Canada’s Working Holiday Visa Program for Australians

Canada’s Working Holiday Visa Program for Australians
Photo by Daniel Joseph Petty on

Given its natural beauty and similarities to Australia, Canada is one of the most popular countries for Australians considering an overseas working holiday.

If you’re an Australian aged between 18 and 35 years old, you can apply for a Canadian working holiday visa as part of the International Experience Canada (IEC) program. After subsequently receiving an invitation, you’ll be able to live and work in Canada as an Australian for up to two years.

This page contains a guide to the International Experience Canada working holiday visa for Australian citizens, as well some useful information about living in Canada. It was last updated on 4 February 2024.

Key facts about Canada

  • Population: Approx. 38 million
  • Official languages: English & French
  • Capital city: Ottawa
  • Largest cities: Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton
  • Currency: Canadian dollar (CAD)
Hopewell Rocks, Canada
Hopewell Rocks, Canada. Photo by Matt Graham.

About International Experience Canada (IEC)

The pools for the 2024 IEC season are open! The first Round of Invitations for the year opened on 8 January 2024. The Canadian government currently ranks the chance of Australian IEC applicants getting an invitation in the next round as “excellent”.

Check the IEC website for details.

Canada’s working holiday program works a bit differently to most other countries. If you wish to apply for a working holiday visa for Canada, you’ll first need to create an online profile with International Experience Canada (IEC) once the “pools” for the current year’s season have opened.

You’ll then need to wait until you receive an invitation to apply for a visa – which is not always guaranteed and subject to availability of places in your chosen category. However, there are currently unlimited spots for Australians.

The IEC program isn’t just for Canadian working holiday visas. It provides temporary work permits to young people from around 30 countries, including Australia, in three different IEC categories:

  • Working Holiday
  • Young Professionals
  • International Co-op (Internship)

You can check the Canadian government website for full details of the IEC categories and eligibility criteria.

Canada working holiday visa requirements

Canada offers working holiday visas to citizens of Australia, Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, Ukraine & UK.

See the Government of Canada website for more information.

This information is applicable to Australian citizens and may differ for citizens of other countries.

The Working Holiday category is designed for young people who wish to travel in Canada and undertake temporary paid employment to finance their trip. This comes with an open work permit which allows you to work for more than one employer and in more than one location of your choice.

Unlike the other two IEC categories, you do not normally need a job offer to apply for a visa in the working holiday category.

To be eligible to apply for a working holiday visa in Canada as an Australian citizen, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Aged between 18-35 years old (inclusive) at the time of application
  • Have a valid passport which won’t expire during your stay in Canada
  • Have at least CAD2,500 (approx. AUD2,850) to cover your initial expenses in Canada
  • Have travel/health insurance to cover the duration of your stay
  • Have a return plane ticket to Canada or enough money to buy one

You cannot apply for this visa if you:

  • Are inadmissible to Canada (e.g. due to a criminal record)
  • Are accompanied by dependent children

See the Government of Canada website for more information.

Canada work visas for Australians over 35

There is an age limit of 35 years old (inclusive and at the time of application) to participate in the International Experience Canada program. But Canada offers other types of work visas to Australians aged over 35. See the Government of Canada website to learn more about other visa types.

Vancouver, one of the cities in Canada that Australians could work in with a working holiday visa
Vancouver, Canada. Photo by Matt Graham.

The International Experience Canada application process

There are multiple steps in the International Experience Canada (IEC) application process.

If you would like to travel to Canada for a working holiday, you should begin the process as soon as possible. That’s because it could take up to a year and there is no guarantee you’ll be invited to apply.

That said, eligible Australians are usually accepted and it generally doesn’t take quite that long. The current average processing time is around 5 weeks. But it’s good to plan ahead just in case.

When completing the application, you will need to provide a permanent or mailing address in your country of citizenship but don’t necessarily need be in that country at the time.

Steps to apply for International Experience Canada

The full process is outlined on the Government of Canada website, but here is an overview of the steps involved:

  1. Create a profile to become a candidate

    The first step is to become a candidate in the IEC working holiday pool. To do this, you’ll need to create a free IEC profile online and then submit your profile to any of the available pools.

  2. Get invited to apply

    You’ll later receive a message if you’re invited to apply for a Canadian visa. If this happens, you’ll then have 10 days to accept the invitation and a further 20 days to complete your application.

  3. Complete the application process

    Once you’ve accepted the invitation, you’ll need to complete your application online. This involves filling out an online form, providing the necessary documents and making an appointment to give your biometric data (see below for details).

  4. Travel to Canada

    Once you’ve completed your application, it takes an average of 9 weeks to process (but this amount of time varies).

    If your application is approved, you’ll be sent a Port of Entry (POE) letter. You can then prepare to travel to Canada any time before the expiry date listed on your POE letter (typically one year).

    On arrival at the Canadian border, you’ll need to show your POE letter to a border services officer at the airport to then receive your work permit.

Documents required to complete the IEC application process

Required documents may include:

  • Proof of financial means
  • Your passport
  • Police certificate
  • A digital photo of yourself
  • Family information form
  • A copy of your CV/resumé

You may need a medical exam if you’ve recently spent more than six months in certain countries or plan to work in a health care or education field.

At the time of application, you’ll need to pay the relevant visa fees. These include:

  • CAD172 (approx. AUD196) IEC participation fee
  • CAD100 (approx. AUD114) open work permit holder fee
  • CAD85 (approx. AUD97) biometrics fee (if you need to give biometrics)

To give your biometric data (i.e. fingerprints and photograph taken) in Australia, you would likely need to visit a VFS Global visa application centre.

There are quite a lot of steps involved, but you’ll be given all the details once you’re invited to apply. You can also see the Government of Canada website for details.

Travel & health insurance with a Canada working holiday visa

Although you don’t need health/travel insurance to apply for this visa, you will need to prove that you have adequate coverage when you arrive in Canada. Your insurance must cover medical care, hospitalisation and repatriation costs.

The Canadian government recommends purchasing health insurance after you receive your port of entry letter of introduction, and you must have this before you fly to Canada.

See our guide to working holiday travel insurance for tips on choosing a policy.

Australians can live in Vancouver through the International Experience Canada (IEC) program
Vancouver, Canada. Photo by Matt Graham.

Arriving in Canada

Once you’ve arrived in Canada, you’ll need to get a Social Insurance Number (SIN) through Service Canada.

After receiving your SIN, you can open a Canadian bank account.

When you’re ready to look for a rental house, apartment or condominium (condo), useful websites include Kijiji, Craigslist, Padmapper and Alternatively, try looking in local Facebook groups or other social media platforms.

Living and working in Canada as an Australian

Many Aussies in Canada choose to live in Vancouver (or Vancouver Island) for the mild year-round weather. Others work in the ski resorts of Banff, Whistler, Jasper & Lake Louise during the winter months.

Whistler, Canada
Whistler, Canada. Photo by Jonas Thorén from Pixabay.

Of course, they aren’t your only options! Cities like Toronto, Calgary, Edmonton or (if you speak French) Montreal also have great appeal. Smaller cities also worth considering could include Kelowna, Halifax and Winnipeg. However, rental properties in Toronto and Kelowna are quite expensive.

Australians can live in Toronto with a working holiday visa for Canada
Toronto, Canada. Photo by James Wheeler on

Beware that many parts of Canada are extremely cold during the northern hemisphere’s winter. Vancouver’s winter is relatively mild compared to other parts of the country.

Canadians are renowned for their friendliness and many parts of Canadian culture are quite similar to Australia, but there are differences. For example, Canada has a tipping culture and the national sports are ice hockey & lacrosse.

If you’re considering moving to Canada, the Aussies in Canada Facebook group has lots of useful advice and suggestions!

While best efforts are made to keep this information updated, we do not guarantee its accuracy. If you spot an error, would like to suggest new information to be added or simply have a question, please let us know in the comments and we’ll endeavour to respond or update the article as quickly as possible!

Matt Graham

Matt is the founder of Working Holidays for Aussies. Passionate about travel and always looking for great deals, he believes that gap years & working holidays are the perfect opportunity to immerse yourself in another culture and gain invaluable life experience. Originally from Australia, Matt has travelled to over 80 countries and has lived in New Zealand, Germany, Austria and the Netherlands.

33 thoughts on “Canada’s Working Holiday Visa Program for Australians

  1. Hi
    I am Nz citizen wants to apply for holiday working visa. I need assistance in filing
    Please contact

  2. Hello, I am hoping to be living and working in the Uk and Europe and will need wanting to apply for my working holiday visa for Canada from there. Is this possible? I will have a Australian Passport & Polish Passport.

  3. Hi,

    Do you know if it’s possible to apply for 2 different working holiday visas for different countries at the same time? I’m currently 35 and want to apply for Ireland before my 36th b’day but am considering also applying for Canada to give me a year there afterwards.

    1. I haven’t tried this but can’t think of any rule that would explicitly prevent you from doing this. You just can’t apply for a working holiday visa from the same country more than once (with very limited exceptions such as Peru).

      The main thing would be to make sure you enter Canada before your window to do so expires, if applicable.

  4. Hi Matt,

    Great blog which is very useful! Do you know if the Canadian working holiday visa has work restrictions for Australians? Eg. 1 employer per 6 months rule?

  5. Can you start IEC process when you are still 17? I am turning 18 in April and was hoping to get to Canada for the summer season starting in May. Is this possible? Thanks

    1. That’s a good question! I don’t know for sure, but I think you do need to be 18 in order to create a profile and apply.

      The good news is that the process shouldn’t be currently taking too long for Australian citizens. If you apply as soon as you turn 18, I think there’s a reasonable chance you might receive your invitation by May.

    2. Hi, just wondering if you ended up getting the visa. If so we’re you able to apply at 17? Thanks

  6. Hi Matt, I’m looking for an agent to assist with the whole process. My daughter an Australian Citizen is looking at a working holiday visa for Canada. Do you maybe have any recommendations?

  7. Hi Matt, thanks for this info. I am over 35 but am struggling to find the info of eligibility on the Canadian Govt website – just wondering what the criteria is if you’re over 35?

  8. Can anybody assist me with an enquiry about a working visa in Canada, do you need to be vaccinated to get employment or a working visa in Canada coming from Australia?

  9. Hello, I was wondering if a working holiday was possible for a 1-2 month period? I am thinking of travelling from start of December 2023 – end of January 2024. I’ve done a bit of research online and it seems a lot of companies only consider hiring you on a 6-24 month basis. Did you have any knowledge on this, if not do you know where else I might be able to find this information? Thank you!

    1. It would be possible in the sense that you could get the visa and just stay for a couple of months. Finding work may be a bit more difficult than usual due to your short stay, but if you plan to be in Canada over December & January you could look for seasonal work at a ski resort (for example).

  10. Hi i am about to pay the fee for my IEC visa application and i was just wondering once its accepted i have 12 months to arrive and activate. If i do not get to Canada in that time say plans change, can i re-apply and still be as likely to get invited? seeing as i didn’t use my visa? i understand i would have to pay the fee and refill the forms again..
    i am from Australia

    Thankyou !

  11. Hi, I am turning 35 in 3 months and am looking to apply. I’ve got a few questions.

    1. Assuming I am accepted, how long do I have to enter the country?

    2. When does the 2 year / 24 month commence? Is it from date you are accepted or is it from when you enter the country?

    If it’s from when you enter the country, can you be 36 when you enter, as long as you were 35 when you applied?

    1. Once you’ve received a Port Of Entry (POE) letter, you just need to enter Canada before the expiry date listed on your POE letter (which could be up to a year away).

      You can stay in Canada for up to two years from the date that you arrive in the country.

      1. Hi

        Can I apply for the Canadian working holiday visa when I’m 35? Or do I need to apply when I am 34? Thanks!

  12. I’ve been invited to apply and currently getting everything together to submit the application in the next couple of days. I am travelling overseas in 6 weeks time. Does anyone know how long the passport will be held for and if there is a way to minimise the time or done in person to avoid any loss or delays that would impact the trip. Or would there be a way to give these documents after my trip. It’s just I’ll be turning 36 while away.

    1. As far as I can tell, you just need to upload a copy of your passport (i.e. a photo) along with your application online? So you would still have your passport with you for your upcoming trip.

      It’s possible that I’ve missed something, but I can’t find any info that says you need to physically hand in your passport somewhere at this stage of the application.

  13. I am an indian passport holder and got temporary resident visa till december 2024 can i apply for working holiday visa

  14. Hi My son is looking at applying for an open work Visa to canada . Is there a particular website to start this process. and how long will it take to get a visa organized. Is an open visa diiferent ti an EIC

  15. My daughter is Australian but lives in Ghana. She applied and got to the stage of biometrics, only to realise she had missed out her middle name from the application as such the biometric and other generated letters she had received did not bear her middle name. We have sent emails, filled web forms, etc but we are stuck and don’t know what to do. It’s impossible to speak to someone too when you go to the Canadian High Commission. We are lost on what next to do.

    1. To be honest, I’m not sure how to proceed with this one. The first thing I’d want to know is whether she can still travel to Canada on the existing visa with the middle name missing. I’m not sure if she’s tried contacting the Canadian high commission in Australia as well as the one in Ghana, but that might be a good start if she hasn’t tried that yet.

      If it turns out that the missing middle name is indeed a problem, I believe she would have to withdraw the first application and apply again –

      1. Thank you Matt for your quick response. She might just have to withdraw and reapply as we can’t seem to get anywhere trying to find a word of correcting the given names where one was missed by mistake.

        Kind regards.

  16. The process for Canada’s working holiday program seems quite unique! 😯 It’s interesting how you need to create an online profile with International Experience Canada (IEC) and wait for an invitation to apply for a visa. 🌐 It’s good to know that there are currently unlimited spots for Australians. 🇦🇺 Thanks for sharing this helpful information about the IEC program! 🍁✨

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