If you have a criminal record, you’re more likely to encounter problems with visa applications and face additional issues at border control. But what about the ETIAS visa waiver, can you still apply if you have a criminal conviction?
Getting an ETIAS Visa Waiver with a Criminal Record
The ETIAS is not a visa, but it adopts similar checks and was designed to tighten the security of European borders. Travelers are required to provide specific details on an application form, and these are then cross-checked against international databases, including EURODAC, EUROPOL, and the European Criminal Records Information System (ECRIS).
The latter of these is cause for concern for anyone traveling to Europe with a criminal record.
The European Criminal Records Information System (ECRIS)
The ECRIS was created to store and exchange data relating to the criminal histories of non-EU citizens.
If you have any criminal convictions, they will be flagged during your ETIAS application. The application will then be sent for a manual review and assessed on a case-by-case basis.
Without such an issue, and assuming there are no other problems (lost or stolen passports or anything else that suggests serious criminal behavior), the ETIAS application will be finalized quickly, and an approved document will be dispatched within minutes.
Will I Pass the Review?
If you have a minor criminal conviction from many years earlier, it’s unlikely that you will be refused an ETIAS visa waiver. The system was created to focus on serious crimes, including smuggling offenses, terrorism, human trafficking, and violent crime.
It all depends on whether or not you are deemed a threat to public safety. If your criminal record displays recent and serious criminal convictions, a manual review will trigger, it may be extensive, and there’s a good chance you will be refused entry.
But contrary to what you might have heard, it doesn’t mean that you can’t travel to Europe with a criminal record.
Traveling with a Criminal Record Outside of the European Union
A criminal record can make it harder to travel freely. For instance, travelers to the United States and Canada could be refused entry for minor convictions that occurred many years in the past.
Several European celebrities have been temporarily or permanently refused entry to the United States because of their criminal record and other seemingly minor infractions.
Carrie Simmonds, the partner of current UK prime minister Boris Johnson, was refused entry to the US in 2019. A year earlier, she had visited Somaliland, a republic that the United States does not recognize. It is likely that she was refused entry because the visa application form asks whether applicants have visited Somalia, a question that has been in place since March 2011.
Legendary footballer Diego Maradona was also denied entry, proving that even global stardom and political connections can’t always help you when it comes to international travel.
Thankfully, however, travelers with a criminal record should face fewer problems with the ETIAS visa waiver.