Travel Restrictions for People With Criminal Records in Illinois

Travel Restrictions for People With Criminal Records in Illinois

Having a criminal record in Illinois can make traveling difficult. Depending on the type of conviction, you may face restrictions traveling domestically or internationally. Understanding these restrictions is important if you want to avoid problems when traveling.

Domestic Travel Restrictions

If you have a criminal record in Illinois, you may face some restrictions traveling within the United States. Here are some key things to know:

  • Travel Within Illinois: Generally, you are allowed to travel freely within Illinois with a criminal record. However, if you are on probation or parole, you will likely need permission from your probation/parole officer to travel outside your approved jurisdiction. Failure to get approval could violate your probation and land you back in jail[1].
  • Interstate Travel: Traveling to other states may require advance permission depending on the terms of your probation/parole. Your probation officer may restrict travel, or require you check in if you do leave the state[2].
  • Air Travel: Those with felony convictions can fly domestically, but should expect additional screening and questioning at airports. Arrive early and be cooperative[3].
  • Outstanding Warrants: Any outstanding warrants will likely prevent you from traveling freely until they are resolved. Taking care of any pending legal issues is advised prior to travel[4].
  • Federal Lands: Those with felonies may be prohibited from visiting some federal parks, forests, landmarks and other areas managed by the federal government[5].
  • Cruises: While not outright banned, those with violent criminal histories may be denied boarding on cruise ships[6].

International Travel Restrictions

For those with a criminal record, traveling abroad can be much more challenging:

  • Entry Denial: Many countries can deny entry to travelers with criminal records, especially violent offenses, sex crimes, drug trafficking, and other serious felonies[3].
  • Visa Denial: Countries that require visas may deny visa applications for those with criminal records. This includes popular destinations like Canada, Australia, New Zealand and many European countries[4].
  • Advance Waivers: A handful of countries allow people with records to enter if they obtain advance waivers prior to travel. This includes Canada, Mexico and the U.K. Waivers can be difficult to obtain[4].
  • U.S. Citizens vs. Non-Citizens: While U.S. citizens cannot be outright banned from re-entering the U.S., foreign nationals can be permanently barred and refused re-entry if they have a criminal record[5].
  • Probation/Parole: International travel will likely be prohibited if you are currently on probation or parole supervision[2].

Tips for Traveling With a Record

If you want to travel domestically or internationally with a criminal record, here are some tips:

  • Consult an Attorney: Have a criminal defense lawyer review your record and travel plans to advise if restrictions apply.
  • Obtain Waivers: If needed, apply for any required travel waivers well in advance of your trip[4].
  • Check Destination Policies: Research the entry policies of any destinations you plan to visit to avoid problems[3].
  • Address Legal Issues: Take care of any outstanding warrants, probation issues, or pending charges before traveling[4].
  • Carry Proper Documents: Always travel with documents that establish your compliance with probation, parole, or immigration conditions[4].
  • Disclose Convictions: When applying for visas or entering countries, honestly disclose your record when asked[3].
  • Book Flexible Plans: Book refundable fares and lodging in case you are denied entry at your destination[5].

Types of Criminal Records and Travel

Certain types of crimes are more likely to trigger travel restrictions. These include:


Felony convictions can be the most limiting when it comes to travel. Options narrow further if your offense was violent, drug-related, or resulted in serious prison time[4].

Sex Offenses

Some of the most stringent restrictions apply to registered sex offenders. Countries with strict policies include Australia, New Zealand, the UK, and Canada[5].

Drug Offenses

Drug felonies can trigger travel restrictions to various destinations. This includes convictions for trafficking, distribution, transportation, cultivation and manufacturing[3].

Violent Crimes

Countries are most likely to bar entry for those with convictions for violent crimes like assault, battery, domestic violence, robbery, rape, and homicide[4].

DUI Convictions

Many countries frown upon DUIs. Canada typically bars entry for DUIs less than 10 years old, or with multiple convictions[6].


If you are currently on probation or parole, your ability to travel will be limited until you complete your supervision term[2].


Having a criminal history can complicate travel, but with proper preparation it is possible to both travel domestically and visit many international destinations. Consulting with an attorney, researching destination policies, and being honest about your record can help avoid problems. While restrictions exist, don’t assume all travel is off limits with a record.