Countries Felons Can Visit

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A felony conviction can restrict your ability to travel. A few countries prohibit entry for people convicted of a felony, while others grant restricted access. However, when it comes to traveling with a criminal record, there are still countries felons can visit. In general, European countries have less strict rules than the US and Canada.
In this guide, we will cover the European countries felons can visit and their entry criteria, as well as a few other countries that allow felons. Generally, most countries require that you present a police clearance certificate when applying for a visa or travel authorization. You can get the specific requirements for each country on their official immigration websites or the country’s embassy.

Traveling With a Felony: How Difficult Is It?

Curbing crime is a significant problem for many countries, so it’s no surprise most do not allow convicted persons into their territories. The travel restrictions for felons vary country by country and often depend on the seriousness of the crime committed. The US, for example, can deny you entry for what is considered a minor crime in your home country, irrespective of how long ago you committed the crime.
Restrictions are more relaxed in Europe. There are no questions of previous criminal convictions in the Schengen visitor/business visas. However, you might be required to provide clearance from your country if you apply for work or student visas. Citizens of countries in the Schengen visa waiver program now need an ETIAS to visit the Schengen zone, and the ETIAS application process includes some background checks.
Crimes like human trafficking, smuggling, fraud, sex-related or drug-related offenses are considered serious crimes and can make international travel difficult for you. Keep on reading to learn about these restrictions and how you can navigate them. We’ll discuss the travel restrictions felons face in Europe later in this article.

List of European Countries That Allow Felons

Felons face lesser trouble traveling to European countries than their North American counterparts. And while European Union immigration policies for criminals are generally less restrictive, some countries have stricter rules than others.
Though you may not be required to provide a criminal record in your application, an immigration officer might ask you about them during your visa interview. They’ll typically not deny you entry if the crime committed is not very serious and you’ve served your jail time. It is important to answer truthfully to avoid future problems. Here’s a list of the best European countries for felons.

1. France

France is a member of the Schengen region, so you’ll need a Schengen visitor or business visa to visit the country. The Schengen visitor business application does not include questions on criminal convictions, and French border agents do not often ask. However, this will change once the ETIAS visa takes effect. Visitors from third-world countries are usually subject to further scrutiny.

2. Germany

Germany has specific rules for visitors with criminal convictions. People convicted for crimes related to public order and sentenced to jail for over three years are often denied entry. The same applies to those who have served a jail term of over two years for drug and human trafficking crimes.

3. Spain

Spain restricts felons based on the severity of the offense committed, where the crime was committed, and how long ago it was committed. The country does not refuse entry to those convicted of minor crimes. However, if you have a criminal history of serious offenses or were recently sentenced, you may face further restrictions or travel bans depending on the severity of the crime.

4. Italy

Felons who have served their sentence and completed all probationary requirements will have no problem traveling to Italy. Only those who have not done their sentence or probation are restricted from entering the country. They are also prohibited from traveling through any of Italy’s major airports.

5. The Netherlands

People with past convictions can enter the Netherlands like every other person. The Netherlands denies entry to people wanted for felony and those on the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) no-fly list for terrorist suspects.

6. Poland

Poland’s policy for convicted travelers is the same as those of the Netherlands. The country does not restrict felons who have served a sentence imposed on them. People with active felony warrants against them and those on TSA’s no-fly list for terrorist suspects are not allowed into the country.

Other Countries Felons Can Visit

Non-Schengen member countries like the UK have stricter immigration rules for felons. However, convicted criminals can still visit if they meet the requirements and are not considered a threat. Other countries felons can visit include.

United Kingdom

The United Kingdom Visa and Immigration policy has strict character concerns but makes provision for “spent convictions.” A conviction is spent if the prison sentence (6 to 30 months) was completed more than ten years before the time of visa application. The ten years is known as a “rehabilitation period.” Sentences above 30 months cannot be spent, and you will be denied entry.
Short sentences (6 months and less) or fines have a shorter rehabilitation period of five years. Rehabilitation time starts counting from the date of completion of your last sentence if you’ve had consecutive convictions. And you’re not obligated to declare a criminal conviction that has been spent.

New Zealand

New Zealand is a strict country. Its immigration rules require that you provide all criminal records, including spent convictions, when applying for a visa or entering Australia. You’ll be refused entry if you’ve been imprisoned for five years or more or if you’ve been sentenced for 12 months or more within the last ten years.
New Zealand does not also grant entry to persons that have been deported in the past from any country and those suspected to have criminal tendencies. You may also be denied a visa if you pose a health risk or have a health issue that will deplete medical resources such as HIV or cancer.


Similar to UK’s policy, Australia has a “spent conviction” duration of 10 years for adult offenders and five years for juvenile offenders. Additionally, you must not have been involved in any misdemeanor (not even a minor offense) during the ten years. The spent conviction provision also does not apply to criminal sentences of more than 30 months.
If you’re applying for an Australian work visa, you must provide background checks from the countries you’ve lived in for up to 12 months in the last ten years.

Felon Travel Restrictions to Be Aware of

There are several considerations to make when planning a vacation as a felon. Depending on the gravity of the crime committed and their specific circumstances, some offenders may not even be allowed to travel out of their home countries.

Can Felons Leave The United States?

The Fifth Amendment allows felons to travel outside the US once they’ve completed their prison sentence and other probationary requirements. Travel restrictions (or bans) are placed on those with pending cases or the following persons.
  • Persons who are forbidden from leaving the country by the court
  • Persons with child support debt of up to $25,000
  • Persons with impending court hearings for federal crimes or felonies
  • Persons convicted of drug trafficking
  • Persons on a supervised release program for possessing a controlled substance or committing a felony or federal crime

Crimes That Can Keep You From Getting Visa

Your eligibility for a visa as a felon depends on factors like the severity of the crime you committed or how long ago it happened. It also depends on the strictness or flexibility of the immigration laws of the country. You will be unable to use your existing visa or obtain a new one in some countries if you’ve been convicted of a serious crime, such as:
  • Human trafficking
  • Smuggling
  • Fraud
  • Sex-related offenses
  • Drug offenses

These crimes are often punished with sentences above two years and would limit your chances of getting a visa in certain countries. You can obtain a visa to many countries without difficulty in cases of more minor crimes provided you complete your sentence, abide by given rules, and meet other visa requirements.

Requirements to Enter Europe

When planning a trip, felons must check their destination country’s immigration agency to ensure they are not restricted from entry. The countries listed in this article are excellent choices for felons.
If all that is required for entry to your destination country is your passport or any valid ID document, you won’t encounter any problems. However, all non-EU citizens will need an ETIAS visa to travel to the Schengen area by the end of 2023. And the ETIAS application includes background checks and criminal records.

ETIAS Application and Background Checks

ETIAS refers to the Electronic Travel Information Authorization System. It is a digital travel authorization designed to control illegal immigration and secure Europe’s borders. Starting in 2023, all non-EU citizens visiting the Schengen region, Switzerland, and Iceland will need an ETIAS to enter the area. Citizens of countries not participating in the Schengen visa waiver program must obtain a Schengen visa.
To apply for this travel authorization, simply create an account on the ETIAS portal and fill out the online application form. The form asks for basic biometric details like name, date of birth, passport number, contact address, and a criminal background check.
The background check includes questions regarding your criminal record and places where your visa was rejected, and where you’ve been deported. The information submitted will be used to determine if it’s safe to grant you entry.
If you have a criminal record, it does not necessarily mean that you will get declined for an ETIAS. The ability to travel with a criminal record depends on the details of your criminal conviction and when it occurred. However, criminal history of repeated convictions and previous convictions for serious crimes can lead to the refusal of your application.
Typically, ETIAS approval is given online within 24 hours. However, it will be processed manually when ETIAS needs further investigation of an applicant’s background. In such cases, it can take up to two weeks to receive a decision.
Written by: Fikayomi Abisola
Abisola is an ETIAS Travel and Immigration writer with several years of writing experience in the industry. Abisola has a unique enthusiasm for travels, tours, and tourism and loves to educate travellers about the criteria involved in international travelling.

Where Can Felons Travel FAQs

  • 1. Can felons visit Europe?

    Yes, felons can visit Europe once they’ve served their term. Depending on the country they want to visit, there may be other restrictions. Germany, for example, requires that you must not have been imprisoned for up to two years for a drug-related crime and up to three years for other offenses.
  • 2. Can convicted felons travel internationally?

    Convicted felons can travel internationally. Most countries have no restrictions for felons who have completed their sentence. Felons still serving their term or on probation are often unable to travel.
  • 3. Can a felon travel to Italy?

    Yes, a felon can travel to Italy. Italy does not deny entry to felons who have served their sentence. Those still serving or on probation are not allowed to enter Italy or travel through its major airports.
  • 4. What countries can a convicted felon travel to?

    A felon can travel to most EU countries, especially Schengen member countries. France, Germany, Spain, Poland, Italy, and the Netherlands are the best countries for felons because of their less restrictive immigration rules. However, this might change when the ETIAS program goes into effect at the end of 2023.

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