How To Get A Canadian Working Holiday Visa



Canada is adventure on a large scale. The second biggest country in the world, it offers everything from temperate rainforests to snowy mountains to endless prairies. It’s cities are action-packed and cosmopolitan, scattered across vast tracks of unspoilt land dotted with the occasional small town. Canada is a fascinating destination, and if you are between the ages of 18-30 the chances are that your country has a working holiday scheme with Canada which would allow you to spend a year working and travelling on a Canadian Working Holiday Visa.

I have recently received my Canadian Working Holiday Visa, and the following post will outline the basic steps of the process.

The Canadian Working Holiday Visa application is, in my experience, fairly straight forward. I did, however, struggle to find up to date and correct information before I applied and found myself asking a lot of questions. Below is a guide the Visa application process.

Please Note: This Guide is a brief description based on my own experiences on applying for a Canadian Holiday Visa. This is a simple guide to get you in the right direction. When applying for the visa please refer to the more detailed relevant IEC documentation. This guide is written for UK citizens, If you are not a UK citizen and would like to see if your country has a working holiday agreement with Canada Click Here.


I decided to go with BUNAC but in all honestly wish I had not. It seems they used to have a purpose but now the IEC ¬†take direct applications all BUNAC can offer is is their support, which in most cases they cannot really help as they do not have access to your IEC application. My advice is to simply apply direct with the IEC, You can easily get a Canadian Working Holiday Visa without BUNAC and here’s how.

Eligibility For the Canadian Working Holiday Visa

‚ÄĘ Be between the ages of 18 and 30 inclusive on the date the application is received

‚ÄĘ Be a citizen of the UK and habitually reside in the UK for at least three years prior to submitting an application to the IEC

‚ÄĘ Hold a valid UK passport (validity must exceed stay in Canada by one day)

‚ÄĘ Possess sufficient funds to cover your expenses in Canada for the first 3 months of your stay (¬£650 / $1,000 CAD per month)

‚ÄĘ Have comprehensive insurance coverage (health care/hospitalisation/repatriation) valid for the duration of the stay. Proof of this insurance coverage must be presented to officials upon arrival in Canada.

Police Certificate/Passport (ACPO)

If you are serious about applying for a Canadian Working Holiday Visa the first thing you should do is apply for your ACPO Police Certificate. This can take around 2 weeks and costs £35.  Make sure you read the guide clearly and answer the questions honestly. You also need to make sure your passport will be in date for the duration of the stay, you must apply with the passport you will be using to enter Canada.

ACPO Police Certificate

International Experience Canada (IEC) Application

Canadian Working Holiday Visa
Rocky Mountains

The first step is to register your email address on the IEC website, they send you a confirmation email with a link you must click to validate the email address. You will then fill in your details (including your passport number) and they will email you a link to your personalised application kit.

You can create your personalised application kit here

Complete Personalised Application Kit in Full

The IEC state that all incomplete applications will be automatically rejected,  make sure you complete the form in full and provide additional details if required.

You must send the kit to:

International Experience Canada (UK-WHP 2011) Embassy of Canada in France 35, avenue Montaigne 75008 Paris France

Canadian working holiday visa applications will only be accepted by post. Applications that are sent by fax, email or delivered in person will be refused and returned without being examined. You do not have to pay any money at this point.

The following items must be included in this order.

1. Download Certificate

(Included in application kit)

2. 2 Copies of the 3-page IEC Application Form

(Included in application kit)

3. IEC Declaration Form

(Included in application kit)

4. 2 Identity Photos

(make sure they meet the specification in the guide)

5. Photocopy of the ID pages of your passport

(the photo page)

6. Proof of Funds

(£650 / $1,000 CAD per month for first three months. This Can be a letter stamped by your bank)

7. Checklist

(Included in application kit)

8. High Commission of Canada Misrepresentation Form

(Included in application kit)

9. High Commission of Canada Additional Information Form

(Included in application kit)

10. Complete and up-to-date Résumé / CV

(Your CV)

11. United Kingdom Police Certificate

(See Above)

When the embassy in Paris receives your application they will email you an Acknowledgement of Receipt, this email will provide an estimated processing time. If your application is complete and meets the criteria you will then receive a Conditional Acceptance email.

The conditional acceptance email will give you bank details to which you must send payment for the application. You must send the amount they specify in pound sterling and accept all bank costs (mine was £90 + £19 Bank costs) You then have to upload the proof of transfer which must inlcude your name, date of birth and application number 9which they provide). I took the conditional acceptance email into my bank so the advisor knew exactly what was needed.

After you upload they will email a Receipt of Proof of Payment, if everthing was done correctly you will shortly receive a First Evaluation Phase Completed email. This email states they have forwarded your application to the High commission in London for the second processing stage, this is your last step in obtaining your Canadian working holiday visa.

Then all you have to do is wait for your Letter of Introduction (LOI) email. This point is the most frustrating point for many, it takes the longest and you are told nothing and can do nothing. While you wait you can chat with other people who are waiting through BUNAC’s Work Canada page. I was fortunate enough that my application was complete within my 6 week processing time, below is my Canadian working holiday visa application timeline.

If you try work without obtaining your Canadian working holiday visa a mountie will arrest you.

Recieved In Paris: 01/04/2011

Conditionally Accepted: 08/04/2011

Paid/Proof of payment received:  11/04/2011

Phase 1 complete/Sent to London: 12/04/2011

Letter of Introduction: 19/05/2011

Your LOI expires 1 year from when they send it and you can enter Canada for 1 year at any point until that expiration date. You are required to print off and show the LOI to the custom official on entry to Canada as well as proof of comprehensive travel insurance for the duration of your Canadian working holiday visa.

My application was as straight forward as it should be, I know some have taken longer and I have read of people having a much harder time. I wish you the best of luck in your application and please make sure you read everything carefully and check everything twice before you send it off.

Please share your experiences with the Canadian Holiday Visa application process by leaving a comment below.



Lee Carter

Born and raised in Accrington, UK, Lee has ventured far beyond his hometown, traveling throughout Europe, Southeast Asia, North America and New Zealand. He is the co-founder of Global Goose and as well as writing the occasional rant he can be found tweaking the code and taking photos of amazing things around the world. Lee and Kelly have no plans to stop their "Gap Decade" anytime soon.

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  1. Just a quick question,

    I am travelling to canada next march but was thinking of applying for my visa now as I am travlling around asia first. If I recieve it in a couple of months (say june or july) can i use the working holiday visa for a full year when i arrive in march 2013 or will it expire in june july 2013

    1. Hi Stephen, If I was you I would apply this year. There are only 1600 places left this year out of 5350 (according to

      If you are planning on going in March you would be leaving it very late to try apply for the 2013 allocation. Once you have your Letter Of Introduction it is valid for 1 year, that means you have 1 year to enter and you then have 1 full year in Canada from the date you physically enter.

      Just make sure If you change your passport between receiving your Letter of Introduction and entering Canada you let the immigration officer know on entry. Good Luck!

      1. Hi Lee, Thanks very much for that. One more quick question is what is the best/cheapest way to get a photo validated by a magistrate or someone similar.

  2. Hi Lee,

    Thanks for your reply again, however it does state that it has to be signed by on of the following professions:

    Outside Canada:

    ‚ÄĘa judge
    ‚ÄĘa magistrate
    ‚ÄĘa notary public
    ‚ÄĘan officer of a court of justice
    ‚ÄĘa commissioner authorized to administer oaths in the country in which the person is living

    This is stated on the canadian visa website, as found in the link below:

  3. Hey me and a friend are looking at getting to Vancouver March 2013 after travelling around the States and Latin America for a month or 2. We are both currently in Australia, I will be going from here to America in December, meeting back up with my friend who will be coming from England. I’ve been slightly put off by all the forms I need to sort before going,like getting police checks when I’m on the other side of the world. The main thing is that I’ve read because I’ve been here more than 6 months I will need to get a police check for Australia. Would it be leaving it too late if we apply in December with the idea of getting there for March. She’s also more reluctant about the whole process of applying.Any help much appreciated.

  4. Hi Thomas, I know its a real pain to apply from overseas but I would definitely recommend you apply sooner rather than later if you want to entering by March. There are only 144 places left so It may already be too late. The biggest problem you face is timescale. 2013 applications will not open until late December/early January and that will be their slowest time of the year with all the other applications, although 3 months is a lot of time, you will find yourself needing to book flights without confirmation that you can work there.

  5. Hey im also in Australia and from reading this i thought i cant get a visa because i havent lived in the uk for the last 3 years?? I will have been in Aus for the last two. Is this not the case?? I would need a police check from Aus?

  6. hey there, was thinking of trying to get a canadian working holiday visa but have heard to you have to have lived in the uk for a certain amount of time before the application, im a uk citizen but have been travelling abroad for 2 years, is this gonna be a problem?

  7. Wow that seems like a lot just for a pass. Maybe I missed something. Is there something different about this pass that is different from a regular passport. All the forms and photos you need and insurance proof. Not a world travelor by any means, but I thought a regular passport was good for any country. Maybe I am wrong.

  8. I would like to enter Canada on the working holiday visa in Sept 2013. Did you say that the 2013 visas would not be released until december 2012? or should i apply now?

    Thank you for your time,


    1. Hi Kellie, you cannot apply until December, but I advise you to prepare the application. Get your police check form ready, this could save you up to six weeks in January.

      1. Lee, thank you so much for the reply. So i can receive my personalised application kit before December? I thought they would only send me that through email once the visa dates were open again in December.

        I also may have an issue and i wonder if you could help, or know anyone that could. I currently work on Disney cruise lines and i have been since December 2010, i have been reading everywhere to see if it says anything about this because of the requirement saying……Be a citizen of the UK and habitually reside in the UK for at least three years prior to submitting an application to the IEC. Each time im away I work for the american company for 6 months and then i live in the UK for 2 months but not working. I saw some where that there are exceptions but time spent outside the UK must not exceed 18 months cumulative over the three previous years…….

        I also wondered if you knew if i would then need a police check for the USA too?

        I would really appreciate your help but im sure this is not a common question so i might just apply and see what happens. What sort of residential information do they need? i mean i pay bills in the UK but i don’t pay tax?


  9. hey lee, great info.

    you say its just as easiy to apply without Bunac, but surely the chances of getting a visa is higher with bunac, as they will have been allocated a significant proportion of the overal quota. Or am i mistaken?

    Also, how quicxkly do these get snapped up? if i apply for the 2013 visa as soon a it is possible, will that guarantee me a visa?

    Thanks mate


  10. Hi there,

    I’ve read that there is an expiration date on the LOI and you have to enter Canada before that expiration date in order to start your year. Do you know when the expiration date is after the date you are given the LOI?


  11. Hi lee great info would it be possible to head over without LOI if you didn’t receive it in time and get some one from home to post it over?
    I realise I would have to go cross border to U.S.A but would it be a possible option?

    1. Hi Cian, to be honest that was my plan if It did not arrive on time. The only issue being the airline not letting you fly without proof of a visa or onward travel.

  12. Hi Lee,

    Thanks for the info!!
    I’m going to be applying from Ireland in 2013 as soon as they are released but just one query;
    I see you mention an application kit, following the link I do not see any forms available to fill out now??
    Have they taken the forms down? I realise that I will be applying through the Irish site but there are is no application kit there either.

    Thanks in advance!

  13. Hi Lee,
    I have already spent a year in Canada through BUNAC last year. I understand they do a 2 year working holiday visa now and was hoping to apply for the second year. Do you think i will have to re-apply for all my police certificates again? As i sent them to them just over a year ago, with all my other info. Is there anything I can do to prepare for the opening of the scheme?
    I do hope i can get this visa again. Canada is amazing!

    1. Hi Mark, for UK citizens it is definitely 30. This is from the IEC website.

      How old should I be to be eligible?

      The International Experience Canada (IEC) is open to people aged 18 to 30. If you are about to turn 18, or will turn 31, please note that the age criteria are assessed as of the date your application was stamped as received by the High Commission of Canada to the UK.

  14. Hello.
    How quickly do the available places for this visa tend to go? If I start my application process (for 2013) in March, would it be too late?


  15. Hi Lee,

    Thanks very much for your helpful advice.

    With regards to the “habitual residency” issue…

    In the last 3 years I have been living in Australia for 11 months total and backpacking South America for 6 months, totallinh 17 months I have not been living in the UK. However, once I take into consideration a trip to Asia for 6 weeks and a couple of 1 week holidays, it takes me over the 18 month threshold. Therefore, I was wondering if you are able to advise how strict this rule is with regards to whether being on holiday means that you’re not “habitually residing” in the UK and how strongly this rule is enforced in general?

    I would appreciate if you could advise me.



    1. I would say you should be fine not mentioning the few week long holidays. It’s more of a problem for people (like me now) who live abroad, not those who have mainly lived in the UK but travelled quite a bit.

  16. Hi,

    Planning on going Canada this year under the IEC but travelling around South America and USA first. It says that you need a statement from your bank dated no more than a week before you enter to show proof of funds – but how is this possible if i’m travelling for months beforehand?? Will a print out from my internet banking be sufficient?


  17. Hi,

    Does anyone knpw why the 2013 applications are not open yet, people said December 2012, others said Jan 2013, somewhere i read Feb 1st. Its now the 3rd and wondered if anyone new if this was normal? Or know of any reason for the delay?

    Thank you for your time.


  18. Hi Lee,

    Thanks for taking the time to write all of this down- the Canadian government website can be confusing. Just had a quick question about the police check – do you remember whether they ask you to have the check done only in the country you have been living in for the last 6 mths or so, or do they go back in time 5 years or so as they do for education/professional experience? Just wondering as I’d like to get it sorted asap to optimize my chances. I’d probably have to do France, Switzerland and UK if they went back a few years. Also is there any other document that I can prepare in advance for when I get the application online set up? At the moment since 2013 you might have seen everything is done online and you can only register and start an application on the day (and you have about 3 hours to do it!) when a round is opened (3 rounds this year for the UK, seems crazy).Therefore it’s hard to figure out and prepare the type of questions that might come up. Am assuming looking at a work permit application (for temporary worker) and possibly a temporary resident visa application might help? Any idea? If you still have an electronic version of your application wouldn’t mind seeing it, only if you don’t mind-as an example,
    Look forward to hearing from you on whatever you know about these questions, and thanks again!

  19. Hi, really hope you can help??

    When I sent my IEC visa application by mistake I ticked the box saying my permanent address was the same as my residential address, which was wrong because im living in Canada on my one year visa and im from England.
    CIC sent me an email saying my information was wrong, but they havent told me what to do, they havent said my application is rejected. When i called CIC the two ladies I spoke to didnt know how to advice me and said to send an email to them instead, but im worried that its going to take them ages to reply.

    Do you have idea what i can do??


  20. i want to go to Canada in December – do you think from your experience that there will be any more working holiday visa’s issued in 2013 or will I need to wait till jan next year? or when they release visa’s again

  21. Hey there! tks for the useful info.
    Would you know if the Working Holiday duration is the same as the duration of validity of the LOI? or does the duration of the working holiday start when you enter the country?
    tks in advance for your insight!

  22. Lee, I was accepted. I have to register in MyCIC before the 15th. Anyway I can¬īt move to Canada that soon. If I go there in november 2014, will I be able to stay until november 2015?

    thanks a lot

  23. Does anyone know if I can apply to the Working Holiday from inside of Canada?
    As a Spanish citizen I can be there without a visa for up to 6 months as a visitor. Since the entire application process is done online – can I apply from inside of Canada?
    In the case that I get accepted, then can I just exit and come back in again?

  24. Hi Lee! Thank you for this amazing website!

    Two quick questions:

    1) I’m not sure when the working holiday visa program opens this year for UK & France. Will they let us know a week in advance or a day or a month??

    2) Also, what is the probably that we’ll get the working holiday visa, assuming we apply on time with all the proper documents?

    Thank you!!!!

  25. Hi,
    I’ve been looking at the best way to apply for a working holiday visas. One using global migration, the other applying following the steps you wrote.
    I want to be able to live/work in Canada as soon as possible so I can be with my partner who is moving there next month (October 2016). Do you think I would be better off or more likely to be accepted if I applied following the steps you’ve written rather than use a agency?

  26. I’ve read that you have to enter Canada before the LOI’s expiration date in order to begin your year there. Do you know how long the LOI will be valid after you receive it?

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