Australia working holiday guide for Canadians: Make your way down under

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© Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, represented by the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, 2020

Cat. no. Ci4-209/1-2020E-PDF

ISSN 978-0-660-35133-9

IRCC - 2823 A-10-2020

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Migration Section, Consulate General of Canada

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Working Holiday Australia

The Government of Canada’s International Experience Canada (IEC) Program facilitates arrangements with different countries around the world to make it easier for you to travel and work in another country, gain valuable international work experience in a foreign country, or simply travel the globe and work in different places along the way. Visit for more information.

Justice Brooks

I graduated from the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology and completed an internship with Columbia University. I landed a job that brought me to Africa and Australia for documentary work. After that, I relocated to London, UK, on a Working Holiday visa, through IEC. I toured all around Europe. About three months before my Working Holiday visa for the UK expired, I got a job at a TV channel based in Sydney, Australia. I accepted the job and relocated to Sydney (again, on a Working Holiday visa I got through IEC). I am currently working toward staying in Australia for another year. The message I want to get across is that the Working Holiday visa isn’t only for backpackers. It’s a valuable tool for young professionals who want to travel and work abroad. The experiences both on and off the job are something you just can’t put a price on.

Rachel Lamarche

My first goal in coming to Australia was to try something new and different from the very comfortable life I had back home. I have gained knowledge about myself, developed life skills and had to be resourceful countless times. I have gained independence and a certain confidence that I can make it pretty much anywhere if I put my mind to it. Make sure you see as many new things as you can! Use social media to learn about all of the amazing events happening in every city.

Sarah Louis-Jean

Australia is such an amazing country and very welcoming to travellers. There are many organizations that can help you plan your trip, wherever you are. When you are there, feel free to share your needs with your friends regarding job hunting or apartment searching. You can quickly get the advice you need from them and the locals. Enjoy your trip to the fullest!


Entering Australia

Passports are an absolute requirement when entering Australia. All Canadians must have a current, valid passport. All non-Australian citizens must have a valid visa or an Electronic Travel Authority (eTA) to gain entry and remain in Australia. eTAs are issued for short-stay tourists and business travellers, and they are arranged electronically. If you’ve been approved for a working holiday visa, you do not require an eTA.

Canadians who are planning to stay in Australia less than 3 months require only an eTA. Learn more about the eTA. However, if you plan to stay longer than 3 months or work, a visa is required. For more information on visas, visit

Working Holiday visa

Through Australia’s Working Holiday initiative, you can spend up to a year travelling, working and living in Australia. If you’re a Canadian citizen between the ages of 18 and 35 (inclusive), you may be eligible to partake in the initiative. The Working Holiday visa allows you to work for up to 12 months during your stay in Australia. If you intend to work while you are in Australia, you must apply for your visa prior to your arrival in Australia. You will need to meet certain health, character and financial requirements.

Under the Working Holiday initiative, you are able to do any kind of work during your time in Australia. Usually, Working Holiday visa holders are limited to a maximum period of 6 months with any employer. Work is not a mandatory requirement for those on a Working Holiday visa; therefore, undertaking work is optional for a Working Holiday participant.

If you hold an Australian Working Holiday visa, you can:

  • work in Australia for up to 12 months (usually a maximum of 6 months with each employer)
  • leave and re-enter Australia any number of times while the visa is valid
  • study for up to 4 months

Canadians interested in applying should apply for the Working Holiday visa (subclass 417).

Learn more about Australia's Working Holiday visa.

Second Working Holiday visa

Second Working Holiday visa

Under the Working Holiday initiative, you may be eligible to obtain a second 12-month Working Holiday visa if you have completed a minimum of 3 months (88 days) of “specified work” (such as fruit picking, construction, and mining) in an eligible regional area. With a second Working Holiday visa, you can either extend your stay or come back for another year before your 36th birthday.

Learn more about Australia's Working Holiday visa.

Third Working Holiday visa

If you complete six months of specified work in an eligible regional area during your second Working Holiday, you may be eligible to apply for a third 12-month Working Holiday.

Eligible regional areas

Eligible regional areas are located in New South Wales, Queensland, Northern Territory, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria and Western Australia. For specific listings of eligible regional areas by postcode, check the specified work for the Working Holiday visa.

Approved industries for specified work

Specified work is any type of work described at the link below, and it must be the primary role, function or activity performed during your employment. Supporting work, such as bookkeeping, in any industry described in the list above does not meet the definition of specified work. Learn more about specified work for the Working Holiday visa.

Evidence of specified work

If a Working Holiday visa holder applies for a second or third Working Holiday visa, they need to provide evidence that they have satisfied the specified work eligibility requirement. Acceptable evidence of specified work completed during their Working Holiday includes:

  • pay slips
  • group certificates
  • payment summaries
  • tax returns
  • employer references
  • completed employment verification signed by the applicant's employer
  • piece rate agreement, if applicable
  • Australian bank statement covering the period of declared specified work
  • a written and signed agreement setting out any lawful deductions in pay

Source: Second Working Holiday visa – Department of Home Affairs

Tips for completing specified work

Useful websites and contacts

You have the right to contact authorities should you encounter unfair workplace treatment or wish to make any complaints.


Be prepared for the challenge of working in a rural community. Here are some common challenges and ways to prepare.


No employer or accommodation owner has the right to take your passport from you. No one has the authority to revoke your visa except the Department of Home Affairs.

If you are in a situation that makes you feel uncomfortable or unsafe, call 000.

For more tips from the Fair Work Ombudsman, visit these sites:

Checklist and customs


Here is a list of documents to leave with family or a friend in Canada:

Canadian clubs in Australia

There is a network of Canadian groups in Australia that can provide opportunities to socialize or network with fellow Canadians and professionals during your Working Holiday.


When arriving in Australia, keep in mind that the Australian Border Force is very strict. There are tight restrictions on carrying drugs (including prescription medications), certain foods and plants. There is a possibility that these items may be disposed of or put under quarantine by Australian Customs. Harsh fines and penalties apply to anyone caught breaking the rules.

Temporary visa holders face the risk of visa cancellation if they fail to answer questions asked by a biosecurity officer, fail to declare dangerous items, knowingly provide false or misleading information, or bring prohibited “high-risk biosecurity goods” into the country. The visa can be cancelled while the holder is still in immigration clearance and the person will be sent home. Another consequence is a three-year ban from applying for most types of temporary visas.

If you take prescription medication, be sure to obtain a letter from the prescribing doctor stating to whom and for what they are prescribed. Keep the letter easily accessible when travelling, so you can present it to authorities if required. Learn more about Australia’s customs and quarantine regulations.

Preparation tips

  • Don’t book everything, as you’ll most likely change your mind. Book arrival accommodation for a few nights and everything else when you arrive in Australia.
  • Keep an eye out for discount cards and booklets, as they will greatly save you money on all your travelling, tours and attraction visits across Australia.
  • Remember to add at least a 25% contingency to your budget.
  • Bring warm clothing! Although Australia is warmer than Canada, many states record temperatures below zero during their winter months.
  • Bring a towel and a sarong (they will come in handy).
  • Research information through many different sources; don’t rely on just one booking website. Judge accommodation by reviews on a variety of websites.

Source: YHA Australia

Prohibited drugs

Australia has strict regulations and restrictions to stop the importation of prohibited drugs. When you arrive in and leave Australia, it is important to remember that it is illegal to carry drugs, including cannabis, cocaine, ecstasy, hallucinogens, heroin, steroids and amphetamines. The possession, cultivation or trafficking of prohibited drugs, even in small quantities, is a very serious offence, and you could be heavily fined or face prosecution.

If you are planning on travelling outside Australia, to Indonesia or elsewhere, be aware that some countries have harsh penalties and even practice the death penalty for individuals convicted of possession or trafficking of illegal drugs.

Source: Drug laws in Australia – Department of Health and Aged Care

Tips to protect yourself from prohibited drugs

  • Never carry or consume illicit drugs when travelling.
  • Avoid associating with people who use prohibited drugs while on your Working Holiday.
  • Before arriving at the airport, make sure you are aware of the contents of all of your luggage.
  • Be cautious of gifts of luggage from strangers. Prohibited drugs have been found in suitcases won as prizes online. You may not be able to see the drugs, as they are hidden in the fabric lining; however, customs officials will find them.
  • Do not carry packages for someone else while travelling.
  • Always lock your luggage and never leave your bags unattended in public.
  • Always check your luggage for signs of tampering after it's been handled by others.
  • Do not give out your address to or accept packages from strangers or acquaintances to avoid prohibited drugs being sent without your knowledge.

Learn about the do’s and don’ts of drugs and travel.

Travel Smart

Mobile phones

It is wise to have your mobile phone unlocked before leaving, and then purchase a SIM card upon arrival in Australia. Finalize any payments on your Canadian phone contract, as you may be in Australia for an extended amount of time. WhistleOut gives you information on phone plans and coverage that may be useful if you are working in regional areas.

Registration of Canadians Abroad

This free Government of Canada service enables officials to contact you and assist you in case of an emergency abroad. Learn more about the Registration of Canadians Abroad service.


Generally speaking, it is not customary to tip in Australia. Unlike in Canada, tipping is not expected, as basic wage rates in the hospitality industry are generally well protected, and Australian waiters earn a fixed amount. In Australia, there are no obligatory gratuities or built-in charges. However, a 10% goods and services tax is included in the total on your bill.

Travel Insurance

It is absolutely imperative that you purchase insurance before you travel. You should also check your provincial or territorial health care insurance plan provider, as you may be able to maintain coverage during your stay. Ensure that your health insurance covers the duration of your stay and includes hospitalization and repatriation. Without proper insurance, an accident or mishap that results in medical assistance, time in hospital or cancellations could cost you thousands of dollars. It is ideal to shop around when choosing your insurance. Be sure to read the fine print.

Travel Smart App

  • Use the Government of Canada Travel Smart app to access key information, even while you are travelling
  • Find up-to-date travel advice and advisories on over 200 destinations worldwide
  • Find emergency contact information for embassies and consulates abroad and the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa, which is open 24 hours per day, 7 days per week
  • Connect to the social media accounts, where you can ask questions, share travel advice and learn even more about travelling abroad safely and in a smart way
  • Learn more about the Travel Smart app.

Stay safe and healthy

General tips

Bushwalking and hiking

When planning a bushwalk or hike, research the distance and difficulty of the route. Make sure it is safe, and check bushfire warnings. Tell someone where you are going. Learn more about safety in national parks.

Emergency dial 000

In the event of an emergency, dial 000 (for police, ambulance and fire services). In some remote parts of Australia, and when bushwalking, there is no mobile phone service. You will need to take a radio on extended or more remote hikes. Download the emergencyplus app.


Avoid snake and spider bites by wearing protective, enclosed footwear when bushwalking or hiking. Marine stingers (jellyfish) are present in the northern tropical waters from November to April. During this time, you can swim only within stinger-resistant enclosures (found on most popular beaches). It is important to wear protective clothing when swimming, snorkelling or diving on the Outer Barrier Reef. Always observe warning signs.

Travel outside Australia

If you wish to travel to Asia or elsewhere, check travel vaccination requirements and travel advisories for the countries you plan on visiting.


It is important to always swim between the red and yellow flags. This is the safest part of the beach (calculated daily by lifeguards) and is patrolled by lifeguards. Be aware of any additional warning signs (such as rip currents) and swim accordingly.

Learn more about beach safety.

Sun safety

Beware the harsh Australian sun. Be sure to wear a hat, a shirt and sunscreen. Stay out of the sun during the middle of the day, when the sun is strongest, and make sure you drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration. Learn more about how to protect yourself from the sun.

Résumé writing

Useful tips and advice

The standard format of a résumé differs from country to country.

The following tips will help you write a résumé that complies with current Australian standards.

Useful tips

Skills shortage

Review the Australian government's list of occupations in demand by state and territory.

Review information on employment trends and prospects for key industries, such as health care and social assistance; retail trade; construction; mining; and professional, scientific and technical services.

Farm jobs

Harvest Trail links job seekers with harvest jobs across Australia. Jobs offered include fruit pickers, cellar hands, forklift drivers and more. Harvest Trail is a good starting point to find work to complete the mandatory three or six months of specified work in order to be eligible for the second or third Working Holiday visa. You can find more information regarding harvest jobs and piecework and tips for returning working holiday makers.

While employers are expected by law to provide foreign workers with the same pay and conditions as Australian workers, it is your responsibility to make sure that these conditions are being upheld. Visit the Fair Work Ombudsman or contact them to be informed of your rights before accepting a job offer. If you're working on farms, be cautious of any exploitation. If you believe you are being exploited, contact the Fair Work Ombudsman to verify your rights and seek advice on what course of action to take.

Training and certification


All hospitality staff must hold a certification known as Responsible Service of Alcohol (RSA) before being eligible for employment in a licensed facility. To work in premises with gambling facilities, you will also need a Responsible Gambling Services (RGS) certification. For those with little or no hospitality experience, pub skills or barista skills, training courses may be worthwhile in order to gain the skills and experience you need to get a job. If you obtain your RSA, you can apply for jobs such as:

Find out more information on how and where to take your RSA or RGS course in New South Wales. Check state government websites to ensure your training provider is accredited by the state in which you plan to work.


To work on a construction site in certain states such as New South Wales, it is a requirement that you hold a general construction induction card, or white card as it is commonly known. Learn more about the general construction induction card (white card).

Road traffic control

To work as a traffic controller in New South Wales and operate a STOP/SLOW bat, it is a requirement that you hold a current traffic controller’s licence, commonly known as a blue card. Learn more about the BlueCard.

Working with children

To work with children in Australia, you must hold a valid Working with Children Card. You may wish to apply for this before you arrive. Learn more about the Working with Children Card.

Other Occupational Licences

Your workplace rights

Australian workplaces are governed by the Fair Work Act 2009. Australian employers must ensure that the Working Holiday participants they employ receive the same pay and conditions as employees who are Australian citizens or permanent residents. All workers in Australia, including foreign workers, are entitled to basic rights and protections in the workplace.

All employees have protected rights at work and are covered by the National Employment Standards, regardless of the award, registered agreement or employment contract that applies.

If you think you have been treated unfairly or exploited, or if you need assistance resolving a workplace issue, you can visit the Fair Work Ombudsman website for further information and advice. Employees can’t be treated differently because they have exercised a right. Employees are protected from adverse action, undue influence and coercion.

The Fair Work Ombudsman has created a "Record My Hours" app that allows Working Holiday participants to record their arrival at and departure from the workplace using geo-location technology, so they have a tool to keep a record of work hours and can hold their employers accountable. To find more information on this app, visit “Record My Hours app”.

Find out more about workplace conditions in Australia.

Australian workplace conditions

Australian workplace culture

Learn more about Australian workplace culture.

Pay rate guide

See description below
Figure 1: Average weekly total cash earnings (in Australian dollars) by industry as of May 2020
Industry Average weekly earnings (in Australian dollars)
Mining $2,697.50
Manufacturing $1,526.80
Electricity, gas, water and waste services $1,907.70
Construction $1,683.00
Wholesale trade $1,591.50
Retail trade $1,259.80
Accommodation and food services $1,139.30
Transportation, postal and warehousing $1,662.10
Information media and telecommunications $2,033.40
Finance and insurance services $2,015.88
Rental, hiring and real estate services $1,561.30
Professional, scientific and technical services $1,965.70
Administration and support services $1,537.90
Public administration and safety $1,801.90
Education and training $1,825.70
Health care and social assistance $1,624.60
Arts and recreation services $1,523.80
Other services $1,339.30
All industries $1,713.90

Source: Average Weekly Earnings, Australia – Australian Bureau of Statistics

Money matters


The Australian dollar (AUD) is the official currency of Australia. You can exchange your Canadian money at most airports, banks, hotels and currency exchange vendors.

It is important to keep cash on hand for daily expenses and emergencies. Use prepaid travel cards or debit cards for the bulk of your funds and have access to a credit card for unexpected expenses.

You can use your Canadian bank card at any ATM in Australia if it has the Cirrus or Maestro logo on it.

Maestro logo of two circles overlapping. One is dark blue and the other is red. The word Maestro appears in white in front of the circles.
Cirrus logo of two circles overlapping. One is dark blue and the other is light blue. The word Cirrus appears in white in front of the circles.

Pension or superannuation

If you work in Australia, in most cases your employer has to put money into a superannuation fund on your behalf. This money is usually set aside for your retirement or pension fund, but if you leave Australia permanently, you may be eligible to claim your superannuation. Find out more about how to claim your superannuation when you leave Australia.

Tax file number

If you intend to work during your time in Australia, you will need to obtain a tax file number (TFN). If you commence working prior to getting your TFN, you will have 28 days to provide it to your employer.

It is important to get a start on this as soon as possible because, until you provide your employer with your TFN, you will be taxed at the highest possible rate. It can take up to a month to receive your TFN.

You will need to complete an obligatory tax return when your Working Holiday finishes or when you stop working. You may be eligible for a tax refund.

Ask your employer for a payment summary showing your total income and the amount of tax withheld, so you will be able to file your tax return.

The Australian Taxation Office has information on how to apply for a TFN online and when to file your tax return.

Setting up an Australian bank account

The majority of employers won’t pay into a foreign bank account, so it is highly likely that you will need to set up an Australian bank account. For further information, including what documentation you will need to set up an Australian bank account, here is a list of a few Australian banks:

Cost of living guide

Table 1: Average cost of living per week (in AUD) - Accommodations (Rates as of June 2020)
Accommodation Cost
Hostels and guesthouses $90 to $150 per week
Shared rental $95 to $215 per week
Rental $185 to $440 per week
Table 2: Average cost of living per week (in AUD) - Other living costs (Rates as of June 2020)
Type of expense Cost
Groceries and eating out $140 to $280 per week
Gas, electricity $10 to $20 per week
Phone and internet $15 to $30 per week
Car (after purchase) $150 to $260 per week
Entertainment $80 to $150 per week


General tips

Driving and cycling

Unlike Canadians, Australians drive on the left side of the road. It is important to remember to look right then left or just make it a habit to look both ways before crossing the street. Be aware of the opposite direction of oncoming traffic.

In Australia, laws and driving regulations differ from state to state. Some states require you to carry an international licence with your current foreign licence. Other states request you carry your current foreign driver’s licence together with a formal translation of your licence into English. Learn more about licensing regulations and driving with an overseas licence.

Rules and legislation pertaining to cyclists vary from state to state. Make sure to follow signs and always wear a helmet when cycling to ensure your safety. Failing to obey road or cycling rules may result in a fine. Learn more about Australia’s states’ cycling rules.

A proof of age card is for young people over the age of 18, and can be used for general identification as well as accessing bars and pubs (the legal drinking age in Australia is 18).

If you hold an English-language driver's licence, it may be used as proof of age. It is advised not to use your passport as proof of age. If your passport is lost or damaged, replacing it is a long and expensive process.

In Australia, the blood alcohol concentration limits when driving are lower than in Canada. The legal maximum may vary depending on the state and the driver’s experience. Learn more about blood alcohol levels in Australia.

Short-term accommodation

Hostels are ideal if you are travelling on a tight budget and looking to meet other young travellers along the way. Visit Hostelworld for a list of hostels.

Long-term accommodation

If you are looking for long-term accommodation, try to find local community notice boards, local newspapers and websites.

In Australia, rental costs vary, depending on the rental agreement. When renting, you can expect to pay one month's rent in advance (dependent on the rental agreement), along with a bond (deposit) for any potential damages. The bond is usually equal to four to six weeks of rent.

Review your tenant rights in this renting guide.

On social media


The Government of Canada has prepared this summary as a general overview, based on secondary sources of information. While all care has been taken in the preparation, the Government of Canada does not accept responsibility for any losses suffered by people relying on the information contained here.

Readers should take note that the Government of Canada does not guarantee the accuracy of any of the information contained in this summary, nor does it necessarily endorse the organizations listed herein. Readers should independently verify the accuracy and reliability of the information. The content in no way reflects the official policy or opinions of the Government of Canada.

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