Europe Working Holiday Visas for Australian Citizens
A total of 25 European countries offer working holiday visas to Australian citizens (or 26, if you count Turkey as part of Europe). This provides lots of options for young Aussies thinking about having a gap year in Europe!
With a working holiday visa, you’re typically allowed to live, work and travel within the destination country for up to a year. You’re also free to leave and re-enter the country as many times as you like during the year.
There’s no such thing as a working holiday visa for Europe (as a continent) because these visas are issued by individual countries. But with a working holiday visa from a European country that’s part of the Schengen Area, you can travel throughout Europe during your gap year!
Here’s what Australians need to know about working holiday visas in Europe…
Countries in Europe offering working holiday visas to Australians
The following European countries have working holiday visa agreements with Australia.
You can click on any country in the interactive map for more information about the country and its working holiday visa requirements:
Note that Malta is too small to be shown in the map above, but also has a working holiday agreement with Australia.
21 of these countries are part of the European “Schengen Area”. But Cyprus, Ireland, San Marino and the UK are not parties to the Schengen agreement. (In fact, the UK left the European Union altogether following Brexit.)
Turkey and Israel also have reciprocal working holiday agreements with Australia. They are not technically part of Europe, but are located within close proximity to continental Europe.
The European Schengen Area
So, what exactly is the Schengen Area and why does this matter?
While there are 27 member countries of the European Union (EU), not all of these countries share a common immigration & customs area.
Inside the Schengen Area, there are generally no internal border controls between countries. Except in specific emergencies like the COVID-19 pandemic, people can freely travel between Schengen Area nations without any passport checks or customs controls. This makes travel within Europe much easier!
Of the countries that form the European Union, four are not currently part of the Schengen Area:
The latter three countries recently joined the EU and are planning to join the Schengen Area in the future.
Similarly, there are numerous countries that are not EU members but are part of the Schengen Area:
The borders of the small nations of San Marino, Monaco, Vatican City and Andorra are also open, although these countries are not officially part of the Schengen visa-free zone.
Travelling inside the Schengen Area with a working holiday visa
A working holiday visa from one of these countries does not permit you to live or work in other Schengen Area countries. You can only live and work in the country that issued your visa or residence permit.
Outside of your “host” country, you are still allowed to travel within the entire Schengen Area for up to 90 days out of every 180 days. This provides the opportunity to travel to other countries across Europe on weekends or your days off work.
In practice, there are no real border checkpoints when travelling within the Schengen Area. However, if you have a visa for a particular Schengen country, there is a general expectation that you’ll spend a majority of your time while in Europe in that country (and not travelling the entire time in other Schengen countries).
With cheap air and train travel widely available in Europe, there really is a lot you can see all over the continent – even on a budget! In fact, European low-cost airlines like Ryanair, easyJet and Wizz Air often sell flights for as low as $10-20. Of course, this price excludes checked baggage so you’ll need to get used to packing light!
If you’re based in a non-Schengen country (e.g. the UK or Ireland), you can still travel to Schengen Area countries as a tourist for up to 90 out of every 180 days. But you’ll need to clear passport control each time you enter or exit the Schengen Area.
The Australian government’s Smartraveller website has more information about general visa and entry requirements for the Schengen Area.
The “German-Australian Agreement on the Exemption of Visa Requirements”
As an exception, Australian citizens have the opportunity to stay in Germany for up to 90 days at a time. This is regardless of any time previously spent in other Schengen countries, with no limit to the number of re-entries allowed. This exemption is set out in a bilateral agreement that was signed between Australia and Germany in 1952.
This agreement is still in force. However, it does not give Australians the right to work in Germany without a visa, nor to travel to any countries outside of Germany. In other words, you can’t enter Germany under the bilateral agreement and then travel to other Schengen Area countries during your stay.
There are a few other things you also need to be aware of if using this bilateral agreement. For example, you must enter and leave Germany directly from/to a non-Schengen country. See our article on how Australians can stay an extra 90 days in Germany for more details.
46 thoughts on “Europe Working Holiday Visas for Australian Citizens”
Can I get a working holiday visa for Italy and Ireland at the same time?
I don’t see any reason you couldn’t have multiple visas at the same time, although I’m not sure what the benefit would be?
Hi Matt does the working holiday visa only apply for that country? for example if I have a german working holiday visa, can I go work in france aswell?
All the working holiday visas are specific to each country. So if you have a German working holiday visa, this only gives you the right to live and work in Germany.
Do you recommend any websites to find seasonal work for Australians in Europe?
I don’t have any specific recommendations, sorry. But if anyone else does feel free to leave a comment.
If you have a particular place in Europe in mind, you may have better luck searching for seasonal work on local Facebook groups or through country-specific job agencies.
If you’re looking for seasonal work in winter, a lot of Australians work in ski resorts in France/Austria so perhaps try looking there.
If I get a working holiday visa for Italy and want to travel to Scotland for example, will my visa still be valid after I leave to go to a non-schengen country and then return to Italy?
With a working holiday visa, you can leave and re-enter the destination country an unlimited number of times while the visa remains valid. So, you could leave Italy and then return – that’s not a problem, as long as your visa didn’t expire while you were outside of Italy.
Hi Matt, do you know which country has the fastest WHV processing time while already in Europe on the 90 day tourist visa?
Most countries don’t let you apply while already in the country, but Germany and the Netherlands are exceptions. Of these, Germany is usually quite fast to process working holiday visas applications (while Netherlands can take 2-3 months).
You may also be able to apply for an Austrian working holiday visa at the Austrian embassy/consulate in Munich, Bratislava or Ljubljana, and the processing times shouldn’t be more than a few weeks.
I’m not sure about other countries.
Hi Matt , i would like to go for as long as possible , I notice Norway offers 2 year holiday working visa where Germany offers 1 year – are you able to do say Germany one year then continue on to Spain or Norway for another year ?
Can the holiday visa be flexible as in your able to spend working
6 months in Spain and 6 in Norway ?
The working holiday visas offered by each country are completely separate to one another. They only allow you to live/work in the country which issued the visa, and not in other European countries. However, you can absolutely apply for a working holiday visa in one country (e.g. Germany) and then later apply for another working holiday visa in another country (e.g. Spain). You just can’t do more than one working holiday per country.
Hi Matt, I would love to expand on the comment where you mentioned being able to apply for one working holiday visa after another. Do you know how many times this can be done? I am planning on getting a French for 12mon then Spanish for 12mon. I look forward to hearing from you! Thanks!
There’s no specific limit to the number of different working holiday visas you can apply for, as long as you meet the eligibility criteria set by each country at the time of application. The only real restriction is that you can only get one working holiday visa per country.
We are wanting to do some travel in the Schengen area first before staying in Denmark to work for an extended period (60-90 days).
Is there a requirement to ‘activate’ your working holiday visa by visiting the country that has granted it?
I am wondering if we need to apply for a Schengen tourist visa to travel around before ‘activating’ our Denmark working holiday visas? Or are we able to ‘activate’ our working holiday visas before arriving in Denmark and use this to travel in the Schengen area?
If you haven’t already done so Melissa, have a look at our guide for Denmark: https://workingholiday.au/denmark-working-holiday-visa/
I don’t know the answer to your question for sure, sorry, but I don’t think Denmark specifically requires you to “activate” your visa once you arrive in the country. You would need to register once you’ve moved into a house or apartment.
What I would suggest, though, is that you could plan to commence your working holiday visa once you actually arrive in Denmark. In other words, travel to Europe as a tourist for up to 90 days, then cross the border into Denmark when your working holiday visa becomes active.
You could also arrive in Denmark at the start of your visa’s validity period, then travel through the rest of the Schengen Area for up to 90 days before returning to Denmark and then working there.
Hey Matt, We’re looking to travel through Europe for up to a year. If we chose to do a working holiday in Italy, can we travel to other Schengen countries and return to Italy while on the working visa? Therefore, could we start by travelling in Spain and France on a Schengen visa for 90 days, then enter Italy and active our working holiday visa, then travel to other Schengen countries. Or would we need to remain in Italy for another 90 days before re-entering Schengen countries?
Thanks for your help.
Renee and Bob
If you have an Italian working holiday visa, this gives you the right to stay and work in Italy only. You can leave and re-enter Italy as many times as you like while your visa is valid, however you are still subject to the “90/180 day rule” for other Schengen Area countries. In other words, you can still only stay up to 90 out of every 180 days in other European countries other than Italy. So yes, you’d need to remain in Italy (or outside Europe) for another 90 days first.
Hey Matt, thanks for the prompt response. Do you know if the same applies for the Slovenian working visa? Or if there are any visas that allow you to enter Schengen countries without waiting the 180 days?
The same rule would generally apply for Slovenia and most other European countries (see https://www.smartraveller.gov.au/before-you-go/the-basics/schengen).
However, there are exceptions such as Germany.
According to the German Federal Foreign Office, Australians are permitted to enter Germany/Schengen countries for up to 90 days, leave the Schengen Area from Germany and then return to Germany (only) for up to another 90 days. This only applies for Australian citizens in Germany (not other Schengen countries) and you cannot work in Germany or travel to other Schengen countries if you entered Germany using this arrangement. See here for details – https://australien.diplo.de/au-en/service/01-visa/short-term-visa/2073662#content_1
The Australian government’s Smartraveller website also contains some information about bilateral visa waiver agreements with other Schengen countries: https://www.smartraveller.gov.au/before-you-go/the-basics/schengen#bilateral
Matt you are my current god of this.
I have 2 questions and I owe you my soul if you can answer them.
1- essentially having a German working visa makes Germany (for lack of a better explanation) a non Schengen country for the holder of the visa. So I can use Germany as a free zone to not tick up any more days on my Schengen visa?
2- does this mean I can have a German work visa and an Italian/ any other country work and travel visa at the same time? And work and travel between the 2 of them free of charge to my Schengen visa?
On your first question, you should probably double-check with the German embassy or Consulate General as the wording on most of the official government websites of Schengen countries is ambiguous.
For example, the German government website (https://www.auswaertiges-amt.de/en/visa-service/buergerservice/faq/-/606848?openAccordionId=item-606726-7-panel) says: “Holders of a Schengen visa (text on the visa reads “valid for Schengen states”), a residence permit of a member state or a national visa (D-visa) can stay in the entire Schengen area for up to 90 days in any period of 180 days.”
Similarly, the Dutch IND website (https://ind.nl/en/travelling-within-the-schengen-area-with-a-residence-permit-or-visa) says: “What if you do not have the nationality of a Schengen country but do have a valid Dutch residence permit? Then you are allowed to be in all countries of the Schengen Area for up to 90 days within a 180-day period. Besides your passport or other travel document, take your residence permit with you when you travel.”
I can’t say for 100% sure whether the time spent in the country where you hold a visa counts towards the 90/180 days you’re allowed to stay in *other* Schengen countries. From the wording above, the 90 days would theoretically apply to all Schengen countries (including the host country), but clearly you can stay in the host country for more than 90 days if your working holiday visa is valid for a whole year.
Please let me know if you do find out for sure. You do have to spend the majority of your time in the country where you applied for a visa/residence permit and you can only live/work in that particular country.
Regarding your second question, I don’t think there is any specific rule that says you cannot have two working holiday visas at the same time. You just can’t reapply for a working holiday visa from the same country more than once.
One option for you which might work could be to apply for a working holiday visa for Italy, and take advantage of the 90 visa-free days you’re allowed per visit to Germany if you enter and exit through a non-Schengen country. Using that method, though, you could not legally work in Germany. See https://workingholiday.au/germany-australia-visa-exemption-agreement/.
Hi Matt – I really love your website, you have been a lifesaver this far, thank you.
I enter the Schengen region on January 9th 2023 and am planning on staying until April 24th (105 days). Within these 105 days I will be spending 2.5 months living in Denmark (from January till mid-March).
If I get Working Holiday Visa for Denmark will my Schengen 90-day ‘clock’ be paused, or will I need to get a WHV for the countries I plan on visiting once I pass the 90-day limit. (I will be in Italy and France for the last ~30 days of my 105 day holiday).
Thank you so so much.
I can’t give you official advice on this. However I think you should be fine if you apply for a working holiday visa for Denmark. This will be valid for 12 months. During your time in Europe, if you mainly stay in Denmark and do a small amount of travel in other Schengen countries during that time you should be OK with that visa.
Hi Matt, your website is so helpful!
my question is:
I’m a non EU citizen that will be travelling and then applying for a working holiday visa. The country depends on which uni my EU citizen partner gets accepted into. I’m unsure which Country this will be (but know it’ll be out of 3), can i apply and hold multiple working holiday visas at the same time??
I have never tried this and can’t give you a definitive answer, but I don’t think there is any specific rule about holding visas for multiple countries at the same time. However you should be aware that you can only get a working holiday visa once per country.
I guess it’s possible that if you apply for a working holiday visa while already holding several others, the embassy where you’re applying for the new visa could see this and question it.
Personally I would wait until I was sure of which country I wanted to live in, then apply, if possible.
Thanks for the info. I am looking to try and find a European working holiday visa for the purposes of travel within the Schengen zone for longer than 90 days. Do you know if the working holiday visa for various countries exempt you from the 90 day rule in the entire Schengen zone? Or only in the country the visa was issued from?
My understanding is that, if you have a visa for any Schengen Area country, you can travel freely within the Schengen Area while the visa remains valid. However, you may only reside and work in the country that issued your visa, and that country should also be where you spend the majority of your time while in Europe.
Please note that this is not official advice – it’s just my personal understanding of how this works.
Thanks for the response. So if I am understanding correctly, a working holiday visa in Spain does not allow me to travel in France for more than 90 days in a 180 day period. It will only allow me to spend greater than 90 days in Spain (hypothetical scenario). Would this be the case for visas in all European countries? Or is there a way to achieve greater than 90 days in the entire Schengen zone and not just a specific country?
I can’t really give you a definitive answer on this, sorry. I don’t know how it would be enforced, but theoretically I don’t think you should be spending more than 90 consecutive days in France if your visa is for Spain.
I am a dual national of the UK and Australia (resident in UK) – am I able to apply for a working holiday visa?
Generally, this shouldn’t be a problem (although it could vary depending on the country). You should be able to apply using your Australian passport.
Aus citizen looking to backpack for 6 months, 2 months of which looking to spend in Italy working sporadically if required for visa requirements. is a WHV the best way around the 90 day limitation or is there another way to get around this that is more convenient/money saving?
I can’t give specific advice to you on this, but I’d suggest that if you wish to work in Italy for two months, an Italian working holiday visa may be appropriate.
I’m planning on travelling throughout Europe for 7months. I was planning on applying for a Long Term Stay Visa in France so that my time spent there does not count towards my 90 day max in the Schengen. However I have read that this Visa restricts me from entering other Schengen countries, firstly do you know if that’s correct? If so, if I apply for a WHV, will this same restriction be in place?
I don’t know how the Long Term Stay Visa works, sorry. But the working holiday visa would not prevent you from entering other Schengen countries.
Hi Matt, love your work!
i plan to apply for a working holiday visa in the Netherlands. i am aware that you can apply for it once you have arrived in the country.
I plan to arrive in Italy on the 11th of April 2023. i will use my 90 day schegen visa for roughly 90 days and then around the start of July i will go to Netherlands to apply.
Now my question for you is, once I’ve applied for my WHV but my normal 3 month travel visa expires but the newly applied WHV is being processed is that okay? or is it best to go there earlier an allow time for it to be processed by my 90 days is expired?
hope that makes sense
Hi Tom. Firstly, please have a read of our Dutch working holiday visa guide: https://workingholiday.au/netherlands-working-holiday-visa/
Once you have applied for a Dutch working holiday visa, you’ll need to make an appointment with the IND to give biometrics (fingerprints etc.) and collect your temporary residence endorsement sticker. This sticker is valid for 3 months and allows you to remain in the Netherlands while your working holiday visa is processed.
However, after applying for your working holiday visa, you may need to wait a few weeks for the next available IND appointment. So, if I were you, I’d plan to apply for the working holiday visa around 1-2 months before arriving in the Netherlands and immediately make an IND appointment for the date you plan to arrive there (which should be less than 90 days after arriving in the Schengen Area). I’d also leave a bit of a buffer (i.e. not plan to spend a full 90 days outside of the Netherlands first) just in case there are any issues!
Note that your Dutch visa will be valid for 12 months from the date you first apply.
Great website – lots of good info.
I’m an Aus citizen, planning to travel to Europe for approx. 7 months this year. I wish to spend longer than 90 days in countries within the Schengen area.
My thoughts are to apply for WHVs for some countries (prob Italy and France) and then use the 90 day Schengen visa for others.
Will I need to visit Italy and France first, under the WHVs and then enter another country within the Schengen area under the 90 day Schengen visa?
In this scenario I presume that European border control systems can recognise that I was in Italy and France under WHVs and not deduct the time spent in these countries from any 90 day Schengen visa allowance?
Will I need to specifically check at border control when entering Italy and France that the correct visa has been “applied”.
Would I be able to enter Greece first under the Schengen visa, then to Italy and France under WHVs then into Spain and Portugal under Schengen visa? In this scenario would the time spent in Italy and France fall within the 90 days Schengen visa limit?
Many thanks in advance and apologies for the long question.
If I have a twelve month working visa for France, does that allow me to spend more than 90day within the 180days in other Schengen countries or am I still limited to 90days in other countries?
I can’t give you official advice on this, sorry.
As far as I’m aware, in practice, you should have no issues travelling to other Schengen countries while your French visa remains valid. But in principle you are supposed to spend the majority of your time in France and you cannot work or live in other Schengen countries outside of France.
Hi I’m planning to do a working holiday in Switzerland after my Europe trip. I am a NZ passport holder, do you have any advice on how to get started and what is required for this visa?
Switzerland does not have a working holiday visa agreement with New Zealand, according to https://www.eda.admin.ch/countries/new-zealand/en/home/visa/entry-ch/faq-visa/informationen-nzl-buerger.html
However, have a look at the Swiss government website for other options – https://www.eda.admin.ch/countries/new-zealand/en/home/visa/entry-ch/visa-new-zealand-passport-holders.html
Please note that this website generally just covers visas for Australian citizens.
Hi Matt. I am an Australian who is going to apply for the WHV in The Netherlands as an Australian. I am also Canadian. If I want to stay for another year can I apply for a second WHV under my Canadian citzenship?
Hi, please check out our Dutch working holiday visa guide – https://workingholiday.au/netherlands-working-holiday-visa/
No, it’s not possible to apply for a second year in the Netherlands using a different passport.
I am planning on travelling the Schengen countries for near 5 months, in the second month I will spend a bit of time in the Netherlands, so was planning to get a WHV there. Would this allow me to continue travelling throughout Europe after getting the WHV for potentially longer than the 90-day limit?