CanadasBorder.com Crossing the Canadian
Border with a Criminal Conviction

What Is a Criminal Record?
Who Can See Your Criminal Record?
How Your Criminal Record Hurts You.
How To Expunge Your Criminal Record
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This site maintained by
Clear Your Record
Law Firm, LLC
2200 112th Avenue NE
Suite 120
Bellevue, WA 98004
(425) 646-2926
Fax (425) 952-7409


Washington's central record depository is the Washington State Patrol in Olympia. There are are three basic methods to clear your record in this state: Expunge, Vacate and Seal.


Under RCW 10.97.060, expungement does not seal or block your record, it actually destroys the record file. As a result, no one, including law enforcement, can see the record.


Unfortunately, this process is reserved for a relatively small number of people who either had their case dismissed outright, without entering any type of plea bargain, or who were arrested or investigated but never charged.

Waiting Period

The law requires that two years pass before deletion if your case was dismissed. Three years must pass if you were arrested or investigated but never charged.

If you have not met the waiting period, you may still obtain a court order sealing the file. Please contact us.

The application requires new fingerprinting, a records review, and an explanation of the circumstances.


Vacating removes "all penalties and disabilities" from your conviction under RCW 9.96.060.

Although the record is not destroyed, it can not be distributed to employers, landlords, or other private entities. It also may not be considered in sentencing on any subsequent offense.

Once granted, an individual may indicate that they have no criminal conviction on employment and other applications.


Five factors control an individual's right to vacate: the type of crime, the passage of time, whether or not they exercised this right before, whether or not they are the respondent in a protective order, and subsequent lawful behavior.

The Type of Crime

Most crimes are eligible, however, serious violent offenses, sexually motivated crimes, and driving under the influence and its related crimes do not qualify.

Those who do not qualify to have their record vacated, may still be eligible for "rehabilitation" to travel into Canada. See our companion site CanadasBorder.com to see if you may qualify.

Waiting Period

Three years must pass from the time you completed all the terms of your sentence including fines and restitution.

Five years must pass if the charge was Domestic Violence. Other restrictions apply to these offenses which we discuss below.

If you have not met the waiting period, you may still obtain a court order sealing the file. Please contact us.

If you were the subject of a restraining, anti-harassment, or criminal no contact order, you must also wait five years from the expiration of the order.

You Can Exercise This Right Once

You can only vacate one conviction or case. You may clear multiple charges if they were joined in one case.

The Domestic Violence Exception

Washington imposes additional restrictions on domestic violence cases. You must wait five years, you must not have a prior domestic violence conviction, and you must notify the prosecutor of your motion.

Lawful Behavior

No one can petition to vacate if they have a new conviction or pending charge. You can petition to have the new charge vacated however, once you meet the waiting period.


Unlike expungement, the vacate procedure does not delete information nor block access by law enforcement.

This means police, prosecutors, courts, probation, jails, prisons and Canadian border guards can still access your record.


Even if you seal your record in the U.S., you must still seek special permission to enter Canada. For more details, see our companion site CanadasBorder.com.

Click here for more information on felony and juvenile convictions.

Contact us for a free consultation




We have made this Web site and provided these materials for informational purposes only.
This is not a legal opinion or legal advice. It is not intended to create nor does it create an
attorney-client relationship. No one should act upon this information without seeking
professional counsel. If you are interested in legal services, please contact us so that
we may place you in touch with a qualified attorney from your state.

2005. Clear Your Record Law Firm, LLC.