On May 30, 2024, a New York jury found former U.S. President Donald Trump guilty on all 34 counts of falsifying business records stemming from a hush-money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels, who claimed she had an affair with Trump, ahead of the 2016 presidential election. The judgment inspired a flood of questions online, including: Is Trump banned from entering certain countries as a felon?

Multiple social media accounts and news outlets claimed that he was, including People magazine. Other outlets, including Time magazine and CBS News, said Trump “may” face travel bans. The claim also spread on social media.

One of our readers submitted the following image and asked whether there was any truth to the claim:

(Reader Submission)

We looked into the claim and found that it requires context. We are in uncharted territory, given that Trump is the first former U.S. president convicted of any crime (let alone 34 felonies), and there are diplomatic privileges afforded to dignitaries that are otherwise unavailable to most felons. Therefore, the claim Trump is automatically banned from entering 37 countries as a felon are inaccurate.

If Trump Became President, Would Countries Allow an Exception?

In 2000, then-presidential candidate George W. Bush publicly admitted that he had pleaded guilty to a DUI charge from 1976, which complicated his entry into Canada. According to Canada’s Criminal Code at the time, Bush was an “inadmissible” person, in violation of Section 19 (2) (a.1) of the Immigration Act of Canada. However, because the charge was more than 5 years old and Bush applied for a special waiver, Canada ultimately granted him permission to enter.

Although Bush’s DUI charge was only a misdemeanor and a jury convicted Trump of 34 felonies, this is the only available precedent in American presidential history. Trump may be able to apply for special waivers as well. But it is unclear as of this writing which countries, if any, would consider approving a waiver or making special accommodations.

“If Trump is elected president this year, I would expect him to be able to travel under a diplomatic passport to any country whose leadership would like him to visit,” Christopher Adolph, professor of political science at the University of Washington, told Snopes via email. “I do not know (in general or in specific cases) whether those privileges would grant immunity from laws barring felons from visiting a specific country, but I also cannot imagine that if a foreign government wanted the president of the United States to visit, that they would find a way to use the diplomatic visa process to ensure his entry.”

Essentially, if Trump won the 2024 presidential election, his ability to travel to certain countries would likely entirely depend on each nation’s willingness to allow him entry.

Which Countries Ban Felons from Entering?

Multiple sources, including Time and People magazines, cited World Population Review [archived here], which claims that 38 countries (including the United States) technically ban felons from acquiring visas. The site lists 16 countries that reserve the right to deny applicants up front, 22 that deny applicants if a felony is “discovered” (meaning that they do not actively screen applicants’ criminal records) and 26 countries that actively allow entry to felons.

(World Population Review)

However, we looked into the sources cited by World Population Review and found them to be far from definitive. The website cites five sources, one of which is a Wikipedia page and four of which are blog-style legal advice articles; three display legal disclaimers clarifying that information provided may not be accurate.

On the World Population Review “About” page, the website describes itself as an “independent for-profit organization committed to delivering up-to-date global population data and demographics” with a staff that consists of “nine professionals.” We reached out to World Population Review for comment and have not received a response as of this writing. We will update this story if they respond.

To continue, it is also somewhat of an oversimplification to claim that these countries will deny entry to felons; in reality, each country’s parameters for handling felons differs in specific ways.

For example, Australia allows criminals in on a case-by-case basis using a process that assesses the character of the applicant. If you hold a “substantial criminal record” — based on the “length of a sentence imposed by a court of law” — you will not pass the character test. Similarly, Canada allows criminals in on the basis of their being “rehabilitated,” which depends on the crime, whether enough time has passed since the end of the sentence and whether the person has committed more than one crime, according to the Government of Canada website.

“[Thirty-seven countries] may be accurate, but I suspect no country is going to bar (assuming he is elected) the President of the U.S. from visiting if that government invites him,” David Bachman, professor of international studies at the University of Washington, told Snopes via email. “Only if a country really, really wants to make the U.S. (and Trump) angry, would they deny him access to that country.”

In sum, without significant context, it is not accurate to say that 37 countries will ban Trump — should he win the presidency — from entering as a felon. Given the lack of precedent and the fact that each country maintains its own policies pertaining to the admission of felons, there are more questions than answers concerning the claim.

“The more interesting question, in my mind, is what will happen to Trump’s ability to travel if he does *not* win the presidency back,” wrote Adolph.

Sources:

About | World Population Review. https://worldpopulationreview.com/about. Accessed 7 June 2024.

Countries That Don’t Allow Felons 2024. https://worldpopulationreview.com/country-rankings/countries-that-dont-allow-felons. Accessed 7 June 2024.

‘Claims That Donald Trump Is No Longer Able to Visit 37 Countries Now That He’s a Convicted Felon Need Context’. Verifythis.Com, 5 June 2024, https://www.verifythis.com/article/news/verify/donald-trump/claims-that-donald-trump-is-no-longer-able-to-visit-37-countries-now-that-hes-a-convicted-felon-need-context/536-7d6b43aa-4962-43a6-8c26-f1221e1bbd42.

‘Diplomatic Immunity’. LII / Legal Information Institute, https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/diplomatic_immunity. Accessed 7 June 2024.

‘Donald Trump Is Banned from 37 Countries as Convicted Felon, Including Major Allies Like Canada and U.K.’ Peoplemag, https://people.com/donald-trump-barred-entering-37-countries-convicted-felon-8657038. Accessed 7 June 2024.

‘Donald Trump Is Banned from 37 Countries as Convicted Felon, Including Major Allies Like Canada and U.K.’ Yahoo News, 2 June 2024, https://ca.news.yahoo.com/donald-trump-banned-37-countries-144904689.html.

‘Donald Trump Now Banned from Countries Including Canada and UK as Convicted Felon’. The Independent, 6 June 2024, https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/trump-banned-uk-canada-felony-conviction-b2556887.html.

‘Entering the UK’. GOV.UK, https://www.gov.uk/uk-border-control. Accessed 7 June 2024.

Ewe, Koh. ‘Here Are Other Countries That Have Convicted Ex-Leaders’. TIME, 31 May 2024, https://time.com/6984228/trump-convicted-world-leaders/.

Government of Canada; Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. I Was Convicted of Driving While Impaired by Alcohol or Drugs. Can I Enter Canada? 7 Nov. 2012, https://ircc.canada.ca/english/helpcentre/answer.asp?qnum=152&top=8.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. Overcome Criminal Convictions. 9 July 2010, https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/services/immigrate-canada/inadmissibility/overcome-criminal-convictions.html.

News, A. B. C. ‘DUI Stops Bush From Freely Entering Canada’. ABC News, https://abcnews.go.com/International/story?id=82199&page=1. Accessed 7 June 2024.

Popli, Nik. ‘How Trump’s Life Will Change Now That He’s a Convicted Felon’. TIME, 3 June 2024, https://time.com/6985067/donald-trump-felon-travel-guns-voting/.

Reporter, Marni Rose McFall Live News. ‘Donald Trump Faces Travel Ban to 37 Countries’. Newsweek, 31 May 2024, https://www.newsweek.com/donald-trump-travel-ban-1906686.

Watson, Kathryn. Trump May Face Travel Restrictions in Some Countries after His New York Conviction – CBS News. 31 May 2024, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/can-trump-felon-international-travel/.

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