Have you been thinking of getting an Australian Working Holiday visa?
If not, maybe this Australian Working Holiday visa guide will change your mind!
Here’s everything I wanted to know about this visa when I was researching, how to get it, and everything I learned from living and working in Australia.
It can be intimidating to jet off to a faraway country (where crazy animals roam the streets and probably can kill you… jk!) and not know where to start before you even get there.
I hope this guide will help put those nerves at ease and answer some questions!
What is an Australian Working Holiday Visa?
Simply speaking, it’s a visa that permits you to work in Australia! Easy as that. I’m from the USA, so everything here is based on my experience as an American citizen working in Australia but this visa is for many countries around the world.
You can take this advice regardless of where you’re from, it’s all very similar.
Who Can Get An Australian Working Holiday Visa?
(This country list was taken from www.border.gov.au)
You’ll need to be from one of these countries…
Apply for the Work and Holiday visa (Subclass 462) if you are from:
- China, People’s Republic of
- Czech Republic
- San Marino
- Slovak Republic
- United States of America
Apply for the Working Holiday visa (Subclass 417) if you are from:
- Republic of Cyprus
- Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China (including British National Overseas passport holders)
- Republic of Ireland
- Republic of Korea
- Taiwan (other than an official or diplomatic passport)
- The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Other countries can click here for info.
2022 Australian Working Holiday Visa Updates
→ As of December 2021, Australian borders are open to fully vaccinated travelers, including Working Holiday Makers.
→ From 19 January 2022 until 31 December 2022, you may continue to work for the same employer or organization on your WHV without requesting permission. (Prior to 2020 you could only work for the same employer for 6 months)
Things You’ll Need to Apply for The Australian Working Holiday Visa
- Passport (Make sure you have at least 1.5 years+ before it expires)
- $5000 AUD in the bank ($3710 USD). Side note: Most don’t get asked to show this. I didn’t. If they did ask you, it would likely be after your visa was approved and you’re at the airport (as opposed to when you’re applying), according to other travelers and research. So if you don’t have it yet, just apply anyway and make it a goal to have that amount saved before you jet off. You will need it!
- The ability to speak functional English.
- Money for the application fee ($495 AUD/$368 USD)
- Passport photos x2 (45 mm x 35 mm)
- Be under the age of 30. (You can still apply and get accepted at 30, if you turn 31 before you are officially accepted, there’s a chance they will still grant you the visa, just apply before 31!)
Other Things You May Need To Qualify for the WHV in Australia
Fees, age, and requirements will differ, and further documentation might be needed depending on where you are from.
If you’re not from a native English-speaking country, you’ll likely need to take a test proving your English abilities.
If needed, you might need to provide documentation of having a higher education beyond high school.
Like me, if you’ve been traveling and living abroad, you might run into a few other requirements.
Considering I lived in Thailand for a while, they required an x-ray to prove I didn’t have tuberculosis. They will let you know if you need anything further before approving your visa.
Don’t meet some of the requirements? There are other visas to check out. These are just the two standard working holiday visa opportunities. Here’s more info on other visas you can obtain.
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3. MUST BRING – Anti-theft bags that I swear by.
4. Travel safety tips no matter where you’re going.
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Important Points to Remember When Applying for the Australian Working Holiday Visa
- Make sure to complete everything in full. This visa costs money, so you don’t want to mess anything up. They won’t refund you.
- Apply OUTSIDE of Australia.
- Don’t visit Australia if your application is pending, as it can cause issues with your approval process.
- Don’t apply, visit, then decide to leave. You don’t “get those days back.” Once you enter, your one year starts even if you leave the next day. Once you arrive, stay as long as possible to use it to its full potential.
- Do I need an agency to help me do this? No! Not unless you want to throw them money for something you can easily figure out yourself. I can’t speak for all, but as an American, the process was straightforward. Save your money; you’ll need it when you get there.
What Jobs Can I Get on a Working Holiday Visa in Australia?
Of course, everyone wants to know how much they will make. But that will vary… Here’s a bit of an idea to get your wheels turning.
(Amount is per hour and in AUD and USD)
- Call centers can pay around $25-$30 (US$18.50-$22.50) an hour, but you’ll likely also get a commission.
- Trade and labor work can be anywhere from $25-$40+/hour (US$18.50-$30+).
- Au pairs/nannies get $25-$35/hour (US$18.50-$26.50).
- Office jobs will earn you anywhere from $18-35+/hour (US$13.50-$26.50+) depending on what you’re doing.
- Hospitality can get you $20-$25/hour (US$15-$18.50) and even a bit more with tips. (Don’t expect tips like the US, it’s not customary to tip that much or at all, but it does happen). You could also get paid less if it’s cash in hand, like $15-$18/hour (US$11.50-$13.50).
- Farming is where you might see the biggest variance. If you drive a tractor, you’ll earn more. If you’re willing to work crazy hours and do backbreaking work all day, you’ll make more. And if you happen to be unfortunate enough to cross paths with a sheisty farmer, you could get screwed; I’ve read countless stories. Be careful who you work with and demand a livable wage or walk out. Sometimes you get paid by the bucket (like literally, how many buckets you fill with crops), and sometimes by the hour. You could earn anything from $600-$1500 (US$450-$1125) per week depending on experience, season, and hours worked. Accommodation is often provided or offered at a discount.
Are you curious about the type of work in Australia and how to find the best gigs? These posts will help:
- How to Live and Work in Australia as an American Expat
- How to Get a Job in Australia & Save a Sh*t Ton of Money
- How to Work Abroad in Australia (Without Experience)
What Else You Need to Know About The Working Holiday Visa for Australia
Sorry, friend, things are about to get REAL boring. BUT you need this info! It’s important you know about everything involved with working in Australia and all the specifics of the visa. So I did my best to explain that below, in the least boring way!
This is essentially the same as Social Security in the USA. This is retirement money. If you’re on the books (as you probably should be), you’re entitled to super (as they call it). This is money (in addition to your hourly pay) that gets transferred into another account the company has for you.
When you permanently leave the country, you can request this money. It’s a mini saving account for those who are saving inept or a welcomed surprise cash topping for those who have been saving. More info here.
Taxes in Australia
OMG—so boring, I know. Bear with me! Let’s get excited about taxes!
In 2016 the government introduced the highly controversial “backpacker tax,” which would be 32.5% of every single dollar earned while working here on a working holiday visa. There’s been a lot of back and forward since then, including a ruling that the tax was invalid.
So what’s the current status? Well, it’s complicated. The rate of tax you pay will ultimately depend on whether your employer is registered with the WHV scheme or not.
The best advice I can give is to check the latest information on the ATO website.
Regarding applying for your tax return:
“The Australian income year starts on 1 July and ends on 30 June the following year. Depending on your circumstance, you may want to lodge a return.
You don’t need to lodge a tax return or a non-lodgment advice if both of the following apply:
- all of your income was earned as salary or wages while you were a WHM (working holiday maker)
- the total of your taxable income for the income year was less than
- $37,001 for 2019–20 and earlier income years
- $45,001 for 2020–21 and later income years.
You will need to lodge a tax return to claim any deductions.
If you leave Australia permanently before 30 June, you can lodge your tax return early.”
You can refer to the ATO website for more official info regarding taxes.
What About My Taxes for the USA?
Unfortunately, the US is one of two countries that double taxes its citizen. Luckily there are exemptions! There’s the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion that will likely help you avoid being double-taxed.
Timing Your Move to Australia
Depending on what industry you want to get into, you should be careful about the timing of your arrival. I tried to get into the hospitality industry, and coming in December proved to be the wrong move. I thought some procrastinators would surely need holiday staff, but in a happening city like Melbourne, everyone was full.
While I tried very hard, I only got a job after five weeks and after the New Year. If you want to get into farming, check out when the harvest season is. There are many sectors, so there’s no exact answer to this. You’ll have to see what your particular industry needs. Don’t forget to keep the weather in mind.
Ways to Use Your Australian Working Holiday to Its Full Potential
These are some personal goals and tactics I used that may be helpful to you…
- I can easily get a tourist visa for Australia anytime. So I worked while I legally could, THEN I’ll come back and play tourist. I’m using my visa a bit more wisely by saving while I can. The name of the game is “work now, play later.”
- Try getting a job as soon as you can. You never know how difficult it might be if you wait until the last minute.
- Consider the seasons for the city you plan on living in. If a spot is “in season,” you might want to get there early and be first on the scene.
- Stay off the east coast/popular tourist and backpacker hangouts. Yeah, I know it’s where you probably want to be, but think about it. How many backpackers will be applying to those jobs that you so desperately want? Like, a million. This also means they can get away with paying less. This is a very generalized statement I formed after speaking to many people and it’s not solidified in stone or anything. You may have great luck. It’s just some food for thought.
2nd Year Australia Working Holiday Visa Eligibility
Those under the 417 Working Holiday Visa for Australia have been lucky. They have had the opportunity to get a second-year visa which grants them precisely that, another full year with the ability to work in Australia.
Those under the 462 visa (AKA the visa for Americans) have only recently been able to take advantage of this opportunity. I’m SO jealous as the opportunity came about a bit after my visa expired, and I will never have the opportunity to get a Working Holiday Visa for Australia again!
SO, those seeking to go now, take advantage of that second year for me, please!
How to Qualify For A Second Year Visa in Australia
It’s not that hard, but it will take some work. In short, you have to do particular work in Australia during your first year, usually something in the agriculture industry, for about three months to qualify. Without this, you don’t qualify.
To get a bit more specific, this is from the official immigration website:
“If you have completed three months of specified subclass 462 work in eligible areas of northern and regional Australia, you can apply for a second Work and Holiday visa. This work must have been completed while on your first Work and Holiday visa and only work undertaken after 18 November 2016 can count towards your three months’ specified subclass 462 work total.”
More information can be found here.
A Few Notes Regarding the Second-Year Visa:
- You may have to do some kind of agricultural work which is usually not that fun, and a bit competitive because there are a lot of people who want their second-year visa. Unfortunately, these are some of the sketchiest jobs as some employers know the “desperation” of getting those three months in and don’t always pay fairly.
- You’ll likely be in the middle of nowhere. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that one out! Farm work = being in rural locations. You’ll have to deal with it to get that second-year visa.
- Look into working in the Northern Territory and parts of Western Australia. I worked in Darwin, and if this second-year visa were a thing when I was there, I would have been able to get it WITHOUT WORKING ON A FARM! Some territories have a special “deal” where you can work in hospitality or tourism and still have it qualify for a second-year visa. I’d heavily look into working in these areas and sectors if the thought of doing agricultural work doesn’t sound appealing to you. More info on the exact areas and type of work can be found here.
Money Tips For Your WHV in Australia
- This place is EXPENSIVE!!!!! If you come with $300 in the bank, expect to find a job the next day and “be alright,” you’ll have a terrible surprise waiting for you. Things take time. Bring backup money everywhere you travel, especially in one of the priciest places on earth.
- On a similar note, don’t forget about deposits. If you don’t have enough money to put a deposit down on your flat, you’re not getting a flat (apartment).
- If you aren’t coming with much and want to travel, save money while you have the Australian Working Holiday Visa. You can play tourist later.
- Eating out is crazy stupid expensive (and drinking even worse!). Find your local grocery and buy food to cook and maybe have a beer at home!
Tips for Hospitality Workers
This is from my experience and speaking with other friends on the Working Holiday Visa in Australia.
- DON’T go in December! OK, well, I can’t speak for the whole country, but take it from me, arriving in Melbourne on December 7th trying to look for a job was a foolish mistake. It was very unnerving to hear, “we’re maybe hiring next year,” at 80% of the places I went. I essentially wasted a month coming during the holiday season. For the record, my thought was maybe they will still be looking for holiday staff, but no. Come in early November or in January if you need to come around that time.
- Be prepared for a competitive job market. It depends on what you do, but keep this in mind. For me, waitress and bartending jobs in Melbourne can get pretty competitive. I had to “battle it out” with several other people for positions, and only after about five trials did I finally land a job. (I have ten years of experience, by the way!)
- Trials are a thing. You are expected to do a free unpaid trial before starting a hospitality job. It shouldn’t last any longer than two hours. If it does, immediately ask if you will start getting paid. Your trial will consist of them essentially throwing you into the mix and seeing if you fly or fail. So… fly. Research the spot and show them you’re interested in working there by knowing a bit of the menu already or SOMETHING to show you’ve at least researched the place a bit.
How to Get Started and Getting a Job in Australia
- Go old school, mate! Go around to places (during the nonbusy hours) with your CV and a smile on your face. Follow up, especially in areas where competition may be high (i.e., Melbourne). Places receive CV’s all the time; what makes you different? Call, come in, follow up, and show them you’re serious. The bar I worked at, I applied to THREE times. The third time I called and spoke to the right person, a manager, and I was hired the next day.
- Facebook. Facebook groups are invaluable. Join groups that are for the city you’re in. Example: Melbourne Bar Exchange. Job opportunities are often posted in them.
- Ring places. Sometimes it’s exhausting to go around with a CV just to hear ten times in a row that people aren’t hiring. Sometimes it’s OK just to ring up and ask first. I found my cafe job this way, and it was more efficient. Make sure to call during the nonbusy hours. If they say they are hiring, show up that day or immediately following the next day.
- There are many jobs where you can’t just walk in, and they want you to apply online. Websites like Seek.com and Gumtree.com are good sources for jobs too.
While Looking for a Job in Australia
Get some of the admin stuff out of the way, like opening a bank account and getting your tax number filed.
It’s super easy; apply for your tax number here. For a bank account, choose a bank and walk in with your passport and your address, and that’s about it. I went with ANZ. Most employers will direct deposit. You only need to do these things when you’re IN Australia.
Looking for a flat or house share is also easy. Most people look on gumtree.com, and Facebook groups are another excellent source.
You should really get an Australian number. SIM cards aren’t that expensive and how else can someone contact you for a job without it?! I went with Optus but there may be cheaper options since I lived in Australia.
Make Sure You’re Covered Abroad!
Reasons Why Working in Australia is an Amazing Opportunity
- You get to live AND work in another country.
- Australian wages are pretty darn good!
- A new experience in life.
- You’ll get to make new friends.
- A way to visit and explore the country while working for a whole year.
- The people are genuine and fun to be around.
- It will open your eyes to a different continent, people, and atmosphere.
- Australia is fucking beautiful.
So… There are essentially no negatives. Working overseas, especially in Australia, can be quite lucrative AND awesome! There are plenty of more options for finding ways to work abroad so you can travel more!
You should probably read about how I saved over $17k+ USD on my Working Holiday Visa next!
Are you looking into working in Australia or what? Should I add anything else to make this the ultimate guide to the Australian Working Holiday visa?
>>> EVEN MORE ABOUT TRAVELING AND WORKING IN AUSTRALIA <<<
Nina Ragusa is an adventurer, messy bun master, breakfast fan, and full-time travel blogger. She’s been abroad since 2011 and blogging on Where in the World is Nina? for nearly as long. Nina helps people like you move around the world while making money. She loves talking about how to work abroad and online to travel longer!