Canadian Working Holiday for Australians

It occurs to me that this may be of interest to some people. My wife Elizabeth and I are currently in Canada on a working holiday, and have been for the last 6 months. Much like in Australia, I’m currently working in IT for a University, which is a lot of fun and gives me fun toys to play with. Elizabeth was working for a software company, but they’ve moved out of town, so she’s on.. erm.. home duties right now.

If you’re someone from the Internet, or someone I know, and interested in doing a working holiday in either Australia or Canada, feel free to email me – whp@splash.theducks.rog (correct the typo) and I’m happy to answer any questions you might have.

The basic process:

  • Apply for WHP Visa via
  • Once approved, book plane tickets
  • Sell/store/give away all of your stuff
  • Tidy up paperwork for things at home (Power bills, car rego, etc)
  • Start looking for a job in Canada
  • Book initial accommodation
  • Make your way to Canada, with proof you have $4000 to support yourself. We weren’t asked, but you might be. We took a C$5000 bank draft from our Australian bank to a Canadian bank plus bank statements
  • As soon as you get there, sort out an address to get things posted to
  • Apply for Social Insurance Number + Card. This gives a piece of government notarised paper with your address on. They mail out the card in a week or two
  • Open bank account
  • Get a cellphone account (you can use a Canadian SIM in an unlocked Australian phone)
  • Get job, get paid
  • Optional steps: Get driver’s licence by passing a knowledge test, then a practical driving test. Easy hints – cyclists are assumed to be insane (and are), and the yellow line down the middle of the road means it’s 50km/hour limit)
  • Have fun!

Some things to know about banking in Canada as a newcomer

  • If your Australian bank card has a Cirrus or Maestro logo on it, you can use it in an Canadian bank machine (they call ATMs ABMs – Automatic Bank Machine). You should assume you will be doing this for about a month, even if you get a job
  • Some banks, I’m looking at you HSBC, won’t give you an account if you don’t have a job (or if you didn’t have an account with them in another country).
  • Best bet is probably the one your Australian bank drew the draft on. Deposit the bank draft, and some cash withdrawn from your Australian card to cover bank fees
  • Most banks will also put a 7 day quarantine on your account for the first month, meaning it takes 7 days for any deposits to be validated
  • Most banks in Canada don’t personalise Automated Bank Machine (ABM) cards, so you’ll probably get one of those straight away. As well as some more official looking paperwork with your name + address on them.
  • You might even get a few counter cheques, but of course, don’t use them until your draft has cleared, or until you start getting paid and your pay has cleared.
  • Once you’ve had a job for about a month, and two pay cheques, there’s a good chance you could apply for a Canadian credit card, which is helpful for paying bills over the phone, etc
  • If you’re not sharing a house with a Canadian, you will probably need a cheque book ($30-40) for rent, bill payments etc. In comparison to the Australian BSB/Account details to enable easy peer-to-peer transfers into accounts only, the equivalent numbers for Canadian accounts allow withdrawals, so aren’t used much

Some things about applying for jobs in Canada:

  • Canadian employers are required to say “Canadians and permanent residents of Canada will be given priority”. My understanding is that generally they mean it.
  • So unless you have a pre-arranged job, or a reasonable amount of experience, or prepared to work for minimum wage ($8/hour in BC) maybe this isn’t the place to come.
  • For more professionally oriented jobs, instead of addressing selection criteria specifically, you cover it more generally in a cover letter

I’ll update this post as I think of more to include…

Leave a Reply