CAN I TRAVEL TO EUROPE WITH A SERIOUS CRIMINAL RECORD?
Travelers with a criminal record who visit Europe for vacation are not now questioned about minor charges, especially upon entry into any of the Schengen passport-free countries.
Travellers who have committed more serious offences may have difficulty entering Schengen Area ETIAS nations for short visits. Those who have served more than three years in prison or who have been convicted of human trafficking or narcotics charges with more than two years in prison are likely to be denied entrance.
However, policies differ from country to country. Germany, for example, has significantly tighter laws than most other Schengen member nations, as the country has the authority to deport anybody who:
- A public order conviction with a sentence of more than 3 years.
- Drug offenses with a sentence of more than 2 years.
- Any offense related to human trafficking.
However, like in the United Kingdom, German border authorities are more concerned with transgressions committed within their own nation than those committed outside the EU. The UK, on the other hand, uses the idea of’spent’ convictions, which allows travellers with a criminal past to enter the nation provided they are deemed rehabilitated.
A conviction is considered’spent’ in the UK if it has been more than ten years since the traveller last served jail time (sentences between 6 to 30 months). Over 30 months in jail cannot be’spent,’ and will always be used against the traveller. Prison sentences of less than 6 months or penalties result in a rehabilitation period of 5 years or less.
If the sentence is considered’spent,’ the traveller is not required to report the conviction, and it cannot be used against them even if immigration officers are aware of the offence.
Finally, anyone travelling to Europe with a criminal past should keep in mind that the ultimate decision for admission often comes down to the individual discretion of the border control official, so it’s critical to state your case politely and truthfully.