Are there any felon friendly countries? what are the best countries for ex felons? If you’re planning an overseas vacation or thinking about moving to another country for a fresh start, make sure your felony won’t ruin your plans. With 195 countries in the world, there’s a wide range of rules and regulations travelers need to follow.
- Many countries allow short-term visa-free entry to U.S. passport holders and don’t ask for traveler’s criminal background information.
- Some visa-free counties ask travelers to fill out an entry card on arrival and may ask about criminal convictions.
- Some visa-free countries require travelers to obtain an Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) before traveling, which includes a criminal background check.
- For countries requiring a visa, your felony could block your visa approval, but that’s not always the case.
Always check with an official source before you make any firm plans. You’ll find information on entry and visa requirements on the government website of the country you plan to visit.
Felon Friendly Countries In Europe For Short-Term Visits
What countries can you travel to with a felony in Europe? For travel purposes, Europe is divided into two categories. Countries inside the Schengen Area and countries outside the zone.
The Schengen Area currently includes 27 countries. U.S. passport holders enjoy visa-free access to the Schengen Area. Once you’re inside the Schengen Area, you can travel across internal borders without further checks.
Felons can travel freely to any other country in the Schengen Area as long as the total length of stay in the Schengen Area doesn’t exceed 90 days.
European countries that allow felons; The 27 European countries in the Schengen zone are:
- Czech Republic
Currently, having a criminal record will not result in being refused entry to these countries unless your felony is on the Interpol database and you’re deemed a security risk. Border officials are unlikely to ask you about your criminal record upon your arrival.
In 2024, ETIAS, a new travel authorization system is due to come online. The ETIAS travel authorization is valid for 3 years and allows travel throughout the Schengen Area.
The online ETIAS application asks you to disclose criminal convictions within the last 10 years as part of the approval process.
While having a more recent felony doesn’t mean your ETIAS application will be refused, you won’t receive instant approval through the automated system.
Instead, your application will undergo a manual review. You’ll be contacted if ETIAS needs more information from you, otherwise, you’ll receive an approval or refusal within 96 hours.
ETIAS is concerned with keeping serious criminals who pose a security risk out of the Schengen Area. Most felons will still be able to travel to these European countries once ETIAS is active.
European countries outside the Schengen Area include Ireland, the United Kingdom, Gibraltar, Bulgaria, Romania, and Cyprus.
For short-term visits, felons shouldn’t have any trouble entering Ireland or the United Kingdom, and you’re unlikely to face questions about your criminal history.
Can Felons Obtain Visas For Longer Stays In Europe?
If you need to stay in a European country longer than 90 days or plan to work or study, you’ll need a visa.
Each country has its own requirements, but having a criminal record won’t necessarily mean your visa application will be denied.
The United Kingdom has a strict policy on criminal records for visa applicants. A visa will be refused if the applicant:
- Is the subject of a deportation order
- Served a prison sentence of at least 4 years for a single offense
- Served a prison sentence of between 12 months and 4 years, unless 10 years have passed since the completion of the sentence
- Served a prison sentence of less than 12 months, unless 5 years have passed since completion of the sentence.
Germany is another country with strict visa rules. Germany doesn’t issue visas to applicants with a felony for a public order offense resulting in a prison sentence of 3 or more years, or a drug offense resulting in a prison sentence of 2 or more years.
Check the visa requirements for the country you want to enter to find out if your felony and the age of your offense make you ineligible for a visa.
Countries Felons Can Visit Visa Free In the Rest of The World
What countries can felons travel to without applying for a visa? Your U.S. passport allows you to enjoy the freedom of visa-free travel to 148 nations. Because you don’t need to apply for a visa, you’re unlikely to face entry restrictions unless your felony has been entered into Interpol’s database.
- Some of these countries require travelers to obtain an Electronic Travel Approval in advance. ETA applications ask about criminal convictions, and you may be instructed to apply for a visitor visa because of your felony.
- Other countries on this list may ask you to fill out a landing or entry card. Depending on the country, you could be asked to disclose criminal convictions.
Keep in mind that some offenses are included on Interpol’s database which is accessible to immigration officials when they scan your passport.
Canada is the only country on the list below with direct access to the NCIC database which holds information about state and federal criminal offenses in the United States.
If you want to visit Canada, you’ll need to make special arrangements before you travel and you must meet certain conditions before you enter Canada (see below).
We’ve already covered visa-free travel to Europe, so here are the other countries you can visit without a visa for short trips.
- American Samoa
- Antigua and Barbuda
- Bosnia & Herzegovina
- British Virgin Islands
- Cabo Verde
- Caribbean Netherlands
- Cayman Islands
- Central African Republic
- Cook Islands
- Costa Rica
- Dominican Republic
- El Salvador
- Falkland Islands
- Faroe Islands
- French Guiana
- French Polynesia
- French West Indies
- Marshall Islands
- New Caledonia
- New Zealand
- North Macedonia
- Northern Mariana Islands
- Puerto Rico
- San Marino
- São Tomé and Príncipe
- South Africa
- South Korea
- Saint Kitts and Nevis
- Saint Lucia
- Saint Martin
- Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
- Trinidad and Tobago
- Turks and Caicos Islands
- United States Virgin Islands
- United Arab Emirates
- Vatican City
If your trip isn’t eligible for visa-free travel, you’ll need to apply for a visa. Visa applications typically ask about criminal convictions and you may need to provide a police or court record to document your conviction and confirm you served your sentence.
Each country has its own rules on issuing visas to convicted criminals. Check the immigration website for the country concerned to find out which restrictions apply.
Traveling To Canada With A Felony
Canadian immigration officials have direct access to the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database.
Any felon trying to enter Canada will be refused entry at the border. Felons must have prior entry approval from the Canadian government using one of the following methods.
- A Canada Temporary Resident Permit (TRP) allows entry for a specific period if you have a valid reason for traveling to Canada and meet the eligibility conditions.
- Canadian Criminal Rehabilitation is available to felons who completed all sentencing requirements at least five years earlier. Rehabilitation approval takes at least one year. Once you’ve been given confirmation of approval, you will no longer face any issues at the Canadian border because of your felony.
Countries That Don’t Allow Felons
The following countries don’t allow felons to visit for tourism or other purposes:
Other countries may refuse your visa application if you don’t meet their eligibility requirements.
Because U.S. passport holders enjoy visa-free travel to so many countries, there’s a good chance that you won’t be asked about your felony when you arrive in one of those countries.
Before you travel, check the government website of the country you want to visit to find out if you need to complete an entry card on arrival or obtain an ETA in advance.
These countries are more likely to ask about your criminal history, although they may only refuse entry for serious offenses.
If you’re traveling to a country that doesn’t offer visa-free travel, or you require a visa because of the length of your stay or the purpose of your trip, you should expect the visa application to ask about criminal convictions. Depending on the immigration policy, your felony may result in a visa refusal.
See Also: The Most Common Felonies.
Charles Greg is the Co-Founder, Author, & Head Developer behind RentingtoFelons.org
With a lifelong passion for humanity.