What May Result in Denial of Entry into Canada?
There are no guarantees when entering Canada at a border or port of entry. The Border Services Officer (BSO) that screens you upon entry into Canada has the authority to issue a denial of entry according to his or her discretion. There are many reasons for receiving a denial of entry into Canada, and everyone coming to Canada is evaluated under the same immigration rules and legislation. Despite Canada’s international reputation as a friendly and relaxed country, the Border Services Officer will take his or her job very seriously and you should be prepared to avoid any problems. Some of the most common reasons for being denied entry into Canada will be discussed below.
Prohibited Items: Things you cannot bring to Canada
The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) maintains a frequently updated checklist of items that must be declared by travelers before entering the country. Some of these items are restricted and have specific requirements for how they can be brought into Canada. Other items are simply prohibited and cannot be brought into the country. The list provided below is not exhaustive, but will give you an idea of some of the most common items that result in denial of entry into Canada if not properly declared.
- Food, Plants, Animals, and Related Products: Since these products are all biological, there is a risk associated with disease. Food may carry dangerous bacteria such as E. Coli that could be a health risk to Canadians. Plants as well as fruit and vegetables may contain parasites or other invasive species that could wreak havoc on Canadian crops. Recent epidemics related to the H1N1 virus (swine flu) and avian flu mean that any livestock or meat brought into Canada must be declared and examined to ensure it meets the restrictions. As this category is frequently updated, you may want to consult with Canadian Food Inspection Agency for more specific details.
- Vehicles: Importing a vehicle into Canada is governed by complex legislation. Transport Canada will have specific requirements listed for the type of vehicle being imported and its point of origin. Additionally, there is a Canadian organization called the Registrar of Imported Vehicles which ensures that imported vehicles meet Canadian safety standards
- Prohibited Consumer Products: Sometimes travelers to Canada are shocked to learn that a product purchased outside of Canada is not allowed into the country. Many of these prohibited consumer products violate Canadian safety standards. Even products such as baby walkers may be classified as prohibited items. More information about prohibited consumer products can be found at the Health Canada website.
- Firearms and Weapons: It is crucial that travelers to Canada declare any firearms or other weapons that they may have in their possession. The regulations in regards to firearms are strictly upheld and as such, steps must be taken to declare any weapon in the proper way. Furthermore, any individual entering Canada with a firearm must have the proper licensing for it in their country of origin and in Canada.
Even if you are not aware that an item in your possession is restricted or prohibited, you could still be denied entry into Canada. If you have a doubt about traveling with a certain item, it’s in your best interests to confirm with the proper authority.
Can I be Denied Entry to Canada for Insufficient Identification?
Another common problem faced by travelers into Canada is ones identification. There is a misconception that as long as you have some form of personal identification, it should be sufficient for Canadian customs. This is not the case. Having a drivers license with your picture and address on it may not be enough to satisfy the Border Services Officer that you are who you say you are.
Bring a Passport
The general rule of thumb for entering Canada is: Always carry a valid passport. This is the only document that meets all the standards required for international travel. Having a secondary identification document on hand is a good practice as well, but a valid passport is key. Naturally, there are exceptions to this rule, particularly for U.S. citizens that have an Enhanced Driver’s Licence.
As of March 2016, international travelers to Canada from visa-exempt countries also need something called an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) in order to enter Canada through an international airport. More details about this document can be found at the CIC website.
Traveling with Minors
Border Services Officers are always on the lookout for missing children. Due to this, any adult traveling with a minor may be asked additional questions about the accompanying minor. This can be a potential concern for parents who have shared custody of their children and one of the parents is not present, or for adults traveling with minors for whom they are not the legal guardian.
In this case and in addition to the minor’s personal identification, the Border Services Officer may require the adult to present a letter of consent from the legal guardian who is not present. The letter should contain some basic information such as the full address and contact details. Having a signed or notarized copy would also help.
Traveling with Pets
When traveling to Canada with a dog, cat, or any other pet, it is important to prepare veterinary documentation. Before an animal is allowed into Canada, the Border Services Officer will need to see a signed veterinary document indicating the pet’s breed, physical description, and proof that it has received its rabies shots (particularly if it is coming from a country that is not designated a rabies-free zone).
Can I Travel without a Valid Visa?
Depending on the country you are traveling to Canada from and what your status is there, you may need to apply for a valid Canadian visa before attempting to enter the country. Citizenship and Immigration Canada maintains a list of visa-exempt countries. Citizens of visa-exempt countries are usually allowed to enter Canada without acquiring a specific visa beforehand. However, for travelers from countries which require a visa, you will most likely be denied entry to Canada.
In this case, you will need to take steps to apply for a valid Canadian visa before traveling.
Entering Canada to Work without a Valid Work Permit
Regardless of what country you are from, you may be denied entry if the Border Services Officer believes that you intend to work in Canada illegally (without a work permit). If you are coming to Canada on a Temporary Resident Visa and the officer expects that you intend to work, he or she may ask you questions about your purpose of coming to Canada. Upon screening you, an officer may search phone records or your personal items to see if you have any contacts or equipment that would imply traveling to Canada to work.
Even U.S. citizens can receive a denial of entry if the officer suspects they are traveling to Canada to work without a permit.
Can I Travel to Canada with a Criminal Record?
Many travelers to Canada are shocked to learn that they are considered criminally inadmissible and may be denied entry. The misconception here is that you need to have a serious crime on record in order to have complications at the border. Actually, even misdemeanor charges like Driving Under the Influence (DUI) or Shoplifting can come up on your criminal record if it is screened by a Border Services Officer. While this type of crime can seem relatively minor on the grand scale of things, it could still result in denial of entry due to how the law is interpreted under Canada’s Criminal Code. Even minor offences or arrests from years ago can come back to haunt you at the border or port of entry into Canada.
Even if you are honest about your criminal history to the officer, this may not be enough to satisfy him or her that you are no longer a risk to Canada and are unlikely to re-offend. If you are in this situation it is best to take steps before traveling to Canada. You may apply for special permission to come to Canada by obtaining a Temporary Resident Permit (TRP) or Criminal Rehabilitation.
What is the Processing Time for TRP applications?
Temporary Resident Permits are processed much more quickly than Criminal Rehabilitation applications. A TRP can be granted at the Canadian border or port of entry in some circumstances, which will allow you to continue traveling without disruption. While a TRP is only a temporary solution, frequent or long-term travelers to Canada will often apply for Criminal Rehabilitation. This type of application can only be submitted beforehand at a Canadian Consulate and takes at least half a year or more to process. The advantage of receiving Criminal Rehabilitation is that it is a permanent solution to criminal inadmissibility.
Contact Akrami and Associates
If you are traveling to Canada in the future and are concerned about any of the above reasons for denial of entry, it is always a good idea to get a professional opinion from a legal expert. Our dedicated team of Canadian immigration lawyers and consultants can help you prepare any necessary documentation to help you travel to Canada successfully.
With Akrami and Associates there is always a way!!