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I am going to Canada in June, and I am just making my Eta application. One of the questions on the application reads as below.

"Question 2: Have you ever committed, been arrested for, been charged with or convicted of any criminal offence in any country/ territory?"

I received two separate warnings / street cautions for the possession of cannabis whilst at uni. I believe they were both in 2021, whilst I was at university. I can't remember the exact date and have requested the info from the UK Police. I was given a written warning on the street and not arrested, fined, charged or convicted at any point which I believe was due to the very low amount I had on me. I obviously realise this was silly of me, and I'm not proud of it!!

My question is, do I need to to answer yes to the question. If so, will this stop me from going to Canada? I just want to be honest on the application to save any issues...

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You likely have to declare it, or rather, I would err on the side of caution.

A person more familiar with British criminal law should correct me if it's wrong, but on the government website it says:

You have to admit an offence and agree to be cautioned. You can be arrested and charged if you don’t agree.

https://www.gov.uk/caution-warning-penalty

And it is my understanding that cautions are nonetheless recorded somewhere and may be disclosed (unlike a simple oral warning given by officers in some other countries like Canada).

You should answer yes to

Have you ever committed ... a criminal offence?

and explain the circumstances.

A misrepresentation finding, unless successfully challenged, may cause a five-year inadmissibility. While a good lawyer or consultant can argue that not disclosing cautions and certain penalty offences should not be seen as misrepresentation and they may be successful (after all, Canadian immigration is not asking you to disclose all parking and speeding tickets, which are technically also "criminal" offences in some countries: the word "criminal" is not well-defined in many places), I would still declare it.

If so, will this stop me from going to Canada?

Likely not. Your eTA will require manual processing, and it is likely that you will be asked to produce the relevant police records (criminal record checks, original caution notice etc.).

Inadmissibility arises from foreign acts that are criminal offences abroad and in Canada:

A foreign national is inadmissible on grounds of criminality for ... (c) committing an act outside Canada that is an offence in the place where it was committed and that, if committed in Canada, would constitute an indictable offence under an Act of Parliament.

Simple possession of small amounts (<30g) of cannabis is not a criminal offence in Canada anymore, and should not bar you from entry.

If your eTA is nonetheless refused, you may want to hire an experienced lawyer or regulated consultant (the key is experience with overcoming criminality inadmissibility) for advice.


You probably know this (or not), but DO NOT BRING CANNABIS INTO OR OUT OF CANADA (unless you are doing it with the proper authorizations): crossing the border with cannabis is still illegal in most cases and you can be barred from entry for that.

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    Note: you quoted: "You can be arrested and charged if you don’t agree.", so it seems it is mostly a shortcut so not charged. Like most traffic tickets: you can agree with small fee and with simple rules/fees (there is no judge so no discretionary) (in an administrative way) or going to the legal way (which has all rights but also complications and costs). I would say this case if just the first: not a legal case. But possibly OP can get better answers in the Law SE (it is an interpretation of what OP committed). Commented Feb 15 at 8:55
  • But if the person hasn't received an official caution, at a police station, then they havn't committed an offence. Commented Feb 15 at 20:16
  • @WeatherVane That changes things a little bit if no admission of offence was made (though technically offences are committed the moment the prohibited action occured regardless of police or court intervention). I might not recommend disclosing it (since the information might be shared with U.S...) but a more detailed assessment on both sides is needed.
    – xngtng
    Commented Feb 16 at 13:07
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A written "street caution" in UK does not go on your criminal record. That's just a copper ticking you off with a warning that may be considered if you offend again.

An official caution that becomes part of your police record involves a visit to a police station, where you go through a process.

If you haven't had an official caution, then you've done nothing that needs to be declared, but you should get legal advice.

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