Gap Year Visas
So, you need to get your gap year visas sorted… but what exactly is a visa? Well, in short, a visa is a document which authorises you to enter a certain country. The document usually comes in the form of a stamp in your passport.
There are many different types of visas and different ways of getting them, depending on the country and your own nationality. Some have to be obtained in advance, others can be stamped upon arrival. Some cost money, others are free. Some allow you to work and earn a wage, others prohibit this.
We’ve divided this section into the two main types of visas you’ll be dealing with on your gap year: Tourist Visas and Working Holiday Visas, and information on each for the top five most popular gap year countries.
What is a tourist visa?
A Tourist Visa – also known as a Visitor Visa – gives you permission to enter a country and stay for an allocated amount of time. Generally speaking you’ll be free to explore the country at your leisure but you are not permitted to earn money or conduct any sort of business.
For up to date visa information on every single country in the world (for UK nationals) check out the Visa Central widget below.
Everyone needs a visa to visit Australia and it must be obtained before arriving. You can apply for either a 3 month, 6 month or 12 month visa, depending on how long you plan to stay. The longer you stay the more expensive the visa. You can now apply for Australian visas online, meaning no paper work, and once approved the visa is electronically tagged onto your passport.
If you’re a UK national and visiting the USA for 90 days or less you won’t need a visa. This is conditional on you having a ticket for onward travel, a valid passport for the duration of your stay and a lack of convictions. For a longer stay you’ll need a visa.
If you are a UK national and visiting New Zealand for 180 days or less you won’t need a visa. This is conditional on you having a passport which is valid at least three months beyond your intended departure date, evidence of the right to reside permanently in the UK and proof that you can support yourself financially in New Zealand ($1000NZ per person per month).
If you are a UK national and visiting Japan for anything up to 6 months you do not need a visa. Even so, your entry to Japan is ultimately at the discretion of immigration officials, so to keep the process smooth make sure you have your return flight ticket and evidence you can support yourself financially.
If you are a UK national and visiting Thailand for 30 days or less, you will not need a visa. If you would like to extend your stay this can be easily done once you are in Thailand (maximum six months for a tourist visa); just visit the Thai Embassy in Bangkok and file an application on paper once there.
What is a working holiday visa?
Similarly to a Tourist Visa, a Working Holiday Visa (WHV) will allow you to enter a country and stay for an allocated amount of time, but it will also allow you to work and earn a wage while you’re there. Many travellers opt for a working holiday visa, particularly in places like Australia and the USA, in order to supplement their budgets and or help their career development.
For up-to-date visa information on every single country in the world (for UK nationals) check out the Visa Central widget below.
If you are aged between 18 – 30 you can apply for a WHV in Australia. The visa will be valid for one year and will allow you to enter and re-enter the country as much as you please in that time period.
WHVs – also known as Exchange Visas or J Visas – for the USA are available for students, recent graduates and young people for up to 12 months at a time. A popular option for many gappers is working at kids’ summer camps as counsellors.
Similarly to Australia and the USA, working holidays are popular in New Zealand among UK gappers. Like Australia, New Zealand WHVs are available to UK nationals between 18 – 30, but unlike Australia, WHVs for New Zealand are valid for 23 months.
If you’re between 18 – 29 you can apply for a WHV in Japan. It will be valid for 12 months starting from the date you enter the country. UK travellers often choose to teach English in Japan so you may want to consider getting your TEFL qualification before going.
WHVs for Thailand are available to UK nationals between 18 – 30. Similarly to Japan, the main occupation of choice is teaching English, so be sure you have your TEFL. Also, due to strict requirements put in place by the Thai government, you’ll need a degree to legally teach English in Thailand.
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What visa do I need? When will my visa run out? Where can I cross the border? Why do I need a visa? How much is it going to cost? What, when, where, why, how.
These are all questions we’ve heard before. Wherever you’re going, you're going to need to know about visas...