How to get started — International Experience Canada

Canada has agreements with over 30 countries and territories that make it easier for you to get a work permit or visa under International Experience Canada (IEC).

Each country or territory has its own application process but we’ve broken it down into six main steps to give you a general idea of what you’ll need to do.

Step 1: Choose a destination

Decide which of our partner countries or territories you want to work and travel in. Choose a destination that’s right for you by researching information such as:

  • available jobs
  • cost of living
  • travel ideas

Tip: Travel blogs, websites, and social media such as Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Pinterest, may help you to get inspired!

Step 2: Find out if you’re eligible to apply in the partner country or territory you choose

Once you choose a destination, make sure you’re eligible to apply for a work permit there. Each country or territory may have different requirements including:

  • age
  • residency (where you live when you apply)
  • financial requirements
  • how long you can stay
  • work restrictions

Step 3: Choose a work permit that’s right for you

Each country or territory may call their work permits by a different name but the type of work permit you can apply for will either be an open work permit or an employer-specific work permit.  

Open work permits

Open work permits allow you to work temporarily to help fund your trip.  The most common name for an open work permit under IEC is “Working Holiday”.

With open work permits you:

  • can work for any employer
  • can work in more than one location
  • don’t need a pre-arranged contract of employment (job offer) before you apply

Employer-specific work permits

This type of work permit is common for international co-op jobs, internships, and young professionals looking for experience to help their career development. You must have a pre-arranged contract of employment (job offer) before you apply.

Employer-specific work permits specify things such as:

  • the employer you can work for
  • how long you can work
  • where you can work
  • the type of work you can do

Depending on the work permit or visa you apply for, there may be country-specific requirements or fees. Make sure to check the country or territory website and application forms for more details.

Step 4: Get all the documents you need

You’ll usually be asked to provide documents such as:  

  • a passport
  • proof of funds to:
    • cover your expenses when you arrive
    • cover your expenses while you find work (if you don’t already have a job offer)
    • pay for your return ticket
  • proof of medical insurance for the duration of your stay
  • a copy of your pre-arranged contract of employment (job offer) or internship (if you are applying for an employer-specific work permit)

You may also be asked for:

  • a birth certificate
  • a criminal record check or police certificate
  • a medical exam
  • photos

If you’re going to a country where English or French is not an official language, you may have to provide translations of your documents.

Step 5: Complete your application

The application process for each country and territory is different. Before you apply, read the application instructions on the country or territory website carefully.

In general, to complete your application you must:

  • fill out the application form(s)
  • pay any necessary fees
  • submit your application and required documents

Depending on your destination you will have to submit your application and pay your fees either online, by mail, or in person.

For some countries and territories, you have to complete the last steps of your application in person. This is done either at the embassy or consulate, or in the country or territory after you arrive.

This may include:

  • providing more documents
  • paying fees
  • giving biometrics (usually fingerprints and photos)

The complete application process can be found on the individual country or territory website.

Tip: Check your junk or spam folder to make sure that you have not missed important emails.

Step 6: Start making your travel plans!

If your application is approved, you’ll usually be notified by mail or email.

You can then start planning your trip:

  • find a place to live
  • book a plane ticket
  • get travel insurance

You can use our travel checklist for more ideas and resources on things you’ll need before you go such as:

  • information on living abroad
  • safety and security concerns
  • tax information for Canadians outside Canada

Get started now by choosing your destination.

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