The ultimate guide to applying for a UK Working Holiday visa

So you’ve decided that you want to apply for a UK Working Holiday Visa. Before you begin the application for a UK Working Holiday Visa you will need to check that you have a valid passport.

UK Working Holiday Visa

If your passport has expired or is likely to expire whilst you’re living and working in the UK you will need to look at renewing it. Whilst it is possible to organise a new one from the UK it is quite often cheaper and easier to do so whilst in your home country.

You can find details on how to obtain or renew passports here:

Australian Passport:

Link to apply for Australian Passport

New Zealand Passport:

Link to apply for NZ Passport

Be sure to give yourself plenty of time to receive all your travel documents from the relevant authorities, packing up and moving to another country is stressful enough without having to worry about things like this!

Applying for a UK Working Holiday Visa

If you intend to work in the UK on either an Australian or New Zealand passport you will need a UK Work Visa.

Which UK work visa is the right one for you?

The first option you should consider is the UK ancestry visa. This visa this allows you to reside and work in the UK for up to 5 years (it can also be extended whilst you’re in the UK, if you choose to stay longer).

To apply for an UK Ancestry visa you must meet the following criteria (

  • are a Commonwealth citizen (ie Australia, NZ, Canada etc.)
  • are applying from outside the UK
  • are able to prove that one of your grandparents was born in the UK
  • are able and planning to work in the UK
  • are 17 or over
  • have enough money without help from public funds to support and house yourself and any dependents

If you don’t meet the above criteria you will need to take a different route and apply for a different visa under the UK’s points based visa system. This is the main immigration route for migrants from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) to work, study, invest or train. The system separates applicants into four ‘tiers’.

  • Tier 1 high value migrants (exceptional talent, entrepreneur, investor, graduate entrepreneur)
  • Tier 2 skilled workers (intra-company transfers, general, minister of religion or sports person)
  • Tier 4 (General) student and Tier 4 (Child) student
  • Tier 5 temporary migrants (Youth Mobility Scheme, temporary workers)

Most people from Australia and New Zealand will apply under the following UK visas:

  • UK Tier 5 youth mobility visa: This visa is designed for people aged between 18 & 30 who want to live and work in the UK for up to 2 years. This is commonly know as a UK Working Holiday Visa. More details on this visa can be found here.
  • Tier 2 Skilled Worker (General): You’re able to apply for a Tier 2 (General) visa if you’ve been offered a skilled job in the UK from a licensed sponsor. More details on this process can be found here.

There are a number of companies who you’re able to pay to complete your UK Working Holiday Visa application, i would suggest this option if you’re prone to making mistakes when filling out forms, if you are time poor or if just couldn’t be bothered. From my experience I can advise that most forms are quite straightforward and can be completed online free of charge (you’ll still obviously need to cover the cost of the visa you’re applying for).

Be aware that before you apply for your UK visa you will need to have received an IHS reference number.

Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS)

UK Working Holiday Visa

On 6 April 2015, UK Visas and Immigration introduced the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) for individuals applying for leave to enter or remain in the UK granting them free access to the NHS. With a few limited exceptions, everyone coming to the UK on a visa of 6 months or more must register for the IHS and most must pay a fee.

The Immigration Health Surcharge is to be extended to Australians and New Zealanders who spend more than six months in the UK.

Australians or New Zealanders who are planning to spend more than six months in the UK, or who are applying from within the UK to extend their stay, will be required to pay the following as part of your application;

  • £776 per year for students, their dependants, and those on a Youth Mobility Scheme visa, for example £1,552 for a 2-year visa
  • £776 per year for visa and immigration applicants who are under the age of 18 at time of application
  • £1,035 per year for all other visa and immigration applications, for example £3,105 for a 3-year visa

For more information & to apply for an Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) reference number head over to this site –

We haven’t actually been through this process before. If you’ve applied for an IHS reference, pop us a comment to advise on the ease of applying.