What is a pardon?

By February 20, 2012 Pardon 3 Comments

What is a pardon?

A pardon has several meanings but the most common and the one of interest to clients of the National Pardon Centre is the following:

A pardon is the forgiveness of a crime or the cancellation (in whole or in part) of the penalty associated with it. It is a general concept that encompasses several related procedures: pardoning, commutation, remission and reprieves.

The above definition was taken from Wikipedia and if you are solely interested in what a pardon is for research purposes you can link to the Wikipedia entry here.


In Canada however when someone wants to answer the question “what is a pardon” it is usually in reference to the program offered by the Parole Board of Canada which seals an individual’s criminal record after a certain amount of time has elapsed in which the offender has been of “good conduct” (meaning he/she has not had any trouble with the law).

So we might make the question a little bit more specific and ask what is a pardon in Canada? A pardon in Canada is an application made to the Parole Board of Canada to have your criminal record sealed and kept separate and apart from active criminal records.

The following are some simple bullet points that will help answer the question what is a pardon in Canada?

1. It is the government of Canada that grants your pardon.

2. A pardon in Canada seals your record and keeps it separate and apart from active criminal records. If you don’t get arrested again it is essentially gone for good.

3. Private enterprises, like the National Pardon Centre, facilitate the paperwork involved in preparing an application for a pardon. It is very similar to paying an accountant to do your taxes.

4. The National Pardon Centre will handle all of the work on your behalf and will guarantee the application is done correctly, in which case there is next to zero risk of it being refused.

5. In other words we take the workload off your hands and provide peace of mind.

A pardon in Canada is a valuable thing to have and failure to have your criminal record cleared will almost certainly have negative results at some point in your life.

If you have any questions about what a pardon in Canada is just give me a call or send me an email. I’m always happy to discuss the issue.

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 mashby@nationalpardon.org 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 mashby@nationalpardon.org ou par téléphone au poste 227.


  • Gord McCaw says:

    Do I understand correctly that if you have been pardoned of a criminal record in Canada that Homeland Security or other U.S. border services will have no knowledge of or access to your now sealed criminal record?

  • Michael says:

    Yes correct. The exception would be if they were made aware of it prior to receiving a pardon it would remain in the American system and a pardon would not remove it.

  • Robin says:

    So I’m filling out an application for membership to a regulating college and it has the question “have you ever been found guilty of a criminal offence?”. If I have been granted a pardon, can I say no?

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