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Canada: Your guide to a working holiday

May 18, 2015

It got to that time in my life where I needed to apply for another working holiday visa before I got too old.  And so, this is where I started my journey to where I am at present, sitting on a roof top in Toronto Canada.


Get yourself a visa

There are a few steps to actually leaving your town (Brisbane in my case) and starting your next escapade.  The first step is to determine if you are eligible for getting a visa for Canada.  The next step is getting a Conditional Acceptance letter or CAL.  To apply for this letter you need to complete an application on the online system called Kompass.  Click here to open a new page. The forms take a little while to fill out but take your time to make sure everything is correct.  There is also a small fee you will have to pay via credit card.


Once you have signed up to Kompass, it is now time to fill out the application form for the IEC – International Experience Canada.  This is where you will need your CAL.  Click here to proceed with the application. Take note on the time constraints with filling out the application.


If you are planning of travelling through the United States or visiting multiple times, I would recommend applying for a B1/B2 Tourist visa.  These can be applied online, but will require an interview at the US Embassy.  It is an extra step, but will allow you to travel for an extended period of time throughout the US and won’t waste valuable time answering questions at customs.


The following information is correct at the time of writing, but please check with the Immigration department when you do apply as it can change suddenly.

Once you have got your visa, Travel Insurance, flights and organised a going away party, it is now time to start your life in Canada.


When you first arrive to your chosen Canadian city, you will be ushered into the immigration counters.  It is from here you will receive your Working holiday visa.  Don’t get offended if it does say ‘Not permitted to work in the sex industry’, this is a standard declaration on all visas.


Get yourself a phone contract

There are a few different providers to go with and I would recommend going around to each and compare the policies.  A few of the companies include: Bell, Wind, Rogers, Fido, Virgin and Kudo.  I decided on Fido as they had the cheapest plan to my liking.  You will also get the plan a little cheaper if you bring your own phone (one which is unlocked).  Take along your passport which includes your working visa.



Get yourself a SIN

Some people call it the SIN Number, but that would mean it’s the Social Insurance Number number and it’s not.  This will take about 20 minutes to complete at either the City Hall or and Service Canada office.  Click here to find your nearest office.  Take along your address (use the hostels if you don’t have a permanent address) and your passport which includes your work visa.  Do not tell anyone your SIN except an employer.  Your phone company may ask for it, but they don’t need it.


Get yourself a Bank Account

Toronto is the banking capital of Canada.  There is even a district called the financial district which covers around 10 blocks.  Most of the banks offer a similar sort of product which makes it easy when opening an account.  The 4 big ones are: The Royal bank of Canada, Toronto Dominion Bank, Bank of Nova Scotia and the Bank of Montreal.


- Royal Bank of Canada’s welcome package

- TD has a ‘Welcome to Canada package’

- Bank of Nova Scotia has a welcome package

- Bank of Montreal has a welcome package


Get yourself a Job

The first part of the working holiday visa is in the title.  But it’s not all doom and gloom.  It is a nice way of meeting local people and a great way to fund the holiday part of the visa.  Depending on what line of work you are looking for will depend on the style of how you conduct your job search.  There are some good recruitment agencies which cater towards a more professional career. 






Other websites that have jobs advertised are:





These two sites will advertise anything from social groups to items for sale.


Throughout the year, each city will have job seasons where a lot of businesses are looking to hire for the short term – a good way of moving around the country.  In Toronto you have ‘Patio season’ which runs from May through to September.  This is the sunny time in Toronto and when you have been cooped up all winter, it is the time the Torontonians like to get outside and let loose.  The best way to get a job as a bartender or a server is to look on kijiji and craigslist to see which bars are hiring and drop a resume or fill out an application form.  The tips can be good and are cash in hand.  Canada has strict laws against alcohol and each province has a course that you will need to complete if you do intend working with alcohol.  For example, in Toronto, a Smart Serve certificate is needed.  Allow yourself 4 hours to complete and allow access to a computer with a webcam to complete the final exam.


Google search ‘Canada resumes example’ and you will be able to find the style that most people use.  For the bar/restaurant work, a one or two page resume is all you need.


Get yourself a place to live

When you first arrive, a hostel is a good place to stay for a short period.  You can meet other people in the same situation and chat with them to get some good tips.  This can get a bit expensive though so make time to look for a room in a house as long as getting a job.  Kijiji and Craigslist advertise places to live along with www.easyroommate.ca For a 2 bedroom apartment, you will be looking at around $1200 Canadian dollars a month.  Utility bills work out between 50 and 100 a month per person.  You will usually need to pay the first and last months’ rent when you sign onto a lease.


Get yourself a life outside of work

You are over in a new country to explore and meet the locals.  This is quite hard to do if you sit on the internet or in front of a TV/computer screen.  Head outside to a local café for a coffee or a new restaurant.  For free events in the city, the council’s webpage is a good source and an excellent starting point.  In Toronto, most people use www.blog.to as a go to reference as it has ideas from locals, a best of list and current and future events.  There is always a free event on each day, so why not make a challenge of doing 1 free event each day for a month.



Cherish every moment of your new life in Canada and please contact me if you need any assistance.



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