Criminal record? Here’s how to clear it in Canada.


Criminal records can be damaging to your employment opportunities and various social aspects of your life, such as finding housing or getting a security clearance at work. In Canada, you can petition the courts to expunge your criminal record, which will make it more difficult for people to find out about your past convictions and help you get a fresh start. Check out this guide on how to get a fresh start in Canada by clearing your criminal record and learn how to avoid mistakes when petitioning the courts so that you have the best possible chance of success.

What is on your criminal record?

If you have a criminal record, you’re probably wondering what is on your file right now and whether you can do anything about it—like seal or expunge your records. The short answer is that yes, there are some things you can do to remove certain parts of your records from public view. While most people don’t realize it, even if you haven’t been convicted of an offense, information about your arrest may still appear on your criminal record depending on where you live.

Criminal records show a person’s full name, convictions, their fingerprints, and more. Criminal records only get put on someone’s permanent record if they are found guilty of one or more crimes in the Criminal Code of Canada.

Get a Pardon to Clear Your Criminal Record in Canada

A pardon, which is sometimes called a record suspension, wipes your criminal history clean after a certain period of time has passed since you completed your sentence or a set number of years have elapsed since you committed your offense. A pardon won’t get rid of every trace of your past wrongdoing, but it can help you find employment and travel more easily, as well as gain some closure if you feel burdened by remorse for what happened in your past. It may also prevent future employers from finding out about your conviction.

A person who wishes to obtain a pardon must apply through Pardon applications for clearing criminal record, an agency that handles all applications for pardons and other forms of relief under federal jurisdiction.

How Your Criminal Record Affects You

It’s easy to assume that, once you’ve paid your debt to society and done your time, you can move on with your life. But if you have a criminal record, that may not be so easy: A criminal record has consequences both immediately (by making it more difficult for people with records to get jobs) and later on (when an employer can legally discriminate against candidates with records). In fact, it’s estimated that nearly half of all Canadians will have a brush with law enforcement at some point in their lives—and having a criminal record makes it harder to find work or travel abroad. That said, there are steps you can take to remove certain convictions from your record and help ensure they don’t come back to haunt you down the road.

Canada’s pardon program clears your criminal record so that people can’t find it when you do a criminal background check. Once you get a pardon, people can’t see your record unless they have your written permission or approval from the Public Safety Minister of Canada. A pardon has the effect of removing your conviction from your criminal record.

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