Pardons Canada: Information and answers
If you are interested in applying for a pardon in Canada you can do so easily with the National Pardon Centre by either applying online, calling to speak with a counsellor or by dropping by one of our walk in centre. See Locations
If you are not ready to start and you want to understand more about the pardon application process continue reading below. We begin with the most common questions asked at our office and continue to cover all aspects of getting a pardon in Canada.
Pardon eligibility: How long after a conviction can I apply for my pardon?
If you are thinking about applying for a pardonthe first thing you will want to do is make sure you are eligible. If you aren’t sure about this step we can help.
For detailed information on pardon eligibility:
Eligibility can be confusing since there are several different sets of criteria that will depend on the following:
- The severity of your charge(s)
- When the charge(s) took place
- Where the charge(s) took place
If you aren’t sure if you are eligible for a pardon we suggest that you call the centre to speak with a counsellor. You can also complete the form on this page and someone will call you. Our consultation services are free of charge.
How long will it take to get my pardon?
The average processing time at the National Pardon Centre for a pardon is 6 – 12 months start to finish. This includes the time it takes to complete the steps required to complete the government paperwork. Keep in mind that time frames cannot be guaranteed. Some pardons will be done faster and some will be done slower. Generally speaking the more serious your charge(s) the longer it will take. However some court houses and some police stations in Canada are more difficult to get information from than others. So where you were charged may also play a role in how long it takes.
How much will it cost to get my pardon?
Our cost to prepare a pardon application is $795 + tax. This cost includes court documents and fingerprinting services (if you are able to visit one of our offices). Additional costs include:
- $644.88 payable to the Parole Board of Canada
- Approximately $50 payable to your local police
- Approximately $85 for fingerprinting services if you cannot visit one of our offices
We advise our clients to budget approximately $1500 – start to finish – for a pardon.
How can I get my pardon done faster?
Any company offering “expedited” or “rush” pardon services should be avoided. The truth is that no one has any control over the government agencies involved in preparing a pardon application. Therefore no one can do a pardon any faster simply because you pay more money.
What are record suspensions?
In March 2012 the Conservative government of Canada passed its omnibus crime bill, Bill C-10, which altered the Canadian pardon program. Part of this legislation changed the term “pardon” to “record suspension.” While many people are now searching for information on “record suspensions” instead of “pardons” it is important to understand that a pardon and a record suspension have the exact same effect.
The new legislation included some procedural changes and some pardon eligibility requirements. But as long as you are still able to apply for a record suspension, the result will be the same as it would if you applied for a pardon.
NOTE: In order to keep things simple we will proceed using the word pardon as though a pardon and a record suspension are interchangeable.
Pardons Canada: How to apply
Pardons are granted by the Parole Board of Canada. You must complete your sentence then meet specific eligibility criteria. Once you have determined that you meet the standards set by the Parole Board you must prepare the application. There are three ways to do this.
- Do it yourself: The Parole Board of Canada makes it very clear that you are able to process a pardon application on your own. The only step you cannot do yourself is fingerprinting. You will require a third party accredited agency to handle that step for you. We are an RCMP accredited agency that can provide this service for you.
- Hire a lawyer: Hiring a lawyer is an option that some people choose. While a law degree is certainly not required to process pardons Canada applications, extensive knowledge of the law probably can’t hurt.
- Hire a pardon services agency like the National Pardon Centre: If you do not want to prepare your own documentation and you do not want to spend the money required to hire a lawyer you can request the services of a Canadian pardon service provider.
Things to keep in mind:
- If you want to attempt to handle these procedures on your own, download the record suspension application instructions. Be warned that it is 28 pages consisting of the kind of instructions that government bureaucracies are known for.
- The key to remember when discussing your options with a lawyer is that lawyers will charge an hourly wage. We have heard of people being charged up to $10,000 for a lawyer to prepare a pardon application. This is a cost we feel is grossly disproportionate to the service provided.
- We have been preparing pardon applications since 2002 and we honestly believe we provide the best service in the business. Since a Canadian pardon can take up to two years to complete it is a very good investment to hire a professional to handle things for you. But be careful. Not all pardon and waiver companies are created equally.
For more information on this problem see our blog:
Pardon / Record Suspension Service Providers
If you are looking for a company you can trust look no further. Our pardon consultation / evaluation services are free of charge and you can relax knowing that you will not be speaking to a pushy sales agent. You will be speaking to a highly trained pardon and waiver specialist who will give you honest, up to date advice that is in your best interest.
View our pardon service fees
Pardons Canada eligibility rules – summary and indictable offences
Applicants must meet specific eligibility requirements that are dependent on the status of the sentence that was given in court. To become eligible the sentence must be complete and a waiting period must be met in which the applicant has been of “good conduct”.
The standard for judging conduct is somewhat subjective but it is essential that there has been no involvement whatsoever with the law. For example, if you have been charged with a crime but found not guilty in court, the Parole Board can use that charge to show the good conduct clause has not been met. Even if you have only been questioned by the police it can be enough reason for the Parole Board to assume that you have not been of conduct. If that happens, the Board will most likely refuse to grant your pardon.
Criminal record removal for non-convictions
Any arrest or court appearance will result in a criminal record regardless of whether the accused was found guilty or not. The only difference is the type of record, when and where it will show and how to remove. The pardons Canada application is not the correct procedure for non-convictions so applicants should be sure they are pursuing the correct procedure.
For court appearances which did not result in a conviction there are certain waiting periods that must be met before the files can be destroyed.
Absolute Discharge: 1 year
Conditional Discharge: 3 years
For not guilty outcomes varying time frames exist before the records can be destroyed.
Not Guilty Outcomes: normally within 1 year
Time required to prepare and submit a pardon application to the Parole Board of Canada
It is important to know that it is not possible to guarantee the amount of time it will take to complete your pardon. Most of the time required is based on the eligibility rules listed above. However, assuming that you are already eligible it will still take time to process the documentation, submit it to the Parole Board, and then wait for a response. Any company claiming otherwise should be avoided.
That being said a qualified pardon services provider should be able to provide a good estimate based on previous experience.
Current time frames:
Average time = 12 months
Keep in mind that indictable offences will normally increase the amount of time the Parole Board requires to review your case. Furthermore some police stations and court houses are slower to respond to document requests that others.
Steps involved in processing a pardon application
The following is a complete list of the steps involved in preparing a pardon application in Canada to submit to the Parole Board.
- Get your Convictions, Conditional and Absolute Discharges form (Criminal Record) from the RCMP in Ottawa and, if required, your proof of conviction documents.
- Get your Court Information.
- Get your Military Conduct Sheet (current and former members of the Canadian Forces only).
- Get your Local Police Records Check(s).
- Get your Proof of Citizenship or Immigration Documents.
- Get a Photocopy of your Document to Support your Identification.
- Fill in the Schedule 1 Exception Form.
- Fill in the Record Suspension Application Form.
- Fill in the Measurable Benefit/Sustained Rehabilitation Form.
- Complete the Checklist and mail your application and documents with the $644.88 (CDN) processing fee.
Costs involved in preparing a pardon application
There are several fees involved when completing the steps above. So please be advised that it is impossible to apply for a pardon in Canada without incurring a cost. If you are hiring an agency or a lawyer there will also be an additional service fee. The fee listed in the final step of the pardon processing list is only the FINAL fee payable to the Parole Board of Canada and does not include any disbursement or service fees payable to the agencies involved in gathering the required documents.
- Step 1. Fingerprinting is approximately $85 and includes a $25 service fee payable to the RCMP.
- Step 2. Court document requests will vary depending on what court house you are dealing with. The cost is anywhere from $0 – $20 (per document request).
- Step 4. Local Police Records Checks are $25 – $130 (per location you have lived in the past 5 years).
- Step 10. Submission fee to the Parole Board of Canada is $44.88.
Results / effects of pardon
Once your pardon has been granted the record is sealed and kept separate from active criminal records. When you do a criminal records search the results will be the same as if you have never had any trouble with the law. However, it is important to note that a pardon can be revoked if, for example, you have further trouble with the law.
From another point of view the results of a pardon can have dramatic effects. Our clients often report an increase in quality of life following the granting of a pardon and the removal of a criminal record. In addition barriers to immigration, travel, volunteering and more will be removed.
Being granted a pardon will provide an increase in self confidence, peace of mind and the ability to apply for work and career opportunities knowing that a criminal record will not hold you back.
For information on how a pardon will affect your ability to travel see below:
Pardons Canada: Getting the process started
Getting a pardons Canada application going with us is easy. Just choose the option that’s most convenient for you and let us take care of this important step. We are happy to help.