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8 Working holiday visa opportunities for UK & British citizens!

uk flag

As soon as I got the travel bug, I knew one holiday a year wasn’t enough. I needed to prolong my travels. To somehow make them long term without going broke. I know I am not the first person that has wanted to explore the world. And I definitely won’t be the last!

I heard about the working holiday type visa for British & UK citizens and just had to find out everything I could about them.

Since this post is aimed working holiday visa opportunities for British passport holders & UK citizens, if you are from a different country and want to see what working holiday visas are available to you, you can check this link here.

Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means if you purchase something through my links I may make a small commission at no extra charge to you.

union jack british flag - working holidays for brits

New to travelling long term?


Why do people go on working holidays?

First, What is a working holiday? In short, it’s one of the best ways that people can afford to travel long term for up to 1 year in another country. But there are many reasons a person might want to embark on this type of adventure.

You could be fresh out of studying and wanting a break before starting a career. Maybe you are a permanent dreamer looking for an escape for your reality. How about having a desire to try ALL the different food cuisines in their native homes. What if you just got tired of permanent grey skies in the UK and want some better weather.

Whatever the reason, you’re not alone!

At one point I think I ticked all 4 of the boxes above and have had itchy feet to get out and explore for as long as I remember. I’d spend hours per week when I was younger researching different countries and trying to see where I would like to go, and honestly there was never a destination that I wouldn’t want to visit at least once.

I didn’t have anyone to turn to for advice on travelling long term, or travelling solo for that matter, so I had to figure it out myself. My avenue for research was the internet. Back when I started looking for recommendations or advice on working holidays for brits and uk citizens, I didn’t quite find what I was looking for.

So that brings me to why I am creating this post to try and break down all of the places British citizens can take a working holiday visa!


Preparing to move overseas

Not sure what travel sites you should use when booking your travels? Here are a few of my favourite sites and apps to make my travels easier that you could could start with. If you’d like to explore your options, head over to my Travel Resources page for a more in-depth look at travel brands for all occasions!

Money exchange

Once you start your trip you’re going to need to transfer money from home into your new bank account. A company that I have found to have the best conversion rates and great customer service is Wise (formerly known as Transferwise).

You can check them out on my link here: Transfer money using Wise

Booking your flights

It’s no doubt that SkyScanner is one of the world’s largest comparison sites for airline travel. They are always my go-to when looking for itineraries. I’d recommend finding a travel route and airline you like on SkyScanner and then booking the flight directly through the airline – instead of the comparison site.

Booking your accommodation

If like me you’re travelling solo (or maybe you and your travel partners just want to meet people easily), a hostel is always my recommended proprty type. They’re sociable, affordable and they’re often located close to popular amenities in a tourist destination! Take a look at Hostelworld and their large collection of hostels. If a hostel is not your style and you’d rather stay anywhere else, check out Booking for a wide collection.


How many working holiday visa countries for British / UK citizens are there?

sydney opera house at sunset during the working holidays for brits
Sydney Opera house at sunset

Australia

The country is known for its incredible hot weather, sandy beaches and animals native only to Oz. This is the most common place young travellers flock to when leaving home for the first time.

With no language barrier here, working holidays for Brits or fluent English speakers, an abundance of job opportunities in cities and rural locations, there is something for any type of traveller that crosses the border!

Want to hang out with a kangaroo on a white sandy beach? Cuddle an adorable koala at the famous Australia zoo? How about trying surfing on the east coast? Or visit the world-famous Great barrier reef!

There is so much to see and do here and you could have a whole year (or two, or three) to do it!

Length of visa: 1 year

Allowed to work: Full 1 year

Cost: 495 AUD / roughly 260 GBP (depending on exchange rate)

Minimum Cash requirement: Approximately $5,000 AUD / roughly £2,600 GBP (depending on exchange rates)

Eligible age: Between 18 and 30 at the time of application (including 2nd & 3rd year visas). You have one year to enter the country from the date of approval.

No. of visas for Brits per year: Unlimited

Conditions: Must complete 88 days or 3 months of RURAL farm work in order to qualify for a 2nd year visa. You may use your 2nd year straight after your 1st year is up, or you can use the 2nd year a few years after. If you complete 6 months worth of farm work you can now get a third year too!

When to Apply?: Anytime! There are unlimited visas so you can apply any time of year.

How to Apply?: on the Australian government website below:

Australia – The Application Process: 

Possibly one of the most straightforward application processes for all of the working holidays for Brits. You can apply from anywhere (this includes being outside of the UK at the time) and you can do the entire application online. There is no limit on the number of visas that they give to British citizens a year so there is nobody else you are competing with for a spot. 

They will make you do a short eligibility quiz online asking your personal information followed by questions on any interactions with the law you may or may not have had. Australia generally will not take anybody that has had negative run-ins with the law as they like to only approve visas for people of good character.

The document required to apply for the visa is: 

  • Your valid up to date UK passport

The full application probably took me no longer than 15 minutes total, and that’s being generous. I wanted to double check every field to make sure there are no spelling errors considering the visa becomes a legal document. The website at the time of applying said it could take up to 4 weeks to be approved or declined, but I had my visa back within a few hours! Definitely the quickest of all the processes. 

The visa itself is electronic so it is just virtually attached to your passport number. When you have been approved you can book your flights. You will either need proof of a flight out of Australia at the end of your visa, or proof of enough money to cover a flight. You will also need to show proof of funds to support yourself until you get a job. 

This is also a multi entry visa so if you want to visit other countries and then return to Oz during the visa you absolutely can – just be aware that your Australian visa will continue to run and you won’t get any time back that you miss being elsewhere. 


peyto lake in canada from the viewpoint. the second most popularworking holidays for brits
Peyto Lake in the Canadian Rockies – we visited here on a road trip!

Canada

Canada has so many different landscapes to see. If you travel to the west coast you’ll be surrounded by endless rainforests. You’ll be close to the mountains which are on every Canadian post card.

On the east coast you can experience a ‘real’ Canadian winter. A high white layer of snow is guaranteed unlike many parts of the UK! Working holidays for brits in Canada is the polar opposite to one in Australia.

There are so many opportunities to see unique wildlife and experiences that we just don’t have. Plus, have you heard about how stereotypically friendly Canadian’s are?

How do you feel about seeing a moose? You could go camping in bear country? Maybe spend the winter in a world-renowned ski resort? Ever need a police officer? – they have mounties instead!

Length of visa: 2 years

Allowed to work: Full 2 years

Eligible age: Between 18 and 30 at the time of application. You have one year to enter the country from the date of approval.

Cost: $156 CAD for participating on IEC and $100 CAD for the open working holiday permit ($256 CAD is roughly £148 GBP (depending on exchange rate)

Minimum Cash requirement: Enough money to support you during your first 3 months in the country which is approximately $2,500 CAD / £1,400 GBP (depending on exchange rates)

No. of visas for Brits per year: between 5,000 & 6,000. Working holidays for brits here are so desirable, you can expect an average of 25,000 applications a year.

Conditions: Must use the two years at the same time. So you cannot do one year then go back for the 2nd year in 3 years time. Any time you are not in the country you will not get back as the visa will just continue to run. You must also have sufficient Long term Travel Medical insurance for the DURATION of the trip. If you only pay for 1 year’s insurance, you run the risk of only being issued a visa as long as your insurance policy!

When to Apply?: You can enter the ‘pool’ at any time during the year, however candidates with profiles in the pools will only start to be invited to formally apply during the 3 rounds of invitations. These dates change each year but round one is usually around March. Two more rounds will take place between March and the end of the year.

How to Apply?: Through the IEC Canadian government website below:

https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/services/work-canada/iec/about.html

Canada – The application process:

This process is definitely a bit more in-depth than Australia. It took me a total of 3 years (7 application rounds) to successfully get a visa. But don’t let that deter you! 

Prior to 2015 the application process had been a first come first serve style process. This meant you needed to be extremely quick at filling out the initial part of the application before thousands of other people. With an average of 5,000 visas per year to UK citizens, but roughly over 20,000 people applying each year, it was tough competition. Think of it like applying for popular festival tickets. Sometimes they sell out in minutes.

Fast forward to 2015, the process got changed to a lottery system. You can apply your interest into a ‘pool’ and then during the three rounds of applications per year, they select people at random to formally apply for the working holiday visa. 

If/when you are selected and invited to formally apply, you will need to accept the offer or put yourself back into the pool. Once accepted, you will have 20 days to collect all of your paperwork, fill your forms and get them completed and uploaded into the IEC system. All forms needing your personal details and family information that you need can be downloaded from the IEC website. There will be a checklist once you set up your account but generally speaking the documents you will need for the application include: 

  • Your valid and up to date UK passport
  • Personal information form (found on the IEC website)
  • Family information form ((found on the IEC website)   
  • You Resume/CV
  • Police Certificate for every country you have lived in for more than 6 months
  • Biometrics (fingerprints) you can get from London for most of the UK

Most years the process on their end takes up to 8 weeks once submitted (mine was over the Christmas period and took no more than 2 weeks!) but during 2021 and the pandemic that has been delayed up to 68 weeks due to backlog and border closures. 

Once you have been approved you will be sent a PoE (Port of entry) letter allowing you to enter Canada. Before you book your flight and get too excited though, make sure you get yourself travel insurance that covers you for the full two years (unless you are planning on being in Canada for less of course).

This is because at the border, you will only be given the official work permit/visa for the length of the travel insurance you have purchased. So, if you only pay for 6 months insurance to save money, you will only be given a 6 month work visa. 

When everything has been shown to the immigration officer at the airport, providing they are happy to proceed, you will receive a physical paper visa certificate. This is then stapled into your passport for safe keeping. Once you have the visa in your hand, go out and enjoy all that Canada has to offer!

This is a multi entry visa so if you want to visit other countries and then return to Canada during the active visa then you can. Just be aware you won’t get any time back that you missed while being overseas as your visa will continue to run. This is the longest of the visas available to brits out of the working holidays.


Bob's cove hike view point in New Zealand.
This is one of my favourite short hikes at Bob’s Cove outside Queenstown!

New Zealand

A place often referred to as the home of Lord of the Rings, this is a destination you can’t miss. The north island is tropical with crystal clear waters. Their South island is home to the ‘southern alps’ and fantastic skiing.

This is the only nation without any snakes. A slow paced nation with only 5 million people, you will never feel overcrowded like you can in London! A fantasy destination with countless hikes and endless outdoor activities.

A country that has unique plants native to only New Zealand & they care a lot about protecting the environment. More countries are following in their footsteps!

Maybe you find a small kiwi bird while out at night? How about being a hobbit for a day? You can even learn about the Maori culture!

Length of visa: 1 Year which can be extended to 23 months OR a 23 month visa straight away but you will need to provide a medical certificate.

Allowed to work: Can only work 12 months of the entire 23 months

Eligible age: Between 18 and 30 at the time of application and if you choose to use the 2nd year visa you must use it straight after the first. You have one year to enter the country from the date of approval.

Cost: $245 NZD for one year which is roughly £120 GBP (depending on exchange rates)

Minimum Cash requirement: You are required to have either $350 NZD per month of your stay or $4,200 NZD overall to meet your living costs while in the country. You also need to show proof of a flight out OR the funds to cover a flight out at the end of your stay.

No. of visas for Brits per year: Unlimited

Conditions: You cannot accept a permanent job. You will need to accept only temp contracts. You also cannot bring dependents with you on the visa.

When to Apply?: Anytime! There are unlimited visas so you can apply any time of year.

How to Apply?: On the New Zealand government website below:

Check out my step-by-step guide on how to apply for the New Zealand working holiday visa.


japan temple overlooking mt fuji. another working holidays for brits destination
Photo by David Edelstein

Japan

Japan is a very popular tourist destination due to their unique culture. A place with arguably some of the best customer service in the world, Japanese people are very warm and welcoming.

There is every type of landscape on these islands. You could ski and then visit the beach the next day! How many places can you do both so close together! Perhaps you want to throw yourself into a bustling city like Tokyo and visit the world’s busiest intersection?

Are you a fan of anime – this is the place for you! Take a trip to the Nintendo HQ! Maybe you are a massive foodie and want all the sushi and ramen?

mountain cartoon

Length of visa: 1 year

Allowed to work: Full 1 year

Eligible Age: Between 18 and 30 at the time of application. You have one year to enter the country from the date of approval.

Cost: £6 to process the single entry visa.

Minimum Cash requirement: Either £2,500 in cleared funds, or £1,500 plus proof of flight out of the country at the end of your trip.

No. of visas for Brits per year: 1,000 & every year this number is filled.

Conditions: You must come here with the intention to travel first and only work to supplement further travels. Working holidays for Brits in Japan also have conditions on where you cannot work. You must not work in any job that goes against Japanese morals, for example working in a nightclub. This is a single entry visa so unless you leave under exceptional circumstances, there is a chance you don’t get the chance to return on the same visa if you leave.

When to apply?: Applications start at the beginning of Japan’s financial year in April. They fill up on a first come first serve basis and can fill up quickly.

How to apply?: In person at the Japanese Embassy in the UK. In most cases you will need to attend an interview with original documents as part of your application. Further information is found on the Embassy website below:

https://www.uk.emb-japan.go.jp/itpr_en/index_000072.html

Japan – The Application Process:

So unlike Australia, Canada & New Zealand, you need to apply in person for the Japanese visa. Usually the round of applications open in April of each year. 

There are a total of only 1,000 visas given to British citizens each year and after speaking to the Japanese embassy in London, I was advised they get used up every year usually within the month they open. That means there is fierce competition. You need to book a face to face meeting at the Japanese embassy closest to you.

In order to be prepared for the applications when they open, you would be better off getting some of your documents ready ahead of time so they are ready to take with you to your application ‘interview’.

The documents you will need to take include:

  • Your valid and up to date UK passport
  • Your completed application form (you can download from the embassy site above)
  • 1 passport sized photo 
  • Your CV/resume
  • A brief itinerary including some activities you plan to do in Japan  
  • A written letter about why you want to visit Japan and why you want to apply for their working holiday scheme
  • £2,500 GBP in accessible cash (credit cards not allowed) or £1,500 and proof of a flight out of Japan before the end of your visa. 

By having all of these documents in advance you will make your interview quicker by being prepared which in turn can make your application a smoother process. During this interview the agent will try to understand your reasons for visiting Japan and will use the answers you give – along with your paperwork – to add any notes they see fit to your overall application.

You will need to hand in your passport while waiting for your response and will get to collect it with your approval from the embassy as soon as a decision has been made. So try to plan your appointment around a time when you will not need your passport for anything else because you won’t have access to it while waiting for the response.

The government site says they can take up to 30 days to hear back but many people hear back as early as a week! 

This visa is a physical paper copy which is usually stapled in your passport. You will need this to enter the country. Unfortunately, compared to the other working holidays for brits we have discussed so far, this is NOT a multi-entry visa. This means if you leave the country during your 1 year visa, you will probably not be allowed back in. So it’s best to avoid leaving the country until the end of your visa just in case, unless you’re happy to be there for only a few months!


south korea busy streets at night - working holidays for brits destination
Photo by @shawnanggg

South Korea

Everyone has a mobile phone and internet access these days. South Korea has been found to have the fastest average internet speed for 3 years running! This means you can instagram and stay connected without any worry!

A nation that is arguably the best in terms of electronics, this is the home of Samsung & LG. A nation that loves to look their best at all times.

When taking photos you’d say ‘Kimchi’, not cheese. You’d also hear a lot of KPOP – are you a fan of BTS or PSY? Maybe you’ll visit the erotic theme park – if you’re into that.

south korean building cartoon

Length of visa: 1 year and only have 3 months to enter once approved.

Allowed to work: Full 1 year but not full time

Eligible Age: Between 18 and 30 at the time of application. You have only 3 months to enter the country from the date of approval.

Cost: £154 for single entry visa

Minimum Cash requirement: 3,000,000 KRW which is roughly £1850 GBP (depending on exchange rate)

No. of visas for Brits per year: 1,000

Conditions: You must not teach English on any working holidays for brits in South Korea. If you want to teach, they have a separate visa for that. You must not exceed more than 25 hours of work per week during your visa and must not work in any professions that go against Korean morals, for example working as a receptionist or a nightclub.

When to Apply?: Applications are accepted year – round on a first come first serve basis

How to Apply?: You must visit the South Korean embassy in your home country AT LEAST 90 days before you plan to start your trip. (Due to covid it is all done by mail currently). I have attached some more information on the link below:

Feel free to follow my detailed walkthrough on how to apply for the visa here.


city skyline over taiwan with a sunset in the distance -working holidays for brits
Photo by Thomas Tucker

Taiwan

Did you know, less than 3% of Taiwan’s residents are native to the island. You’ll fit right in with being a non-native to this exciting destination! Even though the most common language spoken is Mandarin, a lot of people speak english.

Almost the entire island is covered in uninhabited jungle so you can get your Indiana Jones’ on and have a lot to explore. You will never run out of hiking trails to wander along.

Do you like hot springs? Because they are everywhere. You’re never more than a stone’s throw away from one!

Are you a fan of unique buildings? Taiwan is known for its quirky and unusual architecture.

If these are not reasons to book your flight now, I don’t know what is.

taiwan flag

Length of visa: 1 year and you only have 3 months to enter the country from date of approval

Allowed to work: 1 year

Eligible Age: Between 18 and 30 at the time of application

Cost: £50 visa fee

Minimum Cash requirement: Minimum of £2,200 OR a £1,00 and a flight home/out of the country

No. of visas for Brits per year: 1,000

Conditions: Apart from not being able to bring dependents, the Taiwan government sites don’t seem to offer a list of any terms and conditions.

When to apply?: Not Specified so possible year-round

How to apply?: Either in person to the Consulate in the UK or by post. I have attached a link with more information below:

https://www.youthtaiwan.net/WorkingHolidayen/cp.aspx?n=88E18DB22818E550&s=8133A77AC99AE860

Taiwan – The Application Process

This application has to be applied in person. This means you need to apply from your home country by visiting the closest ROC/Taiwan embassy in the UK to where you live. They did once accept applications by mail but that seems to have changed in recent years.

You will need to book your embassy appointment in advance so you should have your documents prepared ahead of time too. The documents you will need to have ready to take to the interview include: 

  • Your valid and up to date UK passport
  • A brief itinerary showing your planned activities and tourist sites so they can see your primary reason to visit is as a tourist and that working is just your secondary reason to visit.
  • Proof of a flight out of Taiwan before the end of your visa (although they normally suggest waiting until you have your visa approved before you purchase flights so the intended dates should be ok)
  • A minimum of 2,000Euro to prove you can support yourself

The interviews normally don’t take too long, and they’re just a way to get a good idea of your intentions in Taiwan. 

You will need to show your purchased travel insurance when you cross the border too as it is a requirement of the visa, however it is not advised to purchase the insurance until after you have been approved your visa as most insurances cannot be cancelled if you end up unsuccessful. 


hong kong skyline over during sunset - working holidays for brits destination
Photo by Simon Zhu

Hong Kong

Due to the close relationship Hong Kong has with the UK, it’s a multicultural place. Almost like a hybrid of the East and West customs combined.

If you are a shopaholic this is THE location for you. Everything from luxury and designer malls just a walk away from small boutiques and antique stores.

A huge metropolis with nature walks in close range, you experience the best of both worlds on the same day.

Do you like easy access to other countries and taking lots of trips? Hong Kong is one of the busiest airline routes on earth! Due to it’s multicultural nature, you can get practically any cuisine you can think of!

hong kong flag

Length of visa: 1 year

Allowed to work: 1 year

Eligible Age: 18 -30 years old

Cost: $190 HKD roughly £18 GBP

Minimum Cash requirement: 22,000 HKD is roughly £2,000 GBP

No. of visas for Brits per year: 1,000

Conditions: You must not take up permanent employment and can only accept contract or temporary roles.

When to apply?: Specific dates seem to fluctuate but always seem to be around Spring Feb-April.

How to apply?: You can either apply in person at a Hong Kong Embassy in the UK or you may send your completed application in the mail to any Chinese diplomatic and consular missions in the UK. I have attached another link to the Hong Kong gov website below:

https://www.immd.gov.hk/eng/services/visas/working_holiday_scheme.html#firstTab&note2

Hong Kong – The application process

With 1,000 visas available you might think this is a hard visa to get. But after speaking with the embassy in the UK, they actually told me that this visa takes a while for all spots to be taken. They don’t seem to sell out as quickly as Japan or Canada’s visa programs. This is great news because it can be stressful applying for some working holidays for brits – especially if you miss out.

With two ways to apply, you can choose which way you prefer. Just make sure to have all of your documents prepared as if you are missing anything you can delay the process or even risk rejection. 

The documents you need to apply with either by post or in person include: 

  • Your valid and up to date UK passport
  • Completed visa application form
  • Visa application fee via bank draft in HK dollars

Sometimes you will be required to bring along a brief itinerary or your plans in Hong Kong. This does not seem to be asked at every interview and looks to be on a case by case basis. For this reason it is probably beneficial to write and bring along one of your own – just in case you too are asked.


gardens by the bay nightime lit up
Photo by Mike Enerio

Singapore

Another major airline hub and very well connected, Singapore is also a great choice. They take littering very seriously and is one of the cleanest cities in the world!

Can’t decide what to eat? For such a small island Singapore has an outstanding number of restaurants. They have also ranked regularly as a top participent when when it comes to bars in Asia.

You may only get 6 months in this city but you can easily cover the entire island and see all it has to offer in that time. A nation that has 4 national languages they have a multitude of cultures to really immerse yourself in.

gardens by the bay cartoon

Length of visa: 6 months

Allowed to work: Yes, up to 6 months

Eligible Age: Between 18 and 25 at the time of application and either an undergraduate or Graduate.

Cost: $175 Singapore Dollars

Minimum Cash requirement: There does not seem to be a specific amount listed. Just make sure to have enough to support you until you have a job.

No. of visas for Brits per year: 2,000 applicants maximum across all countries they allow in.

Conditions: You MUST have a degree or be currently studying to be eligible for this visa. Unfortunately any other British nationals without a degree – even if you are in the age bracket – will not be allowed to participate in this visa scheme.

When to apply?: No specific month, however in Singapore require you to be a graduate or a student. This is the one of the only working holidays for brits with this restriction. You must have been studying AT LEAST 3 months before applying. ALSO you cannot apply more than 3 months before your intended arrival date.

How to apply?: You can apply through the Singapore embassy website online. I have attached a link below for further information:

https://www.mom.gov.sg/eservices/services/apply-for-work-holiday-pass

Singapore – The Application Process:

Singapore call their visa the Work Holiday program – not to be confused with the Work and Holiday visa program that only Australian citizens are eligible for (Don’t worry they are clearly listed on the website)

This visa is a little more complicated to apply for as you also need to prove your education status. You must have recently graduated university or be currently studying at the time of application. 

The documents you’ll need at the time of application if you are a GRADUATE are:

  • A copy of your up to date Passport photo page
  • A copy of your degree proof (certificate) as well as any transcripts

The documents you will need when applying if you are an UNDERGRADUATE (current student) are:

  • A copy of your up to date Passport photo page
  • A letter dated within 3 months of application date from your university stating your personal information
  • A copy of your student ID car
  • A copy of your student visa if you are an international student at the university. If you do not have a student visa, make sure to include an explanation letter along with your application.

The entire application can be done online with a smooth system that makes it easy to upload any required documents. Once you have applied you only have around 3 weeks on average to wait for the approval. In many cases you get a response sooner.


Today there are 8 working holidays for Brits to take!

Once upon a time we did have a very powerful passport and would be able to live and work across the EU without visas. That gave us an extra 26 countries to live and work in. But since 31st December 2020 when the UK left the EU during Brexit, British people no longer have that ability.

infographic of working holidays brits can apply for

Should there be any changes or amendments to other new places UK citizens can live and work long term or if any new countries allow working holidays for Brits I will update this page!

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