Practical information & advice

If you’re on licence you will normally need to get permission to travel outside the UK, but this is often given. Otherwise, there’s rarely anything stopping you from travelling abroad and you should be able to travel freely within the EU. Travelling to specific countries like America and Australia will usually require you to apply for a visa due to their specific process.

Taken from our top 10 things to know

 

Information

Here you’ll find links to various parts of this site where we have information and useful resources relating to travelling abroad.

I’m looking to travel and have a criminal record. What are the consequences?

A lot will depend on the country you wish to travel to, the nature of your offence and the sentence/disposal you received. Useful links include:

I’m looking to travel to the US – what’s the process?

If you’re able to travel using the Visa Waiver Scheme (ESTA) then the process is quite simple. If you need to apply for a visa (because you have committed a crime of moral turpitude) it is slightly more complex and you should allow yourself plenty of time to apply before you travel. Useful links include:

 

Advice

Here you’ll find some of the common advice that we give on travelling abroad. This is based on what we’ve learnt as a charity, as well as the real-life experiences of people with convictions.

  • The process of applying for a visa to the US can be a long (and expensive) one. However, we regularly receive reports of people being successful in their applications, so if you are serious about travelling to the US, you shouldn’t be put off by the process.
  • Nevertheless, people with convictions travel to the US on a daily basis, choosing to lie on the ESTA process (i.e. declaring that they’ve never been arrested or convicted) instead of applying for a visa, and are generally able to travel with no difficulties. However, our experience suggest that this option is only really suitable for people who are willing to take this risk, as it is technically a criminal offence, and for most people choosing to go to the US for a leisurely holiday, it is not normally a risk that people wish to take.

 

Frequently asked questions

Here you’ll find some specific questions that we regularly get about travelling abroad and the answers we generally provide. More detailed FAQ’s may be included in the information pages above.

This would normally only occur if you travelled without prior notification or in breach of a foreign travel order preventing you from travelling outside the UK – therefore, committing a further offence. In the event you had fulfilled your commitment to notify (and therefore travelled with implied permission) there should be no reason for UK police to disclose your conviction or communicate with foreign law enforcement. There is currently only limited routine sharing of criminal record information across states; primarily within the EU.
‘No Trace’ means that you have no convictions, reprimands, final warnings, or cautions held on the Police National Computer.

‘No Live Trace’ means that there is criminal record information held on the Police National Computer but it has been ‘stepped down’. Anyone who sees this, can see that you have a criminal record from your past, even if they can’t see details.

See more about how ‘No Live Trace’ might be used by agencies such as the US Embassy on our information on police certificates.

If the information is held abroad you would have to contact the high commission of the country concerned or that country’s data protection authority.

If your information is held in the UK, you are covered by the Data Protection Act, so you can apply for the information they hold on you from that country’s embassy.

All the time you are out of the UK you are considered to be ‘unlawfully at large’ and your licence will stop.

If you returned to the UK, your licence would start again and you would be liable for recall to prison for the length of time you have left on licence.

 

Here you’ll find links to useful organisations and websites related to travelling abroad that we refer to in our information and advice. Contact details for the organisations listed below can be found here.

 

Read personal stories

The personal stories below have been posted on theRecord, our online magazine.

 

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