Record Suspension (Pardon)

Important Note - Changes in March 2012

As of March 13th, 2012, the federal government passed Bill C-10 ("Safe Streets and Communities Act") , which resulted in amendments to the Criminal Records Act (CRA). These amendments resulted in changes to the pardon name, eligibility requirements, and waiting periods, which are outlined as follows:

• The term "pardon" is legally replaced with the term "record suspension";
• The waiting period for a record suspension increased to 5 years for all summary convictions and to 10 years for all indictable convictions;
• Individuals convicted of sexual offences against minors (with certain exceptions) and those who have been convicted of more than three indictable charges, each with a sentence of two or more years, are now ineligible for a record suspension.

IMPORTANT: Applications received on or before March 12, 2012 will be accepted for processing as "pardon" applications under the former CRA, as long as they were deemed to be eligible and complete by the Parole Board of Canada at the time of receipt.


All applications received as of March 13, 2012, deemed to be eligible and complete, and accepted for processing, will be processed as a "record suspension" under the new CRA.

The Parole Board of Canada is the only federal government agency responsible for enforcing the CRA. For further information, please contact the Parole Board of Canada (PBC) at 1-800-874-2652 (press 5 when automated message begins) to speak with a record suspension advisor, or visit their website at


At the John Howard Society of Toronto, we offer a record suspension service to help individuals put together their record suspension applications. Putting together a record suspension is similar to filing your taxes in that:

• Like the Canada Revenue Agency, only one federal government agency - the Parole Board of Canada - has the sole authority to grant or deny record suspensions; and
• Like filing your taxes, you can prepare your application on your own, or you can use a company or lawyer. The only difference is that companies and lawyers will charge a different service fee in addition to the application costs. At the John Howard Society of Toronto, our service administration fee is $299.

You may have heard about companies and/or lawyers that can "guarantee" your record suspension or "expedite" your application. However, as shown above, only the Parole Board of Canada has the sole authority to deny or grant a record suspension. Additionally, since all companies and lawyers must submit your final record suspension application to the Parole Board of Canada, they cannot control the time it takes for the federal government to make a decision on your application, nor can they control the time it takes for the RCMP, courts, and local police to provide documents required for your application. The truth is that it is impossible for them to speed up the process or guarantee the outcome. You would be paying a few extra hundred dollars for these false proclamations. The eligibility requirements and process are the same for everyone as outlined in the CRA. Finally, you may have also heard of rumours indicating that the pardon/record suspension will be eliminated soon; these are merely advertising tactics. The Parole Board of Canada has also issued a fraud alert in warning individuals against using companies that sound like a government agency.

The fraud alert can be found here:



- What is a record suspension (formerly known as a pardon)?


- Some reasons for obtaining a record suspension


- When can you apply for a record suspension?


- What the John Howard Society of Toronto does to help?


- How do I apply?


- Fees


- Travel Waivers  



What is a record suspension (formerly known as a pardon)?

Receiving a record suspension means that your judicial record of conviction is kept separate and apart from other criminal records. This means that your convictions will not be revealed on criminal record checks. It does not erase a criminal record.

The CRA removes all information about the conviction for which you received the record suspension from the Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC). Federal agencies cannot give out information about your past convictions without approval from the Minister of Public Safety Canada.

A record suspension removes disqualifications caused by a criminal conviction, such as the ability to contract with the federal government, or eligibility for Canadian citizenship. If you are convicted of a new offence, the information may lead to a reactivation of the record in the CPIC.



Some reasons for obtaining a record suspension:

• Better prospects for employment;
• More freedom to travel outside of Canada;
• Less difficulty getting immigration status;
• Insurance approval;
• Reduced risk of negative impacts on child custody, visitation and adoption;
• Less hassle renting an apartment;
• Improved prospects of meeting educational requirements; and
• Greater peace of mind and self-respect.

Completing this process helps to reduce any stigma and shame associated with past involvement in the criminal justice system, and it will certainly provide you with a clean slate to achieve your goals. It allows people who have made positive life changes to be freed from the many negative impacts of having a criminal record. People have the right not to be discriminated against because of a criminal conviction for which they have received a record suspension.



When can you apply for a record suspension?

As indicated above, you can apply for a record suspension after you have completed all of your sentences AND after a waiting period.

You have completed all your sentences if you have:
• Paid all fines, surcharges, costs, restitution and compensation orders;
• Served all sentences of imprisonment and conditional sentences, including parole or statutory release; and/or
• Completed your probation order.

After completing all of your sentences, you must complete a waiting period:
• 5 years for summary convictions (less serious)
• 10 years for indictable convictions (more serious)



What the John Howard Society of Toronto does to help

Anyone can apply for a record suspension on their own, but this process can be very tedious, time-consuming and confusing. We will work with you to assist you to obtain your record suspension by helping to facilitate the collection of necessary documents from the RCMP, courts, and local police. Unlike some companies, we explain the entire application process and costs to you upfront; no hidden information or fees. We are a non-profit, social service agency and so it is within our philosophy to help you.

printsWe have also partnered with Canadian Fingerprinting Services Inc. to offer an on-site digital fingerprinting service a few times a month.

This service is only offered to individuals for whom we open a file to start an application process. If you require fingerprinting services for any other reasons, please visit their website at for more information. 

Only once all documents have been received from the RCMP, courts and local police will your application then be submitted to the Parole Board of Canada.

We uphold and maintain the integrity of each file. We treat every file as confidential, and your information will never be released or sold to information-collecting parties.


How do I apply?

You can try to apply for a record suspension on your own using the Parole Board of Canada's official application guide found here:

If you decide to use our help, the John Howard Society of Toronto can help you get a record suspension as quickly, efficiently and inexpensively as possible. The process requires attention to detail to ensure positive results. The Parole Board of Canada can and will return your application if information is missing or if it is filled out incorrectly.




You will be responsible to pay the cost associated the work outlined above. Our service administration fee is $325.00.

In addition, applicants are responsible for the following disbursements**:







Court fees


Local police check(s)


Parole Board of Canada Application Fee










+ Depending on number of convictions and number of court documents obtained
++ Toronto - $45; Other Jurisdiction - $0 - $100
* Fees are subject to change.
 ** Even if you were to complete the application on your own, you will still need to be responsible for the disbursements.
If you are receiving social assistance in Toronto, Ontario Works will cover all of the above costs. If you are receiving social assistance outside of Toronto, Ontario Works may cover all of the above costs.
Contact us at 416-925-4386 ext. 271 to start the process today!



Travel Waivers


We do not assist individuals to put together a Travel Waiver, but offer the following information below:

Certain criminal records may exclude you from travel into some countries. A waiver is a document, issued by the country to which you would like to travel to, allowing you to enter even if you do not meet the entry requirements. For example, the United States (U.S.) restricts entry for people who have been convicted of certain crimes. You can find a list of what these crimes are at

If you have a record of one of these crimes, you will need a Waiver of Inadmissibility to enter the US. Never try to travel to the US if you are excluded; you could be detained, fined, charged, or incarcerated.

The waiver is short-term and is issued by US Customs and Border Protection (CBP), an agency of the Department of Homeland Security. You can apply by filling out Form I-192 and submitting the required documents. The list of crimes, application form, and instructions can be found on the US Citizenship & Immigration website at The application will need to be submitted at CBP at a Port of Entry.

The application process can take up to a year and is expensive. The costs will depend on the types of documents you need to submit, but the application itself is $585.00 US as of 2012.

If you have obtained a Record Suspension, you may still need a waiver to travel to the US. Border officials may have access to different kinds of information than the Canadian police and do not recognize a Record Suspension. Even a conditional discharge for certain offences can exclude you from entry.

While the John Howard Society of Toronto does not currently assist in the process of obtaining a travel waiver, fingerprinting services are still available for this purpose.

For more information, read the CBP website at, contact your nearest Port of Entry, or call the Pearson Airport CBP Centre at 905-676-2606.