Skip to Content

Traveling Abroad With a Criminal Record


It’s very common for U.S. citizens to travel outside the United States. Americans frequently travel to Canada, Europe, and Mexico for vacation. They often travel for pleasure, work, for school, for religious reasons, or to visit family overseas. If you have a criminal record or if you’re facing criminal charges and leaving the States is important to you, you may be wondering if you’re barred from international travel with a criminal record.

Generally, convicted criminals can obtain a U.S. passport without a problem. People usually run into roadblocks when they owe more than $2,500 in past-due child support or if they have been convicted of a federal drug trafficking law. However, you should not attempt to leave the United States if any of the following is true without talking to an attorney first:

  • You are on probation
  • You are on community supervision
  • You are on parole
  • There is a warrant for your arrest

What if I am a Felon?

If you are a U.S. citizen and you were previously convicted of a felony, that doesn’t mean you’ll be barred from traveling outside the U.S., but if there is currently an outstanding warrant with your name on it, especially for a felony offense, you could get in serious trouble if you attempt to leave the country.

Why? Because, to law enforcement and the state, you leaving the States looks a lot like you’re trying to escape an arrest and prosecution.

Even if you have no problem obtaining a U.S. passport, that doesn’t mean that other countries will let you in. Canada, for example, frowns heavily on DWIs, even misdemeanor DWIs. So, if you have a recent DWI on your record, they probably won’t let you in.

If you have a criminal record and you’ve successfully paid all of your fines and completed your sentencing, the U.S. may have no issues with you traveling abroad, but our advice is to fully research your destination country first and to make sure it won’t block you from entering. This is important, especially before you pay for that non-refundable flight.

Share To: