TEFL and Working Holiday Visas

Working holiday visas allow young people (usually aged between 18 and 30) to take an extended holiday somewhere that has an agreement with their own country. It’s a fantastic way to experience another culture – and because you’re able to work on this visa you can fund your adventure along the way!

If you don’t have a university degree then you may be aware that you’re a bit more limited when it comes to applying for TEFL jobs but there are still opportunities out there if you don’t have one! One of the options worth exploring is the working holiday visa.

Can you really TEFL on a working holiday visa? It all depends on the country. A working holiday visa may not always be ideal for finding work as an EFL teacher – some countries have restrictions on what type of work you can do and for how long. Keep in mind, the main purpose of the working holiday visa is to holiday and experience the culture of the country and the work you do there is intended to support this experience! But as long as the conditions of the visa don’t restrict it then it’s possible to spend some time teaching in countries you would otherwise be unable to!

You could teach online, like David in Japan, which means you’re never tied to the one location, or you could find work with language schools or tutoring a range of language learners. There are also voluntary options to build up your EFL experience, which can be a great option if the terms of the visa make it difficult to get paid work teaching English.

What are the requirements for a working holiday visa?

Typically, you need to:

  • Be aged 18-30 (sometimes up to 35)
  • Have a certain amount of money in your bank account to prove you can support yourself during your stay
  • Have proof of health or travel insurance
  • Have a clean criminal record

Requirements can vary depending on the country and they can also be updated regularly, so be sure to check the relevant embassy to get all the information you need.

Where can I get a working holiday visa?

Some countries have agreements with many other countries, while others – sorry Americans! – have few agreements. Below is a list by citizenship of non-English speaking countries where you can get a working holiday visa:

UK: Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, South Korea, Singapore
USA: South Korea
Canada: Belgium, Chile, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland,
New Zealand: Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Chile, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, South Korea, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Uruguay, Singapore
Ireland: Argentina, Hong Kong, South Korea
Australia: Argentina, Belgium, Chile, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Latvia, The Netherlands, Norway, South Korea, Sweden, Turkey, Singapore

To note:

  • Some countries – South Korea, for example – do not permit teaching on a working holiday visa
  • Visa lengths and age restrictions vary
  • Usually you don’t need a degree to apply for a working holiday visa, but certain countries require you to be a graduate or a student (Singapore is one)
  • Some countries won’t allow you to take on permanent employment or work for longer than a set number of months in the one place
  • Visa requirements and agreements can be updated frequently, so always check with the appropriate embassy for up-to-date information

Citizen of a country not listed here? Check your government website to find out what working holiday agreements it has with other countries.

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