Countries You Cannot Visit With A Criminal Record

As a convicted criminal, traveling overseas can be a challenging task. While it may be desired to embark on trips to explore the far corners of the world, certain nations may deny entry. Several countries are wary of criminals, and some may refuse entry entirely or impose restrictions on travel.

However, not all countries are as strict. Travelers should research heavily before undertaking any overseas trips, especially if they have a criminal record. Some countries have restrictions for only specific crimes or for a specific time period. It’s also important to note that entry policies may differ for those arriving via airplane versus by land.

In this article, we will look at the countries that typically do not grant access to foreign individuals with a criminal background.

1. Canada

Canada is a popular destination that attracts tourists from all over the world. Still, those with a criminal history may face difficulties when entering the country. Visitors with previous criminal convictions must submit a formal application to the Canadian government requesting leniency to gain entry. Since 2018, applicants must first apply for a temporary resident permit or be deemed rehabilitated for at least ten years.

2. Russia

Entering Russia with a criminal record is nearly impossible; this includes offenses as small as DUI or drug offenses. Even individuals with a minor criminal history from decades earlier can still face complications when trying to enter. It is best to avoid traveling to Russia if you have any criminal record, regardless of the type of offense.

3. China

China has strict laws relating to past convictions, including drug offenses and any form of theft. Visitors may find themselves denied a visa and entry based on their past criminal record. It is essential to know that China does not allow individuals with a drug-related criminal record to enter the country at any time.

4. United Arab Emirates

UAE has strict entry requirements; individuals with a criminal conviction and outstanding warrants will be denied entry. It is also worth noting that the UAE has implemented an e-ban, which bans individuals from any emirate of the UAE for up to 10 years.

5. Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia’s laws regarding criminal records are very strict. Many offenses that would be considered minor in other countries could land you in serious trouble here. The country also bars individuals with a history of drug abuse or alcoholism from entry. Visitors to the country will have a fingerprint scan and background check, with any criminal records or convictions resulting in immediate deportation.

6. Japan

Japan’s entry requirements are stringent, demanding a background check for individuals entering its borders. Visitors may face problems with entry if they have a criminal record, even if the offense is minor. The extent of the criminal record will undoubtedly decide how long it takes immigration officers to decide whether to grant entry.

7. Australia

Australia has a strict policy when it comes to checking of criminal records of its visitors, with regulations enforced by the Australian Federal Police. Individuals with a criminal record, especially those with a history of serious offenses or a sentence longer than 2 years, may find themselves barred from entering the country.

8. New Zealand

New Zealand takes criminal records seriously and has clear entry requirements. Visitors with relevant criminal records must provide all necessary information regarding their sentence and submit an application. However, it’s worth mentioning that each offense and applicant is examined on a case-by-case basis.


Q: Can a criminal recite enter the USA?

A: It’s always best to seek advice from an experienced immigration lawyer as US immigration laws on criminal records can be complicated. Depending on the specific crimes committed, there may be ways to seek the resolution of past convictions.

Q: Are there any countries a ‘spent conviction’ will permit access to?

A: Some countries have more relaxed entry restrictions. Countries with such flexible policies usually require only a short period of time between the conviction and travel, around 6 months to two years.

Q: How can someone find out if a country they want to visit has criminal record restrictions?

A: Checking the country’s embassy website in your location may provide essential details concerning entry requirements. The embassy may also be able to provide updated information on any changes to the entry rules.


Having a criminal record means you must take precautions before embarking on any international trip. Several countries have policies on past convictions, but they may differ significantly. Failure to check entry requirements may lead to difficulties and even deportation upon arrival. However, several countries are more liberal regarding past convictions, so always research entry requirements to avoid any inconvenience. Remember, it is always best to seek advice from an experienced immigration lawyer who can guide you through the process.