How to Clear a Criminal Record in Canada

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According to the Canadian Criminal Records Act, clearing a criminal record in Canada that is a result of a conviction for a criminal act requires a Canadian pardon. This should not be confused with a petition for expungement where a criminal record is cleared or sealed based on non-conviction or a non-crime. While there are many companies offering pardon services, the National Parole Board provides a free pardon application and information helpline in order to correctly apply for a Canadian pardon.

Step 1

Determine if you are eligible for a Canadian pardon. You can determine your eligibility by reading a fact sheet available at the National Parole Board's website ( Generally, you can apply for a pardon if you have completed your sentence (including parole), if you have paid all fines, and if you have waited the required time after sentence completion, which is usually between three and five years.

Step 2

Obtain all information pertaining to your criminal record. These records include information about your conviction, court information, military conduct, and a local police record check. You also will need to provide residency and immigration status information.

Step 3

Fill out the pardon application form, which is available at the National Parole Board website ( Make sure that you fill out all of the required information. If at any time you have questions about the form or the required information, call the Helpline at 1-800-874-2652. There is no set fee for applying for a pardon.

Step 4

Wait for a decision from the National Parole Board. The decision about a pardon could take several months, after which several more months are required for a criminal record to be sealed.


  • Even if your record is sealed, you must answer all questions regarding your conviction status honestly, especially if asked for immigration purposes or legal cases. You must say that while you were convicted of a criminal act, you received a Canadian pardon.
  • The National Parole Board authorized almost 40,000 pardons in 2008-2009, according to the board.


About the Author

Jessica Jewell is a writer, photographer and communications consultant who began writing professionally in 2005. Her chapbook, "Slap Leather," is forthcoming from dancing girl press. Her recent work has appeared in "Nimrod," "Harpur Palate," "Copper Nickel," "Rhino," "wicked alice," "Poetry Midwest" and "Barn Owl Review." Jewell was recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She earned her Master of Fine Arts from Kent State University.