Skip links
Can You Travel Internationally With A DUI Conviction?

Can You Travel Internationally With A DUI Conviction?

Receiving a DUI carries significant implications. A criminal record, for instance, can restrict an individual’s travel options. Numerous countries have established legal travel restrictions for those with DUI convictions. Each nation has its own set of regulations and entry requirements.

These legalities vary depending on whether one is vacationing or applying for a temporary resident permit. Depending on the country, a person with a DUI may face denial of entry or be subject to certain restrictions or limitations. Our award-winning DUI defense lawyer at the Spartacus Law Firm will dive into the nuances of DUIs and their impact on international travel to ensure that you’re prepared for what lies ahead.

Drunk Driving Consequences

Most countries around the world take drunk driving convictions very seriously. Impaired driving can lead to severe injuries or even fatalities. Driving under the influence is an extremely poor decision.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), “on average, over the 10-year period from 2010-2019, more than 10,000 people died every year in drunk-driving crashes.”

Entering the United States with a DUI

Unless it includes aggravating factors. While such convictions may not lead to deportation, they could hinder or limit your ability to return to the United States after traveling abroad. An H1-B visa holder with a DUI record may find that during their interview at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate, they may receive a stamp on their H1-B visa.

Furthermore, the INA is particularly strict regarding drug offenses and offenses involving weapons. Drug and weapon charges are automatic grounds for exclusion, denial of admission, or deportation. Although a drug DUI is currently not considered problematic, this could change based on case specifics or future policy amendments.

Additionally, under a seldom-invoked section of the INA, individuals with specific medical conditions, such as chronic alcoholism, can be denied admission to the U.S. Proving chronic alcoholism requires more than a single DUI; it necessitates evidence of a persistent issue.

Finally, it’s important to note that the only foreign country with which the U.S. shares its complete electronic crime database is Canada.

Countries That Deny Entry to Individuals with a DUI


In Canada, a DUI charge is considered a felony conviction, which means individuals with such a conviction are typically barred from entering the country. However, this does not eliminate all legal pathways to entry. Individuals with otherwise clean criminal records can pay a fine to gain access to Canada. Additionally, some DUI convictions can be expunged from one’s criminal record after a certain period, allowing for legal travel to Canada without repercussions.

It’s important to note that this isn’t guaranteed for everyone. Depending on the specifics of the case, some individuals might face a permanent ban from visiting Canada.


If someone has a DUI charge within the past 10 years, they will likely be barred from entering Mexico. Similar to Canada, Mexico views drunk driving convictions as serious offenses, equivalent to felonies. In Mexico, these are referred to as indictable offenses. While Mexican border patrol and immigration officers are often more lenient than others, they will deny entry to anyone with a discovered criminal conviction. Mexican law explicitly prohibits entry to individuals with DUI records.


To enter Australia, applicants must complete an e-Visa, during which they will be asked about their criminal records. If an individual fails the criminal background check, entry into Australia will be denied. Depending on the severity of the criminal history, the Australian government may impose a permanent ban. In cases of a DUI conviction, requesting a travel waiver is the most prudent course of action. For more information, please visit the Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade official website.

Countries with Social or Cultural Reservations About DUIs

The United Arab Emirates and Persian Gulf Countries

The United Arab Emirates (UAE), situated in Asia, is a Muslim country with stringent views on alcohol consumption. Known for its capital city, Abu Dhabi, Islam is the official religion, and Islamic teachings consider the consumption of alcohol a sin.

While the UAE does not have specific legislation regarding DUI convictions and border entry, its cultural values significantly influence immigration decisions. Generally, the discretion lies with the immigration officer. Prospective visitors should hope to encounter a lenient and compassionate officer if they wish to enter a Persian Gulf nation like the UAE.


Iran shares many cultural similarities with Persian Gulf countries, particularly regarding strong reservations about alcohol. Entering Iran can be challenging for United States citizens, and even more so with a criminal record. Most immigration officers deny entry if an individual admits to a DUI conviction, though some may be more lenient and grant access. As in the United Arab Emirates, the decision often depends on the specific immigration officer.

Countries Where Honesty Is The Best Policy When It Comes To DUIs


To legally enter Japan, thorough background checks are conducted based on visa application responses. Lying about past criminal history, including a DUI conviction, can severely affect your chances of entry. It is essential to be completely honest about such matters.

Japanese border patrol is more likely to grant entry when applicants are fully cooperative and transparent about their criminal background. While entry may be denied depending on the severity of the offense, honesty generally works in your favor. Additionally, consulting the United States Consulate can help devise an appropriate plan for entry.

The People’s Republic of China

The People’s Republic of China conducts thorough background checks on applicants, especially when there is suspicion regarding someone’s criminal record. It is crucial for anyone attempting to enter China to be honest about any DUI convictions. Lying about such offenses can lead to harsher repercussions.

Much like in Japan, Chinese immigration officers are more lenient when applicants disclose their criminal histories. If an officer discovers a concealed criminal charge through their own research, they are likely to be frustrated and less willing to consider allowing entry.

Falsifying information about a DUI can result in severe penalties, including long-term bans. It is advisable to contact the United States Consulate for guidance on formulating an appropriate entry plan.

South Africa

When applying to enter South Africa, individuals are required to disclose their criminal records. This means that applicants must be transparent about any convictions, even if the immigration officer does not specifically inquire about their criminal history. Failure to disclose a DUI, for example, is considered deception by omission and will result in denied entry. Conversely, if the applicant is forthcoming about their criminal past, entry may be granted at the discretion of the immigration officer.

Countries with Limited Entry Restrictions

New Zealand

New Zealand typically maintains lenient travel restrictions. However, the severity of a criminal act and its corresponding sentence will determine an individual’s eligibility to enter the country. If a person has served a jail or prison sentence of 12 months or more within the past 10 months, entry will be denied. Furthermore, those who have served five or more years in jail may encounter significant obstacles when attempting to enter New Zealand. Despite these regulations, the country’s immigration laws are generally fair and considerate.

United States

The United States has legislation that restricts entry for individuals convicted of crimes involving moral turpitude. Fortunately, this often does not apply to those with DUI convictions. But what does “moral turpitude” mean? According to Merriam-Webster, it refers to “an act or behavior that gravely violates the sentiment or accepted standard of the community.”

Crimes of moral turpitude typically involve criminal intent. Examples include abuse, fraud, kidnapping, murder, animal cruelty, and theft. If someone convicted of a DUI also engaged in violence before, during, or after the incident, they will face significant challenges entering the country. A standard misdemeanor DUI, however, lacks criminal intent; it is a poor and impactful life choice made impulsively.

This distinction explains why, in most cases, a DUI conviction does not restrict entry into the United States. As a result, the U.S. demonstrates more leniency in this regard compared to other countries.

Contact Our Experienced DUI Defense Attorney

Some countries are stricter about allowing entry with a criminal record, including DUIs. Canada and Mexico often refuse entry to individuals with DUI convictions. The United Arab Emirates and Iran, due to religious beliefs condemning alcohol consumption, can also be challenging for those with DUIs. Entry approval is at the border agent’s discretion.

In Japan, South Africa, and China, entry can be easier if the truth is shared upfront. Being honest about a criminal past might result in more acceptance. Lying, however, almost guarantees denial and potential punishment.

New Zealand and the United States are more lenient. With an otherwise clean record, most individuals can enter these countries despite a DUI conviction. The severity of the charge and sentence will determine entry approval. Each country has specific policies, but these are fair and relaxed. If you need legal aid for a DUI case, contact the best DUI defense attorney in Las Vegas today at the Spartacus Law Firm to help you with various aspects, like determining the cost of license reinstatement after a DUI.

(702) 660-1234