Choose a Destination

STEP 1 - Choose a Destination!

Alt text to go hereYou choose the destination you are most interested in going to. We have programs in the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, USA, Japan, Germany, Austria, South Africa, and Thailand.


STEP 2 - Register!

Alt text to go hereRegister online here, or register in-person by visiting any of these locations. The choice is yours and your travel counsellor and SWAP staff will be there to help you either way.

Apply for a Visa

STEP 3 - Apply for a Visa!

Alt text to go hereWe give you complete instructions on how to fill out your visa application paperwork. We send you all the forms, information, checklists and tips you need to have your visa approved. We go over your application, make sure it's perfect, and send it onto the appropriate High Commission or Embassy to secure your visa.

Get Ready to Go

STEP 4 - Get Ready to Go!

Alt text to go hereWhen your visa comes back, a GO SWAP KIT with all your pre-departure information and instructions of what to do when you arrive in your new country will be sent to you. We also can organize your first few nights' accommodation when you arrive.

Receive Overseas Support

STEP 5 - Receive Local Support!

Alt text to go hereWhen you arrive in your host country, SWAP's foreign partners take over. You'll attend an arrival orientation at the hosting centre where our partner goes over everything you need to know about living and working in that country ( i.e. opening a bank account, getting a SIN equivalent, getting a phone, how to find work/a place to live, claim taxes in that country etc.)

Live, Work, Play

STEP 6 - Live! Work! Play!

Alt text to go hereOur overseas hosting centres are staffed with travel-minded people who are there to assist you in any way for the full duration of your stay. Hosting centres also have job and accommodation boards where jobs and places to live are posted daily. You will also get to meet cool people from all over the world who are doing the same thing you are.

SWAP articles


Why work abroad with SWAP?

If you have found this site you probably already know why working abroad is so appealing. Going for a working holiday adventure can be the most exciting time of your life. You will meet new people, challenge yourself, and explore the world.

That much is obvious so we will now move on to explaining why you should choose to work abroad with the SWAP program of your choice. SWAP is a service that helps Canadians live and work abroad. When you register on any of our programs we get you the visa needed to work in your chosen destination. More significantly, we help you find work, accommodation, any everything you need to ensure your working holiday is the fantastic work abroad experience you are after.

Here is a summary of everything you get when you go with SWAP for your working holiday:

All the visa forms, information, checklists, and tips you will need to have your visa approved. SWAP's visa experts go over your application and make sure it is perfect. If there are any errors, we contact you before the application is submitted to authorities.

The cost of the visa is included in the SWAP fee (except for SWAP UK, as of October 8th, 2014).

Pre-departure resource and final information kit with all the materials (including your visa) you will need for your arrival in your destination. We include departure / arrival information, directions, and everything else you need to know before you leave Canada.

Arrival orientation at our partner hosting centre. They will go over everything you need to know about living and working in that country.

Up-to-date job postings and access to employer contacts, and resume/CV workshops (essential for success as formats vary from country to country).

Accommodation boards, insider advice on what to look for and what to avoid when finding accommodation.

Ongoing opportunities to meet people from all over the world who are doing the same thing you are. Most of our participants meet their housemates and make lifelong friends though our overseas partner's social events, and by visiting the hosting centre.

Unlimited access to computers, Internet, phones and fax machines at the hosting centres, and mailbox and mail forwarding services.

Help opening a bank account (it can be more complicated than you would imagine), and help getting a cell phone

Detailed advice (and often fast-track services) on getting a SIN equivalent, so you can work sooner.

Instructions on how to claim taxes (and get money back) in your destination country.

A staff of travel-minded, fun, friendly people are there to assist you with anything you need advice or assistance with. They've got your back for the full duration of your stay.

Emergency support. If anything goes wrong, if you lose your passport, have a sketchy landlord, have a health problem, or anything else goes wrong, our overseas partners can help you 24/7.

Membership to exclusive online forums where you can talk to other SWAPPERS and check out job postings, social events, and what's going on in your destination country.

For all details of what is included, please see the What You Get page


What are support funds?

Support funds are not paid to anyone, but rather, is the amount of money you must show that you have readily available to you. This is so that officials of the country you are travelling to are confident that you will be able to support yourself. You will just need a bank letter confirming you have the required funds in your bank account. All support funds are specified on each of our destination pages.

When should I register?

Each country program has it's specific Registration Deadline. Depatures are year-round*, but you have to allow for the minimum processing time (indicated on each country's destination page).You can register up to a year before you plan on leaving, so there is no reason to wait if you are ready. When you register we will send you a Welcome Pack with all the visa application instructions, forms, and supporting document information. From that time you have up to a year to fill out the paperwork, send it back to us so we can complete your visa application, and depart on your adventure.

*Please note that only Teach in Thailand,Teach in Vietnam and South Africa Volunteer have set departure dates.

I have just turned 30, am I too old to participate?

You have up until you turn 31 to apply, have your visa processed, and in some cases enter the country. For New Zealand, Ireland, and Germany you are eligible up to age 35, inclusive.

Can I apply while already overseas?

For the majority of the destinations we offer, unfortunately it is not possible to apply outside of Canada. However, Australia and Ireland are exceptions to this rule. You can apply for SWAP Australia from any country except from within Australia. For Ireland, you can apply from anywhere in the world, but ensure that you are near to or can travel to an Irish Embassy while preparing your application, since having your passport witnessed is a mandatory step of the application process. For more information on how to register for SWAP Ireland from overseas, please email For all our other destinations, it is a foreign government requirement that you be in Canada for the entire time your visa application is processed and approved. You are not even permitted to drive to the US while your visa application is pending. For most countries the process takes about 6 weeks, but see the country page of the program you are most interested in for the exact registration deadline time.

I already have the necessary documentation to work in my destination country (i.e. I hold another passport; or have already obtained a visa), can I still use SWAP?

For sure. We will just deduct the cost of the visa from the registration fee. You will then have the benefit of all of our resources.

Can I get a second visa for the same country?

In most cases, the working holiday visa is issued just once in your lifetime. There are some exceptions through. For New Zealand, we are able to issue a second visa, which is exclusive to SWAP. It is also possible to get a second year in Australia if you spend 3 months working in Australian agriculture.

I went on a SWAP and loved it! Can I use SWAP again to go to a different country?

Definitely, and we have many SWAPPERS who go on several country programs. As long as you meet the eligibility criteria, the world is yours to SWAP to! You will just need to return to Canada between visa applications.

Do I have to be Canadian to participate? Are permanent residents eligible?

You do have to be a Canadian citizen and passport holder in order to receive the working holiday visas we offer. Unfortunately, permanent residents are not eligible. These are criteria set by the foreign embassies and high commissions that we work with, so unfortunately we cannot offer any flexibility. *Criteria for our USA programs are slightly different. Please email for more information.

Is there a minimum amount of time I am required to stay in the country?

No. You are free to leave whenever you would like. Since visas for each country are once in a lifetime opportunities, we recommend that you plan to stay as long as possible. The maximum time for most countries is 1 year, for the UK you can work for 2 years.

What are "Biometrics"(for the UK)?

Biometric data (finger scans and digital photographs) is required for all applicants wanting to work in the UK. It is only for the UK that you need this.

SWAP services can help you through this and make sure no mistakes are made. We work closely with the British High Commission to ensure that your visa application and supporting documents are correct in order to avoid your visa being held-up or denied.

After you register for SWAP UK, you will receive an Electronic Welcome e-mail that includes all of the instructions and support you will need. Please note that Visa Application Centres (VAC) where the biometric testing is done are only in Toronto, Ottawa, Vancouver, Edmonton, and once monthly in Halifax. There are also periodical mobile testing units in St. John's, NFLD. For more information please e-mail


Does SWAP get me a job?

When you arrive in your destination country our partners are there to help, and make sure you secure the type of job you want. The hosting centres constantly update their job boards, and have strong employer contacts. They host resume workshops so that your resume is polished and fits the format (of the country you are in). Our partners will also advise you on the country's specific Do's and Don'ts for interviewing, securing a job, and working in your destination. The vast majority of our participants find work within two weeks of arrival.

SWAP does not place you in a job, but rather provides you with all of the resources and insider-advice needed to find work in your destination. We believe in giving you total freedom in realizing exactly the working holiday adventure that suits you best as an individual. No two SWAPPERS are exactly alike, and life is not about being given a job that someone else chooses for you.

What type of work can I get?

SWAPPERS work in all types of different lines of work- it is really up to you and what you are most interested in doing. The overseas hosting centres will be able to advise you on work in all sorts of different fields- however, you might also want to do a little research on your own ahead of time on places you might be interested in working in if your field is very specific. Then when you arrive our hosting centre can give you advise and help you format your resume for your chosen destination.


What is the difference between the with and without accommodation options?

Your first 2 nights at a hostel are included with the accommodation option. If you would like to book more nights, this site is really useful. Some SWAPPERS like to stay at a hostel before they find a job, so they can decide on the best location for a longer-term rental.

Does SWAP help me find people to live with?

SWAP does help you find flatmates, but in an informal way. Most participants find a rental with other participants, as there will be many from all over the world arriving at the same time as you, and it's easy to make new friends who are looking for a rental. There will be lots of postings available at the hosting centre. Of course, you are totally free to choose a single rental if you prefer, but most SWAPPERS opt for private rooms in shared housing (more cost-effective and fun).


Do I have to book my flight through Merit Travel?

Just so you know SWAPPERS are not obligated in any way to book flights and insurance through any particular travel agency. This is an old condition we used to have that we have gotten rid of. There is no longer a penalty fee for booking elsewhere.

We still recommend that you book your flights and insurance through Merit Travel since they have a lowest price guarantee so you will always get the cheapest flight and best deal on insurance. Plus, you will have the advantage of getting an expert who knows how SWAP works, and will be there for you should there be any changes to your flight plans or you need any further advice. Get a flight and insurance quote from your personal travel counsellor when you register online or contact any of these locations.

Do I need to have insurance?

SWAPPERS are required to have travel and medical insurance. This is a foreign government requirement too, you need to be covered in case you need medical attention of any sort while overseas. If you don't already have insurance to cover you when abroad, Plan B through Bon Voyage is the cheapest available that will cover medical and travel. For more info have a look here.If you choose another insurance package, make sure it meets at least the same minimum requirements.

Bon Voyage Plan B Insurance for the year is about $460- but you would have to get the exact number from a Merit Travel office.

Are there set departure dates?

No. You are free to leave as soon as your visa is approved and returned to you. Please see our destination pages for processing times for each country. The hosting centres in your destination are receiving new participants from all over the world constantly, and hold orientations regularly.


Why should I trust SWAP for my working holiday adventure?

SWAP is a not-for-profit owned by the Canadian Federation of Students (you do NOT have to be a student for the vast majority of our programs). Since SWAP is a not-for-profit, the registration fee you pay just covers the cost of the hosting services you receive (and the visa itself). Almost all participants save more than this fee in time saved as SWAPPERS find work faster.

SWAP started in 1975 and has sent over 50,000 Canadians abroad on working holiday adventures. We are the largest youth exchange program in Canada and are partnered with reputable partners all over the world.

Is SWAP an exchange?

Not really. We do also host foreign participants coming into Canada, and provide the same services that our overseas partners do for the Canadians we send abroad. In a typical year we host about 6,000 foreign participants from over 20 countries. Don't worry, your family won't need to host anyone.