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When Can I Apply For A Canadian Pardon?

So you have a criminal record in Canada, and you want to know when you can start the process of applying for a pardon.

In Canada, you are eligible to receive a pardon when you have satisfied your sentence and demonstrated that you have remained of good conduct for a certain period of time, known as an eligibility period.

According to the terms of the Criminal Records Act, the length of time for which you must prove you have remained crime free and of good conduct depends on the nature of the offences for which you have been convicted.

Summary vs. Indictable Offences

In Canada, criminal offences are brought against you either summarily, or by indictment. Summary offences are minor, and indictable offences are more serious.

Some crimes in the criminal code are automatically indictable, and others automatically summary; most, however, are hybrid. Hybrid offences are those where the Crown can elect to proceed by summary or by indictment, depending on the circumstances of the case.

Therefore, in order to determine how long you must wait before applying for a pardon, you have to determine whether your last offence was brought against you by summary or by indictment. Unfortunately, this can only truly be accomplished by observing the original Court Information document held in your provincial court archives.

That being said, you can estimate most offences, with a fairly high degree of certainty, based on the type of offence and the sentence you received. Here is a useful chart of the more common offences:


Driving Under the Influence

Simple Possession

Theft Under 00

Fraud Under 00


Failure to Appear

Breach of Probation




Possession for the Purpose of Trafficking

Theft Over 00

Fraud Over 00

Breaking and Entering

Trafficking in Narcotic/Contr. Substance


Assault Aggravated/Causing Bodily Harm

So when are you eligible to file a pardon?

Summary Offences – 3 years from the completion of your sentence

Indictable Offences – 5 years from the completion of your sentence

When have you completed your sentence?

You have completed your sentence for the purpose of eligibility when you have served any jail time, completed any probation, and paid any fines, restitutions and/or victim surcharges. Prohibition orders of your driver’s license or of firearms do not affect eligibility.

When can I begin the pardon application process?

You are only required to be eligible for the final stage of the application process: filing with the National Parole Board of Canada. There can be up to 10 months or more of work to do before you file your pardon with the board, so you can start the application before you are technically eligible.

If you are using a professional service such as

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