Countries You Cannot Visit With A Criminal Record

When you’re looking at travel destinations it helps to know which countries you cannot visit with a criminal record and what countries don’t allow felons.

Your freedom to enter other countries depends on multiple factors:

  • The nature and severity of your offense
  • How much time has passed since the offense
  • Your reason for travel
  • Whether you need a visa or a travel authorization
  • Whether you’re listed on Interpol’s database

Before you finalize your travel plans, obtain the most recent immigration information from the official website or embassy of your intended destination.

Countries You Cannot Visit With A Criminal Record in 2024

Countries You Cannot Visit With A Criminal Record

The countries you can’t travel to with a criminal record are mostly limited to nations that require American visitors to obtain a visa, e-visa, or short-term entry authorization.

These countries may require a criminal background check as part of the visa application process or ask you to disclose your criminal convictions.

Having a criminal record won’t necessarily result in being refused entry to a country, and travelers with a minor offense on their record usually face fewer immigration problems than those with a serious felony conviction.

Check the entry rules for your intended destination to find out if you can visit with your criminal record. This information is available on the official website of the country you’re traveling to or from their embassy or consulate.

Related: what countries can felons travel to?.

You Need A Traditional Visa Before Traveling To These Countries

You Need A Traditional Visa Before Traveling To These Countries

You’ll need a visa issued by the relevant embassy before you travel to the following countries.

Depending on the type of visa you require the visa application may ask for details of your criminal history and may require a copy of an approved background check issued by your local police department or the FBI.

  • Afghanistan
  • Algeria
  • Belarus
  • Central African Republic
  • Chad
  • China
  • Republic of the Congo
  • Cuba
  • Eritrea
  • Ghana
  • Iran
  • Liberia
  • Libya
  • Mali
  • Nauru
  • Niger
  • Russia
  • Sudan
  • Syria
  • Turkmenistan
  • Venezuela
  • Yemen

E-Visa Required Before Travel

The e-visa application and approval process is carried out online before the date of travel. You may be asked to disclose criminal convictions and provide an approved criminal background report. E-visas are required for travel to:

  • Azerbaijan
  • Benin
  • Bhutan
  • Cameroon
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Ivory Coast
  • Djibouti
  • Equatorial Guinea
  • Gabon
  • Guinea
  • India
  • Myanmar
  • Nigeria
  • Papua New Guinea
  • South Sudan
  • Togo
  • Uganda
  • Uzbekistan
  • Vietnam

Visa Issued On Arrival

Visa Issued On Arrival

A visa on arrival is issued for short-term visits for tourism, family visits, and business trips. You can’t use a visa on arrival if you’re planning to live, work, or study in a country.

You’ll need to provide some documents when you apply for a visa on arrival and the documents required vary according to the country concerned.

Visit the official website of the country you want to visit to see which documents you’ll need to provide.

The visa on arrival application may ask about criminal convictions but this isn’t always the case. For example, Egypt doesn’t check criminal convictions for tourist visas.

The following countries issue a visa on arrival:

  • Bolivia
  • Cambodia
  • Egypt
  • Gabon
  • India
  • Iran
  • Kuwait
  • Laos
  • Myanmar
  • Nigeria
  • Nepal
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Sri Lanka
  • Uganda
  • Vietnam

Visa Free Travel

Visa Free Travel

American passport holders benefit from visa-free travel to more than 140 nations. Visa-free travel permits short-term entry to a country for business or pleasure without going through a lengthy and expensive visa application process.

You’ll still need a visa if you plan to live, work, or study in these countries, though.

Your passport is the only document you need to enter most visa-free countries. Foreign border agents (except for Canada) don’t have access to state or federal criminal records databases and can’t pull up your criminal record when they scan your passport.

However, some countries on the visa-free list for American travelers require visitors to obtain an electronic travel authorization (ETA) before arrival, and some require visitors to complete an entry card on arrival. In both cases, you could be asked if you have a criminal record.

European Union member states will require an electronic travel authorization for visitors from mid-2025. The travel authorization is called an ETIAS and will be required for the countries marked with an * in the list below.

You will be asked about criminal convictions on the ETIAS application but having a criminal record won’t automatically result in an ETIAS denial.

These are the destinations currently offering short-term visa-free access to American passport holders:

  • Albania
  • American Samoa
  • Andorra
  • Angola
  • Anguilla
  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Argentina
  • Armenia
  • Aruba
  • Australia (ETA)
  • Austria*
  • Bahamas
  • Barbados
  • Belgium*
  • Belize
  • Bermuda
  • Caribbean Netherlands
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Botswana
  • Brazil
  • British Virgin Islands
  • Brunei
  • Bulgaria*
  • Canada
  • Cabo Verde
  • Cayman Islands
  • Chile
  • Colombia
  • Cook Islands
  • Costa Rica
  • Croatia*
  • Curaçao
  • Cyprus*
  • Czechia*
  • Denmark*
  • Dominica
  • Dominican Republic
  • Ecuador
  • El Salvador
  • Estonia*
  • Eswatini (formerly Swaziland)
  • Falkland Islands
  • Faroe Islands
  • Fiji
  • Finland*
  • France*
  • French Guiana
  • French Polynesia
  • French West Indies
  • Georgia
  • Germany*
  • Gibraltar
  • Greece*
  • Greenland
  • Grenada
  • Guam
  • Guatemala
  • Guyana
  • Haiti
  • Honduras
  • Hong Kong
  • Hungary*
  • Iceland
  • Ireland*
  • Israel
  • Italy*
  • Jamaica
  • Japan
  • Kazakhstan
  • Kenya (ETA)
  • Kiribati
  • Kosovo
  • Kyrgyzstan
  • Latvia*
  • Lesotho
  • Liechtenstein*
  • Lithuania*
  • Luxembourg*
  • Macau
  • Malaysia
  • Malta*
  • Marshall Islands
  • Mauritius
  • Mayotte
  • Mexico
  • Micronesia
  • Moldova
  • Monaco
  • Mongolia
  • Montenegro
  • Montserrat
  • Morocco
  • Mozambique
  • Namibia
  • Netherlands*
  • New Caledonia
  • New Zealand (ETA)
  • Nicaragua
  • Niue
  • North Macedonia
  • Northern Mariana Islands
  • Norway*
  • Oman
  • Pakistan (ETA)
  • Palau
  • Palestine
  • Panama
  • Paraguay
  • Peru
  • Philippines
  • Poland*
  • Portugal*
  • Puerto Rico
  • Qatar
  • Réunion
  • Romania*
  • Samoa
  • San Marino
  • São Tomé and Príncipe
  • Senegal
  • Serbia
  • Seychelles
  • Singapore
  • Slovakia*
  • Slovenia*
  • South Africa
  • South Korea
  • Spain*
  • Saint Kitts and Nevis
  • Saint Lucia
  • Saint Martin
  • Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Suriname
  • Sweden*
  • Switzerland*
  • Taiwan
  • Tajikistan
  • Thailand
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • Tunisia
  • Turks and Caicos Islands
  • Turkey
  • United States Virgin Islands
  • Ukraine
  • United Arab Emirates
  • United Kingdom
  • Uruguay
  • Vanuatu
  • Vatican City
  • Zambia

Travelers wishing to stay for longer visits and those planning to live or work in a visa-free country must apply for the relevant visa.

Visa applications may ask you to disclose criminal convictions, provide an approved background check, and supply official documents relating to your conviction and completed sentence.

Having a criminal conviction doesn’t mean you’ll be refused a visa. Visa approval depends on the immigration rules of the country concerned and the nature and age of your offense.

What Countries Can Felons Not Travel To?

What Countries Can Felons Not Travel To?

Countries that don’t allow felons to obtain any or some types of visas include:

  • China
  • Cuba
  • Egypt
  • India
  • Indonesia
  • Iran

Some major nations regulate the immigration of felons, those convicted of certain crimes, and those who served custodial sentences. These nations include:


Travelers must have a visa or ETA and fill out an entry card upon arrival. All of these documents ask about criminal convictions.

Australia doesn’t admit visitors convicted of a crime that resulted in imprisonment for 12 months or longer.

For noncustodial sentences and prison sentences under 12 months, immigration officials will only approve entry for individuals believed to be of good character.


Canadian border officials have access to United States criminal record databases and check travelers’ backgrounds at the border.

Canada is one of the countries felons can’t visit unless they receive special approval. Travelers convicted of misdemeanor offenses may also be criminally inadmissible.

Travelers with a criminal record should apply to the Canadian consulate for entry with a Temporary Residence Permit (TRP) or via Criminal Rehabilitation.


Travelers with a criminal conviction resulting in a prison sentence of 12 months or more are not eligible for visa-free travel to Japan. You must apply for a visa.

New Zealand

New Zealand excludes travelers convicted of a crime at any time for which the sentence was incarceration for 5 years or more.

Travelers convicted of a crime in the past 10 years and sentenced to 12 months or more in prison are also refused entry.

You may be able to obtain a character waiver for some offenses.


If you were convicted of a crime in the last 10 years and were sentenced to 12 months or longer in prison, you cannot enter Russia.

United Kingdom

The UK policy for visa applicants with a criminal record states that a visa will be refused if the applicant:

  • Is the subject of a deportation order
  • Served a prison sentence over 4 years for a single offense
  • Served a prison sentence of 12 months to 4 years, unless 10 years have passed since the completion of the sentence
  • Served a prison sentence under 12 months, unless 5 years have passed since the completion of the sentence

Countries That Don’t Allow Felons (If Discovered)

Countries That Don’t Allow Felons (If Discovered)

Laws in the following countries may prohibit felons from entering even though border officials don’t screen passengers on arrival.

However, if your felony conviction was shared with Interpol, your felony will be discovered when your passport is scanned.

Anyone deemed a security risk due to the nature of their conviction will be refused entry.

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

Traveling With A Criminal Record

Immigration policies and the countries felons can’t visit are subject to change. You must check the latest immigration and entry rules for the country you want to visit.

If you can’t find clear and definitive information on the destination’s official website, contact their embassy or consulate and follow the advice you’re given.

Always answer questions about your criminal background honestly, whether the question is on a visa application or entry card, or asked by a border official.

If you provide false information which is discovered, you could be prosecuted for fraud.