What is a Working Holiday Visa?

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  • Written By: S.R. Lewis
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 29 October 2019
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A working holiday visa is a type of permit allowing travelers from one country to become temporarily employed while on vacation in another country. Countries that participate in the program offer a reciprocal agreement for travelers with the intent to increase tourism and cultural opportunities among young individuals. Japan, Australia, New Zealand and Canada originated the program so that their students could travel the United Kingdom. Individual countries choose to participate, and most developed countries do, with the exception of the United States, India, Bangladesh, Malaysia and Ghana.

The working holiday visa program operates similarly among the participating countries, but each country has its own requirements and regulations. If a person is interested in participating in the working holiday program, he or she must contact the destination country for detailed steps and information. Most programs restrict the age of the participant to 18-35 years old, but the age limit varies from one country to another. A person must be able to prove the financial ability to support himself or herself while traveling and establishing temporary employment through the working holiday visa program. Participating countries have limits for the length and types of employment and the duration of stay, and all limits must be followed closely.


Most countries require additional residency permits or education permits, depending on what other activities a traveler will be doing. Travelers interested in jobs such as au pairs need to review the specific rules and regulations, because the guidelines are often different. Some countries give special consideration and preference for the skill set and type of employment, and they might have different processes for teachers, nurses and other skilled professionals.

The main countries that still participate in the working holiday visa program are Germany, Italy, France, Spain and the United Kingdom. There are different costs for the program based on the country and type of visas required. Travelers from the United States do not have a reciprocal working holiday visa agreement with any of these countries, so they must review travel permit requirements and apply for appropriate visas.

People who are interested in more information on traveling to any participating countries can find official information online. In Germany, the German Foreign Service Office's website is the best source of information, and France supplies detailed steps for the application process at The Schengen Office's website. The local embassy can supply information on people looking to travel to Italy, as can the local Spanish consulate for those planning a trip to Spain. Information on traveling to the United Kingdom is available from the the UK Border Agency's website.


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