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Drink drive conviction travel restrictions

Drink Drive conviction foreign travel restrictions

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Travel ban conviction

Did you know?..  A Drink Drive conviction is a criminal offence that may prevent you from travelling to foreign countries

When we think of a drink driving conviction, most people will immediately think of being disqualified from driving, but what about the other consequences?

Unlike penalty points on your driving licence for offences such as speeding or jumping traffic lights, a drink driving conviction is a criminal one and it could jeopardise a person’s chances of working, studying, or even travelling abroad in some countries.

So if you are thinking about applying for a job in another country, or planning to get away on holiday this Autumn, a drink drive conviction may prevent you from visiting certain countries, or at best require lengthy visa applications and even interviews that can take months to complete.

Graeme Bennett profile

Graeme Bennett, TTC Group’s Consultant Assistant Manager for Scotland (pictured) added: “When planning our dream holiday, our next sunny getaway, or even just a trip for work, we often think; ‘Is my passport still valid?’ ‘Do I have travel insurance?’ ‘Have I taken enough currency?’ These are all the things we normally worry about when we are travelling abroad. But with a drink driving conviction, we must also ask another important question – ‘With my conviction, will I even be allowed to travel?

“Dealing with travel documents and the various agencies can be a stressful enough at the best of times, but with a criminal conviction for drink driving one needs to consider the potential for having an application to travel refused, delayed – potentially for several months – or the requirement to attend interviews to discuss the conviction before a decision is made, or worse still – potentially refused.

“A conviction for drink driving can have implications for many of our day-to-day aspects of life, but it can also have implications for those once in a lifetime holidays or aspirations to travel too.”

Each country has their own policies in place in respect of admitting entry for people with convictions. We consider specific travel requirements and restrictions to some of the most visited countries by UK residents, as well as some stricter territories, for those that have been convicted of drink driving offences.

Australia passport stamp

Australia: Application to travel would likely be delayed because of a drink driving conviction, with Australia being widely recognised as a more difficult country (by comparison to other countries) to gain entry to. 

Whether travelling as a tourist or visiting Australia for business purposes, a pre-arranged Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) is required. With a drink driving conviction, an application may be referred to the Australian High Commission which can take up to 50 days. During this process, every applicant is required to satisfy a ‘character test’. Whilst the application may cause significant delays, it is very unlikely that a conviction for a drink driving offence will prevent you from obtaining a visa to enter Australia as it is not considered significant.

America passport stamp

USA: Recent travel and VISA reforms in the United States of America now means that almost everybody is required to apply for a VISA in advance of their trip.  This is completed through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) system. 
If you have ever been arrested, even if the arrest didn’t lead to a conviction or you have a criminal conviction including drink driving, you must provide full details during the ESTA process. 

In cases where the arrest resulted in a conviction, you may be permanently ineligible to receive travel authorisation. To counter this situation, you can apply for the permanent ineligibility to be waivered by obtaining an Association of Chief Police Officers Police Certificate, which must be issued within six months of the date of the visa interview to be considered. Once obtained, you will then have a face-to-face meeting with the US Embassy in London to seek eligibility for a visa.

It can take between 90 days and six months for the visa to be approved.

America passport stamp

Canada: In Canada, driving while impaired is seen as a more serious crime and is likely to cause a person who has been convicted of the crime to be denied entry into Canada. This is due to clauses in Canadian law, which state that a person can be deemed criminally inadmissible to Canada if they commit a crime outside of Canada that, “if committed in Canada, would constitute a serious crime”.

The Canadian Government sets out all kinds of criteria to demonstrate an offender has been rehabilitated before they may enter the country. A Canadian immigration officer will determine whether the charge/conviction makes the offender “inadmissible” to Canada under the Country’s Immigration and Refugee Protection act.

You may still be allowed to travel to Canada if you are able to satisfy an immigration officer that you meet the legal requirement to be deemed rehabilitated, or have applied for rehabilitation and were approved.

A temporary, but by far the quickest solution to enter Canada with a drink driving conviction would be to apply for a Temporary Resident Permit (TRP). This is also the only option available to those who have been convicted of impaired driving less than five years prior to their attempt to enter Canada. We would recommend visiting the following website for more information:

EU (From 2023): From 2023, UK travellers visiting participating EU countries have to get a European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) waiver. Those with a criminal record are required to apply for an ETIAS and have the opportunity to discuss the circumstances around the conviction. If an ETIAS application is denied, it might be possible to appeal to the country that made the decision. More information about the ETIAS system can be found by visiting:

Other countries: Any country that requires a visa for entry might ask you whether you’ve got a criminal conviction, and there is often little information on what types of offence would lead to an application being rejected.  In general, visa applications can sometimes take months and applicants may be asked to attend interviews to discuss the conviction.

If asked about any criminal convictions when applying for any form of travel visa, we recommend to always answer truthfully. If a criminal conviction subsequently comes to light that has not been disclosed in full, this could result in a lengthy or permanent bar to entering that particular country.

As the UK’s largest provider of Drink Driving courses, TTC delivers courses across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Appointed by the Department for Transport (DfT), the Welsh Government and the Northern Ireland Department for Infrastructure, TTC has been successfully delivering the Drink Drive Rehabilitation Scheme (DDRS) and Courses for Drink Drive Offences (CDDO) for 29 years.

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Licence Bureau is now part of the TTC Group