Countries You Can’t Enter if You’ve Gotten a DUI

by SharonKurheg

We all know that we should make good life choices. We also all know that sometimes it doesn’t happen. Take getting a DUI, for example. Depending on where you live, you could pay a fine, lose your driver’s license and/or go to jail. Depending on how long ago it was, you may not be able to rent a car. That’s to say nothing of the fact that you’ve run the risk of getting into an accident and hurting or killing yourself or others.

As it turns out, there’s another potential long-term risk of getting a DUI – you may not be able to enter certain countries, sometimes for years, sometimes for forever. Take a look:


U.S. citizens need to fill out an e-Visa to enter Australia. The application includes passing a character test and applicants must have no major criminal history, no convictions and no association with anyone who is or has been involved in criminal conduct. As per Australia’s ETA (Electronic Travel Authority) FAQ:

If you have a criminal conviction and have been sentenced to a term of imprisonment of 12 months or more, you should not be applying for an ETA. You might be eligible to apply for other types of online visitor visas.

If you are found to be in breach of any condition, your visa can be cancelled at the border and you will not be able to enter Australia.


Having a DUI is considered a serious crime in Canada (it’s punishable by up to a decade in prison). Visitors who have been convicted of any alcohol-related driving infraction, such as driving under the influence (DUI), driving while intoxicated (DWI), driving while ability impaired (DWAI), or wet reckless driving may be considered criminally inadmissible to Canada and refused entry at the border.

There was a time when people with a history of DUI were considered “rehabilitated by time” ten years post their conviction. This is no longer the case; it’s possible for you to be refused entry into Canada forever if you have a history of DUI, even if the conviction was over 10 years ago.


Japan conducts extensive background checks when applying to enter the country, and if you lie about a past criminal or even misdemeanor history, they will find out about it. If that’s the case for you, it’s suggested you contact the U.S. Consulate to determine your next step.


Similar to Japan, Malaysia conducts extensive background checks when you apply to enter the country, and if you lie about a past criminal or even misdemeanor history, they will find out about it. If that’s the case for you, it’s suggested you contact the U.S. Consulate to determine your next step.


DUI convicts are taken very seriously in Mexico; it’s considered an indictable offense, similar to a felony, and felons are prohibited from entering. So foreigners with drunk driving convictions within the past 10 years are generally refused entry into the country.

Mexican border guards have been known to let travelers pass through with little scrutiny, so while you can take your chances, don’t be surprised if they tell you no.

New Zealand

Whether or not you can enter New Zealand with a history of a DUI will depend upon what your sentence had been. A DUI sentences of 12 months or more in jail within the last 10 months or any convictions where you were sentenced to 5 years or more in prison will be adequate reason for New Zealand officials to not grant you entry into the country.

The People’s Republic of China

Similar to Japan and Malaysia, the People’s Republic of China conducts extensive background checks when applying to enter the country, and if you lie about a past criminal or even misdemeanor history, they will find out about it. If that’s the case for you, it’s suggested you contact the U.S. Consulate to determine your next step.


One of the required documents when applying for a Qatar work visa is a Police Clearance Certificate (it’s also sometimes known as a “Good Conduct Certificate” or a “Criminal Record Check for Overseas Employment”). It’s a requirement of the State of Qatar for non-citizens intending to do business in Qatar. You would to apply for the document before entering, since you’d need it to obtain your residence permit after arrival in Qatar. If you have a DUI conviction on your record, you may be denied a business visa in the country.

That being said, Qatar has no such issues for tourism.

South Africa

When visiting South Africa, you’ll be expected to voluntarily disclose any criminal record at the South African border (even if they don’t ask you about it). Failure to do so is called “deception by silence” and will result in your immediate refusal. If you do disclose your criminal history and are denied (it depends on the judgment of the immigration officer) you can still return to South Africa once the conviction has left your record.

United Arab Emirates

The United Arab Emirates is a Muslim country and since Muslims consider the consumption of alcohol to be a sin, their stance on DUIs is, not surprisingly, harsh. UAE has no laws on the books about allowing visitors with a history of DUI from entering the country, but having that history could definitely make entering the county more difficult. The final decision will be left with the strictness of the immigration officer.

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary


derek February 20, 2020 - 7:34 pm

Saying “China” is taking sides in a dispute. The article should read “People’s Republic of China” because the text has nothing to do with the “Republic of China”. Totally different country, just like the United States of America should not be confused with the United States of Mexico, which is the name for the country we commonly call “Mexico”.

These country treat DUI harshly because they do not want American and foreigners who are drunk and dangerous drivers to roam in their country.

SharonKurheg February 20, 2020 - 7:42 pm

You’re right, my bad. I’ve updated the post.

Speaking of which, “American,”huh? Which Americans? North? South? Central? Native? 😉

xyeahtony February 21, 2020 - 11:33 am

this had nothing political involved until you posted it. Everybody i know from the “republic of china” says they’re from Taiwan. smh. it is common nomenclature when saying “china” to refer to the PRC, which the UN and basically every single country in the world recognizes.

Jake February 21, 2020 - 7:09 pm

You do understand that the United States doesn’t even officially consider the republic of china to be it’s own country right? Under U.S. policy and most international norms there is one China and Beijing is the capital.

Bob Bob February 20, 2020 - 8:34 pm

I served 6 years in a US federal prison for importing MDMA into the US (I am a US Citizen) back in 2002.

I have visited Mexico, Japan, and South Africa (as well as the UK a lot) many times since then and have never been “found out.”

The only places they will not let me visit is Oz and Canada.

Stephanie Woods February 20, 2020 - 10:25 pm

Canada will not let you in with an OUI conviction at all. The only possible way is to have it expunged if it happened in a state where expungement is possible or hire a Canadian immigration lawyer.

derek August 21, 2021 - 6:32 pm

A lawyer that defends drunk drivers told me:
1. Don’t drink and drive.
2. Don’t think that a lawyer can make it as it nothing happened. The lawyer is trying to salvage a bad situation.
3. If you are asked to do a roadside sobriety test, refuse (check local and state laws first). This is because the roadside test is subjective, the testing conditions vary (sometimes, the ground is rocky and uneven. Other times is cold and windy. A person who hasn’t had a drink in years could fail). He says that will result in getting arrest most of the time but not necessarily a conviction. Also in the time that it takes to bring you to the station, your body may clear a little alcohol.

I think he thought breathalyzers were not as bad as the roadside sobriety test.

Christian August 21, 2021 - 11:37 pm

Just my snarky sense of humor I suppose but I find it pretty amusing that Doug Parker, the CEO of American Airlines, wouldn’t be permitted entry into any of these countries since he has a couple of DUI’s.

Skaner August 22, 2021 - 9:03 am

While you claim that many countries do extensive background checks this might be true for the Interpol database but Japan certainly doesn’t have access to a local US state database. They could run your name through a local open web database but there are no identifying features without having your SSN so maybe apart from Canada none of these countries will be able to find out about a misdemeanor DUI charge from “Paul Miller” from 2005.

Mike August 22, 2021 - 9:15 am

‘Gotten’ is not a word.

SharonKurheg August 22, 2021 - 7:26 pm

Yeah, it is.

Learn to pronounce
verb: gotten
North American past participle of get.

Matt C December 21, 2021 - 3:47 pm

I was admitted to Japan with a DUI 2 years ago after checking “yes” on the customs form. The only country where it is pretty much an automatic disqualification is Canada.

Kramer March 21, 2022 - 8:49 pm

I got in too but only because I told the agents the truth & they were able to verify it with my county. Mine was a misdemeanor 16 years ago & they told me I can’t go back!

G October 19, 2022 - 4:44 pm

Sorry to debunk, but I have visited Canada (Victoria on a cruise ship with passport information handed over prior to disembarking) and also Mexico (flight into Cancun for 4 nights) and had zero issues with a recent DWAI in the system. Just returned from two months in the UE and UK. Perhaps Canada wont judge a DWAI the same if it would not be an offense in their country (ie under a BAC .08) and technically DWAI means ability impaired which could refer to anything as in alcohol or a cast on your leg. According to several accounts the border agent is the ultimate arbiter in those situations and more likely to turn you away attempting to cross in a car or on foot than by boat or air.

derek April 1, 2023 - 7:08 pm

This is why I do not drink much outside of home. If I drink at a party or a restaurant, it is limited to one drink and a mandatory 2 hour waiting period. It is not worthwhile to be banned from a major country.

Dora April 2, 2023 - 6:01 pm

Been to Mexico within past 12 months by air, & driving into with a friend with a past DUI (not explunged) with no problem at all with them getting in. Had two people in our group on a recent cruise to Alaska with both having a past DUI. Both had no problem boarding initial cruise ship in Seattle & getting off the ship in Vancouver & Victoria, Canada. Both of their DUI’s were over 5 years old but from what I read, they should not have been allowed entrance

drrichard April 17, 2023 - 7:24 am

Wrote Trudeau’s office when he took over and suggested they revisit the across the board policy (I’ve never had a single run in with the law but it does seem pretty harsh). Got a nice letter back they’d look into it but apparently nothing happened. Perhaps if enough people wrote the Canadian tourist boards that they wouldn’t/couldn’t visit and spend money because of long past minor infractions this might lead to some changes.


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