Canadians Can Get Working Holiday Visas In 34 Countries — It Might Be Easier Than You Think

Emily in Paris? More like [INSERT YOUR NAME HERE] in Paris!

Senior Editor
A street in Tokyo. A street leading up Montmartre in Paris.

A street in Tokyo. A street leading up Montmartre in Paris.

2023 is the year to live abroad and make it your whole personality. Canadians looking for a major life experience to annoyingly recount at dinner parties for the rest of their lives have a handful of options. Canada has agreements with 34 countries that allow its citizens to obtain working holiday visas and other medium-term work/travel permits — licenses to temporarily live and, often, earn some spending money in those countries while exploring their lands and cultures.

These programs fall under what's called "International Experience Canada" (abbreviated as IEC for the purposes of this article). Each country has different eligibility criteria and requirements, but applying might be easier than you think.

Here are four examples. The complete list of countries with working holiday or equivalent programs for Canadians is below, too.

Much of this information comes from the International Experience Canada and consular websites and, of course, is subject to change. It's not clear in every case, for example, how these programs are different post-pandemic. It's best to verify each country's requirements before making any romantic decisions.

How do I get a working holiday visa for France?

The working holiday program (which International Experience Canada identifies as a 3D visa) allows Canadian citizens between the ages of 18 and 35 to live in France with four to 12-month visas that can be renewed up to a maximum of two years.

According to the French consulate in Montreal, working holiday visa holders can pick up some work in France to fund their trip, but "work must not be the main purpose of the visit." Applicants have to submit a "proof of funds" to show they can support themselves. That means at least €2,500 (roughly CA$3,600 at the time of writing) in some cases, according to the consulate.

The application process itself also involves fingerprinting and a cover letter. At the time of writing, the consulate says the visa application processing time is 30 days.

More info from International Experience Canada
More info from the French consulate in Montreal

Can you get a working holiday visa for Japan?

Canadian citizens have to be between 18 and 30 to be eligible for Japan's working holiday program. Participants get one year to explore all Japan has to offer.

As in France, Canadians with a working holiday visa in Japan can work so long as it's not the main point of the trip. They also can't work in what the Japanese Embassy calls "places affecting public morals," including bars and nightclubs.

Applicants have to be able to provide a bank statement showing at least CA$3,500 in funds. They also need to submit a note from a doctor verifying their health status, a CV, an itinerary, a cover letter, plane tickets and a photo, among other requirements.

More info from International Experience Canada
More info from the Japanese Embassy in Canada

Is New Zealand accepting working holiday visas?

Yes. The Government of New Zealand neatly lists all its working holiday visa requirements on its website. Canadian citizens have to be between 18 and 35, have NZ$4,200 (roughly CA$3,600) in funds, and be in "good health" and "good character," which might mean medical exam results and a background check, among other requirements.

Working holiday visa holders can stay in New Zealand for up to 23 months.

More info from International Experience Canada
More info from the Government of New Zealand

How do I get a working holiday visa for Sweden?

Swedish working holiday visa applicants have to be Canadian citizens between the ages of 18 and 30 and have kr15,000 (roughly CA$2,000), among other requirements. Successful applicants will get a residence permit valid for up to one year. They can then find work to fund their trip once they enter Sweden.

Applicants can submit info online, but will need to get their fingerprints and photo taken.

More info from International Experience Canada
More info from the Swedish Migra­tion Agency

Where can Canadians get working holiday visas?

The 34 countries for which Canadians can get a working holiday visa or equivalent permit are:

  • Andorra,
  • Australia,
  • Austria,
  • Belgium,
  • Chile,
  • Costa Rica,
  • Croatia,
  • Czech Republic,
  • Denmark,
  • Estonia,
  • France,
  • Germany,
  • Greece,
  • Hong Kong,
  • Ireland,
  • Italy,
  • Japan,
  • South Korea,
  • Latvia,
  • Lithuania,
  • Luxembourg,
  • the Netherlands,
  • New Zealand,
  • Norway,
  • Poland,
  • Portugal,
  • San Marino,
  • Slovakia,
  • Slovenia,
  • Spain,
  • Sweden,
  • Switzerland,
  • Taiwan
  • and the United Kingdom.

Thomas MacDonald
Senior Editor
Thomas MacDonald is a Senior Editor for MTL Blog focused on Montreal public transit and is based in Montreal, Quebec.
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