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Answering Working Holiday in Canada (IEC) Frequently Asked Questions

Have some burning questions about a working holiday in Canada? You may find the answers here. Otherwise, leave a comment below!

Should I go with BUNAC or independently?

This is a personal decision so I can only offer my own opinion. Up until 2011, BUNAC held all the cards with Canadian working holiday visas; you could only apply for a visa through them and that was that.

Everyone going to Canada now has to fill in the exact same forms from the IEC website regardless of whether they’re a ‘BUNAC participant’ or not.

The only thing BUNAC offers is the ‘Group Flight’ option and arrival help at their SWAP offices in Vancouver and Toronto. My opinion on what BUNAC claim to offer you:

The good:

  • The mail holding and forwarding at their SWAP offices in Vancouver and Toronto could be very useful; nice to have a definite address. Less useful if you’re not in Vancouver or Toronto though!
  • Resume help, like the above, is a nice bonus, but again it’s only good if you’re in these two cities. Plus, you can get this sort of advice from elsewhere, like I did…or through the wonders of Google.
  • Interviews with Canadian employers in the UK – potentially very helpful, I think usually just gives you access to a couple of ski resort representatives visiting London in September/October-time. Not too wide ranging or far reaching.
calgary skyline in winter

The overrated:

  • Visa help: I’ve read a lot of criticism with lack of help from BUNAC concerning the IEC visas on the various Facebook groups. Not entirely their fault considering the whole process changes year to year and I doubt BUNAC staff themselves have any more contact with the Canadian High Commission than the average person does. But still, you don’t advertise what you can’t provide.
  • Group Flights: a good idea, but very expensive compared to Air Transat flights. You may only end up on a flight with a one or two others, not the huge group you may imagine. Furthermore, if no-one else books onto the date you choose for your flight, then it gets cancelled. Oh, and you have to buy a return. Pretty limiting huh.
  • Bank account/SIN number assistance: As I explained earlier, getting a SIN number requires walking into a Service Canada office, and a bank account…very similar to opening one anywhere else
  • Free internet access and printing: Helpful, but available elsewhere in places such as libraries and hostels.
  • Organised social events: Great, but remember that most of the big city hostels will also organise nights out and activities….

No-one will come to Canada with me and I’m worried about travelling alone. Will I be lonely?

Unless you are really anti-social and don’t stay in hostels, it is unlikely you will be lonely. For one thing, if you’ve never travelled before you will be surprised how many people actually travel solo.

Hostels are social places, and as long as you’re friendly and open to meeting new people then you’ll be fine. Remember, you always have at least one thing in common; a desire to travel, work abroad and explore new places!

It might seem intimidating, but the majority of travellers are very accepting and welcoming people.

You’ll probably find that you won’t be travelling alone for long; I’ve always met and made friends with people who then travelled with me for a few days, even a week or two, and then went off to do their own thing afterwards.

I’ve never spent many days abroad truly ‘alone.’ And of course, on my last trip to New Zealand in 2009 I was travelling solo, but ended up meeting Jean Robert…and now I never travel on my own 😉

lanezi lake bowron lakes bc canoe

Can I head out to Canada on a one-way ticket?

Yes, you can as long as your chosen travel insurance allows it. The IEC conditions state that you can arrive on a one-way ticket but you must have sufficient funds on entry to buy a plane ticket home.

A bit non-specific since how much exactly is enough? I would say a minimum of 400 pounds, which allows room for error. I purchased my one-way to Canada for 220 pounds, but it’s not worth getting into an argument with an immigration official about cheap flights…you’ll lose!

How can I contact people at home?

It’s never been easier to stay in contact with people while abroad. Most hostels (excluding the very small and remote ones) will have some form of internet connection available, be it wi-fi or standard computers with a wired connection available to use for a fee.

Other places to get internet in Canada include libraries, tourist information, and coffee houses such as Starbucks. There are many wi-fi spots around, take a look on Wifi Map App to find one.

Skype is a godsend – free video calls to anyone else who has it, and cheap voice calls to landline phones anywhere in the world. You can call mobile phones too, but it’s not nearly as good value

Read more about working holidays in Canada


Thursday 1st of August 2019

Halfway through working holiday visa had invite everything going ok but only a short time left and the page where I have to give my next information is on sat they have a fault on this page and will be fixed soon but it’s 3 days now and it’s still down , what happens if I run out of time , will they allow for no access because it’s their fault worried now can’t get hold of anyone even though I’ve sent an email help


Sunday 4th of August 2019

This unfortunately happens often! Try clearing your browser cache first. If that doesn't help, report it as a technical issue and send in a webform with a screenshot showing the issue


Thursday 8th of March 2018

Hi. I 've been in Toronto for working holiday and I would say that going just by yourself its part of the experience. There is definitely no need to use any agency.


Friday 9th of March 2018

Good point! I agree there is no real need to use an agency unless you are from one of the countries that requires participants to use one to apply :)

A working holiday in Canada « Off Track Travel

Tuesday 5th of June 2012

[...] Finally, I’ve got a FAQ section here [...]