When do Criminal Records Expire?

When do Criminal Records Expire?

When do criminal records expire? Unfortunately the answer is never, or at least not until you are old enough that you probably don’t care anyway.

If you really just want to wait until it goes away you will be waiting a long time. The RCMP will maintain your criminal record until you are 80 years of age. Furthermore they only remove it if there is no criminal activity to report in the past 10 years. I’ve never actually spoken to anyone who has witnessed this kind of removal happen, but there it is.

For more information on criminal record retention at the RCMP level click below:

RCMP Criminal Record Retention Policy

Once you have been convicted of an offence it remains a part of your adult criminal record until you are granted a Canadian pardon (now known as a Record Suspension), or – as mentioned above – you turn 80 years of age. Since no one wants to wait this long let’s just pretend it stays forever.

Since you are not willing to wait until your 80th birthday you need to apply for a record suspension.
A lot of individuals inquire with the National Pardon Centre regarding whether or not they “still have” a criminal record. We frequently hear from people that they were convicted so many years ago that they think they can’t possibly still have a criminal record.

It is a common belief that your criminal record will expire after an extended period of time – technically it’s true – but I’ve never spoken to anyone who knows what that period of time is.

There are two simple questions you should ask yourself:

1 – Have you been convicted of a criminal offence?
2 – Have you received a record suspension or a pardon?

If you answered yes to being convicted of a criminal offence and no to receiving a record suspension / pardon, then your criminal record still exists and can negatively affect you in many ways. Among other things, a criminal record can impact work opportunities, US travel, and volunteering – not to mention peace of mind.

Applying for a Canadian Pardon

To ensure that you no longer have a criminal record in Canada, you must apply for a Canadian pardon / record suspension to seal your criminal history from public record. You can start the process any time, even if you are not yet eligible.

More questions about the process? Ready to open a file? Don’t hesitate to contact our office by phone, drop by one of our walk-in centres or apply online.

We’re here to help!

About Kate Duncan

Kate Duncan is Regional Manager for National Pardon Centre Toronto. She is also a contributing writer on our blog.


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