Just when you think you have heard everything  . . .  along comes a story like this.

Dianna Hilliard, an attorney in Missouri with 25 years of experience handling drunk driving cases, explains that if you are a passenger with a DWI / DUI conviction you may have a problem entering Canada during your cruise.  In a blog entitled "On a Cruise to Canada???  DWI Conviction?  May need a special waiver to enter Canada," Ms. Hilliard writes:

"A DWI incident will effect your ability to go to Canada.

Canada - Cruise - DUI - DWICanadian authorities are reported to be refusing admission to drivers with a DWI conviction in the USA.  Such records are immediately available on Canada Immigration computers and may show convictions as far back as 20 years ago.  Those with such convictions may be able to get a waiver for up to 30 days visitation upon payment of a $200 (Canadian) fee.  A single DWI conviction may be permanently expunged from the Canadian computers for payment of $400 (Canadian).  Canadian officials are reported justifying the fees because they feel DWI is a serious crime and it is a way of keeping "undesirables" out of Canada. 

This includes passengers on a cruise.  What should you do?  First, plan ahead, way ahead as Canada may take over 6 months to decide on a special waiver .  .  ."

It seems strange that a passenger who enters Canada only for an afternoon and returns to the cruise ship which leaves at 6:00 p.m. (and doesn’t even rent a car) could be be prevented from entering the country for a drunk driving arrest 5 or 10 years ago.  It seems particularly strange because at any given time there are hundreds of drunk passengers on the cruise ships as they enter Canadian waters.  

Does anyone know of a passenger who was denied entering Canada because of a DWI / DUI conviction?

  • Tom Carten

    Canada refusing entry for DUI’s:

    This is nothing new. Canada has been refusing entry for any crime which resulted in an arrest for individuals over the age of 18. They check out with NCIC when you reach the border, if driving, or the manifest of the cruise line.

    One report was of a man who, when in college, shoplifted a candy bar as part of a prank. Arrested, he paid the fine, swept the store’s (or police station’s) parking lot as part of the deal and all was forgotten. Until he tried to enter Canada some twenty years later.

    I may be wrong, but I think we’ve been doing the same thing to the Canadians for a much longer time and they got tired of it. Karma.

  • CST

    Yes — Canadians are also refused for the same thing when heading into the US. This doesn’t mean that every person with a minor charge gets refused. If you choose to be rude to the Border Guard that has the right to refuse your entry, they may just choose to turn you away. Seems fair to me. If I had to guess, I’ll bet that “Candy Bar Man” was rude to the Border Guard. I travel across the US border quiet a bit for work, and I see all sorts of people treating the guards with disrespect. Shameful. It’s a privilege to visit another country — people need to remember that.

    As a Canadian, I fully support DUI drivers being turned away. Actions have consequences. DUI has a number of consequences (killing someone, losing your license, jail time, etc), and has the added consequence of potentially not being allowed the visit the Great White North.

  • Linda

    question? we are leaving on a cruise on oct 1 from NY just found out that one of our passengers is 3 time dui and owes back child support ihs he going any place we have backup if he cant go

  • CR

    We just returned from a cruise to Alaska with a one day stop in Victoria. My husband was denied entry because of misdemeanor that occurred in 1993! Those bastards made him feel humiliated and not worth a pig’s eye. All this from a country who let known terrorists through their country to destroy the US.

    Oh, but for $1000 he could “plead his case” before some jackass who would have the authority to “pardon” him for a 4 hour stopover. And in this kangaroo court scenario, if “da judge” decides the offender is not good enough, that’s a thousand bucks down the drain!

  • Jesse

    Can someone answer my question? I am booked for a Alaskan cruise in Sept. 2015!! I got a DUAI in NY last Aug. 🙁 If I do not get off the boat in the port of Victoria will I have any problems?

  • Patti

    HI – I have the same question – DUI 3 years ago, all completed and off probation.
    BUT – I want to do a cruise to Alaska –
    Can I Get off the ship in Vancouver?
    Can I fly to/from Vancouver?
    or is embarking in Seattle easier?

  • Jack

    Canadian authorities are very harsh and annoying. If you doubt, don’t disembark in Canadian ports. They will find some excuse including declaring you a spy and will either arrest or fine you.

  • Candy

    My husband got a DWI back in 1999. His sentence was a year suspension of his license and then had to reapply for his license. Will we be allowed to board the ship in NYC? Sailing to Canada.

  • Tracy

    I am going to on a cruise this summer to Alaska. I learned about this yesterday. I have a 2 DUI’s. That happened 5 years ago. I called this cruise line and they said I might not even be able to get on the cruise because it is going through international waters. Is this true? I heard about a temporary permit. What will I need to do to make sure I can go on the cruise?

  • Carlos

    I will you well

  • Yes it is true. Even one DUI less than 10 years ago can prevent entry to Canada, whether you’re driving, flying, or cruising. Please know before you go, you should look into applying for a temporary resident permit or a criminal rehabilitation depending on your case and travel plans.

  • Jane Howard

    Back in 2007 my mom paid for a family cruise to Alaska, which included her, myself, my son, his wife and two kids.

    We flew to Vancouver, and pushing my mom in a wheelchair, we made it through Customs without any issue. We had a very congenial officer who was very helpful and wished us a fun trip.

    After a lovely seven-day cruise, we returned to Vancouver and prepared to head for the airport for our flight home…or so we thought. Everyone passed through Customs without incident but I was held back, taken to a room and interrogated.

    Evidently a ticket I had received in North Carolina with a future court date had shown up on the computer and it wasn’t even for a DUI. (I had been cited for failure to pull over for a blue light and siren because I wanted to stop in a safer place.) And even though these wanna-be Gestapo agents had the facts right there in front of them, they grilled me for ages to hear what I had to say, asking the same things over again. I asked them why I was allowed to enter the country in the first place if I was such a danger to Canada and was told that it was up to the particular agent. So even though the one guy had let me in without incident, the tag team of jerks I encountered had a different attitude.

    Ultimately I was told I could not enter Canada because of this ticket, even though I was in danger of missing my flight to LEAVE Canada in a couple of hours. In the end, they allowed me “permission” to fly out and gave me some stupid card to mail to them when I reached Seattle, which promptly went into the trash.

    The worst part of this whole situation is that I wanted to go to go on a different Alaskan cruise after my case had been adjudicated but I didn’t know if I would be denied entry. You can’t find out ahead of time if you’re deemed a thug unworthy of crossing the border, because, once again, it’s up to the particular agent checking your passport.

    It would be nice if there was some database where prospective tourists could enter their information and find out their status before shelling out thousands of dollars for a vacation they wouldn’t be able to take. Unfortunately, it seems that is too much for Canadian immigration officials to handle and obviously not as enjoyable as being border Nazis.

    “No Canada trip for you!”