Got Canada in your sights for a working holiday? Great choice! I also made that choice back in 2011, arrived in Canada and haven’t really left since. Let me help you out with five things you should definitely know before making the leap and applying. 

The application process uses a lottery system

The popularity of working holidays in Canada is such that is more demand than places available. For this reason, a lottery system is used for the application process. Candidates must create a ‘profile’ and wait in a pool of other hopefuls. Every so often, some will be randomly selected for the opportunity to go to Canada.

Yes, it’s frustrating and, yes, it doesn’t seem fair. But Canada is awesome and everyone seems to know it! If you are not from Australia (those lucky souls have an unlimited quota), then you just have to cross your fingers and wait. Good luck!

Insurance for the length of your working holiday is mandatory

One of the core requirements of the IEC program is to purchase insurance for the length of your intended working holiday in Canada. This must cover repatriation and hospitalisation. You may receive a shortened work permit or be refused entry without adequate insurance. Pretty scary stuff!

Program requirements aside, Canada isn’t really a place you want to travel without insurance anyway. Ambulance rides cost around $500 a pop, x-rays start at $600 and hospital stays average at over $5k a night….ouch!

Available for citizens of most EU countries, True Traveller offers 24-month plans which can be purchased even if you have already left your home country. With Australian insurer Fast Cover, an initial 12-month policy can be purchased and then extended for another 12 months on the departure date. World Nomads provides travel insurance for travellers from over 140 countries. Policies can be started when already travelling or extended while still away. For more IEC insurers, click here.

Networking is pretty useful for professional roles

Networking is a bit of a thing in Canada. If you hope to work a professional job role in Canada during your working holiday, networking can help. Use LinkedIn before you even arrive in Canada to find and connect with potential employers. Once on the ground, use sites like to find like-minded people within your profession and mingle.

When applying for jobs, ALWAYS follow-up by email or phone. Canadians seem to appreciate the personal touch!

Every province and territory is quite different

Canada, as you may have noticed, is HUGE. And what is normal in Ontario (bagged milk anyone?) may not be the same in BC or Alberta. For one thing, official documents and processes like drivers licenses and car insurance are provincially organised. This is most important to know if you plan to buy a vehicle in one province and then settle in another. An inspection would be needed as well as new registration and insurance in this situation.

If travelling across the country is something in your plan, keep these inter-provincial issues in mind.

Staying in Canada for longer is possible

The IEC program is not designed a stepping stone to Canadian Permanent Residency (PR), but it can help. Express Entry is the points-based selection application process and works a bit like the IEC program. Candidates first create a profile to be put into a pool. Those with the highest points will be asked to apply for PR.

Other factors are important too (age, education, language ability) but 12 months of full-time skilled work experience in Canada is a substantial point scorer. For a job to be considered ‘skilled,’ it has to be categorised as 0, A or B by the NOC system. If staying in Canada long term is something you’re thinking about, research skilled job roles before you arrive. Make your dream happen!

Have you been to Canada on a working holiday? If so, what would your advice be?

5 important things to know before going to canada on a working holiday pin this post for laterPIN this post for future reference!


One half of a Canadian/British couple currently living in Penticton, British Columbia. Gemma is happiest with a paddle in her hand, on the trail or planning the next big adventure.

Write A Comment