front-line access to the National Crime Information Centre database, making it easy for border agents to detect American offences.
  • If you have a DUI on your record and are travelling with others, they may find out about your DUI if you have a valid TRP, as you must present this application at the border or customs.
  • If you are deemed inadmissible to Canada due to a DUI, your family members travelling with you may also be considered inadmissible and may or may not be issued a TRP at the discretion of a border officer.
  • If you have been arrested or charged with a DUI but not convicted, you may still be denied entry to Canada as there is no presumption of innocence at the Canadian border.
  • If your DUI charges were dropped or fully dismissed without a conviction, you may be able to enter Canada by providing evidence at the border.
  • If you have a DUI on your record and are entering Canada by air, you must present a valid TRP. For those outside the US, the only way to enter Canada is to fly into the US and then drive to the Canadian border with a TRP.
  • If you have multiple DUIs on your record, it may be more difficult to obtain a TRP or Criminal Rehabilitation as it will be harder to convince officials that you have reformed.
  • If it has been less than five years since your DUI, you must complete the conditions of your sentence, such as probation, before applying for a TRP.
  • If you have a single, non-violent DUI offence and can demonstrate significant steps towards rehabilitation, you are likely to be accepted for Criminal Rehabilitation.
  • Canada does not prohibit anyone with a DUI from entering the country. If an individual obtains a TRP or Criminal Rehabilitation, they will be allowed entry.


Entry to the US with a DUI

Although a single DUI is not a separate ground for inadmissibility to the US, it could lead the US consulate to refer the visa applicant to a civil surgeon for an evaluation concerning alcohol abuse. This is because a DUI or DWI could supply evidence of harmful behaviour.

If you are applying for an immigrant visa, you must pass an official medical exam with a civil surgeon in your country. One of the things the doctor will be looking at is whether the visa applicant might be an alcohol abuser. If you are pursuing a nonimmigrant, temporary visa, it is likely that the US consulate in your home country will refer you to a civil surgeon for evaluation before making a decision on your visa application if there has been:

  • A single alcohol-related arrest or conviction within the last five years
  • Two or more alcohol-related arrests or convictions within the last ten years
  • Other evidence to suggest an alcohol problem

If you are found inadmissible, you may apply for a waiver to enter the US.

US Entry Waiver

US citizens with a DUI conviction typically cannot enter Canada without special permission. However, Canadians can still enter the US with a DUI. Even if your DUI involved property damage or personal injury, or if you have multiple drunk driving charges on your record, you will usually still be eligible to travel to the US. Normally, having two or more summary convictions would disqualify an individual from being eligible to travel to the US, but DUIs are explicitly excluded from counting towards this rule. If you have any other criminal history, however, even if the conviction took place decades ago, you will likely be deemed inadmissible to the US and will need a US Entry Waiver to travel there.


Entry to Mexico with a DUI


Mexico's immigration laws may prevent anyone with a DUI from entering the country for up to 10 years. However, enforcement is not consistent and some people are able to enter Mexico with a recent DUI, while others with an older DUI may be refused entry.

Mexican Law

According to Article 37 of Mexico's General Law of Population, violations of domestic laws in a person's home country are grounds to deny that person entry into Mexico. Under Mexican law, a DUI is treated like a felony.

Border Checks

Depending on the border crossing, time of day, day of the week, and even the individual immigration officials, a U.S. citizen visiting Mexico may be subject to little to no immigration checks. Immigration may consist of quickly flashing a U.S. passport with no cross-referencing of the visitor's criminal record. However, immigration officials have the authority to conduct a much more in-depth immigration check, which could include asking about criminal convictions and background checks.

Anecdotal Evidence

There are many anecdotal reports of people with DUIs entering Mexico with no problems. However, it is important to note that being denied entry is always a possibility.

Official Sources

The U.S. Department of State states that "U.S. citizens should be aware that Mexican law permits Mexican immigration authorities to deny foreigners entry into Mexico if they have been charged with or convicted of a serious crime in Mexico or elsewhere."


Entry to the UAE with a DUI

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a Muslim country with a stern view on alcohol consumption. While there are no specific laws banning travellers with a DUI from entering the country, gaining entry may be challenging. Ultimately, it is up to the discretion of the immigration officer.

The UAE has a zero-tolerance policy for drinking and driving. The legal blood alcohol content (BAC) limit in the UAE is zero, so even a tiny amount of alcohol in your system can have serious consequences. If you are caught driving under the influence, you may face legal consequences.

Some travellers with a DUI have reported being able to enter the UAE without any issues, while others have expressed concern that their record may affect their ability to obtain a work visa or pass through immigration. If you are planning to travel to the UAE with a DUI, it is recommended to contact the UAE embassy or consulate in your country for specific information and advice.

Tips for Travelling to the UAE with a DUI:

  • Research the latest UAE laws and regulations regarding DUI convictions and entry requirements.
  • Consult with a legal professional specialising in DUI cases for guidance.
  • Be prepared for increased scrutiny at border crossings and airports. Border officials may ask about your criminal record and you may be subject to additional searches and questioning.
  • Consider contacting the UAE embassy or consulate in your country for advice and to inquire about any special permits or waivers that may be required.
  • Be honest and transparent about your DUI conviction if asked. Lying or hiding information can often lead to more severe consequences than the underlying offence.


Entry to Australia with a DUI

If you have a DUI and are planning a trip to Australia, you may be denied entry or required to provide special documentation.

Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA)

Most Canadians can enter Australia with an ETA, but if you have a recent DUI, you may not be able to get one. An ETA is a simple travel authorisation that allows tourists to enter Australia for up to three months and is valid for 12 months. It is important to note that even if you are granted an ETA, you could still be denied entry upon arrival in Australia.

Tourist Visa

If you are denied an ETA or are ineligible due to the length of your sentence, you should apply for a normal tourist visa. This process takes longer but gives the authorities a chance to investigate the details of your application, such as the seriousness of the crime, the amount of time that has passed, and your intentions for visiting the country. If your visa is denied based on your criminal record, you will not be able to apply again.

Pardon/Record Suspension

A pardon or record suspension can support your application for a tourist visa. If eligible, it is recommended that you apply for one to increase your chances of hassle-free travel. While you will still need to declare your record, the authorities will take the pardon into consideration. In Canada, a pardon is called a Record Suspension, which indicates that the authorities have determined that you are rehabilitated.

Travel Waiver

If you have a DUI, your best option may be to apply for a travel waiver. This will increase your chances of being granted entry into Australia.

Frequently asked questions

No, Canada treats all DUIs as felony charges and restricts anyone with a DUI from entering the country for at least five years.

It depends on the border officer. Mexico's Immigration Act considers a DUI an indictable offense, similar to a felony, and felons are prohibited from entering. However, Mexican border guards have been known to let travelers pass through with little scrutiny.

No specific laws prevent travelers with a DUI from entering the UAE, but alcohol-related offenses are frowned upon and may make entry more difficult depending on the individual immigration officer.

As a US citizen, entering Iran is already difficult. Although Iran does not have access to your criminal record, you must undergo a "good conduct screening" and disclose your history with alcohol and related convictions. Admitting to a DUI will likely result in the immigration officer denying you entrance.

Yes, the EU does not consider DUIs a prohibited offense.

Written by
Reviewed by
Share this post
Did this article help you?

Leave a comment