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Gap Year Visas

Working holiday visas and more

So, you need to get your gap year visas sorted… but what exactly is a visa? Well, put simply, 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. The exact visas you’ll need (if any) will depend on several factors, like your nationality, the country you’re travelling to, and the kind of thing you’ll be doing in that country.

There are two main types of visas that gappers need to consider – tourist visas and working holiday visas. More information about these can be found below.

Articles about visas and working holidays


What are tourist visas?

Tourist visas are much more straightforward than their working holiday counterparts, and simply give permission to be in a country for a certain period of time. You won’t be able to work, but you can explore the country at your leisure.

Some countries will require you to get a ‘visa on arrival’, which is exactly as it says on the tin: once you’ve landed, you sort it out there and then, in the airport. Cambodia is a country where you will need to get a visa on arrival.

Other countries, like India, Russia and Vietnam, require UK travellers to book visas before they visit. To board the plane to places like this, you’ll need to be able to show you have a valid visa. Depending on your nationality, many countries do not require you to have a visa. For example, UK travellers do not need visas for countries in Europe, and further afield, such as Thailand.

What are working holiday visas?

Working holiday visas are compulsory for countries where you want to earn some money, either to help fund your travels or simply for the experience. It’s really common for gap year travellers to spend at least part of their trip in paid employment, whether that’s skilled, like teaching English in China, or unskilled, like farm work in Australia.

Australia working holiday visas

Australia is one of the most popular countries for working holidays among gappers from the UK, USA and other English-speaking countries, due to an abundance of well-paid jobs for backpackers. You will need to apply in advance, be aged between 18-30 and be from one of the countries Australia accepts working holiday applicants from, like the UK. The visa will be valid for a year and allow you to enter and re-enter the country as much as you like in that time period. It’s possible to apply for a one-year extension on your Australia WHV – you must be able to show proof you have already worked at least 88 days in employment on your initial visa.

New Zealand working holiday visas

New Zealand is another really popular country to settle down and find some work on your gap year. Like Australia, there are certain conditions that must be met, like being aged 18-30 and being from a country that is accepted in the government’s working holiday scheme. Unlike Australia, New Zealand working holiday visas are valid for two years, not one year.

USA working holiday visas

Working holiday visas for the USA are also known as ‘Exchange Visas’ or ‘J Visas’ and are popular among gappers from English-speaking countries, or who can speak the language fluently. Like Australia, USA working holiday visas are valid for a year from the point of entry, and give travellers a great chance to escape the beaten track. One of the best jobs in the US is working as a counsellor at a summer camp for kids. This way, you can spend 10 weeks earning a wage, then use that money to go and explore the rest of the country!

Canada working holiday visas

Like the above three countries, Canada is a preferred place to travel and work for English-speaking travellers. One of the most in demand jobs for those with working holiday visas for Canada is snow season work. This can include ski and snowboard instructor jobs, and working in hospitality in Canadian ski resorts. You must meet certain conditions to be eligible – namely, be aged 18-30 and from a country that Canada has an agreement with over working holiday schemes.

Working holiday visas for Asia

One of the most popular jobs for gappers is to teach English as a foreign language – this is commonly abbreviated to TEFL. Although it’s technically possible to do this in any country where there are non-English speakers, the most popular places tend to be in Asia, in countries like China, Japan, South Korea and Thailand. You will need a working holiday visa for Thailand, China or any other country in which you are interested in this kind of work. The usual conditions apply, like age and nationality.

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