Will a youth record affect me if I want to travel outside Canada?

2. Know what to say to border officials

It's best to avoid travelling to other countries while you have an open youth record. Travelling with an open youth record, may make it difficult for you to legally and truthfully answer questions from border officials.

Don’t lie to border officials

Don't lie to border officials. If they find out you're lying, they may not let you enter their country. They may also stop you from entering their country in the future.

Here are common questions a border official might ask and ways you can answer:

1. ”Have you been of a crime?”
  Legally Correct Answer: “No.”
Even if you're found guilty as a young person, you are  not convicted, so the answer is “No”. Only adults can be convicted.

There is one exception. In rare situations, a judge can give a young person an adult . This means the finding of guilt counts as a conviction. Only in this rare situation, the legally correct answer is “Yes”. Otherwise, the answer to this question is always “No”.

2. ”Do you have a criminal record?”
Legally Correct Answer: “No.”

Your youth record is not the same a criminal record, so the legally correct answer is “No”. A criminal record means a record of criminal convictions. Only adults get convictions, so only adults can get a criminal record.

3. ”Have you been found guilty of a crime?”
Legally Correct Answer:  If
your sentence is finished, “No.” 

The law says that once your youth sentence is finished, it's the same as if you were never found guilty. For example, if you were sentenced to 6 months of , during those 6 months the law says you have been found guilty. But after the 6 months are over, the law erases your finding of guilt, so you can answer “No”.

If your sentence isn't finished yet, the truthful answer is “Yes”. But you're not allowed to say “Yes” because saying that would involve sharing information from your youth records. And it's against the law to share information from your youth records. Instead, you could say “I have never been convicted of a crime.”

A youth justice lawyer can give you more advice about how to answer questions about your youth record.

Border officials may not understand Canadian law

Border officials in other countries probably won't know Canadian law. They may not know the difference between a youth record and a criminal record or the difference between a conviction and a finding of guilt.

If border officials already know about your youth record, they may think you're lying if you say you don't have a criminal record. They may also think you're lying if you say you haven't been convicted.

Although your answers are true in Canada, border officials may find them confusing or think you're lying. This is one reason why it's best to avoid travelling while you have an open youth record.

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