Can I Travel Abroad as a Convicted Felon?

If you were previously convicted of a felony in Florida or another state and you want to travel abroad, you may be wondering if you can leave the United States as a convicted felon – a reasonable question indeed.

If a U.S. citizen with a felony record wishes to travel outside the United States, they won’t usually have any problem, however, if they have an outstanding warrant for a serious felony, they can face serious repercussions if they attempt to leave the U.S. because it looks like they’re trying to flee the country to avoid prosecution.

Can Felons Obtain U.S. Passports?

What about U.S. passports, are convicted felons barred from obtaining U.S. passports? Generally, no. This is because passports are used as identification documents; they do not contain people’s criminal background information. However, a convicted felon can be barred from receiving a U.S. passport if he or she:

  • Was convicted of drug trafficking and they crossed an international boarder when they committed the crime;
  • Is subject to a felony-related subpoena;
  • Is subject to federal arrest;
  • Owes more than $2,500 in child support (this applies to everyone, not just convicts);
  • Is forbidden by probation, parole, or a court order to leave the U.S.; or
  • Is imprisoned or under a supervised release program for felony drug charges relating to distributing a controlled substance.

Even if you have no problem obtaining a U.S. passport, that doesn’t mean the country you would like to visit will let you in. Our advice is to do your research before you book a flight. You can contact the U.S. State Department to find out if the country you’d like to visit will issue you a visa as a convicted felon. Canada, for example, is one country that won’t let foreign travelers visit with a DUI on their record, even a misdemeanor DUI.

“Can I travel outside the U.S. if my criminal record is expunged?” is a question that comes up frequently. If someone’s record was expunged or sealed, it would not prevent their criminal record from being seen by a government agency. While an expungement keeps employers and the general public from seeing a criminal record, the record still shows up when the individual is traveling outside the United States.