Life following an arrest and subsequent conviction can be rather difficult as you try dealing with the outside world once again. From seeking gainful employment to looking for a place to stay, your criminal record continues to haunt you no matter how many years it has been since you’ve served your prison sentence. However, having your criminal record expunged – or more simply put, sealed and set aside – can provide you with a fresh start that that will help you if you decide to travel to another country, whether as part of your long-delayed vacation plans or for employment purposes. But before you start taking care of all your travel documents, here are some legal considerations to take note of:
- Not all countries would let you inside their borders even if you have an expunged criminal record.
You might initially think that having your previous criminal record expunged simply means that you can now travel to any country that you like.
- However, some countries like the United Kingdom, Ireland, China, Malaysia, and Japan don’t allow anyone with a past criminal record – whether expunged or not – to enter. That said, you might want to cancel any travel plans you have for those countries.
- Canada, on the other hand, is a bit more complicated. What could have been a relatively minor past criminal charge and the corresponding record that you have had expunged may still, in fact, turn out to render you inadmissible in the country. You may have to apply for either a temporary resident permit or a criminal rehabilitation certificate to gain entry to Canadian soil.
- Once you landed in the country that you’re visiting, you should still tell the immigration authorities there about your previous criminal record even if you already had it expunged.
Honesty is the best policy as the oft-quoted saying goes. So even if you’ve been trying hard to leave your less than exemplary past behind by having your criminal record expunged, you’ll still have to tell everything about it to the immigration authorities in the country that you’ll be visiting. Depending on how minor or grave your past criminal offense was, you may have a better chance of getting in the country if you’ve successfully proven to them that you’re not the same person anymore as you once were.
- You’ll want to contact the embassy or consulate of the country where you plan on traveling to be sure.
When you’re still in doubt as to whether the country that you plan on visiting would allow someone like you into their territory or not, it’s best to call its corresponding embassy or consulate in the country where you’re currently residing so that you can discuss your expunged criminal record with them.
According to nonprofit organization The Sentencing Project, 70 to 100 million Americans have criminal records. Worse, most of them aren’t aware that they can have their criminal records expunged so that they can more easily reintegrate themselves into normal society, especially if they’re bent on turning their lives around and changing for the better. Good thing then that you aren’t part of that said statistic as you’ve had your criminal record expunged with the help of a competent criminal defense lawyer. However, before embarking on a trip to another country, you might want to remember the above-listed legal considerations first so that you can make your way there without any hassle from law enforcement authorities.