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What is a working holiday? All you need to know!

margaria in front of the ocean

What is a working holiday visa?

It’s a holiday that you can also work on. Doesn’t sound too fun, does it?

Well let me explain it in a little more detail for you.

In simple terms, it is a temporary work visa specifically for those aged between 18 and 30 (or 35 from some lucky countries).

It is a visa that allows the passport holder an opportunity to live, work and travel in another country as a way of learning about the culture.

Similarly to how a school might do a foreign exchange between students. Except this is an opportunity you can typically arrange independently and without needing to be part of an educational institution.

Working holidays are known by multiple names around the world. Each of these terms mean pretty much the same thing and all are interchangeable:

  • Work and Travel visa
  • Youth Mobility visa
  • Travel – work visa
UK passport on animal print fabric - what is a working holiday?

Where can UK Passport holders go on a working holiday?

If you are a UK or British citizen you luckily have the chance to work in 8 countries on this visa type! This is provided you are between the ages of 18 and 30. Unfortunately we do not (currently) have the opportunity to do working holiday specific visas past this age.

It is currently speculated (in 2022) that due to the new trade agreement with Australia, the government has plans to allow British passport holders in on the visa scheme until 35 years old.

As you can see from this table below, there are limits on the number of visas available to British people each year.

This can make a few of the visa schemes extremely competitive. In some cases it is a first come first serve basis, and others are approved after mini interviews.

As you can see, Australia and New Zealand have unlimited numbers which means that it is very unlikely you will be denied a visa based on limits alone.

Each country still has their own eligibility criteria to be approved for a working holiday visa.

Country # of Visas for Brits per year
AustraliaUnlimited
Canada6,000
Hong Kong1,000
Japan1,000
New ZealandUnlimited
Singapore2,000
South Korea1,000
Taiwan1,000

This is just the outline of countries available to UK passport holders. If you would like to learn more information about the visa application processes, please check out this in-depth post:

And check these step-by-step guides on how to apply for each visa:

a world map with foreign money around it - how can you make money on a working holiday?

What is a working holiday used for?

Working holidays are used for multiple things:

  • Gain experience working abroad
  • Travel for a long time while also earning money
  • Experience a new country as more than just a tourist
  • As a gap year between studies or a career break

In normal circumstances it can be difficult to get work visas or move abroad. Plus, if you get caught trying to work overseas without the correct visa type, you can get into serious trouble.

But when you consider how expensive it is to travel continuously for a whole year – if you’re not rich it can be hard to save for that long. That’s why the working holiday visa is such a useful way to travel for a long time.

Not only are you allowed to work – legally of course – but you are allowed to stay in the countries of choice for a longer period than that of a tourist. This allows you to truly immerse yourself into the local culture and make some money doing so!

What a fantastic idea!

"yes" written in the sand on a working holiday

Is a working holiday worth it?

In my personal opinion, yes!

What better way is there to travel around the world without emptying out your savings? When you can explore a new place and know you have an income coming in, that’s the dream for many people.

I know it is for me!
The working holiday is one of the easiest ways to live that dream for a temporary length of time.

Not only can you experience some once-in-a-lifetime opportunities and step out of your comfort zone, but you can also meet some new friends along the way.

Many of these people you cross paths with will also be on their own gap year journey so you have someone else to experience this new country with.

You really never know who you’ll meet or how big of an impact they’ll have on your life.

Some friends I met volunteering at an elephant sanctuary in Thailand ended up being my housemates when we met up in Sydney, Australia 6 months later!

"how many?" graphic

How many can you go on?

Technically you can go on as many as your passport nationality is eligible for – providing you pass all requirements at the time of application.

If like me, one year abroad isn’t enough, then you can always apply for more. That is, until you become ineligible due to your age (one main reason I’m not ready to hit 30 yet).

And if you are lucky enough to have multiple nationalities then there’s nothing to say you can’t apply for work visas in countries your other passport is eligible for.

The general rule is each country only allows you one working holiday opportunity, but some countries have an exception to this rule.

For example:

  • Canada allows applicants to apply once per passport. So if you have both a UK and Australian passports, you could apply and go two times.
  • Australia however, only allows you one working holiday per person – regardless if you have another passport or not.
watercolour graphic of the world map

What other countries have working holiday visa schemes?

Although my site is mostly aimed at British travellers and WHV’s available to UK passport holders I understand some of my readers are from other countries or have multiple nationalities.

It is for this reason I have decided to briefly list the other countries in the world also offering visas as this might come in useful.

(click each continent below to see which countries offer visas)

South Africa – Open to citizens of Canada through the Swap scheme only.

Hong Kong – Open to citizens of Australia, Austria, Canada, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, South Korea, Sweden, and the UK.

Indonesia – Open to citizens of Australia only.

Japan – Open to citizens of Argentina, Australia, Austria, Canada, Chile, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania,New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, the UK and the Netherlands

Malaysia – Open to citizens of Australia and New Zealand.

Philippines – Open to citizens of Argentina, Australia, Canada, Chile, Japan, Poland, New Zealand, South Korea and Taiwan.

Singapore – Open to citizens from the following countries with undergraduate degree or who recently graduated: Australia, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Switzerland, UK or U.S.

South Korea – Open to citizens of Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, UK and the US.

Taiwan – Open to citizens of Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Japan, Korea, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Slovakia, and the UK.

Thailand – Open to citizens of Australia and New Zealand only.

Vietnam – Open to citizens of Australia and New Zealand only.

Andorra – Open to Australian and Canadian Citizens only.

Belgium – Open to citizens of Australia, Canada, South Korea, New Zealand and Taiwan.

Denmark – Open to citizens of Argentina, Australia, Canada, Chile, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea.

France – Open to citizens of Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Russia, Taiwan, Mexico, and Uruguay.

Germany – Open to citizens of Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Hong Kong, Israel, Japan, Republic of Korea (South Korea), New Zealand, Taiwan and Uruguay.

Iceland – Open to citizens of Japan only.

Ireland – Open to citizens of Argentina, Canada, Chile, Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, Taiwan, the US, Uruguay and Australia.

Italy – Open to citizens of Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, New Zealand and South Korea.

Luxembourg – Open to citizens of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Korea and Taiwan.

Malta – Open to citizens of Australia and New Zealand only

Monaco – Open to British Citizens.

Netherlands – Open to citizens of Argentina, Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, Taiwan, the U.S and Uruguay.

Norway – Open to citizens of Argentina, Australia, Canada, Japan and New Zealand.

Portugal – Open to citizens of Argentina, Australia, Canada, Chile, Japan, New Zealand, Peru, South Korea and the U.S.

San Marino – Open to citizens of Australia only.

Spain – Open to citizens of Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea.

Sweden – Open to citizens of Argentina, Australia, Canada, Chile, Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea and Uruguay.

Switzerland – Open to citizens of Canada and Chile only.

UK –  Open to citizens of Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Monaco, New Zealand, San Marino and Taiwan. Ireland and British overseas nationals can also apply under a less restrictive agreement.

Austria – Open to citizens from  Argentina, Australia, Canada, Chile, Hong Kong, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea and Taiwan. Canadian’s also have a swap program available to them.

Croatia – Open to citizens of Canada and New Zealand only.

Cyprus – Open to citizens of Australia only.

Czech Republic – Open to citizens of Australia, Canada, Chile, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea and Taiwan.

Estonia – Open to citizens of Australia, Canada, Japan, and New Zealand.

Finland – Open to citizens of Australia and New Zealand.

Greece – Open to citizens of Australia and Canada only.

Hungary – Open to citizens of Argentina, Australia, Chile, Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea and Taiwan.

Latvia – Open to citizens of Australia, Canada, Japan, and New Zealand.

Lithuania – Open to citizens of Canada, Japan and New Zealand.

Poland – Open to citizens of Argentina, Australia, Canada, Chile, Japan, New Zealand and Taiwan.

Romania – Open to citizens of South Korea only.

Russia – Open to citizens of France only.

Slovakia – Open to citizens of Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand and Taiwan.

Slovenia – Open to citizens of Australia and New Zealand only.

Turkey – Open to citizens of Australia and New Zealand only.

Ukraine – Open to citizens of Canada only.

Canada – Open to citizens of Australia, Austria, Belgium, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Latvia, Lithuania, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Ukraine and the UK.

Costa Rica – Open to citizens of Canada only.

Mexico – Open to citizens of Canada, France, Germany, South Korea and New Zealand. Citizens of Chile, Colombia and Peru are all part of the Pacific alliance with a similar visa type.

Australia – Open to citizens from the UK , South Korea, Germany, Canada, the Netherlands, Japan, Taiwan, Ireland, Malta, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Hong Kong, Finland, Cyprus, France, Italy, Belgium, and Estonia.

Also open to citizens with secondary education from:  Argentina, China, Chile, Czech Republic, Ecuador, Greece, Indonesia, Israel, Malaysia, Luxembourg, Peru, Poland, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Thailand, Turkey, Uruguay, Vietnam and Hungary. The exception is United States

New Zealand – Open to citizens of Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, UK, the U.S, Uruguay and Vietnam.

Argentina – Open to citizens from Australia, Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, and Sweden.

Brazil – Open to citizens of France, Germany and New Zealand.

Chile – Open to citizens of Australia, Austria, Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Japan, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, South Korea and Sweden. Citizens of Colombia, Mexico, Peru have an alliance agreement for a similar visa type.

Colombia – Open to citizens of Chile, Mexico, Peru and France.

Ecuador – Open to citizens of Australia only.

Peru – Open to citizens of Australia, France, New Zealand and Portugal. Plus Chile, Colombia and Mexico under the Pacific Alliance.

Uruguay – Open to citizens of Australia, France, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand and Sweden.


Why not check out these other posts about living and working abroad:


red cocktail on the beach

Final thoughts

Now that you know what a working holiday is, and which countries have this visa type available, are you ready to go? You can go on an adventure of a lifetime and tick off all the items on your personal travel bucket list.

Do some soul searching, think about where you’d like to go and get applying! I’d love to hear about your working holiday experiences in the comments!

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