Skip to content

Can Felons Leave The Country?

Can felons leave the country? As a convicted felon you may face some restrictions when you want to travel outside the United States.

Depending on the crime you committed, you could be refused a passport which would make international travel impossible, and even when you hold a valid passport, there are some countries that deny entry to travelers with felony convictions.

In this guide, we’ll go over the reasons you could be refused a passport, and we’ll look at some popular travel destinations that make entry difficult for convicted felons.

Can Felons Leave The County in 2024?

Can Felons Leave The County

In most cases the answer to this question is yes, felons can leave the country. Once you’ve completed your sentence, you’re free to leave the country as long as you have a valid passport.

However, there are some offenses (including non-felony offenses) that will lead to a passport application being denied by the State Department.

  • A felony drug conviction involving the use of a passport or international borders.
  • A conviction for trafficking minors.
  • A conviction for traveling internationally for the purpose of illicit sexual conduct.
  • Being a registered sex offender (unless the passport displays a unique identifier).
  • Being on parole or probation.
  • Unpaid child support greater than $2,500.
  • Substantial unpaid federal taxes or federal loans.
  • An outstanding arrest warrant.
  • A court order declaring an individual incompetent or committing an individual to a mental institution.

If none of the above are relevant to your offense or financial situation, then your passport application will be approved.

Can Felons On Parole Or Probation Leave The Country?

When you’re serving a period of probation or parole, your ability to travel is tightly controlled, so much so, that you usually can’t leave your county of residence without permission from the court.

Being granted permission to travel outside the USA is unlikely, although it may be possible if the court decides that you aren’t a flight risk and agrees that you have a valid reason for travel. You would, however, already need to hold a valid passport because the State Department will not issue a new passport until you’ve completed your sentence.

How soon can felons leave the country after finishing parole or probation? Once your period of parole or probation supervision is complete, you can leave the country without any restrictions unless your offense falls into one of the categories where a passport will be refused.

Don’t try to travel without first obtaining permission from the court. Any probation or parole violation is a serious matter that could result in fines or a return to prison.

Where Can Felons Travel Outside The USA?

Before you make any travel plans involving an international destination, you should visit the immigration website of the country you want to travel to. You’ll be able to see if they have any restrictions on convicted felons who wish to make a temporary visit or apply for an immigration visa.

Countries that allow felons to enter without restrictions include:

  • Brazil
  • Cambodia
  • Chile
  • Egypt
  • Ethiopia
  • Hong Kong
  • Indonesia
  • Ireland
  • Malaysia
  • Mexico
  • Morocco
  • Nepal
  • Peru
  • Singapore
  • South Korea
  • Tanzania
  • The Dominican Republic
  • The Philippines
  • Tunisia
  • Turkey
  • Ukraine

The following countries will not issue a visa to convicted felons, except as noted when certain conditions are met:

  • Argentina
  • Australia (see below)
  • Canada (see below)
  • China
  • Cuba
  • India
  • Iran
  • Israel
  • Japan
  • Kenya
  • Macau
  • New Zealand
  • South Africa
  • Taiwan
  • The United Kingdom (see below)

Visa Eligibility For Felons Visiting Australia

Australian law does not allow individuals with criminal convictions to obtain a visa to enter the country if the offense resulted in a custodial sentence of more than 12 months or a suspended sentence of longer than 12 months.

You must apply for a visa before you travel.

Entry Conditions For Felons Visiting Canada

Entry Conditions For Felons Visiting Canada

Ordinarily, a United States citizen does not need a visa to enter Canada, however, if you’ve got a felony on your record, you will need to apply for permission to enter the country, and there’s no guarantee that permission will be granted.

The type of entry permission you need to apply for depends on the type of offense you committed and how long it’s been since you completed your sentence.

Apply for Deemed Rehabilitation if it’s been at least 10 years since you completed your sentence (including parole and probation) and the crime you committed carries a maximum sentence of fewer than 10 years in Canada.

You will not be eligible for Deemed Rehabilitation if your crime is an indictable offense in Canada, or if you have a DUI on your record.

You’ll need to provide documentation relating to your offenses and sentencing, and while applications can be processed at the border, it’s best to apply in advance of your trip.

Apply for Individual Rehabilitation if it’s been at least 5 years since you committed the offense or since the completion of your sentence.

You’ll need to pay a fee and supply a police certificate, a criminal records check, proof of employment and a permanent address, and character references. Allow 12 months for your application to be processed.

If you aren’t eligible for Deemed or Individual Rehabilitation, your only other option is to apply for a Temporary Residence Permit (TRP).

A TRP may be issued if you’ve completed all sentencing requirements, have a compelling reason to enter the country, can prove that you aren’t a risk to the safety of Canadians, are able to supply all of the necessary documentation, and pay the application fee.

Entry Conditions For Felons Visiting The UK

United States citizens are considered to be non-visa nationals in the UK and do not need a visa to enter the country as long as their stay for business or tourism is under 6 months.

Felons may enter the country freely if their conviction is spent. What does spent mean? A spent conviction is one that is more than 10 years old and carried a sentence of fewer than 30 months. If your felony offense resulted in a sentence longer than 30 months, you will be denied entry regardless of how many years have passed since your conviction.

Can Felons Travel To Countries In The European Union?

Can Felons Travel To Countries In The European Union?

From November 2023 the European Union will require all travelers to obtain ETIAS pre-travel authorization before traveling to any country within the Schengen Zone. ETIAS is an online approval system, and the process includes a criminal background check.

Having a felony won’t result in an automatic rejection, though, and it’s expected that only very serious offenses will lead to authorization being refused.

ETIAS approval lasts for 3 years and covers all of the Schengen countries, as well as Iceland, Switzerland, Norway, and Liechtenstein.

Wrapping Up

In most cases, as long as you’ve completed all aspects of your sentence, including probation and parole, and you don’t have any outstanding warrants, or substantial unpaid child support or taxes, you’ll be eligible for a passport and there won’t be any restrictions preventing you from leaving the United States.

However, felons convicted of drug offenses involving international borders, child trafficking, travel for illicit sexual purposes, or an offense resulting in sex offender registration will not be eligible to receive a passport and will not be able to travel outside the country.

Although felons with passports can leave the country, it’s important to make sure that the country you want to visit will let you in. Some countries do not allow felons to enter at all, and some others only allow felons entry if they can meet strict criteria.

Always check immigration requirements before you travel to make sure you’ll be able to enter.

Read Also: Can A Felon Travel to Europe?