Will a youth record affect me if I want to travel outside Canada?

It’s best to avoid travelling to other countries while you have an open youth record. The period of time your youth record is open is called the access period. The access period for your youth records depends on the:

  • type of record
  • type of crime
  • outcome of your case

A youth record can’t stop you from travelling within Canada, but it can be a good reason for you to avoid travelling to another country. Some countries will not let you enter if you have a youth record. For example, travelling to the United States might be difficult.

Border officials might find out about your record

The Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA) says that no one is allowed to share information from your youth records. This includes sharing information with people in other countries.

But, the YCJA can’t stop border officials in other countries from asking you questions when you try to enter the country. For example, they may ask, “Have you ever been charged with a crime?”

If another country finds out about your youth record, they may keep that information in their files forever. In Canada, your youth records must be sealed or destroyed after a certain amount of time. But those laws don’t apply outside of Canada.

Avoid travelling with an open youth record

Your youth records will not be sealed or erased just because you turn 18.

If you want or need to travel to another country while you have an open youth record, you should consult a youth criminal justice lawyer.

You can also take other steps to reduce problems at the border. For example, think about how to answer questions from border officials. You may also be able to get a special permit or waiver to enter another country, but if you want to do that you should speak to an immigration lawyer for advice.

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