Impacts of an arrest on travelling abroad

Getting arrested- How does this affect your rights as British Citizens when travelling abroad


Generally you do not need a visa if you are planning to visit the USA for less than 90 days. You do however; have to apply through the electronic system for visa waiver program (VWP). This will ask you if you have been arrested or convicted of certain offences (not specified).  If the answer is yes, you may not be eligible for a VWP.  You will have to apply for a visa which means filling out a form and being invited for an interview which might take 2 to 3 hours at the USA embassy.

Even if the Embassy approves your VWP, there is no guarantee that the USA customs will allow you in. Recommend to apply for a visa if arrested.

Visit these websites for more info:


You will require electronic travel authorisation to gain entry into Canada.  The application will ask you if you have been arrested for, charged with or convicted of any criminal offence in any country.  If the answer is yes, you may have to apply for a visa.

Unlike the USA, Canada does recognise the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974.  If you have committed an offence in the past and if the visa department deems that you are “rehabilitated” then they will grant you an ETA.  If not, you will need to apply for a criminal rehabilitation form under Canada’s immigration and Refugee Protection Act (five years must have passed since the end of the sentence) in order to ensure you will not be refused entry.

If you haven’t committed an offence in the past and you have been arrested, it is recommended you apply for a visa. 

The following is from their website:

Reasons you may be inadmissible to Canada

A Canadian immigration officer will decide if you can enter Canada when you apply for a visa, an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA), or when you arrive at a port of entry.

You may be denied a visa, or an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA), refused entry to, or removed from Canada for any of these reasons:

  • security reasons, including
    • espionage
    • subversion (attempts to overthrow a government, etc.)
    • violence or terrorism, or
    • membership in an organization involved in any of these
  • human or international rights violations, including
    • war crimes
    • crimes against humanity
    • being a senior official in a government engaged in gross human rights violations or subject to international sanctions
  • committing a crime, including driving while under the influence of drugs or alcoholFootnote 1
  • organized crime, including membership in an organization that takes part in organized criminal activity, people smuggling or money laundering
  • medical reasons – which include medical conditions that:
  • financial reasons – if you’re unable or unwilling to support yourself and your family members
  • misrepresentation, which includes providing false information or withholding information directly related to decisions made under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA)
  • failure to comply with any provision of IRPAFootnote 2 or
  • having an inadmissible family member.

For more info, visit these websites:



A criminal conviction does not prevent you from entering Australia.  However, it does not mention that there any conditions or requirements attached if you have been arrested only when you have been convicted or sentenced.

These are the visa requirements if you have any criminal convictions and you have been sentenced:


Criminal convictions

As part of the eligibility requirements to obtain a visa, it states that:

You must not have any criminal convictions, for which the sentence or sentences should not equal a total period of 12 months duration or more (whether served or not), at the time of travel to, and entry into, Australia.”

This implies the following:

  • If you received two 6 month sentences, you would be ineligible to apply online, and would have to apply for a full Tourist Visa.
  • If you have received a 12 month sentence, but only served, for example, 6 months, you would still have to apply for a full Tourist Visa.
  • If you have received a 12 month suspended sentence, and therefore never stepped foot in a prison, you would still have to apply for a full Tourist Visa.
  • The Australian authorities do not recognise the difference between concurrent and consecutive sentences. Therefore if you were convicted of two offences and received two six month sentences to run concurrently, the Australian authorities would consider this to equal a 12 month sentence and you would have to apply for a full Tourist Visa.

Good character test

If you fall into the category of ‘criminal convictions’ set out above, in order to travel you must pass what the Australian government calls ‘the character requirement’ (as defined in Section 501 of the Migration Act 1958). You are likely to fail this test if you have a ‘substantial criminal record’.

A person is deemed to have a substantial criminal record if they have been:

  • sentenced to either death or life imprisonment
  • sentenced to a term of imprisonment for 12 months or more
  • sentenced to two or more terms of imprisonment (whether on one or more occasions), where the total of those terms is two years or more
  • acquitted of an offence on the grounds of either unsoundness of mind or insanity and, as a result, the person has been detained in a facility or institution.
  • they have, or have had, an association with an individual, group or organisation suspected of having been, or being, involved in criminal conduct

You are also likely to fail the good character test if there is a risk that you would:

  • engage in criminal conduct in Australia
  • harass, molest, intimidate or stalk another person
  • vilify a segment of the Australian community
  • incite discord in the Australian community or a segment of that community
  • represent a danger to the Australian community or a segment of that community by becoming involved in activities that are disruptive to or threatening harm to that community

More info, follow these links

However, even if you apply for an eVisa, the High Commission may still carry out police checks on you.  Recommend you contact them if you have been arrested and find out.   It is always wise to disclose this since you don’t want to be denied entry when you arrive in Australia.



Uncertain but have a look at this link:

Generally, if you have been arrested and before you apply for a visa to travel to any of these countries or any other countries, ask the police what information they have on you.  There will be a charge for this.

Look at these links