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Travelling abroad with a criminal record – Country by country

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Aim of this page

If you’ve been convicted of a criminal offence in the past, then your opportunities for entering another country may be limited. It can be difficult to get a definitive answer as to what questions are being asked by a country’s immigration department about criminal records.

The aim of this page is to give brief guidance on the entry criteria for various countries throughout the world. It’s part of our information on travelling abroad.

Why is this important?

Many countries do not readily welcome people with a criminal record. However, how relevant your offence is and the time period that should elapse before being given permission to enter varies from country to country. Some are a lot stricter than others and it’s likely that we will have separate information where this is the case.

If you are being supervised by probation or on licence, you should follow the advice provided to you by your probation officer. Leaving the country without permission may result in a breach of your licence conditions.

Visas

If the country you’re intending to visit doesn’t require you to have a visa then you’re less likely to have a problem as a result of your criminal record.

Disclosure of your criminal record will often vary depending on the type of visa that you’re applying for. Most countries that issue retirement visas will require a police certificate as do work and student visas.

If you’re asked about your criminal convictions you should answer truthfully. If you don’t and they subsequently come to light, this could result in a lengthy or permanent bar to entering the country; this is especially so in Canada and the USA.

Travel to Africa

Egypt

A visa to travel to Egypt needs to be purchased online in advance. However, there are no questions about criminal records on the visa application form.

Ethiopia

The majority of people travelling to Ethiopia will require a visa. This is available as an e-visa which can be completed in advance or can be purchased on arrival. There are no questions about criminal records on the form.

Kenya

Almost everybody travelling to Kenya will require a visa; the majority of individuals will be able to apply for an online e-visa. This visa application form asks individuals to disclose “any offence under any system of law”.

Tanzania

The majority of people travelling to Tanzania will require a visa. It can be purchased on arrival in the country or in advance as an online e-visa. There are no questions about criminal records on the application form.

Morocco

Most visitors will not need a visa to visit Morocco. They will be asked to complete a Moroccan Immigration Landing Card but this has no questions about criminal records.

Tunisia

The majority of visitors will not need a visa to travel to Tunisia. They will be asked to complete a Tunisian Immigration Landing Card but this has no questions about criminal records.

South Africa

Most visitors will not need a visa to visit South Africa but they will usually be asked to complete a TC-01 Traveller Card on arrival (this is generally for customs purposes). There are no questions about criminal records on the TC-01 form. Further information on travelling to South Africa can be found here.

Travel to the Americas

Argentina

If you’re a British passport holder, travelling for less than 90 days, you won’t need a visa to travel to Argentina.

Brazil

If you’re a British passport holder, travelling for less than 90 days you won’t need a visa to visit Brazil. You will be asked to complete a Brazilian Immigration Arrivals Card but there are no questions about criminal records.

Canada

Detailed guidance on travelling to Canada can be found here.

Chile

If you’re a British passport holder travelling for less than 90 days you won’t require a visa to travel to Chile. You will be required to complete a Tourist Card but there are no questions about criminal records.

Cuba

Before travelling to Cuba you’ll need to purchase a Tourist Card online. There are no questions about criminal records on the application form.

Dominican Republic

If you’re a British passport holder travelling for less than 30 days you won’t require a visa to travel to the Dominican Republic. The purchase of a Tourist Card is no longer required.

Mexico

If you’re a British passport holder you won’t require a visa to travel to Mexico. You will be asked to complete an Immigration Card on both arrival and departure but there are no questions about criminal records.

Peru

If you’re an British passport holder you won’t require a visa to travel to Peru if you’re visiting as a tourist.

USA

Detailed guidance on travelling to the USA can be found here.

Travel to Asia

Cambodia

Tourist visas can be purchased on arrival in Cambodia or online by e-visa.

China

Detailed guidance on travelling to China can be found here.

Hong Kong

You can travel to Hong Kong for up to 6 months without a visa. You will be asked to complete an Arrivals Card but there are no questions about criminal records.

India

The majority of people travelling to India will require a visa. You will need to apply for an online e-visa prior to travelling and although it takes some time to complete, it doesn’t ask any questions about criminal records.

Indonesia

If you’re a British passport holder travelling for up to 30 days you won’t require a visa to travel to Indonesia. The Arrivals Card has also recently been abolished.

Iran

The majority of people visiting Iran will need a visa. You should make sure that you apply well in advance of your visit as the process can be long an unpredictable. There is a question on the visa application form which asks “Have you ever had any history of arrests or convictions in any country”.

Israel

You won’t need a visa to enter Israel as a tourist. Upon entry, visitors will be given an Entry Card to complete where you’ll be asked to confirm that you’ve not committed any criminal offence.

Japan

Detailed guidance on travelling to Japan can be found here.

Macau

You can travel to Macau for up to 6 months without a visa. You will be asked to complete an Arrivals Card but there are no questions about criminal records.

Malaysia

If you’re a British passport holder you won’t need a visa to travel to Malaysia. Landing cards have now been abolished.

Nepal

The majority of people travelling to Nepal will require a visa. You can apply online but there are no questions about criminal records on the application form.

Phillipines

If you’re a British passport holder you can enter the Phillipines without a visa for an initial period of 30 days. You will be asked to complete an Arrivals Card but it doesn’t ask questions about criminal records.

Singapore

You can travel to Singapore for up to 90 days without a visa. You will be asked to complete a Disembarkation/Embarkation form but there are no questions about criminal records.

South Korea

If you’re a British passport holder you can enter South Korea as a tourist for up to 90 days without a visa. You will be asked to complete an Arrivals Card but it doesn’t ask any questions about criminal records.

Taiwan

If you’re a British passport holder you can enter Taiwan without a visa for 90 days. You will be asked to complete an Arrivals Card but it doesn’t ask any questions about criminal records.

Thailand

British passport holders can enter Thailand for 30 days without a visa – this is known as a visa exemption. You will be asked to complete an Arrivals Card but it doesn’t ask any questions about criminal records.

UAE

If you’re a British passport holder you can get a tourist visa on arrival in the UAE. As the UAE embassies do not issue visas, you’ll need to apply for one via a UAE-based airline.

Vietnam

Until June 2021 British passport holders can enter Vietnam for 15 days without a visa. After June 2021, visitors will need to apply for an e-visa online although there are no questions about criminal records.

Travel to Oceania

Australia

Detailed guidance on travelling to Australia can be found here.

New Zealand

Detailed guidance on travelling to New Zealand can be found here.

Personal experiences

The personal stories below have been posted on theRecord, our online magazine:

Discuss this with others

Read and share your experiences on our online forum.

Key sections include:

Useful links

Below you will find links to useful websites relating to this page. More specific details (including addresses and telephone numbers) of some of the organisations listed below can be found here.

  • GOV.UK – Provides the latest travel advice by country including entry requirements

More information

  1. For practical information – More information can be found in our travelling abroad section
  2. To read personal stories – You can read stories about this posted on theRecord, our online magazine, under the category of travelling abroad
  3. To discuss this issue with others – Read and share your experiences on our online forum
  4. Questions – If you have any questions about this you can contact our helpline.

Get involved

Help us to add value to this information. You can:

  1. Comment on this page (below)
  2. Send your feedback directly to us
  3. Discuss your views and experiences with others on our online forum
  4. Share your personal story by contributing to our online magazine, theRecord.

 

 

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Debbie Sadler
Helpline lead

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