A Record Suspension (formerly called a pardon) is an order that keeps a person’s criminal record (of convictions) separate and apart from other criminal records. This means a person’s convictions will not be revealed on criminal record checks. It does not erase a criminal record. Record suspensions allow people who have made positive life changes to be freed from many of the negative impacts of having a criminal record.

People have the right not to be discriminated against because of a criminal conviction for which they have received a record suspension. The Parole Board of Canada is responsible for granting, denying and revoking record suspensions. If a record suspension is related to a sexual offence, the file will be ‘flagged’ in the RCMP system and will still be revealed on a vulnerable sector check.

As of 2012, you are no longer eligible for a record suspension if you have been convicted of:

You can apply for a record suspension only if you meet all 3 of the following conditions. There are no exceptions.

Get a Record Suspension Application Guide and Form from the Parole Board of Canada. For assistance on how to start an application visit your local John Howard Society (see contact information below) or click on the Parole Board of Canada resources below to access forms, tips and instructions on how to complete your application.

Record Suspension Services

John Howard Society

Contact your local John Howard Society for more information (see contact information above)

Record Suspension Application

Parole Board of Canada

Parole Board of Canada

Helpful resources from the Parole Board of Canada, the the official and only federal agency responsible for record suspensions.

Cannabis Record Suspensions

Parole Board of Canada

Parole Board of Canada

Learn about the eligibility criteria for a cannabis record suspension and how to apply for one Parole Board of Canada.

The application process is described in the Application Guide. Make sure to follow the instructions carefully. The process involves:

  • Getting your criminal record from the RCMP and local police service for the city or town where you live now (your current address) AND for each city or town where you have lived during the last 5 years (if you lived in that city or town for 3 months or more)
  • Being fingerprinted
  • Paying an application fee ($50.00 as of 2022)
Depending on your conviction and sentence, you may also need to submit your Court Information, Proof of Conviction, Military Conduct Sheet or Immigration documents. There are costs associated with obtaining these documents. Some Ontario Works offices will pay for part or all of the cost of obtaining a record suspension.
If you have submitted your application after February 2012, the Parole Board of Canada will generally make a decision about your application within 6 months for summary offences, and within 12 months for indictable offences.


    Valentina Posada
    Tel: 416.925.4386 (271)
    Email: vposada@jhst.ca


Certain criminal records may exclude you from travel into some countries. A Waiver is a document, issued by the country to which you would like to travel, allowing you to enter even if you do not meet the entry requirements. For example, the United States restricts entry for people who have been convicted of certain crimes. You can find a list of what these crimes are at www.state.gov

If you have a record of one of these crimes, you will need a Waiver of Inadmissibility to enter the US. Never try to travel to the US if you are excluded: you could be detained, fined, charged or incarcerated.

The waiver is issued by US Customs & Border Protection (CBP), an agency of the Department of Homeland Security, and carries a short term. You can apply by filling out Form I-192 and submitting the required documents. The list of crimes, Application Form and instructions can be found on the US Citizenship & Immigration website: www.uscis.gov and the application is submitted at a CBP Port of Entry.

The application process can take up to a year and is expensive. The costs will depend on the types of documents you need to submit, but the application itself costs $585.00 US (as of 2012).

If you have obtained a record suspension, you may still need a waiver to travel to the US. Border officials may have access to different kinds of information than Canadian police and do not recognize a Canadian Record Suspension. Even a conditional discharge for certain offences can exclude you from entry.

For more information, read the CBP website: www.state.gov, contact your nearest Port of Entry, or call the Pearson Airport CBP Centre: 905-676-2606.

A caution about private services:

You may have seen ads for companies that say they can get you a record suspension faster, easier or “guaranteed.” The truth is, it’s impossible for them to speed up or guarantee the process or outcome. The eligibility requirements and process are the same for everyone, no matter if they apply through a company or on their own — everyone gets the same consideration. You do not have to pay a private company or a lawyer to obtain a record suspension, you can go through the process yourself and only pay the document and application fees.

However, if you’re having difficulty with the process and would like some assistance, try getting information and help from:

Some reasons to pursue a Record Suspension include: 

  • Removing negative impacts associated with a criminal record
  • Discrimination and stigma
  • Employment
  • Career advancement
  • Immigration
  • Volunteering
  • Apartment rentals
  • Educational opportunities
  • General peace of mind
  • Reflects positive life changes

No. Only sexual offences can be revealed on a Vulnerable Sector Check after receiving a Record Suspension.

No. Any convictions that appear on your RCMP record check must be included on the Record Suspension Application.