Guide to Working Holiday Permit for Canada

Start your adventure with a Working Holiday Permit for Canada

Interested in doing an internship or a work and travel program in Canada? In order to do either,  you will need a Working Holiday Permit for Canada. Use the guide below to learn more about the eligibility requirements, documents required and how to apply for a Working Holiday Permit in Canada.

working holiday permit for canada passport
working holiday permit for canada vancouver beach
working holiday permit for canada airport
working holiday permit for canada at a glance

What is a Working Holiday Permit?

The Working Holiday permit is one of the three types of permits that you can apply under the International Experience Canada program. The other two are International Co-op and Young professionals.

This work permit (sometimes called the Working Holiday visa) is a temporary work permit which allows you to live and work in Canada. It is available to many countries which have a signed Youth Mobility agreement with Canada. Although not every nationality is eligible for this permit, many are! Now, let’s discuss how can you check if you’re eligible to apply and how to apply.

working holiday permit for canada eligibility

Generally speaking, the Working Holiday permit is meant for young adults, age 18 to 30 (sometimes even 35) that wish to live and work in Canada for temporary period. Based on your nationality, the work permit can be approved up to 12 months and in some cases up to 24 months.

In order to be eligible for the Working Holiday permit for Canada you need:

  • To be a national of one (or more) country that can apply for this permit e.g. most EU countries and some Asian countries. You can check out the full list on the International Experience Canada website linked below.
  • To be between 18 and 30 years old (sometimes 35)
  • A valid passport for the duration of your stay
  • A permanent address in your home country
  • Sufficient funds to cover your stay in Canada (approx. $2500 CAD)
  • To be admissible to Canada (very important btw!)
  • A roundtrip flight tickets or enough money to pay for it
  • To pay the processing fees for your application

These are the general rules for eligibility. You can also check (in detail) if you can apply for the Working Holiday permit for Canada by completing a questionnaire on the immigration website which will also serve as the start of your application process!

working holiday permit for canada entering the pool

Once the questionnaire says that you are eligible to apply for a Working Holiday permit for Canada, you can create your IEC profile and submit it into the Working Holiday pool. If your profile gets selected, you will receive an invitation to apply. Keep in mind that entering the pool is not the same as applying for the permit.

Being in the pool is like playing the lottery. Getting a ticket does not guarantee you’ll win. It’s the same with entering the pool. You first need to receiving an Invitation to Apply (otherwise known as an ITA) in order to apply for the permit. Once you have the ITA, it’s pretty certain that you’ll receive the permit. Of course you need to submit a complete application and all the documents they ask of you.

working holiday permit for canada deadline

When you receive your ITA for the Working Holiday permit for Canada, you have 10 days to either accept it or refuse it. And by this, we mean 10 calendar days, not 10 business days. Sometimes applicants get confused over this.

Once you accept the ITA, the ‘clock’ resets and now you have 20 days (again, not 20 business days) to complete the application form and submit the remaining documents. Aside from the form, you will need to submit supporting documents. These can be police checks, medical exam, copy of your passport etc. They will let you know which documents you should collect and submit.

Note: You will also have to submit biometrics with your application. Immigration will let you know where in your home country can you do this! This is an absolute must!

In the event that you can’t collect and submit all the documents in time, you have to submit proof that you requested said documents. For example, sometimes the police clearance takes more time to process and receive (I know…bureaucracy right?). So make sure that you either submit the document or proof that you’re waiting for one / requested one.

If you decided to refuse your ITA (yes, you can refuse it), your profile won’t be ‘kicked out’. Instead, it will be returned to the pool and wait for another round of invitations.

working holiday permit for canada submission

You said ‘Yes’ to your ITA, gathered all the documents, biometrics and completed the application form. Now it’s time to submit! Pay attention to every detail. Double, even triple-check everything. You don’t want to present partial or inaccurate information. Now click that ‘Submit’ button and…that’s it.

What now? Now comes the wait! According to Immigration, Refugee, Citizenship Canada (or IRCC) the standard processing time for a Working Holiday in Canada application can be 8 weeks. Yes, it’s a bit of a long time, but there are a lot of applicants and everything has to be checked. It takes time. Although, we have seen improvement on this and some applications are processed in 4 weeks.

Don’t psych yourself out and click the Refresh button every 2 minutes. Periodically check your email (even your spam folder!) and your MyCIC profile for updates.

working holiday permit for canada approval

Yaay! You finally heard back from IRCC and your application for a Working Holiday permit for Canada was approved! Congrats! You can take a breather!

When an application is approved, you will receive a so-called PoE (Port of Entry) letter. This letter will provide the basic information on your application: that it was approved, until when you have to enter Canada and ‘activate’ your work permit etc.

working holiday permit for canada arrival

Now that your application for the Working Holiday permit for Canada is approved, you can start preparing for your trip. Book your flights and buy health insurance.

When it comes to flights, we strongly recommend that you do that once you know the outcome of your application i.e. only after the permit has been approved.

Health insurance must be bought for the duration of your stay. So plan accordingly! The work permit will not be granted for a longer period of time than your insurance is valid. 

Upon your arrival to Canada, you will need to present the Immigration officer:

  • Your passport
  • Your PoE letter
  • Proof of funds (remember those $2500 we mentioned earlier)
  • Proof of health insurance
  • Proof of return flight or funds that you will use to buy a flight ticket and
  • Copies of the documents you submitted with your application
working holiday permit for canada tips and tricks

Tip #1 – Check your eligibility and enroll the Working Holiday pool as soon as it opens. Your chances of getting an ITA are better.

Tip #2 – To check your eligibility using the Come to Canada questionnaire here.

Tip #2 – You can check how good are your chances of getting the Working Holiday for Canada permit here Just pick your country and Working Holiday

Tip #3 – Don’t leave the ITA acceptance or application submission for the last minute. Accept / submit at least a day or two before the deadline.

Tip #4 – Double and triple-check your work and your documents and follow all the IRCC guidelines.

Tip #5 – While on your stay in Canada…have fun, explore and enjoy!

Did you know that the Working Holiday permit for Canada can be used to complete one of our Internship, Volunteer or Work programs? Check them out and apply today!

Andreas – Barista

“I was placed at a coffee shop in North Vancouver. The location was just amazing. From the counter we had a great view over the ocean and the mountains in the horizon. It was, more or less, always busy and the customers were so nice and polite and were always interested in knowing where you were from. What I like most about Vancouver is the diversity of people and the beautiful surroundings. We went hiking a couple of times, had a Halloween party, saw the Chinese New Year Parade, celebrated Canada Day and much more. Besides that I visited Whistler, Bowen Island, Sunshine Coast, Toronto and Victoria.” – Andreas, Denmark

Anne – Barista

“My adventure started off in Rocky Mountains where I worked at a mountain resort. During my time there I got to see wonderful nature and magical views when I was hiking. It was also a lot of other fun things to do including mountain biking, horseback riding, white water rafting and canoeing. After the summer season was over I decided to move to Vancouver and now I live in an apartment in beautiful Yaletown. I work in a coffee shop downtown as well so that fits me perfectly.” – Anne, Norway

Faith – Internship

“Coming to Vancouver has really been a learning experience. I saw myself mature in ways I thought I had been. Learning from the pros and seeing the difference between learning at university and mentoring/ learning at work. The ability to stand my own and explore this great city. Since coming here I have found my confidence and passion of product design. Whether it’s from presenting or talking to clients I know I saw myself improve. Thank you, Canada.” – Faith, United Kingdom

Ilse – Hospitality

“My first job was at a coffee shop chain. I worked there for 2.5 months as a Barista. I also got a job as a server in the restaurant at a private tennis club. During this work abroad experience my English improved a lot. That’s mainly because I use different expressions than I learned in school. I can use a broader vocabulary now. Also, I met new people that have different cultures. All the Canadians here are really kind and helpful.” – Ilse, Germany

Shiny – Internship

“I have had a great experience coming to Vancouver. Within the 2 months I have gained so much experience in life and at the workplace. I see myself being more independent and confident, which was one of my main goals. I’m so happy I found Latitude, they worked so hard to make sure I get an internship.” – Shiny, United Kingdom

Rasmus – Barista

“I started to work as a Barista at one of the many coffee shops here in Vancouver. I pretty much worked all summer except for going on two trips, one to Seattle and the other to Toronto. I usually went to the weekly pub nights which were a really fun time. All these events helped me meet so many new awesome people.” -Rasmus, Sweden

Alex – Internship

“As part of my International Business Management studies, I was required to complete an internship so I decided to go to Toronto as I have family there. I learned a lot about the marketing industry and about Canada as well. I have benefited a lot from the work and from the cultural experience during my stay in Canada.” – Alex, United Kingdom

Borbala – City Volunteer

“My volunteering is definitely off to a good start, all the people I met today were super nice and I think I’m going to like the work, too! I’m also settled in with my host family and I think I hit the jackpot with them because they are truly super welcoming.” – Borbala, Hungary

Hannah – National Parks Volunteer

“I really enjoyed the nature with all the mountains and the unique lakes. And besides that I loved it to spend time with people from all over the world and to form friendship with the other volunteers, which will last for a long time.” Hannah, 18, Germany

Participant – National Park Volunteer

“I learned a lot of things about nature, wildlife and myself . I loved all the hikes and also spending time to help Parks Canada. The grizzly bear research allowed me to improve my English during the survey. I strongly recommend this experience!” P., Switzerland

Natsumi – National Park Volunteer

“I had great time and good experience in Lake Louise. I learned about environment system, process, plants, animals etc. They became my new knowledge. Thank you so much.” Natsumi, Japan

Ready? Apply now for a Working Holiday program!