Does Canadian need a Waiver to get off Cruise ship in the USA -

QUESTION: My husband is a Canadian Citizen and would like to know if he has a criminal 
record could he get a passport. If so then if he goes on a cruise ship from Vancouver could he 
get on and stay on the ship. We will be stopping and boarding at some United States ports. 

david ingram replies:

It depends on the charge and the conviction and I am NOT an expert here.

He can go to any international airport or Train Station that has a US preclearance office or any US consulate or you can write to any US Consulate to obtain a copy of a US Visa Waiver package.

You can also to to any land US POE (Port of Entry) and ask fro a package.  If you do this, it is better to park on the Canadian Side and walk to the US office and ask for the package.

You can find a list of all US Embassies, Consulates and Diplomatic Missions at  -

You can also use the services of a lawyer or something like PARDONS CANADA to help you.

Also, if he only has one shoplifting charge or one DUI, he will have a criminal record but neither of those if they are the only one, would require a waiver,

Armed Robbery - yes

Spousal Assault - yes

fraud and embezzlement- yes

But you have to check.  The easiest and cheapest way by far is to go to a land border or an airport and ask if your specific situation requires a waiver.\

If it does, ask for the package and expect to wait a year or more for it to be approved.  And, Do NOT book any cruises in US waters in the meantime.

The following may help


I have been convicted of impaired driving I able to enter into the US or will I be rejected?

david ingram replies;

It can cause a problem but should not stop your entering the USA if that is all there is.  Just make sure that you tell the officer about it at the border even if not asked.

As an example, Gordon Campbell, the present Premier of British Columbia spent a night in jail and was convicted of Impaired driving in Hawaii and still goes back every year.  You could say you are in good company and you would be because Gordon is doing a pretty good job settling land claims, etc.

It DOES stop an American with one US DUI from entering Canada however.  My favourite story was 16 years ago now.

A fellow named Carmack from Atlanta, Georgia was going to Whitehorse in august 1992.


Well, he was the great nephew of George Washington Carmack, one of the discoverers of the Yukon Goldrush along with Skookum Jim Mason, his Brother in Law.

He had a gold embossed invitation from the Queen of England, a letter from the Acting Prime Minister of Canada, Erik Nielson (brother of Leslie Nielson, the actor) and his ticket was paid for by the Canadian Government. 

He was to be a special guest for the 50th Anniversary celebrations of the Alaska Highway at Carmacks, a town named after his great uncle.

However, when the Canadian Customs inspector asked him if he had ever been arrested, he said yes, for DUI eight years before and that was it.  He was turned back even though the inspector could have told him that he could have purchased a special permit for a one time entry or even got a permanent entry for $400.00.

What was silly, was that this Carmack was the Deputy director of the FBI in Atlanta.

It can happen to anyone on either side of the border.

You can, of course, go to any border office or the Homeland Security at the airport or at a border crossing at a time when you are not intending to cross and check with them to make sure that I am correct.  If you happen to be in Vancouver or Niagara Falls or st Lambert Quebec where the re is a US Customs and Homeland Security pre-clearance for AMTRAK trains, going to the station just as the train is pulling out of the station usually gets you an officer to talk to who has nobody else to talk to and you can get a decent conversation.

Hope this helps.

I was searched at the US border two days ago.  They did not find anything but I was asked if I had ever smoked marijuana.  I said yes, and mentioned that President Clinton had even smoked marijuana.


I was treated like a criminal, fingerprinted, and banned from the United States.

I was told I had to get a waiver.  What's a waiver?

david ingram replies:

Admitting to the smoking of marijuana, the taking of Magic mushrooms, being part of an LSD experiment in the sixties are all grounds for inadmissibility to the United States.

Bill Clinton admitted to smoking Marijuana in Britain.  If he had not been a US Citizen, that admission is enough to ban him from the USA for life.  Most people caught in this have been to the states 50 to 100 times before it rears its ugly head.

Our BC Premier was arrested and jailed in Hawaii for Drunk Driving.  If he was not a Canadian citizen, that is enough to ban him from Canada for life (without a waiver from Canada).  In August 1998, We banned and refused entry to FBI Assistant Director Carmacks because he had an eight year old SUI in Georgia.

And whatever you do, don't have  a blog about your old experiences or mention it in an email. 

The following story from the Herald Tribune will explain the process and why and futility.  Now that I have said that, I think that Mr Feldman has  over-reacted.  Getting a waiver is tedious and embarrassing but relatively easy to do .  You do NOT need a lawyer.  Just fill in the paperwork.  There are organizations that can help that I mention further on.  I don't do it anymore because I am too busy with tax but up to 2000, had likely helped over 100 people with their waiver applications and none were turned down that I know of.

This comes from:


Web searches at U.S. border bring scrutiny to new level


The search turned up an article in a 2001 issue of the journal Janus Head devoted to the legacy of R.D. Laing, with whom Feldmar had studied in London about 30 years before.

"I traveled to many regions many times with the help of many different substances," Feldmar wrote of his experiences with Laing and other psychiatrists and therapists. "I took peyote, psilocybin mushrooms, cannabis" and other drugs, he added, "but I kept coming back to LSD."

He was asked by a border guard whether he was the author of the article and whether it was true. Yes, he replied. And yes.

Feldmar was held for four hours, fingerprinted and, after signing a statement conceding the long-ago drug use, sent home.

Mike Milne, a spokesman for the Customs and Border Protection agency in Seattle, said he could not discuss individual cases for reasons of privacy. But the law is clear, Milne said. People who have used drugs are not welcome here.

"If you are or have been a drug user," he said, "that's one of the many things that can make you inadmissible to the United States."

He added that the government was constantly on the hunt for new sources of information. "Any new technology that we have available to us, we use to do searches on," Milne said.

Feldmar has been told by the American consul general in Vancouver that he may now enter the United States only if he obtains a formal waiver.

"Both our countries have very similar regulations regarding issuance of visas for citizens who have violated the law," the consul, Lewis Lukens, wrote to Feldmar in September. "The issue here is not the writing of an article, but the taking of controlled substances."

The waiver process would require a lawyer, several thousand dollars and dishonesty, Feldmar said. He would have to say he has been rehabilitated.

"Rehabilitated from what?" he asked. "It's degrading, literally degrading."

Ethan Nadelmann, the executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, which works to ease drug penalties, said Feldmar's case proved how arbitrary U.S. drug policy can be. "Roughly a majority of the population of the United States between the ages of 18 and 58 has violated a drug law at least once," he said.

Feldmar said, "I should warn people that the electronic footprint you leave on the Net will be used against you. It cannot be erased."

The Following two stories come from my April 1994 newsletter

--Situation 9

I do not know this couple either. It comes from CTV National News. Couple in
Maple Ridge are going to U.S. through the same Huntington crossing. They
have been down dozens of times. They are asked if they have ever been
arrested. He says no because he has a Canadian pardon. For some reason, the
INS people check. He was arrested and charged and convicted 18 years before
for the possession of a single marijuana cigarette. HER car is seized. At
last word, the car was not being returned and will not be.

Situation 10

Same Crossing. A Vancouver City Policeman who has a criminal charge against
him and is under suspension is going across the border with his wife and one
other person. His truck is seized for trying to get into the U.S. while
under a charge. It also turns out his wife has a criminal record.

You see; it does not matter whether you are asked or not, it is illegal to
enter the U.S. if you have a criminal record or have been arrested unless
you have a waiver from the U.S. Department of Justice. And, if you are
taking someone else across with your car or they borrow your car and drive
across the US border without mentioning the charge (even with a waiver
form), you lose your car.

And this is a newsletter from a couple of weeks ago  It also deals with getting a Canadian Pardon if you have an actual conviction and have not just admitted to something morally illegal under US and / or Canadian law.  Remember that in the 70's, John Sheffield received a fie year sentence for possession of LSD on the very same day that the LeDain Commission recommended that marijuana be lefgalized or at least decriminalized.

hope this all helps


david ingram's US / Canada Services
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pert  US Canada Canadian American  Mexican Income Tax  service and help.
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Phone consultations are $450 for 15 minutes to 50 minutes (professional hour). Please note that GST is added if product remains in Canada or is to be returned to Canada or a phone consultation is in Canada. ($472.50 with GST for in person or if you are on the telephone in Canada) expert  US Canada Canadian American  Mexican Income Tax  service and help.
This is not intended to be definitive but in general I am quoting $900 to $3,000 for a dual country tax return.

$900 would be one T4 slip one W2 slip one or two interest slips and you lived in one country only (but were filing both countries) - no self employment or rentals or capital gains - you did not move into or out of the country in this year.
$1,200 would be the same with one rental
$1,300 would be the same with one business no rental
$1,300 would be the minimum with a move in or out of the country. These are complicated because of the back and forth foreign tax credits. - The IRS says a foreign tax credit takes 1 hour and 53 minutes.
$1,600 would be the minimum with a rental or two in the country you do not live in or a rental and a business and foreign tax credits  no move in or out

$1,700 would be for two people with income from two countries

$3,000 would be all of the above and you moved in and out of the country.
This is just a guideline for US / Canadian returns
We will still prepare Canadian only (lives in Canada, no US connection period) with two or three slips and no capital gains, etc. for $200.00 up. However, if you have a stack of 1099, or T3 or T4A or T5 or K1 reporting forms, expect to pay an average of $10.00 each with up to $50.00 for a K1 or T5013 or T5008 or T101 --- Income trusts with amounts in box 42 are an even larger problem and will be more expensive. - i.e. 20 information slips will be at least $350.00
With a Rental for $400, two or three rentals for $550 to $700 (i.e. $150 per rental) First year Rental - plus $250.
A Business for $400 - Rental and business likely $550 to $700
And an American only (lives in the US with no Canadian income or filing period) with about the same things in the same range with a little bit more if there is a state return.
Moving in or out of the country or part year earnings in the US will ALWAYS be $900 and up.
TDF 90-22.1 forms are $50 for the first and $25.00 each after that when part of a tax return.
8891 forms are generally $50.00 to $100.00 each.
18 RRSPs would be $900.00 - (maybe amalgamate a couple)
Capital gains *sales)  are likely $50.00 for the first and $20.00 each after that.

Catch - up returns for the US where we use the Canadian return as a guide for seven years at a time will be from $150 to $600.00 per year depending upon numbers of bank accounts, RRSP's, existence of rental houses, self employment, etc. Note that these returns tend to be informational rather than taxable.  In fact, if there are children involved, we usually get refunds of $1,000 per child per year for 3 years.  We have done several catch-ups where the client has received as much as $6,000 back for an $1,800 bill and one recently with 6 children is resulting in over $12,000 refund. 

Email and Faxed information is convenient for the sender but very time consuming and hard to keep track of when they come in multiple files.  As of May 1, 2008, we will charge or be charging a surcharge for information that comes in more than two files.  It can take us a valuable hour or more  to try and put together the file when someone sends 10 emails or 15 attachments, etc. We had one return with over 50 faxes and emails for instance. 

This is a guideline not etched in stone.  If you do your own TDF-90 forms, it is to your advantage. However, if we put them in the first year, the computer carries them forward beautifully.

IRS Circular 230 Disclosure:  To ensure compliance with requirements imposed by the IRS, please be advised that any U.S. tax advice contained in this communication (including any attachments) is not intended or written to be used or relied upon, and cannot be used or relied upon, for the purpose of (i) avoiding penalties under the Internal Revenue Code, or (ii) promoting, marketing or recommending to another party any transaction or matter addressed herein.--

Disclaimer:  This question has been answered without detailed information or consultation and is to be regarded only as general comment.   Nothing in this message is or should be construed as advice in any particular circumstances. No contract exists between the reader and the author and any and all non-contractual duties are expressly denied. All readers should obtain formal advice from a competent and appropriately qualified legal practitioner or tax specialist for expert help, assistance, preparation, or consultation  in connection with personal or business affairs such as at or  If you forward this message, this disclaimer must be included." -



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