Record Suspension

What is the difference between a criminal conviction and a criminal record?

Since the Identification of Criminals Act only allows the taking of fingerprints in relation to indictable or hybrid offences, the RCMP national repository of criminal records is fingerprint-based and only contains information relating to these two categories of offences. Summary offences are only included in the national repository if submitted to the RCMP as part of an occurrence involving an indictable or hybrid offence. Note: Not all offences are reported to the RCMP national repository of criminal records. A search against a local police agency’s records may reveal criminal record information that has not been reported to the RCMP.

Is a non-conviction record different from a criminal record?

Yes. A non-conviction record refers specifically to criminal charges with court decisions other than “guilty” (e.g. not guilty, acquitted, withdrawn, stays of proceeding, peace bond). In comparison, a criminal record must include charge information where an individual was convicted (e.g. guilty) of a criminal offence. An individual’s file may include conviction and/or non-conviction records.

What is a criminal record check?

In general terms, a criminal record check is a search that is used to determine whether an individual has a criminal record. The search can be based on an individual’s name and date of birth, or for much greater assurance, it can be based on fingerprints for positive identification. A criminal record check is performed against the national repository of criminal records maintained by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), which holds approximately 4.2 million records. Checks are also in many cases performed against a Canadian police service’s local records.

What is a Record Suspension (Pardon)?

A record suspension (former pardon) is the forgiveness of a crime and the cancellation of the relevant penalty; it is usually granted by a head of state (such as a monarch or president) or by a competent authority. A record suspension (pardon) allows people who were convicted of a criminal offence, but have completed their sentence and demonstrated they are law-abiding citizens for a prescribed number of years, to have their criminal record kept separate and apart from other criminal records.

What is the role of the National Parole Board in the record suspensions (pardons) process?

The Parole Board of Canada (PBC) is the official and only federal agency responsible for making pardon decisions under the Criminal Records Act (CRA). Under the CRA, the PBC can grant, deny and revoke a record suspension (pardon).

What does “CPIC” mean?

CPIC is the acronym for “Canadian Police Information Centre”. CPIC is a computer based police information system located in Ottawa. CPIC records can be accessed by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and most other Canadian police agencies and the U.S.

Who can grant a record suspension (pardon)?

The National Parole Board (NPB) has exclusive jurisdiction to grant, refuse to grant or to revoke a record suspension (pardon). The law that governs pardons is known as the Criminal Records Act (CRA). The Criminal Records Act provides for the relief of persons who have been convicted of offences and have subsequently rehabilitated themselves.

Who can reveal my suspended record?

Under the CRA, only the Minister of Public Safety Canada has the authority to disclose information from a suspended record. This happens ONLY in exceptional circumstances. If, for example, a subsequent serious criminal offence is committed the file may be re-opened. As long as you do not re-offend, no one will ever be able to gain access to your suspended criminal record.

I have got my Record Suspension (Pardon). What should I say if I am asked “Have you ever been convicted of a criminal offence”?

The answer to that question is NO. The government of Canada has forgiven you of your past charges. They no longer want the conviction to reflect adversely on your character, and wish to remove any disqualification to which you are subjected. It is treated as though it never happened. Your name will not show up if an RCMP search is done.

If I have more than one conviction, do I need more than one record suspension (pardon)?

No. If the requisite waiting periods have passed for each of your convictions, and if you have met all of the other requirements, you can apply to have all of your convictions pardoned at the same time.

What if I am convicted as a sexual offender?

The Criminal Records Act lists certain sexual offences. If you were pardoned for any of these offences, your record will be kept ‘separate and apart’, but your name will still be flagged in the CPIC computer system. This means you are required to let employers see your record if you want to work with children or with groups that are considered vulnerable because of their age or disability.

Who can apply for a Pardon?

You can apply for a Pardon if you:

  • were convicted as an adult of an offence in Canada under a federal act or regulation of Canada
  • were convicted of a crime in another country and were transferred to Canada under the Transfer of Offenders Act or International Transfer of Offenders Act

What is the effect of a record suspension (pardon)?

A record suspension (pardon) keeps a judicial record of a conviction separate and apart from other criminal records, and gives law abiding citizens an opportunity to reintegrate into society. The Criminal Records Act removes all information about the conviction for which you received the Record Suspension (Pardon) from the Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC). Federal agencies cannot give out information about the conviction without approval from the Minister of Public Safety Canada. A pardon removes disqualifications caused by a criminal conviction, such as the ability to contract with the federal government, or eligibility for Canadian citizenship. If you are convicted of a new offence, the information may lead to a reactivation of the file in CPIC.

Will a record suspension (pardon) erase my conviction?

No. A record suspension (pardon) does not erase the fact that you were convicted of a crime. Your criminal record is not erased, but it is kept separate and apart from other criminal records.

Do I need a lawyer or a representative to apply for a record suspension (pardon)?

No. The Record Suspension application guide includes simple step-by-step instructions on how to apply for a record suspension (pardon) and all the forms that you need. You can also call 1-800-874-2652 for help. Just follow the steps and mail your Record Suspension Application form, $631.00 (CDN) Record Suspension (Pardon) Application fee, and official documents. An application from a lawyer or a representative does not receive preferential treatment.

Do I need a record suspension (pardon) if I was a young offender?

You may need to apply for a record suspension (pardon) if you were found guilty as a young person and before the specific period of time defined in youth legislation, you were convicted as an adult. The record suspension may cover both the youth and adult records. You do not need to apply for a record suspension if you were found guilty only in a youth court or youth justice court, since your record will be destroyed or archived once all applicable time periods have elapsed under the Young Offenders Act or the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

Do I need a record suspension (pardon) if I received an absolute or conditional discharge?

If you have only received absolute or conditional discharges, you do not need to apply for a record suspension (pardon). If you received an absolute discharge on or after July 24, 1992, the RCMP will automatically remove it from its system one year after the court decision. If you received a conditional discharge on or after July 24, 1992, the RCMP will automatically remove it 3 years after the court decision. If you received an absolute or conditional discharge before July 24, 1992, contact the RCMP to have the information removed (RCMP Pardon & Purge Services, P.O. Box 8885, Ottawa, ON K1G 3M8)

Will a record suspension (pardon) guarantee me entry into a foreign country?

No. A record suspension (pardon) does not guarantee you entry or visa privileges to another country. Before you go, contact the authorities of any country you wish to visit to find out what you need to do to enter that country. U.S. and other non-Canadian citizens are not eligible for a pardon unless they were convicted of a crime in Canada.

Do I need a record suspension (pardon) to apply for a passport?

No. Passport Canada reviews each application on its own merit. You should contact Passport Canada directly to find out more about the specific requirements for getting a passport.

If I am charged with a crime but not convicted, does the Royal Canadian Mounted Police automatically destroy my non-conviction record?

No. The police agency that laid the charge must make a request to the RCMP. The RCMP will review the request and determine if it should be approved or denied.

Under what circumstances would the RCMP deny a request for destroying a non-conviction record?

Several factors are considered before non-conviction information is destroyed. This includes if the applicant has criminal convictions on file, or outstanding criminal charges before the courts. For the list of reasons why the RCMP would deny a request to destroy non-conviction information you can visit Compelling Reasons for Denying a Request to Destroy Non-Conviction Information. (

Does the RCMP treat certain criminal offences differently from others when determining if non-conviction information should be destroyed?

Yes. When reviewing a request for destroying non-conviction information, the RCMP considers the nature and recentness of the criminal charge. Non-conviction information related to serious offences such as murder, treason, aggravated assault, sexually-based offences, and offences related to terrorist activity is normally retained for a minimum of five years from the date of the decision.

Why does the RCMP keep non-conviction records?

Non-conviction information may be used by police agencies for operational activities, including crime scene investigations, identification of deceased persons, and the identification of persons with amnesia.

Who can access non-conviction information?

Non-conviction information is available to Canadian police agencies for identification and investigative purposes, if required. The information is not normally used for background checks or employment screening purposes.

Will my criminal record automatically disappear after a certain period of time?

No. Criminal convictions are not automatically destroyed or sealed. The individual must take steps and apply to have their record removed.

How long does the RCMP keep non-conviction information?

The RCMP will keep non-conviction information in the National Repository of Criminal Records until the police agency which laid the charge requests the information to be destroyed. The information will be destroyed if the RCMP approves the request.

How do I make a request to have my non-conviction record destroyed?

You must contact the local police agency that reported the original charge. The police agency will make the official request to have the non-conviction record destroyed. In some cases, fingerprints may also be required to confirm your identity.

When can I request my non-conviction record to be destroyed?

You can request to have your non-conviction information destroyed at any time. However, if you have other charges before the courts, are under investigation, have a criminal record, or it has been less than a year since a peace bond was imposed or a stay of proceeds was entered, the RCMP may deny the request. If it has been less than five years since the non-conviction court decision for a serious crime, such a treason, murder or sexual assault, you must provide documentation to support your request. Supporting documentation includes Crown proceedings, police service records, and/or court documents.

How do I know if my request is approved or denied?

The RCMP will advise the police agency that made the request. If the RCMP decides to retain the record, an explanation will be provided.

The RCMP has denied my request to destroy my non-conviction record. Can I appeal the decision?

Yes. You can appeal the decision by contacting:

Royal Canadian Mounted Police
ATTN: Director General, Canadian Criminal Real Time Identification Services
1200 Vanier Parkway, NPS Building
Ottawa, ON K1A 0R2

When appealing a decision, you should identify if there was an error in fact or process regarding the decision, and/or new information has been obtained that was not included in the original request. Any new information should also be provided to support the appeal, such as copies of applicable Crown proceedings, police service records, and/or court documents.

What is the difference between a record suspension (pardon) and a file destruction/purge?

When a person is found guilty and convicted of an offence they require a pardon. The record, including fingerprints, photographs, and the RCMP report and court records are then sealed, and never opened unless the individual is subsequently charged with a criminal offence. File destructions and purges apply to records where an individual was accused, fingerprinted and/or attended criminal court, but not convicted. In the case of file destructions and purges your fingerprints and photographs will be destroyed and proof of this provided.