Are you a young British citizen who is dreaming of working abroad? Perhaps you just want to pack your bags and live a different life for a while, somewhere exotic and far from home? If you want to trade the rainy cobblestone streets of your home town for the sunny beaches of Australia, the rugged forests of Canada or the futuristic hustle and bustle of Japan – read on. As a citizen of the UK you have a number of excellent working holiday opportunities that will allow you to live and work in another country for an extended period of time – creating once in a lifetime travel memories.
What is a Working Holiday Visa?
A working holiday visa is a type of visa that allows you to stay in a country for between 1-2 years and take on employment while you are there. Every country’s working holiday visa requirements are different and they usually correspond to a reciprocal agreement (for example, if Brits are allowed to work in Australia, Australians will be allowed to work in the UK under similar restrictions).
Getting a working holiday visa opens up the possibility of long term travel, because it gives you the chance to work while you are travelling. Keep in mind, these visas do not guarantee you a job. When you get over to your intended country, you will need to do the job search yourself. A great tip is to start searching online before your trip and sending emails to prospective employers – you might be able to line up a couple of interviews before you arrive.
“But What if I’m Over the Age of 35?”
Wanderlust knows no age limit, so you might be wondering if there are any options for long term travel if you are over the age limit of 30/35 and you are no longer eligible for a working holiday visa. Well, of course there are! There are in fact, plenty of great opportunities for working, volunteering and travelling abroad long term no matter what your age. Check out this post I put together of Travel Opportunities for All Ages.
So where can Brits go and have a working abroad adventure? Here are the countries you have to choose from.
Countries that Offer Working Holiday Visas for British People
Anywhere in the EU
I’m sure you probably know this, but as a British citizen you are already allowed to work anywhere in the European Union. This means that you can rock up in Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain or Sweden and just start working without the need for a permit or a working holiday visa.
With so many countries to choose from, that’s an opportunity that many other travellers are envious of. Of course, it might be difficult to get a job in Paris if you don’t speak any French – but there are plenty of jobs in party hostels and bars in Greece and Spain where you will be mostly serving other travelling Brits so a knowledge of the language is not necessary. Whether you want to find a job that furthers your career, or just a fun short-term gig that furthers your backpacking budget, there are lots of job opportunities out there.
Also, because of the reciprocal healthcare arrangements with most European countries, you will be able to get either free or reduced cost medical treatment if you get ill or injured while working abroad. Keep in mind, you will need a European Health Insurance Card.
Job Vacancies in Europe from EURES (and lots more helpful information)
What young Brit hasn’t dreamed of running away to Australia for a year to enjoy the fun and laid back culture and endless sunshine? British people love Australia – they get along with the locals because they share the same love for excessive drinking and calling each other “mate” and the weather is infinitely better than drizzly Old Blighty. Whether you are working as a scuba diving instructor or serving up beers at a backpacker bar in Sydney, you will have an amazing time.
Australia and the UK have a reciprocal arrangement that allows British citizens between the ages of 18 and 30 to work for up to 12 months. The fee is £190 to apply and you must be able to prove that you have “sufficient funds”. There is no specific amount for this, as it is assessed on a case by case basis. However, anything less than £1,950 is considered to be risky. You will be able to do any kind of work in Australia, but you can only work with the same employer for a total of six months.
The great thing about working in Australia is that the pay is very high. You can make a great wage, even when working in a cafe or in retail. However, this high pay corresponds to the high cost of living in Australia. Your rent, food and drinks will be expensive – so that high wage will not save you as much money as you might think. However, the goal of a working holiday is to travel and have a great time not to save for your retirement – so no worries.
Bob in Oz – A very informative blog by a Brit who moved to Australia
Would you prefer hiking in the mountains and going snowboarding over surfing or snorkelling in Australia? Perhaps you should plan a Canadian adventure instead. Canada has a lot of amazing experiences to offer, from watching the Northern Lights on a cold winter’s night to cheering at a hockey game to feeling the spray of Niagara Falls on your face. It’s a big country, so you can choose whether you want to visit the rugged wilds of Newfoundland, the big city lights of Toronto, the gorgeous Rocky Mountains, the laid back coast of British Columbia or any of Canada’s other regions – or perhaps take a massive road trip to see the whole thing.
Canada offers working holidays for British citizens aged 18 to 35, via the International Experience Canada program. There is a quota of how many people can be accepted every year, so start applying right away! The fee is £90 and you will need to demonstrate that you have at least £1,600 to support yourself.
Canada also has a high cost of living, but there are many jobs available including ski instructor and hotel jobs that include food and accommodation (and perks like free lift passes).
A video of a British guy in Canada doing a lot of Canadian things
Why not consider working for a year in the Land of the Rising Sun? Japan is a fascinating destination – a land of ancient Samurai culture and modern manga weirdness, of traditional hot springs, “pod” hotels, octopus flavoured ice cream and so much more. It’s super-futuristic yet old fashioned in a way that will fascinate you every day you are there. Japan has a lot to discover, from great skiing to beautiful national parks to bustling cities and much more – so working there for a year is sure to be an adventure!
The working holiday visa scheme for Japan allows British citizens between the ages of 18 and 30 the opportunity to live and work in Japan for up to a year. You must show that you have at least £2,500 in your bank account by supplying the last three months of your bank statements, or show that you have £1,500 as well as proof or a return or onward journey. Credit cards, overdrafts and traveller’s cheques are not accepted as proof of sufficient funds.
Many British people working in Japan find jobs as English teachers, so you might want to get trained up with a TEFL certificate. However, there are also many other options out there, especially if you are able to speak a little Japanese.
“Hello Work” job centres in Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya help foreigners find employment.
Tips for Brits in Tokyo from the Japan Explained Blog
Lee and I are somewhat partial to New Zealand, because it’s where we met – but this country is totally awesome. We even wrote a post about why New Zealand is Brilliant for a Working Holiday. It’s got friendly people, a huge diversity of landscapes, excellent hostels and plenty of amazing things to do from white water rafting to camping to bungee jumping. Spending a year working abroad in New Zealand will be an adventure you will never forget.
The UK has a reciprocal working holiday visa arrangement with the UK which allows you to live and work in the country for up to 23 months. You must satisfy the New Zealand Embassy that your primary intention for coming to New Zealand is to travel, rather than employment. Also, you must have a passport that is valid at least three months after your planned departure to New Zealand and be between the ages of 18 and 30. The financial requirement is that you must have at least NZ$350 per month for your intended stay, so that you can meet your living costs. Also, even though you are allowed to stay for 23 months, you cannot work for more than 12 months.
Poms Away Down Under – A British Expat’s View of New Zealand
This country is small on size yet makes a big impact – with an enormous glittering skyline, cheap and mouth-watering street food and plenty of exciting major events and festivals throughout the year. It would be a very exciting place to work abroad and one of the best perks would be the fact that you could catch cheap flights during your time off to almost anywhere in Southeast Asia. You can look forward to weekends lounging on the beaches of Thailand or exploring the jungles of Malaysia!
Graduates up to the age of 30 can work abroad in Singapore as part of the Work Holiday Programme. You must have graduated from university or be currently enrolled in a university. This visa will allow you to work for up to six months and the fee is $150 Singapore Dollars (approx. £75).
Contact Singapore is a great resource for living and working in Singapore
Taiwan is an island located off the coast of Southeastern China, known for its densely crowded cities, lush forests and steep mountains. It’s home to a lot of beautiful places and the capital city of Taipei is considered a culture centre – with plenty of art, entertainment and great cuisine. While you are working abroad in Taiwan, you can visit the natural hot springs, see a peaceful Buddhist temple and visit the National Palace Museum – which is ranked up there with the Louvre as one of the best museums in the world. Although the cities are crazy and chaotic – if you get out of Taipei and explore the beaches, mountain ranges and national parts – you will be blown away by the beauty of this country.
Taiwan offers a working holiday visa for British citizens between the ages of 18 and 30 years. You must be able to prove that your primary intention is to travel in Taiwan, with employment being incidental. Basically, this means that they want you to be working just to fund your travels, not coming over with the intention of finding serious permanent employment. You will need to either have a round trip flight ticket or prove that you are financial capable of purchasing a plane ticket back home. You will need to show proof that you have at least $100,000 New Taiwanese Dollars, which is equivalent to about £2,000.
Also, keep in mind that your passport must be valid for at least 12 months after you arrive in Taiwan and that you must have full medical travel insurance over your entire stay.
Apply with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Taiwan (website might appear in Chinese, use Google to Translate)
The USA occupies the imagination of many British travellers, especially because they have seen it so much in films and television. It’s a wild frontier filled with expansive landscapes, larger than life characters and a culture that is vastly different than the UK – even though the language is the same. Perhaps you dream of working on a beach bar in sunny Southern California, or having the cowboy experience in a small town in Montana? Maybe you want to live in legendary New York City – concrete jungle where dreams are made – or you want to soak up the jazz and culture of New Orleans? The USA is a huge country with many diverse regions just waiting to be explored.
Unfortunately, if you dream of working abroad in the USA it won’t be as easy as any of these other countries. The visa restrictions are much more stringent and there is no simple working holiday visa option like in Canada, Australia or New Zealand. You will need to have a job offer in place before you apply for a visa. However, there are options if working abroad in the USA is your dream.
One option available to you is the J-1 Visa, which allows British citizens between the ages of 18 and 26 to work in the USA as an Au Pair for up to 12 months. You must work at least 45 hours per week and will need to complete certain courses before you are eligible, but you will be provided with food and board.
Another option is to do seasonal work in specific parts of the USA for up to four months at a time, via the Bunac Work America Summer Camp Exchange program, which allows you to work in summer camps around the USA. Normally I think that visa programs such as Bunac are a waste of money for other countries because it is so easy to apply on your own. However, getting into the USA to work abroad is so much more difficult and complicated that you might choose to go with a program such as this to make things easier.
Where Will You Go on Your Working Holiday?
With so many possibilities to choose from, where do you want to work abroad? Let us know your travel plans in the comments below!