Arrest and detention
This page provides information on what to expect and what to do if you are arrested or detained while outside Canada.
On this page
- If you are arrested and detained abroad
- If you need help
- Transfer to a Canadian prison
- Dual citizens
If you are arrested and detained abroad
Legal proceedings or police investigations in other countries may be different from those in Canada.
You are subject to the criminal justice system of the country where you are arrested and imprisoned. Consular services officials cannot arrange your release from prison.
If you are arrested or detained abroad:
- Expect that you may have to stay in the country during the proceedings and that you may face long delays while efforts are made to resolve your case
- Inform the arresting authorities that you want them to immediately notify the nearest Canadian government office of your arrest
In countries that are party to the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, the arresting authorities must advise you of your right to access consular representation and to arrange for this access. They are not required to inform a Canadian government office of your detention or arrest unless you specifically ask them to do so.
The Government of Canada cannot intervene in ongoing legal proceedings in other countries or regions unless it is requested to do so by local authorities. These requests are rare.
Directory of Canadian embassies and consulates by destination
Countries that are party to the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations
If you need help
Contact the nearest Canadian office that serves the country you are in or the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa.
What Canadian consular service officers can do if you are arrested or detained
What Canadian consular service officers can do while you are detained or incarcerated
What Canadian consular service officers abroad cannot do
Human rights violations
If your international human rights are known to have been violated, the Government of Canada may take steps to pressure the foreign authorities to abide by their international human rights obligations and provide basic minimum standards of protection.
Request emergency assistance
Transfer to a Canadian prison
In some cases, if you are sentenced to imprisonment abroad, you can request to complete your sentence in Canada.
This can only happen if the following conditions are met:
- The country where you are imprisoned is a signatory to the Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons or if it has a treaty or administrative agreement with Canada for the transfer of sentenced persons
- Authorities in Canada and in the country where you are imprisoned approve your transfer to Canada
This process can take a long time and there is no guarantee that the transfer will be approved by either or both sides.
International transfer of offenders
While having dual citizenship is legal in Canada, it may not be legal or recognized in the country of your second nationality. This could limit the ability of the Government of Canada to assist you if you are arrested in that country.
Even if you are in a country where you hold dual citizenship, you should still request access to Canadian consular service officers.
Travelling as a dual citizen
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