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What Countries Don't Allow Felons?

Posted on by Dawna M. Roberts in CrimeNovember 20, 2023
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What Countries Don't Allow Felons?


It can be difficult to travel to other countries when one has a criminal record. Most countries employ screening measures to protect their citizens from immigrants who intend to commit criminal acts. This goes beyond the typical checks at the airport for rugs, weapons, or human trafficking. It starts when the traveler is applying for a visa. The process will most likely require disclosing whether they have a criminal record or a prior conviction. If the applicant does not submit their criminal record during the application, they may be restricted travel to the country, depending on the host nation’s policy. That said, not all countries have the same regulations concerning tourists with criminal records or their lack of disclosure.

Is It Possible To Travel Abroad With A Felony?

Individuals with felony convictions should not encounter a problem getting a U.S. passport. The reason is the passport is considered an identifying document and does not entail criminal or court records. Restrictions may only apply to individuals with a debt of $2,500 in child support, who have been convicted of drug trafficking, or who are currently subject to federal arrest. Parties subject to felony subpoena, probation, or parole forbidding them from leaving the country may also be unable to get a passport. However, convicts who have completed their sentences but were not convicted of drug trafficking are likely to get their passport applications approved. The U.S. government may approve traveling, but entrance depends on the destination’s laws. Some countries like Canada do not let parties that have been convicted of DUIs in, even if it was a misdemeanor offense. For the Middle East, one may enter the United Arab Emirates with a criminal record, but the crime cannot have been committed within the nation's borders. The person must also have completed the sentence. 

A List Of Countries Where Criminals Cant Travel 

Criminal Record

Nations have different regulations about what constitutes a felony offense, and it may impact a person's ability to travel. For example, someone traveling from Japan to Indonesia may have done something deemed a regular criminal act in the former, but Indonesia considers the same as a felony. In such a scenario, the Indonesian government could deny that person access to the country. The following is a list of countries that will not let you in with a felony. 

  • Australia 
  • Argentina 
  • China
  • Canada
  • Cuba 
  • Iran
  • Israel
  • India 
  • Kenya 
  • Japan
  • Macau 
  • New Zealand 
  • South Africa
  • Taiwan
  • United Kingdom
  • United States

That said, there are countries that do not actively allow felons in but do not actively screen visitors, either. Individuals visiting these nations may be able to slip in on good faith, but if the authorities discover their record, they will likely be deported. 

  • Cambodia
  • Egypt
  • Dominican Republic
  • Ethiopia 
  • Brazil
  • Hong Kong 
  • Indonesia 
  • Mexico
  • Ireland 
  • Malaysia 
  • Morocco 
  • Peru
  • Nepal
  • Singapore
  • South Korea
  • Philippines
  • Tunisia 
  • Turkey
  • Tanzania
  • United Arab Emirates
  • Ukraine

Are Your Criminal Records Visible Abroad?

Passports by themselves do not illustrate a person’s criminal records search. They are primarily identifying documents that would verify citizenship and act as a vehicle through which one can apply to visit another country. There may not be a global database through which an individual’s criminal records are accessible by immigration agencies, but many nations do have bilateral or multilateral agreements mandating the sharing of this information. For example, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States have agreements to share criminal records. So, individuals traveling from one of these to the other may expect the host nation to have access to their criminal records. In Europe, the Schengen Information System allows countries to exchange information, which includes criminal records. The agreement comprises 26 nations. People traveling to other countries in Asia, South America, or Africa may expect the host nation to have some idea of their criminal records depending on the relationship between the two countries. However, just because countries have multilateral agreements regarding sharing criminal records does not mean they will bar a person from entering because they previously committed a felony. Each has its policy concerning the criminal history types categorized as problematic for tourists. 

When It Comes To Traveling, What Is A Felony?

Most countries group criminal offenses as either felonies or misdemeanors. Misdemeanors are less severe than felonies and usually attract fines rather than prison time. However, both are included in a person’s criminal record. A felony is an offense that is punishable by one year to a life sentence in prison or the death penalty. Some countries allow people to apply for expungement of their criminal record after a set period has elapsed, and it depends on the type of crime committed. It has to have been a minor offense such as disorderly conduct, trespassing, or reckless driving. However, felony offenses like murder or drug trafficking cannot be expunged from the record unless there was no conviction, and even then, the process would not be immediate. That means the accusation may still affect the individual’s ability to travel to another country. 

Always Be Aware of What Your Records Say About You

A passport does not usually carry personalized information about a person’s criminal record. Rather, it is about verifying their identity as a citizen when clearing them for travel. However, criminal histories affect the individual’s ability to get a passport and a visa. Individuals who have committed offenses such as drug trafficking or are under federal arrest may not be able to apply for a passport. Most countries also maintain an individualized stance concerning people with criminal records. What may be considered minor in one country is not in another, and vice versa. This also affects the ability of one to travel from one nation to another. Many countries also have bilateral or multilateral agreements concerning the sharing of immigration data. It may be relegated to tourists traveling within a certain zone so governments can easily access their criminal records. It also depends on the relationship between the traveler's country and the host nation. Many minor criminal acts are not screened for during entry; however, that does not mean the person will not be deported if the host country discovers they did not disclose that information. Certain countries also allow visits from convicted felons, but it would be advisable to check Infotracer to see which countries allow convicted offenders to visit. Please check our tools and blog articles for more information.

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