Top 5 Countries To Base Your First Working Holiday

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First off, what is a working holiday visa?

A working holiday visa is typically available to people aged 18 to 30, who have no dependants, and come from a country which takes part in the scheme. Usually a visa will last for 12 months and allow you to work and travel in that country. However, rules, regulations, time frames, and age bands can differ from country to country so it’s always advisable to find out the specific terms of your own working holiday visa before you sign up.

What are the benefits of a working holiday?

The main benefits of a working holiday visa are that A) You can travel for much longer in a country than on a typical tourist visa as most working holidays last for at least 1 year, and B) You can legally work during your time abroad. The latter ultimately means you don’t need huge amounts of cash to go travelling. You’ll be able to top up your funds as you go provided you can get some work.

What are the best countries for doing a working holiday?

Please note: Some of this information may differ slightly depending upon which country you are a citizen of.

New Zealand

New Zealand currently offers 2 types of working holiday visa – one is for 12 months and the other is for 23 months. You can also extend your visa while you’re there if you’re on the 12 month working holiday and extend it up to the full 23 months (although you may have to for a medical first). It is unusual for a country to offer a working holiday visa for as long as 23 months straight from the get-go, and this is what makes New Zealand one of the best countries when it comes to doing a working holiday.


Canada is a popular destination for many 18 to 30 year old backpackers to base their Gap Year. In the past it used to be that you could get a working holiday visa in Canada up to the age of 35, but that has changed now, and the current age limit in the country for this visa is 18 to 30 years old with visas typically lasting for 12 months. Demand for a working holiday visa in Canada is huge, and as such you’ll need to be quick if you want to secure one. Over 5000 visas were made available this year for UK residents, and more than double that number applied – with applications now closed for 2013.


Australia is the most popular destination to base a working holiday, and as the place where I spent my first working holiday I can understand why. There is mountains, desert, jungle, beaches, coral reefs, countryside, big cities, small towns, turtles, kangaroos, surfing… The list goes on… The good news is that during your 12 month visa you can opt to extend for another year if you do 3 months specified work in a regional area (usually fruit picking).


If you’re from the EU then the good news is you don’t need a UK youth mobility visa (UK working holiday visa). You can work for as long as you want in the UK without restriction. For those of you not lucky enough to have an EU passport though, the UK youth mobility scheme is still a pretty good deal. The youth mobility visa allows you to live and work in the UK for up to 24 months. This is more than any of the other top 5 countries offer without having to do something extra to obtain your visa. For that reason the UK really does offer a fantastic deal to working holiday makers.


Currently Ireland offers working holiday visas to citizens of Argentina, Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand and the Republic of Korea. Restrictions and rules of the visa different a little bit depending upon which country you come from with the Irish visa. For instance, Australian’s applying for an Irish working holiday visa need to be between the ages of 18 to 30, but Canadian students can apply up to the age of 35. The casual job market in Ireland is quite competitive with local Irish students, school leavers, and other EU residents, however it is still a great launch pad for someone looking to explore Europe that needs a good base.

– This post was brought to you by Tourisme Montreal.

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