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Can You Travel Internationally After a DUI?

Kaylind Landes
8 minute read

Americans love to travel: More than 38 million traveled internationally in 2022, and the number is rising. Most of them don’t have to think about where they can legally go. Just pick a flight and get a visa – and sometimes you don’t even need that.

If you have a driving under the influence (DUI) conviction on your record though, things might be different for you. So, can you travel internationally with a DUI? The answer is it depends on where you’re going and which type of DUI is on your record. Here we’ll answer some of the most common questions about traveling with a DUI.

What Countries Will Not Let You in With a DUI?

Even if you were convicted of a first-time DUI, which is a misdemeanor, some other countries still view it as a more serious offense. In other cases, a country won’t ban you outright, but a DUI can make it more difficult to get a visa or pass customs. Let’s dive into the details for some frequently visited countries, and then expand on two of the most common places Americans travel: Canada and Mexico.


In Australia, you might not be able to get a visa with a DUI on your record. The application process has questions about your criminal record, and if you don’t pass, you can be denied entry. For more severe crimes, like felonies, they can even permanently ban you from entering. If your application is denied, you can request a travel waiver, which can be granted if “there are humanitarian grounds to do so,” according to the website for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.


China doesn’t automatically deny entry for a DUI – it ultimately leaves the decision up to immigration officers. You’ll be asked about any convictions, and they may also conduct an extensive background check. If you lie about your criminal record, you’re not likely to be allowed into the country. If you’re up-front, and the crime is a misdemeanor, you could still get in.

Iran, Saudi Arabia, and UAE

It’s already challenging for Americans to travel to Iran and Saudi Arabia. It can be hard to get a visa, and the U.S. Department of State doesn’t recommend travel to these places. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is considered safer and more friendly to Americans. Regardless, if you have a DUI, you can be denied entry to any of these places and other Persian Gulf countries. They don’t have specific laws about DUIs, but they do have strong cultural reservations and harsh laws about alcohol in general. Ultimately, it will be up to the immigration officer conducting your screening.


According to Japanese law, the country can ban you from entering if you have certain types of convictions. The part of the law that applies to DUIs states that if you’ve been sentenced to one year or more in prison or to an equivalent penalty, you’ll be denied entry. For the most part, first-time DUIs don’t result in a year in prison, so you should be fine.

South Africa

Before you can enter South Africa, you must tell immigration officers about any criminal history, even if they don’t ask directly. If your record includes a DUI conviction, you can be declared “undesirable” and denied entry. You’re more likely to be denied if you served jail time or had to do community service. However, if you don’t share your DUI and immigration finds out, you will definitely be denied entry. It’s always best to be honest.

You might be thinking these travel restrictions aren’t that big of a deal. But two of the countries that will not let you in with a DUI are the most common destinations for Americans: Mexico and Canada.

Can You Go to Mexico With a DUI?

If you’ve been convicted of a DUI within the past 10 years, you are legally not allowed into Mexico. That’s because the country views DUIs as “indictable offenses,” similar to felonies in the U.S. However, there is no visa application process in most cases: American tourists and business travelers from the United States can stay up to 180 days in Mexico without needing a visa.

This means whether or not you can enter is up to border patrol and immigration officers. If they ask about your criminal history, it’s best to be honest. Many times, they’ll still let tourists with misdemeanor DUI convictions enter, especially if it was years ago. So, while technically you’re not allowed in the country, there’s a good chance you can still get in.

Can You Go to Canada With a DUI?

Generally, no. Canada is surprisingly one of the strictest countries when it comes to traveling with a criminal record. So, how long after a DUI can you go to Canada? If you’ve been convicted within the past 5 years, you’re banned from entering Canada. Once 5 years have passed, you can pay a $200 fine or go through the “criminal rehabilitation” process to be allowed to enter. You can also wait 10 years.

Like Mexico, DUI is a felony in Canada, which is why travelers are banned. Unlike Mexico, Canada is pretty strict when it comes to their laws about traveling with a DUI. There are no travel waivers like there are in Australia. And know that Canadian immigration officers are able to see your U.S. criminal record, so you should never lie.

What About Felony Convictions?

In the U.S., only your first DUI conviction is a misdemeanor. If you get multiple DUIs within 10 years, the second conviction and more will be felonies. Having a felony on your record is much more serious than a misdemeanor. What countries will not let you in with a DUI if it’s a felony? Laws change, but here is a basic list of countries that don’t admit felons:

  • China
  • Cuba
  • India
  • Iran
  • Israel
  • Japan
  • Kenya
  • Macau
  • New Zealand
  • South Africa
  • Taiwan
  • United Kingdom

Other countries won’t let you in only if you have certain types of felonies. That list usually includes serious crimes like:

  • Assault
  • Child pornography
  • Cybercrime
  • Drug trafficking
  • Human trafficking
  • Kidnapping
  • Manslaughter
  • Murder
  • Rape

If you have a felony on your record, check the government website of the country you plan to visit to see if you’ll be able to enter.

What Can You Do If You Want to Travel With a DUI?

Luckily, there aren’t many countries that won't let you in with a DUI. If you already have a DUI conviction on your record, you may need to avoid traveling to those countries. If you must go there, you may be able to get a travel waiver in certain cases, like the death of a family member or for humanitarian reasons.

Unfortunately, our closest neighbors – Mexico and Canada – are two of the countries that won’t let you in with a DUI, and they can be strict. Your best bet is to not have a DUI conviction on your record at all. Hiring an experienced DUI attorney can give you the best chance of never getting a conviction at all. They can negotiate a plea deal, like a deferred sentence, or even get the charges dropped.

You can also look into getting your DUI expunged. After a deferred sentence, your record will be automatically partially expunged, and you can get it fully expunged after another year. If your sentence was suspended or you served jail time for a misdemeanor, you can expunge your record 5 years after you complete your sentence. For a felony DUI, you typically need to wait 5 to 10 years.

The Bottom Line

Now that you know what countries won’t let you in with a DUI, it’s time to ask if there is anything you can do to help yourself. If you have a case in progress and haven’t yet been convicted, the answer is yes. Even if you have a conviction on your record, you may be able to expunge it. Contact the Tulsa DUI Guy to talk about your options and make your future travel plans easier.