How long does it take to get a pardon?

By December 29, 2011 Pardon 35 Comments
How long does it take to get a pardon?

If you are currently eligible for a pardon (or soon will be) the average turn-around time is 12 months. However, in some cases it can be done as quickly as 6 months or less. In cases involving indictable offences or complicated extensive criminal records, it can take up to 24 months or more. Please keep in mind that no one has any control over the processing speed of the government agencies involved.

More information:


The Liberal government has recently announced that it will be addressing the problems created by the Conservative government. Although no specific changes have been announced word on the street is that the government intends to address the backlog first (almost 5000 cases from 2011 remain unprocessed) and then it will look at fixing the record suspension program.

Further reading:

Pardons Canada – Time Frames Start to Finish

There are many steps involved in processing a pardon and each takes a certain amount of time to complete. To let’s look at the required time it takes to get a pardon so that we can better understand the reasons for the delays / time frames.

Fingerprinting for a pardon

Fingerprinting is the first step in processing a pardon. It can take up to 120 days to receive the certification results of your fingerprinting request to the RCMP.

For more information:


Court Requests

For most pardon applications you will need to include various court documents. Requests can take anywhere from 2 weeks to 10 months in a worst case scenario.

Local Police Records Check

Applicants for a pardon must provide a local police records check processed at the police station in the area where they live. Requests can take anywhere

File Preparation

Once all the documents have been gathered file preparation should be relatively quick. However, it should not be rushed since mistakes can be costly. You do not want to go through all the steps involved in gathering the required paperwork only to have the Parole Board return your application due to mistakes or incomplete file preparation.

Further thoughts on how long it takes to get a pardon

People tend to procrastinate, particularly when it comes to apply for a pardon. Human nature in this sense is understandable but it allows some of my competitors to take advantage of potential clients by promising things that can’t be promised. In order to avoid being misled here are a few things you should know before starting the process. Hopefully it will help if you find yourself in a situation where a sales agent is just telling you what you want to hear.

  1. Under no circumstances can time frames be guaranteed.
  2. A pardon application involves several steps with each step having the potential for backlog.
  3. Each step leaves you at the mercy of the government agency handling the request. In other words, the time it takes to complete each step is out of your hands more often than not.

At the National Pardon Centre we provide estimates. We do our best to provide accurate estimates based on current processing times but it is not possible to accurately predict how long every file will take.

If you are concerned about how long it takes to get a pardon use common sense. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

If you have more questions on time frames or anything else involving pardons, waivers or fingerprinting give us a call at the National Pardon Centre. One thing I can promise is that you are going to speak to an honest counselor who is not just trying to make a sale. That much I guarantee.

Michael Ashby
866.242.2411 x 227


About Michael Ashby

Michael Ashby is Co-Founder and Communications Director for the National Pardon Centre. Get in touch with Michael by sending an email to or calling extension 227.Michael Ashby est le co-fondateur et le directeur des communications au Centre du Pardon national. Contactez Michael par email au ou par téléphone au poste 227.


  • sara says:

    What do you mean when you said no service provider can grandfather a pardon. Once the pardon is submitted to the parole board is it grandfathered in under the old rules? I think I read that in your older posts.

  • anonymous says:

    Hi Sara,

    I’m just an observer (I’m not an expert like Michael), but I believe that he is referring to something else with the term ‘grandfather.’

    From what I understand, bill c-10 has a provision in it that says any application received by the Parole Board prior to the bill receiving Royal Assent (i.e. becoming law) will be governed under the old rules — i.e. the rules that existed when the application was received. Applications received after the date that c-10 receives Royal Assent will be governed by the new rules.

    So if my understanding correct, in that light, it could be said that applications received prior to c-10 becoming law will be “grandfathered.”

    This makes sense to me in terms of logistics. The Parole Board can’t just stop what it’s doing (not when it gets thousands of applications a month) to see when the new rules pass. It would also be an egregious waste of money (not to mention inhumane, although this doesn’t seem to be a criteria with the current government) to suddenly dismiss thousands of received applications because one day the rules suddenly change. It would be like running a marathon and when you’re 100 meters from the finish line, they extend the race by another 20 miles (or very unfortunately for some people, indefinitely).

    So when Michael refers to grandfathering, I think (I hope?) he means that there are some pardon app services out there that imply they can fast track an application because they “know something” or have “insider information” and can get around the rules somehow…all of that is BS.

  • anonymous says:

    Hi Sara,

    It’s me again — I did a search for the term ‘grandfather’ and think I have a clearer idea of what Michael meant. Here’s what he wrote earlier in 2011 (before the election)

    “No pardons services provider can offer you a grandfather clause. I have spoken to several people who were promised this if they signed up with company X right away. So let me make this clear. Your application must be complete, correct and submitted to the Parole Board of Canada in order to be assured that it will be reviewed based on the current rules. If it is not submitted by the time the rules change (if they change, and that is a big if right now) then your application will be reviewed based on the new rules.”

    So what I think he meant/means is that some unscrupulous companies are telling people: “if you sign up with us now, even when the laws change, we can get your application sent in under the old rules — but you must sign up with us now and give us $ and so forth…”

    And Michael is saying that’s not possible. The application has to be submitted and accepted by the Parole Board in order for them to review them under the current (soon to be old) rules.

  • Hi Sara, Anon,

    Anon has it right. The difference is between signing up with a company like National Pardon Centre vs. having your application complete and submitted to the Parole Board. Unfortunately some companies are taking advantage of the coming changes to the law in a dishonest way.

  • anonymous says:

    Thanks Michael, that is what I was hoping you meant.

    It’s strange, but whenever I type in “National Pardons” in Google to come here, I see a bunch of AdWords ads that promise ‘the fastest pardons’ and so on.

    People who need a pardon are vulnerable to some degree — unless you’ve lived with a criminal record, it is impossible to truly understand what it’s like.

    Taking advantage of people in this circumstance by playing on their fears and promising them things that simply cannot happen is really quite evil.

  • The problem is that pardon clients are typically one time clients so there is little incentive to provide accurate information. And since most people wait until a pardon is needed asap the “fastest” line is an easy sale. Now to a certain degree all of us (pardon service providers) claim to be able to process a pardon as fast as possible. That is to be expected since we all believe we offer the highest quality service (at least I do, perhaps other companies really are just in it for a quick buck). But that is a far cry from claiming 4-6 months when average processing times are more likely to be 12 months or when someone is not even eligible until a couple of years down the road.

    I have used this line in my blog postings before but it is worth repeating. When it comes to hiring a pardon company the old saying should be kept in mind unfortunately: “buyer beware.”

  • Michael says:

    I paid a 200 dollar fee to get my pardon started and went to the police station for a record check. They asked me who I was getting to do it and I said pardons Canada and they laughed at me. Pardons Canada has the worst reputation and I was advised to do my pardon by myself. I called and asked for a refund and they said no they took my 200 dollars and did no work I was ripped off. Anyone trying to get a pardon I suggest u go to your local police station get the forms and do it yourself it’s pretty easy and cheaper. Don’t use pardons canada

  • It’s quite possible the police simply don’t believe in pardons and are trying to derail your application for a pardon. After all it was the police who gave you the criminal record in the first place. And it is also possible they mixed Pardons Canada up with another agency. If you think a pardon is a simple matter I wold also say you should do it yourself. Most people however prefer to have it handled professionally for several obvious reasons. You might also consider that this is not the blog of Pardons Canada but rather the National Pardon Centre.

  • carol says:

    If you get your pardon application package form the police station be sure they give you the current year package, they gave me an old one assured me it was the new one and after sending it all in was told it was the old one!!! Make sure the dates of your court hearing from the court house match with your criminal record check. Mine did not! court error. had to go back to the court house. Double check everything cause they SVREEN your application with a fine tooth comb

  • Hi Carol,

    Very good advice. The advantage of National Pardon Centre handling your case is that we have a whole team double checking files to make sure no simple mistakes are made. So if you are doing your own pardon definitely take CArol’s advice and make sure you dot the i’s and cross the t’s. And don’t count on the police, courts, etc to be able to give you the right information.


  • Joe says:

    I cant seem to find a single blog where normal people going through the process can give an answer as to their experiences with the process. When I read this stuff people say like “the process takes 8 -12 months” that is absolute crap. I spent 12 months just getting the paperwork to the board. Now I am being told different things by people. Some say six to ten months, others say a minimum of another year. WTF. Can someone seriously tell me how long this takes? I feel like I am looking at 2 years total for this whole process to be done!

  • Hi Joe,

    The reason you will not find a blog about peopel’s experiences with a pardon is because no one wants to create one. Most clients just want to get their pardon and then forget the arrest(s) ever happened. What you are experiencing with the Parole Board is fairly normal although your case sounds like it is taking a little on the long side. At the National Pardon Centre we are taking around 6 months to complete the application. But once it is submitted to the Parole Board all bets are off. There is simply too much adjustment going on there to provide an accurate time frame.

  • carol says:

    I did all the paperwork as well and it did take me a year to get it all together. I have now recieved a letter stating everything is in order , so I too am waiting/ Do you mean to tell me it goes to the national pardon center first, and then to the parole board. so the the national pardon center check it for the parole board, how does that work. if so how long does the parole board usually take?

  • HI Carol,

    If you prepared your own application our company woudl not be involved at all. We are a private company that prepares pardon applications only. It is kind of like paying an accountant to do your taxes. If your file is in order that is very good news since it means the new legislative changes taking place cannot affect you. Best luck. At the moment the Parole Board is taking as long as it wants to unfortunately. I can’t give you a reliable estimate.

  • Kevin says:

    I started pardon process using another firm. Checked them out with BBB. Good rating. They told me 9-16 months. I went to Police station with form they sent me for record check and hand delivered it back to them as soon as police sent it to me. I inquired after my file after 4 months of process start like they said. They told me they were waiting for my form from the police check. I told them that I hand delivered it asap. Oh yeah, yeah we do have it. At this point I lost confidence in them. If no action had been taken since I delivered that form I would have lost about 45 days. Last I checked, February, 9 months after process started they told me it had just gone to parole board. How long with them I asked on average? 6-12 months they said. Not impressed. I had to postpone a clinical placement and if it goes past sept. I’m probably screwed. I blame myself mostly for not commencing process sooner. My charges–possession marijuana, dui are over 30 years old. Can it really be as long as a year for the parole board to resolve this?

  • Michael says:

    Hi KEevin,

    Indeed it can take longer than a year at the Parole Board. I think we all agree that it is not an acceptable time frame and work is being done to guarantee turn around times but at the moment things are in disarray. I am afraid I really don’t have any advice to offer you. Submitting a pardon application to the Parole Board is a game of hurry up and wait right now.

    I wish you the best luck though. Hopefully it is granted shortly.


  • Dan says:

    Can someone tell me how the Parole Board Operates. Do they do the applications as they come one or just randomly pick at a whim out of a pile. Mine was sent in almost a year ago, and someone at the parole board said it was waiting to be given to an officer. I really need this buy DEC 12. What are my chances has anyone had better or worse time lines for one basic charge. curious

  • carol says:

    Is there a phone number I can call to find out what is going on with my pardon? Since I was told everything was in proper order I am wondering if it is processed or what is going on???

  • Frustrated says:

    Hello Everyone,

    The time frame is unknown, I have been waiting for over a year and a half now and still nothing. I took it upon myself to call The National Pardon Center to see what was going on and they told me the same thing and that they have no time frame as the Gov’t is backed up because of this new law. They then proceeded to tell me that people that sent there application a year before me still have no answer either. So to tell you the truth I’ve completely given up. Some of their clients have been waiting over 30 months which is insane, I want to move on with my life, a little mistake I made over a decade ago is still haunting me today. They fed me a load of crap telling me that would take less than a year and we are now over 18 months. I paid over 700 dollars and I am completely unsatisfied with their service, If I could do it all over again I would have paid more and had it done by a lawyer privately.

  • Michael says:

    Hi F,

    I totally understand why you are frustrated. We are as well. This government has done everything possible to make it difficult to get a pardon. All I can say is that we are not the ones in charge and we are doing everything we can to get things moving again. But the reality is that the Conservative government is calling the shots.

    A lawyer would not have been able to do anything for you that we did not. Once your file is submitted to the government for review there is nothing anyone can do to make them process it faster than they want to. Add the fee change to this problem which mandated that everyone who paid more ($150 to the Parole Board vs. $631) would get first priority and you have the situation you are in right now.

    We are making every effort possible here it’s just that after fighting this government for two years, only to see them achieve a majority government there is very little left for us to do but sit and wait patiently for the Parole Board to start doing its job.

    Regretfully yours,

    Michael Ashby

  • dave says:

    hi pardon people ,as i am one . its been 33years since my crime and I’ve been waiting 20 months now. they have it on file as received on DEC 6/2010, and don’t even have it started. its funny they said the last time i called that they were going to hire more staff to deal with all the back log, will you need a pardon to apply for a government job so i guess i won’t be getting a job there either. i went back to school and got my grade 12 just finished in June with a 85 average and been turned down for 3 jobs so far due to criminal record check, and i doubt very much if anyone working at the pardon center gives a rats ass about little old me trying to keep a roof over my head.

  • Lisa says:

    I am soooo frustrated. I called the Parole Board today and was told that they are working on applications received in 2010. Good news for some, I hope it gives you some sort of relief. My application was received July 2011. She told me today that I may be waiting 1 more year. The Commissionaires office advised me 4-6 months when they faxed my application to Parole Board in early June 2011. For the last 10 months when I would call the Parole Board the lady would say “it has not yet been assigned”, I would ask her how long that would take – “anywhere from a few weeks to a few months”. I guess I can give my mailbox key a little bit of a break since it looks like it won’t be a few weeks or months it will be several months to a year or more. It is getting harder and harder to meet the bills and there are no extras. Another year just feels hopelessly like forever away.

  • gord says:

    My application was sent in two years and one month ago. I have called the Pardon office several times, as well as our member of parliament. My file has not been assigned to an officer as yet. Still sitting in the pile. No answer as to how long it might take before the processing will commence. The standard answer is lack of staffing causing a backlog. This delay has resulted in a number of setbacks in my life. I’m sure others have had the same experience. The government and the pardon board could care less. Unfortunately our hands are tied and there seems to be no recourse to remedy this injustice. I’m sure that if I didn’t pay my taxes for two years and blamed it on a backlog in my book keeping the government would show little mercy. Wish someone had an answer as I’m am becoming very disillusioned with this country and our government.

  • Mark says:

    Ya I got all my info to pardons Canada in 2011 and am still waiting.
    I still don’t see what the hold up is. I’ve asked my mp what he can do for me and I received the same bs answer as p Canada gave me…. Give it time. Well I’ve given them 18 years of never being able to set foot outside of Canada and another 2 years in limbo.
    I guess once a criminal you just don’t count anymore to the government. So what’s the best course of action in this awesome dilemma we are in?

    • Hi Mark,

      You’re stuck in the backlog like the other 20,000 people who just want to move on with their lives. You can thank Stephen Harper and Vic Toews and the Conservative Party for this particular train wreck. I really don’t have any advice for you other than don’t vote for the Tories in the next election.

      Hopefully the Parole Board will get its act together soon.

      Kind regards,


  • Erin says:

    Once my record suspension is complete, and I travel to the US is it best not to tell them about the arrest/pardon? I have not traveled there since before the arrest and have never been stopped or questioned at the border.

    • Hi Erin,

      After getting your pardon the Americans do not have access to the records. I can’t really advise you not to tell them about it since technically the law says you must. You will have to make your own decisions on this one.

      kind regards,


  • william clayton tay;or says:

    I started the process in October 2010 I even paid an extra fee to speed up the process my crime was simple possession of pot 9 years ago when I was 21 I was never arrested a but was called into the police station to give finger prints and photo I went to court and got a fine of $750.. but small as the crime is I have not been able to get a job be cause of this record they now tell me I have tom wait until January 14 2016 this seems ridiculous does anyone have a suggestion

    • Hi William,

      You’re right, it is ridiculous. Unfortunately it is also the law. You are a victim of the Conservative government’s crime policy. There is nothing to do short of challenging the law in federal court and I doubt that would getyou your pardon any sooner, even if it was affordable.

      Kind regards,


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