Working holidays in Australia

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Working holidays in Australia is a program that enables eligible young people aged between 18 and 30 years (inclusive) to visit Australia and to supplement their travel funds through incidental employment. A working holiday visa (Work and Holiday (subclass 462) or a Working Holiday (subclass 417)) was created in January 1975, the main purpose of which was to "promote international understanding by enabling young people to experience the culture of another country."

In the first year of the program fewer than 2,000 working holiday visas were issued. The figure has grown significantly, to the last reported figures for 2005–06 of 113,936.[1] In 2005-06, 28,821 United Kingdom nationals were the largest group of visitors under the scheme. South Koreans accounted for 24,077 visitors, followed by approximately 16,000 German nationals. Working holiday makers have a positive effect on the Australian economy. Based on 80,000 annual arrivals, it is estimated that working holiday makers spend around $1.3 billion annually. Since 1 January 2017, a so-called backpacker tax has applied to the income of working holiday visa holders at an initial rate of 15%,[2] though cash payments for casual work is common. Working holiday visa holders are generally not covered by the Australian Medicare health insurance scheme, but they may have limited access because of a reciprocal agreement between Medicare and their home country.

There are almost no limits to what employment a working holiday maker can undertake, and although traditionally most of the jobs have been in hospitality or harvest work, many work in finance, education, health care and other industries.

Until 2005 the Australian working holiday visa was a one-year, once in a lifetime entitlement, but recent legislative changes allow almost any visa holder who has spent a minimum of three months as a seasonal worker in regional Australia to apply for a second working holiday visa.


The visa allows a young visitor to stay in Australia for up to 12 months from the date of first entry to Australia, regardless of whether the visitor spends the whole time in Australia. The visa holder must validate the visa (enter Australia) within a year of issue. The holder may enter and leave Australia as often as they wish within the validity of the visa. Time spent outside of Australia is lost and cannot be re-claimed towards the one year validity period of the visa.[3]

The visa allows the visitor to work in Australia, but employment should be 'incidental' to travel and of a temporary or casual nature. People working in Australia on a working holiday visa are entitled to the same pay and work conditions as Australian residents and citizens.


An Australian working holiday visa is available to overseas passport holders from countries with which Australia has a reciprocal agreement. The main conditions are that the person:

  • be aged between 18 and 30 (inclusive) and does not have any dependent children.
  • holds a passport from one of the following 28 countries with at least one year until renewal on their passport:
  • is able to show sufficient funds for a return or onward fare as well as sufficient funds for the first part of their stay. A sufficient amount is regarded as being a minimum of A$5,000 (£2,600), although the amount may vary depending the length of stay and how much traveling is intended during that stay. A return or onward ticket or the funds for a fare to depart Australia if travelling on a one-way ticket is also necessary.[4]
  • be of good character and of good health.

The application for the first working holiday visa must be made outside of Australia – in most cases this can be from anywhere outside Australia. However, the following passport holders must lodge their application in the country or region that issued their passport:
Republic of Cyprus, Ecuador[5] HKSAR (including British National Overseas), Japan, the Republic of Korea, Malta, and Taiwan. These countries have a few extra requirements.

Other conditions[edit]

Other conditions for the visa holder include:

  • their work should be incidental to travel, with the main purpose for the visit being tourism.[6]
  • the visa holder must not work for the same employer for more than 6 months.[7]
  • the visa holder must not study for more than 4 months.[8]
  • the visa holder is required to meet health criteria, and depending on circumstances, may need to undertake a medical examination which may include a chest x-ray, HIV, Hepatitis B and/or Hepatitis C test.[9]
  • the visa holder must have access to sufficient funds to support themselves for the initial stage of the holiday. Generally, A$5,000 may be regarded as sufficient, but the amount may vary depending on the length of stay and the extent of travel.[10]
  • the visa holder should also have a return or onward ticket or the funds for a fare to depart Australia.

Second working holiday visa[edit]

An Australian working holiday visa is normally a one-year, once in a lifetime entitlement for eligible visitors.

However, since 2005, a working holiday visa holder can extend their stay in Australia by another year by applying for a second working holiday visa. The extension is available only to those who had worked as a seasonal worker in regional Australia for a minimum of 3 months during the first visa period. Applications for a second Australian working holiday visa can be made in or outside Australia.

Typical work to qualify for the second working holiday visa include fruit picking, farm work, pearling and other specified work in a regional area.


  1. ^
  2. ^ ATO, Changes to the 'backpacker tax'
  3. ^ "Working Holiday in Australia: Frequently Asked Questions". Australian Visa Bureau. Retrieved 2009-04-14. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ "Jóvenes turistas ecuatorianos podrán trabajar en Australia". Telemundo Denver (in Spanish). Retrieved 2017-01-19. 
  6. ^ How this Visa Works Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection
  7. ^ How this Visa Works: Working Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection
  8. ^ How this Visa Works: Studying Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection
  9. ^ Eligibility: Health Requirements Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection
  10. ^ Eligibility: Financial Requirements Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection

External links[edit]

  • Working Holiday Visa for citizens of Belgium, Canada, Republic of Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Republic of Ireland, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Taiwan and United Kingdom.
  • Work and Holiday Visa for citizens of Chile, Malaysia, Thailand, Turkey and the USA.