Future plans in peril: an often forgotten side effect of drugs
Criminal conviction can prevent travel
Recreational drug users beware: if you’re caught with prohibited drugs and charged, it can limit your future travel plans.
According to Travel and Cruise North East owner and director Kay Reid a criminal record can affect your travel plans.
“It can be heartbreaking to have to tell someone that they can’t go on the trip of their dreams because of a silly mistake they’ve made in the past,” Ms Reid said.
“The more serious the offence, the harder it is to travel. A drug conviction, even for a small amount of drugs, can make it difficult to visit and to work overseas. “The challenge is that everywhere is different. “If you have a criminal record, regardless of how minor the offence is or how long ago it happened, you’ll need to check the entry requirements for every country you propose to visit.”
Generally, if you need to apply for a visa to visit a country, criminal convictions and sometimes arrests are asked about in the form.
They’re not concerned with the amount of drugs involved, whether you were fined or went to jail – it’s usually just a yes or no question.
If you answer yes, it can mean you’re unwelcome in that country.
“Countries change their rules of entry all the time, so I’d encourage people looking to travel to make the right enquiries before they leave,” Ms Reid said.
Local lawyer, Helen Collins from Nevin Lenne Gross, agrees many people who end up with a drug conviction don’t realise how it can limit their future travel plans.
“A lot of people who end up with a criminal record don’t realise it can limit their travel,” Ms Collins said.
“The only way to know where you can or cannot travel is to check with each country you hope to visit.
“You may need to go through the process of applying for a visa or an electronic travel authorisation to know for certain, as you may be able to travel, despite your record.
Countries such as the US, Canada, China and Indonesia require travellers with a criminal record to apply for a visa or electronic travel authorisation.
“When you make an application, you are required to disclose any criminal convictions you have received, along with any matters that you have outstanding,” Ms Collins said.
“If you travel to a country that inquires about criminal history during the visa or customs process, you must answer truthfully.
“Any false statements could result in a lengthy or permanent bar to that country.
“If you are unsure whether you have a criminal record, you should apply for a National Police Check from the Australian Federal Police before you apply for a visa or electronic travel authorisation.
“In any case, a National Police Check is often mandatory if you are applying for a work visa for a foreign country.
“You should allow plenty of time as the Federal Police require two to three weeks to respond, and your application for a visa or ETA will take longer than if you have no criminal record.”
If you have a criminal conviction, it does not necessarily mean that you will be refused entry to a country.
Whether your criminal conviction affects your ability to travel depends on the country you’re planning to visit and their policies, as well as the severity of the offence.
If you are facing a drug conviction and you are concerned about the effect it might have on your future travel plan; it’s a good idea to speak to a lawyer.