HomeTravel TipsWorking Holiday Visa: Pre-Departure Checklist

Working Holiday Visa: Pre-Departure Checklist

So, you’ve decided to go abroad with a Working Holiday Visa (WHV)? Well done! This may well be one of the most memorable experiences of your life! Thanks to International Experience Canada, you’ll be able to travel and work in some of the most beautiful places in the world. You can immerse yourself in a new culture, discover how the inhabitants of your host country live, eat with them and most of all, have fun. It’s perfectly normal that all the excitement of this new life would bring you some anxiety. To minimize the stress, we’re offering you a countdown checklist for you to prepare for your departure!

Three months before departure

  • Purchase airline tickets

As soon as you receive confirmation of your WHV, your first reflex should be to book your airline ticket. The sooner you buy, the more you save. As a rule of thumb, airline tickets tend to increase over time. It is advisable (and sometimes even cheaper) to buy a return ticket. If you’re not sure of your return date, you can always change this date for a fee or simply buy another return ticket. If you leave with only a one-way ticket, you may encounter problems at immigration and need to show proof of departure from the country. Our all-time favourite sites to score the best prices for airline tickets are FlightHub and Kiwi. For on-the-go deals, you can also download the Skyscanner app for iOS or Android.

  • Work and save

The countdown before your expatriation has begun. This is the perfect time to change your habits and start saving as much as possible. Convince yourself that money you set aside will significantly help out during your WHV adventure. For motivation, give yourself a clear and attainable weekly saving goal.

  • Make a travel budget

We agree—it’s difficult to accurately estimate the budget required for your WHV for several months or even a year. Depending on the country that you choose, search online (for example on Numbeo) for information on the cost of living in your future host country. By adding estimates for the costs of housing, food and transportation, you’ll yield an approximate result.

  • Make an appointment at a traveller’s clinic

You may have recently gone to the doctor to obtain a medical certificate to apply for your WHV. Whether this is the case or not, you should make an appointment at a specialized travel clinic. The medical professional will analyze your itinerary and can advise you on any necessary precautions and recommended vaccines. Some vaccines require multiple doses and need to be received at least two months before departure, so don’t put them off!

  • Visit your dentist

Since you’re leaving for several months, be sure to visit and inform your dentist of your departure. Knowing your background, he or she can advise you, and it’s also better to have treatment before your departure than once you’re abroad. A routine visit could help avoid surprises!

  • Make sure your passport is valid

Your passport must be valid and exceed the duration of your stay abroad. If you’re going to work and travel for 12 or 24 months, make sure your passport won’t expire before then. Your passport must be valid for more than three to six months after your return. If this isn’t the case, apply to renew your passport as early as possible.

  • Plan to leave your home

Since you’ll be away for a long time, you’ll have to decide what will happen to your house or apartment in Canada. If you plan to move out, give notice to your landlord according to the terms in your lease. If you’re considering renting out your home while you’re away, start advertising on rental sites. If you find yourself moving, there’s always the option of storing your furniture while you’re away.

One month before departure

  • Create a draft itinerary

You don’t need to do exhaustive research before you leave, but it’s useful to take a look at the overall geography of your country of expatriation. To start brainstorming, read blogs and travel guides on the main tourist attractions. Identify major cities where there are typically more job opportunities.

  • Get an International Driving Permit (IDP)

If you plan to drive abroad, you must obtain an international driver’s licence from the Canadian Automobile Association. This license must always accompany your Canadian driver’s licence. In some countries, you may need more than your international licence. For example, in Japan, you’ll need a certified translation of your licence once you arrive. Make sure to find out about the formalities specific to your host country.

  • Inform your provincial health insurance plane

As a Canadian, you have access to medical and hospital care in your country without having to spend money. When you leave for a long time, you should check with your provincial health insurance plan to see if you can stay covered while you’re away. For example, in Quebec, under the RAMQ (Régie de l’assurance maladie du Québec), registrants can leave the province for more than 182 days once every 7 years without losing their rights to the health card. It’s worth calling an agent to get advice on the options available to you.

  • Sign up for travel insurance

Get peace of mind with travel insurance for the duration of your WHV. Make sure your travel insurance covers you in case of illness, hospitalization and repatriation. If you’re still covered by your provincial public health insurance plan, you’ll be able to obtain “complementary” insurance. If your provincial public plan no longer covers you, you’ll need to get insurance for expatriates such as SafetyWing, a travel medical insurance for nomads, by nomads.

  • Cancel memberships and subscriptions

To save money, you can stop or pause memberships and subscriptions you don’t plan to use during your absence. Make a list of all your subscriptions, including gyms, online music and apps, magazines, phone, cable, and the Internet.

  • Prepare your resume

In order to find a job abroad, it’s wise to start by updating your resume. If you’re going to a country where you don’t speak the local language, it’s a good time to translate your resume. Resume standards vary from country to country, so search the Internet for the specifications corresponding to your host country.

  • Find accommodations for the first days

Make your arrival easier by booking temporary accommodations for the first days. If you’re fortunate enough to have friends or acquaintances in your host country, they may be able to house you for a few days while you search for a job. Alternatively, staying in a hostel or Airbnb is a good short-term option in most countries. If your budget is tight, consider Couchsurfing, but make sure to read all the reviews on the place and owner and tell your friends and family where you are staying. The ideal scenario is to wait until you find a job before renting a long-term home. This way, if you can’t land a job in the first city, you can move on to your next destination with no attachments.

Two weeks before departure

  • Scan important documents

To have digital copies at all times, scan important documents such as your passport, driver’s licence and visa. If you don’t have access to a scanner, you can download a free app on your phone or just take a picture of your documents. You must then email them to yourself or upload them to a secure online storage service like Dropbox or Google Drive.

  • Notify banks and credit card companies

Make financial institutions and credit card companies aware of your departure. Check whether your bank has agreements with banks in your country of expatriation. According to your financial commitments, you can provide power of attorney by authorizing a person of trust to act as an agent on your behalf during your absence.

  • Unlock your cell phone

It is advisable to have a local telephone number to make it easier to find a job in your host country. You’ll be able to buy a SIM card upon arrival. If you don’t want to wind up having to buy a new cell on the spot, make sure to unlock your phone before you leave.

  • Change your mailing address

If you leave your home, you can have your mail redirected to a relative or a post office box during your absence.

  • Join expat Facebook groups

There are several groups of expatriates on Facebook, depending on the host country or city. Joining these groups before your departure will allow you to connect with experienced expatriates.

  • Start viewing job offers

In order to measure the pulse of the job market in your country of expatriation, why not start browsing job search sites? You can even start applying for jobs, but keep in mind that most employers prefer face-to-face interviews, which will only be possible once you’re there.

  • Arrange transportation from the airport

Depending on your time of arrival, look into what transport options are available to reach your temporary lodging. If possible, reserve your transport in advance.

Seven days before departure

  • Start packing

Make a list of essential items. Take the time to shop for missing items. Be sure to consider the seasons of your country of expatriation: you may need to take clothes for several climates.

  • Print essential documents

Your airline ticket, passport, working holiday visa, confirmation of travel insurance and accommodation reservation are all items to print and keep with you before departure. Your host country’s immigration officials may ask you for a printed copy of your bank account or recent statement. Copies dating back less than a week will prove that you have the funds to support you during your stay.

  • Inform your entourage

Celebrate your departure! Inform friends and family about your absence and establish a means of communication with them. It’s easy and free to keep in touch with them via Skype, Messenger and WhatsApp.

That’s it, you’re all set! By following this checklist, you won’t forget any essential steps before your departure! And when D-Day rolls around, all you’ll have to do is fly to your destination and let the adventure begin.

With International Experience Canada, you can get a Working Holiday Visa for more than 30 different countries and territories. Find out how on International Experience Canada‘s website.

Emilie Robichaud
Emilie Robichaud
Je suis accro au mode de vie nomade! J’ai quitté ma zone de confort pour voyager à temps plein. Mon tour du monde sans fin compte plus de 71 pays et ça continue! Le voyage, c'est un style de vie et un état d'esprit!


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