Can I Get a Pardon For Free?

In Canada there is no way to get a pardon without paying for it. Regardless of whether someone prepares an application on their own or uses the services of a third party.

The cost of getting a pardon can be broken down into two parts which we will take a closer look at.

  1. The cost of preparing the application, which is variable.
  2. The Parole Board of Canada’s submission fee, which is the same for everyone.

The cost of preparing a pardon application in Canada.

Below we will review the various costs associated with the pardon program.

RCMP Report

The first step to preparing a pardon application is getting your RCMP report. In most of Canada you can request an RCMP check through the local police service. Fees range from a minimum of $25 to over $100. Many police services only offer the service for a few hours a week and some don’t provide any fingerprinting services to the public at all.

You can also request an RCMP report through an RCMP-accredited third-party fingerprinting service. Most services charge between $75 and $125.

Court Documents

The next step is getting information from the courts. Some courts provide this information for free, but the vast majority charge fees. Some charge one small flat fee of $5 or $10, but others will charge one fee for conducting a search and then an additional fee for each conviction on the record. So you might pay $20 for a search and then $30 for each conviction. Often the fee structure is so complicated that the applicant just needs to submit the request and wait to be billed, which can be frustrating because you don’t know if you’ll be pay $2 or $200.

Local Police Check

The applicant also needs to get at least one Local Police Check. Many smaller police services don’t charge for this check, but if your police service charges a fee you can expect to pay an average of about $60. If you’ve moved towns within the last five years, you’ll need to get a police check from each jurisdiction, so the costs can mount up.

All applicants have to cover these basic costs but unfortunately many applicants will have to pay other fees as well. For example, many applicants have to provide a sworn statement, which means paying a fee to a notary. And, for various reasons, it may be necessary to do an information request with a police service. Again, fees for information requests vary significantly.

Parole Board of Canada Submission Fee

Once the application is ready the applicant needs to cover the Parole Board of Canada’s submission fee. Unlike the fees involved with preparing the application, every applicant will pay the same submission fee. This fee cannot be waived or reduced for people who cannot afford to pay.

For most of the history of the pardons program, there was no submission fee. The Canadian government understood that society as a whole benefits from the pardon program because it means fewer people are prevented from getting honest work due to a criminal record. In 1995 a modest user fee of $50 was introduced to help cover costs incurred when granting pardon applications. But in 2010, the Harper Government increased the fee to $150 and although this meant getting a pardon was more expensive, it was still affordable to the vast majority of Canadians.

Unfortunately in 2012 the Harper Government made a number of changes to the pardons program, one of which included another drastic increase to the PBC filing fee which was increased over 400% from $150 to $631.

According to the government, the applicant would now have to cover the full cost of reviewing and investigating their application, which they calculated to be $631. So, according to the government’s math, someone with a single conviction for stealing a loaf of bread should pay the same fee as someone convicted of thirty offences, no matter how serious.

For most people the increased submission fee is a worthwhile investment if it means that they can find a better job, travel more easily and do volunteer work without worrying about a criminal record holding the back. But for many low-income individuals the $631 filing fee is out of reach.

Of course many of these people can’t pay the fee because their criminal record prevents them from getting a decent job – or any job at all. One of the main benefits of the pardons Canada program has always been to help people in exactly this situation. The increased fee has seriously undermined this benefit.





Comments (13)
michele bourrie / February 11, 2018

i have applied for a pardon a few years ago and i guess it didnt go through or i did it wrong. so can you help as i need this to keep my job.

Michael Ashby / February 12, 2018

I understand the position you’re in. Is there some way I can be of assistance?

Kind regards,


Richard Atatise / February 12, 2018

Monday, February 12th, 2018

To Whom It May Concern:

I am assisting my son financially to apply for a pardon. I am told there are some that are free and this would be beneficial due to Bobby attending college again this fall. Can you reply asap to see where we can go from here.
Much appreciated!

Thank you. Richard Atatise

Michael Ashby / February 12, 2018

Hi Richard,

There is no such think as a free pardon I’m afraid. If I can be of help in another way please let me know.

ext. 227

dan gauthier / March 4, 2018

hi got in trouble with the law back IN 1980 when I was in my 20s minor 300.00 fine ,cant get decent job where a criminal search is needed, not working should be something or agency that deals with this for free come on, people cant get jobs for something they did when they were kids iam 56 STILL HAUNTING ME

Michael Ashby / March 5, 2018

Hi Dan,

While I understand where you’re coming from we have employees to pay and rent to pay and taxes to pay and so on. Providing this service free of charge is simply not at all possible.

I suggest you start with the Parole Board of Canada. Preparing the paperwork on your own will save some money. However it will still not be free.

kind regards,


Natasha / June 13, 2018

Once my application is approved when will it not show up on record check

Michael Ashby / June 18, 2018

Hi Natasha,

Theoretically it should be right away. In reality we tell our clients to give it a couple of weeks.

Kind regards,


Michelle senych / November 5, 2018

31 YRS AGO BEFORE THE LAW CHANGED REGARDING MINORS I WAS CHARGED WITH SHOPLIFTING. I recently applied for pardon. I just received the documentation regarding my background check my police record. I went to cop shop and got my finger prints done awhile back done to get a thorough background check. Now that I have that is that all I need to give the parol board or do I need to go to the court house also to get more info on those charges 31 yrs ago?

Michael Ashby / November 5, 2018

Hi Michelle,

You should contact the Parole Board of Canada and follow their instruction guidelines. It is a little more complicated than I can explain in a blog comment.

Kind regards,

Andy Eby / December 3, 2019

“Of course many of these people can’t pay the fee because their criminal record prevents them from getting a decent job – or any job at all. One of the main benefits of the pardons Canada program has always been to help people in exactly this situation. The increased fee has seriously undermined this benefit.” … So the article ends here? So what is to be done with this lethal Catch 22, as with no job one can afford no pardon? I don’t understand how other people can do it – do they have family to support them, or are they prostituting themselves? The hundreds of dollars to get on with one’s life is too prohibitive… and after only one simple morning when over-the-limit in 2011, finally losing my job and years of no real prospects, it seems that suicide is the only option.

Nancy / June 26, 2020

Just want to know if i can get help applying for a pardon

Michael Ashby / June 26, 2020

Hi Nancy,

We would be happy to assist you with your pardon. Unfortunately though a pardon cannot be done for free. For your reference I have included the cost breakdown for our services below:

• Our Service fee is $795 + tax = $898.35
• Parole Board of Canada fee = $657.77 (no tax)
• Local Police check = Approx. $50
• Fingerprints = Approximately $75

If you have any other questions please let me know.

Kind regards,

Michael ext 227


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