How to unseal adult criminal files if a sealed criminal record prevents you from travelling

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Updated December 1, 2018

If you are convicted of a crime when you are 18 or older, that information will be recorded in a permanent criminal record. If you later apply and receive a pardon or record suspension, your criminal record may be sealed so it cannot be accessed. Your record may also be sealed after a period of time if you are sentenced to an absolute or conditional discharge for an offence.

However, you may find it necessary to unseal your criminal record in order to apply to enter the United States. This eNews explains how to have your record of BC Provincial Court convictions or discharges unsealed in order to make a Waiver Application to enter the US.

This process applies only to adult convictions in the British Columbia Provincial Court.

Two ways to apply

1. Appear in person with government-issued photo identification at the Registry (the records office) of the courthouse where your conviction was entered and request copies of your sealed Court documents. Find the location of all Provincial courthouses in BC here.

2. If you can’t get to that Court Registry, you may apply to the Court Registry where your conviction was entered by mailing these documents to “Provincial Court Registry, Address, Attention: Court Services Branch Justice of the Peace”:

• A signed Application to Unseal Adult Criminal File for Travel form (Form PCR958). Fill out the “APPLICANT” and “An application is made to:” sections. (Make sure that the application form you send to the Registry is the original document that has been signed by you and dated, and that it states the place where the application was signed.)

• A certified true copy of government-issued ID (such as a current Driver’s License or Passport) notarized by a Notary Public or lawyer.

• A list of your criminal convictions showing the date and location of each conviction. (List your convictions on either the application itself or a separate attached page, or provide a copy of the “Schedule of Offence(s) Respecting a Pardon Under the Criminal Records Act” from the Parole Board of Canada.)

If you have convictions entered at different Court Registries, you will need to submit a separate application to each Court Registry where a conviction was entered.

What if I want someone else to apply for me?

If an agent is acting on your behalf you must still sign the application form in the “Signature of applicant” space and either:

• the agent must provide authorization signed by you and stating that you have consented to their making an application for you; or

• you must complete the “Name of Agent for Applicant” field in the “APPLICANT” section of the Application to Unseal Adult Criminal File for Travel form.

All documents must be received by mail (not by email or fax) at the relevant Court Registry.

When an Application is made to the Court Registry, what happens next?

The Court Services Branch Justice of the Peace will look at the application and supporting documents. If they are complete, they will grant the application and Court Registry staff will unseal and mail the records to you or to the agent representing you.

If the application and supporting documents are not complete, or if there is a reason that the application cannot be granted, the application will be denied with reasons given and the application documents returned to you. You may then need to apply again ensuring that all the requirements are met.

How do I access other court records?

See the Court’s policy on how to access other Provincial Court of British Columbia records.

How do I get access to files at the Supreme Court of British Columbia?

The Provincial Court is separate from the Supreme Court of British Columbia. If you are seeking access to a BC Supreme Court file, or to unseal your record of sentences in that Court, see the BC Supreme Court’s "Court Record Access Policy”.

Note: This article reflects a change in the process resulting from an amendment to Notice to the Profession and the Public, NP 14, effective December 1, 2018.

This article provides general information only and should not be used authority in court proceedings or as a substitute for legal advice.