Everything To Know For A Canadian Working Holiday

with No Comments

So, Why Canada?

There is nowhere in the world quite like it. The mountains, the sea, the wilderness, the wild life; the adventure is right on your doorstep! I’ve now spent a total of 3.5 years in Canada, using 3 different types of visas. This puts me in a good position to help you accomplish your very own Canadian escapade and help simplify the visa system for you.

Personally, I wanted to visit Canada in order to see humpback whales. Well not just see them, but kayak with them. After spending two summer seasons working as a sea kayak guide on Vancouver Island, I can safely say that box has been well and truly ticked! Between that, I also worked as a snowboard instructor and spent 9 months living out of a self-converted van, road tripping all across the Rocky Mountains. It really is an adventure traveler’s dream.

Popular Destinations For Working Holiday’s

Before we get into the nitty gritty, let’s spark some wanderlust with some of the best locations to check out during your Working Holiday. If you are looking for a job in any of these spots, the best place to start is by searching online. Most large tourist towns will make it easy for you to find them, as they rely so heavily on seasonal workers. You can also try looking for facebook groups i.e. ‘Whistler Winter’, you can find accommodation, jobs or some new friends to hang out with!


Lake Louise in Banff National Park | © Travels and Wandering by Nicole Booth
Lake Louise in Banff National Park | © Travels and Wandering by Nicole Booth

The picture perfect mountain town, nestled into the Canadian Rockies in Alberta, right on the border with B.C.

Banff’s high street is like walking into a postcard. The main road is lined with stores, pubs and a candy shop; with the monstrous Cascade Mountain towering out the horizon.

Ideal for winter season fun at Sunshine Village and Lake Louise, as well as the summer sweet life with plenty of hospitality work or greenkeeping.


The largest ski town in North America, also boosting the most nightclubs. Whistlerites like to ski hard and party harder. The mountain is owned by ski resort conglomerate ‘Vail Resorts’, so you can find access to all sorts of jobs through their website.

Whistler also has a thriving mountain bike scene in the summer months which is worth getting involved in if that’s your thing.

Vancouver Island

If your preference lies with the summer months over the snow, then the beautiful Van Isle is the place for you. The Island has a mountainous ridge running down its spine, with close access to the ocean from near enough everywhere. Tofino is a popular town to base out of and is the home of Canadian surfing. That’s right – you can surf in Canada!

My favourite thing about Vancouver Island are the wildlife which call it home. From black and grizzly bears, wolves, cougars, raccoons and an assortment of birds to be spotted on land; to the dolphins, seals, otters, humpback whales and orca that can be found in the water. Vancouver Island is a dream destination and a place that should be high on everyone’s bucket list!

Additional Note

There are Ten provinces and 3 Territories in Canada, each carries it’s own identity and charm. The above suggestions are based in British Columbia and Alberta. These have been suggested based on my personal experience, but also due to the accessibility of these provinces for international workers who want to explore the iconic scenery of Canada whilst earning a wage.

Check out some of the pictures below for scenery in other provinces and territories.

Since the pandemic the unemployment rate in Canada unsurprisingly grew to 6.5% nationwide. British columbia has a below average unemployment rate compared to the national average. Alberta’s is just above average, however there are plenty of seasonal or temporary contracts when near Calgary, Edmonton (close to the Rockies) and for mcmurray (close to birch mountains).

The Nitty Gritty Details Of Your Working Holiday

Types of Visa

Working Holiday Visas allow young adults to travel to Canada and seek employment in order to fund their holiday. They are available to citizens of countries that have signed a bilateral, reciprocal agreement with Canada. Most European countries and the UK have such agreements in place. Several criteria apply for the different countries.

There are three categories of Visas you can apply for through the International Experience Canada system (IEC).

  1. Working Holiday Visa
  2. Young Professionals
  3. International Co-Op (Internship)

This is a two-step process. First step will be for you to become a candidate in the pool, by creating an online IEC profile, where you’ll be asked various questions. If selected, you’ll receive an invitation to complete your profile, and notify you for which Visa to apply. This must be done within 10 days. Depending on your country of citizenship, you may be eligible to apply in more than one category.

The second step will require you to submit your application along with all the relevant documentation within 20 days of receiving your invitation. If your application is successful, you will be sent a “Port of Entry” (POE) giving you 12 months to activate it by travelling to Canada, with all the required documents. Your Work Visa will be issued on arrival.

Who Can Apply?

To be eligible for a visa, you must:

  • Be a citizen and hold a valid passport of an IEC participating country.
  • Aged 18 – 30 (35 for some countries)
  • Have a minimum of $2 500.
  • Have health insurance cover for the entire period.
  • Have a Police Clearance Certificate from your country.
  • Be in possession of a return ticket, or have sufficient funds to purchase one.
  • No dependents travelling with you.
  • Due to current restrictions only fully vaccinated people may travel to Canada.

When to Apply To For a Canadian Working Holiday?

Canada sets annual quotas for each country participating in the IEC program, which means that not everybody will be granted a visa. It’s like a lottery. The season opens in November each year, and closes around October. To stand a better chance of being selected, it is advisable to apply as early in the season as possible.

Once you are in the IEC pool, you could be invited at any time, and have a limited time to submit your application, so make sure you have all your relevant documents on hand before applying.

There is no need to re-apply if you have already submitted your online profile during or after the 2021 season and have not as yet received an invitation. Your application remains in the pool for 12 months.

How Long Does it Take to Get the Visa?

From the day you submit your online profile, it can take up to eight weeks before your application is finalised.

How Much Does it Cost?

A participation fee of $150 must be paid when creating your online profile followed by a further $100 for the Work Visa.

There may be additional costs for countries requiring biometrics, such as electronic fingerprints, digital photographs, and various other e-documents.

Using a private company to apply on your behalf is both costly and unnecessary. Visas are allocated randomly and private companies don’t stand any better chance of getting you one.

How Long Can You Stay?

Working Holiday Visas are valid from 12 to 24 months, depending on your country of citizenship. For instance, UK citizens may be granted a 24 month visa in one go, while Australians only get 12 months and have to re-apply for the second year.

For more information and whether you are eligible for a Canadian Working Holiday Visa, visit https://www.cic.gc.ca/english/work/iec/eligibility.asp

Planning a trip to Canada?

Check out all of our Travels and Wandering articles on Canada here or:

Follow Chris Whittaker:

CEO of Global Shenanigans | Expedition leader | Kayaking instructor | Snowboard instructor | Professional fun haver & good time enthusiast.

Leave a Reply