Working Holiday Visas: The Ultimate Guide

By Renee Cowper
Posted on

As women, it is our duty to ourselves to remain financially independent. It can be really hard to part with your hard-earned cash when you’re saving for a house or paying off debts. When we get down to it, we’d all like to travel more. But the idea of losing valuable time and professional momentum AND losing money can majorly affect whether or not women decide to take the plunge into travel.

Thankfully, there is a solution. Working Holiday Visas (WHV) are offered across the globe to encourage young people to travel more and contribute to the global economy. You will not only gain amazing opportunities in your field, you will also have international experience to add to your resume – win! Plus, you can fill your weekends exploring your new location, and really get to know a city.

In 2019, I took the plunge into a WHV to Canada, and I haven’t looked back. Living and working in Vancouver has changed my life. Before Covid-19 hit, I was able to explore the West Coast of Canada and the USA. I hope I will be able to see more of both countries before my visa is up!

This article will outline the process of gaining a WHV to Australia, Canada and the UK. But don’t think these are the only destinations – there are countries all over the world looking for young people to work in their offices and boost their economies!

Work Holiday Visa: Australia

van life solo female traveler

WHV’s in Australia are a little bit different, because they only last for 12 months, whereas others tend to last 24. You can apply for a second WHV, but this will involve completely three months work in a ‘specified area’ before your first visa is up. There are more details on what this kind of work looks like here.

Who can apply?

Passport holders from the following countries are eligible to apply for a WHV in Australia between the ages of 18-30 inclusive:

  • Belgium
  • Republic of Cyprus
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • Germany
  • Hong Kong (including British National Overseas passport holders)
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Republic of Korea
  • Malta
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Sweden
  • Taiwan 
  • The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

Applicants from Canada, France and the Republic of Ireland may apply for a WHV between the ages of 18-35 inclusive.

What do you need to enter Australia?

To enter Australia on this visa, you must have a passport that is valid for the duration of your stay, and the correct documentation for your visa. That’s it! Cruise through the airport and let your adventure begin!

What can you do in Australia?

Australia is teeming with Working Holiday Makers in all kinds of industries. From electricians to journalists, nannies to biologists, there are many job opportunities for travelers visiting Australia.

The cool bonus with the Australian visa is actually doing the three months work in a ‘specified area’ to gain your second 12 month stint. Most of these jobs will take you into rural Australia, and give you an insight of the outback that even most Aussies haven’t seen! Sure, this will take you away from your career for a few months. But think of the stories you could tell in interviews once you get back!

Who should go to Australia?

Anyone with a sense of adventure who is looking to add to their resume with experiences. A stint in Australia will truly make you stand out in the crowd, whether you work in your field or not. Australia is home to hundreds of professional volunteer experiences. Sure, you may have to make your money in a bar, but if you get to wake up on Bondi Beach every day, is that a loss? Creating connections through the unique opportunities Australia has on offer will only boost your chance of being seen in your field upon your return home. The working holiday experience in Australia will boost your resume and give you endless fun in the sun – it is an amazing opportunity to build your career while travelling.

Work Holiday Visa: Canada

Canada work holiday visa van life

The working holiday visa for young people visiting Canada comes under the International Experience Canada scheme, which includes three different types of visa experiences: Working Holiday, Young Professionals, and International Co-op (Internship). The application for all three is very similar, but Young Professionals and International Co-op are only available for those with a job offer lined up, and International Co-op is only available for students. The Working Holiday option is amazing because you will be able to live and work in Canada without having a job lined up – you can find one on your arrival. All three visas are valid for 24 months with no extra effort. Win!

This is in fact the Working Holiday Visa I have currently – read more about my experience moving to Canada here.

Who can apply?

Passport holders from the following countries are eligible to apply for the IEC Working Holiday Visa between the ages of 18-30 inclusive:

  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Hong Kong
  • Japan
  • Republic of Korea
  • Luxembourg
  • Netherlands
  • Sweden
  • United Kingdom

Passport holders from the following countries are eligible to apply for the IEC Working Holiday Visa between the ages of 18-35 inclusive:

  • Australia
  • Chile
  • Costa Rica
  • Croatia
  • Czech Republic 
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Latvia Republic
  • Lithuania
  • New Zealand
  • Poland 
  • Portugal
  • San Marino
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • Taiwan
  • Ukraine

Passport holders from Mexico are eligible to apply for the IEC Working Holiday Visa between the ages of 18-29 inclusive.

What do you need to enter Canada?

Applicants will need to give biometrics (fingerprints) at an approved centre outside of Canada. If you plan to work in an industry that is in close contact with other people (i.e. nursing, teaching, etc.) you may also be asked to perform a medical test. 

When you arrive at the border, you will need to bring with you your passport, valid for the duration of your stay, your Port of Entry letter, proof of funds (minimum $2,500CAD), proof of health insurance for the duration of your stay, and any documents you provided in your application. If you forget any of these things upon your arrival in Canada, your visa may not be activated. It’s very important to be prepared when entering Canada on this visa. However, once it’s activated, you can come and go from the country as you please within the duration of your visa. 

What can you do in Canada?

Two words: snow season. This is probably the biggest draw card for people wanting to live and work in Canada, particularly in Vancouver. Conduct your professional business by day, then hit the slopes of an evening. It truly is one of the best reasons to work and holiday in Canada! Summer in Canada is perfect for road tripping and camping. Canada is rich in natural beauty that truly has to be seen to be believed. 

The east coast has incredible opportunities for young professionals seeking work experience in the corporate sector. If you’re looking to build your business portfolio, choose to settle on the east. You’ll likely be in close contact with businesses on America’s east coast as well! Perfect for creating those career connections.

Who should go to Canada?

Anyone who loves the outdoors and friendly locals! It would be a shame to lose out on experience all that Canada has to offer, so even if you are going to pursue professional passions, don’t forget to have some fun along the way. Be sure to check out backpacking hotspots to meet some really incredible travelers from all over the world. Use this time to boost not just career experience, but life experience as well. Travel makes you a more interesting person, and international work experience makes you a valuable employee.

Work Holiday Visa: UK

UK work holiday visa van life

Once known as the ‘working holidaymaker’, the Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme allows residents from certain countries to live and work in the UK for up to 24 months. This scheme allows applicants to work, study or start a business while residing in the UK.

Who can apply?

Passport holders from the following countries are eligible to apply for the Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme between the ages of 18-30 inclusive:

  • Australia
  • Canada
  • Japan
  • Monaco
  • New Zealand
  • Hong Kong
  • Republic of Korea
  • Taiwan

You may also apply between the ages of 18-30 if you are a:

  • British overseas citizen
  • British overseas territories citizen
  • British national (overseas)

What do you need to enter the UK?

Upon arrival in the UK, you will need to provide your passport that is valid for the duration of your stay with at least one blank page, your visa acceptance letter, bank statements showing at least £1,890 in savings, and Tuberculosis test (only for certain foreign nationals – see the full list here).

What can you do in the UK?

There are so many amazing career and volunteer opportunities in the UK, from supply teaching (all you need is a Bachelor’s degree) to museum volunteers. London, Edinburgh and Dublin are hotspots for up-and-coming industries like digital marketing freelancing, or you could experience the ‘real UK’ by working on a farm in a small town.

The best thing about living and working in the UK is its size and proximity to Europe. Work all week to save up for weekends in Paris, Rome and Prague, or take a long road trip through the countryside. The UK is an amazing travel gold-mine – fund your travels and build your career in one fun little package!

Who should go to the UK?

Anyone hoping to see more of Europe without losing out on career trajectory or money. Living and working in the UK is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to live, work and travel simultaneously. The laptop lifestyle isn’t for everyone – the Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme really is a great opportunity to build a traditional career while seeing the world!

Aussie work holiday visa

What if your country is not on the list?

Never fear! These visas are only a tiny handful of options for living and working abroad. Working Holiday Visas are a really easy way to get your foot in the door of international work experience, but are by no means the only way. If you have big dreams of living and working in the US, or becoming an English teacher in Cambodia, there are ways! It takes time, research, planning – but the effort is absolutely worth it!

Why should you, as a woman, take advantage of these opportunities?

As you have probably noticed, these visas are mostly valid up until the age of 35. They offer women a special opportunity to become independent individuals, build a career and see the world on their own terms. It is so important for women in particular to seize these opportunities. They offer both stability and freedom, giving women the chance to see the world and feel safe doing so. It makes us more interesting, helps us to grow as individuals, and gives us a strong sense of self. These formative experiences are vital for women to have in their youth, so that can move forward in life never wondering who they might have been if they’d just taken that shot. Life only offers us so many opportunities – these visas are a great way to achieve our travel dreams without having to compromise on our professional or financial paths.

About the author

work holiday visas for women

Renee Cowper

Renee is the creative mind behind all things Young and Trekless. Her university degree in Biblical Studies and Classical Hebrew left her with an abundance of job offers that she swatted away to pursue her creative dreams.

Besides travel, Renee will take you down at any Harry Potter Pub Trivia Nights!



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