Having a conviction, of course, can significantly affect your ability to travel internationally. And while it certainly has a less profound effect on where you can travel when you stay within your country’s borders, any interaction with police may go far more negatively with an existing conviction, so that may determine where you travel.
For example, if travelling across the country, sticking to freeways and major cities may be helpful, to avoid unnecessary interest from law enforcement. Plus making sure all aspects of your auto insurance and car’s roadworthiness are up to date also can be very helpful to stay on the right side of the law. But when travelling internationally, some countries may refuse you admission even with a minor criminal conviction, whereas other countries only refuse you entry if your conviction is a serious one or is recent. It’s worthwhile to note that any offences committed within the destination country would be taken more seriously than offences outside of that country, which is understandable.
However, with recent convictions, the most pressing factor affecting your ability to travel may simply be if you’re still on probation or parole. This can very much keep you tied to a certain geographic area, and require that you check in regularly. And it’s important to note that when asked about any criminal convictions when travelling internationally, it’s vital you answer truthfully as false statements may cause you to be barred from that country, perhaps even permanently.
Travelling to the United States
If you’re travelling to the United States, it’s important to know that the USA is particularly tough on crime with the highest incarceration rate in the world. This stance on criminality can mean that regardless of how minor the conviction, and regardless of how long ago it occurred, it can still work against you when looking to travel into the country. This can cause significant complications with your travel arrangements, and again it’s vital you’re honest if asked about any convictions.
And the USA does very much have a combative attitude towards drug use rather than a focus on rehabilitation, so when in the country avoiding any illegal activity at all is very much a good idea.
The European Union
Compared to many destinations, the rules for travelling into the EU are comparatively relaxed. However, this does differ on a country by country basis. For example, the United Kingdom tends to have much stricter entry requirements (regarding past criminality) compared to Holland or Germany.
It’s worth noting that when applying to the EU for a business visa, questions about criminal convictions are not asked. But again, if you are asked, it’s vital to ensure you answer truthfully. However, minor convictions (less than three years of imprisonment) generally do not create an issue.
Australia and New Zealand
Both Australia and New Zealand are quite strict regarding criminal history, but in a similar way to the UK they have the concept of spent convictions. The definition here is a conviction that is more than 10 years old. But again, longer sentences cause more complications, and if you’ve been imprisoned for more than 30 months the visa application process can be considerably more complex.
It’s always a good idea to find out the laws and expectations before you travel.