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Get the Most Out of Your Working Holiday

Sven | Dec 7, 2021

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Written by John Dunn

A working holiday is a great way for students and young professionals to work abroad, save some cash, and travel the world before they enter the workforce.

Here’s how to find work, what to expect, and how to have some fun.

Is a UK Working Holiday Right for You?

We know that the raison d’etre of a holiday is to get away from work, take a break, rest, and re-group. However, funds can run out quickly if you’re just on the move. Unlike a regular holiday, a working holiday lets you experience the country to the fullest while you earn money — so you can do even more exploring. Even better, the UK is the perfect springboard to explore Europe’s many countries. 

UK travel and sightseeing are a mixture of hidden gems and historical landmarks. There’s always demand to see these places, which means there’s always demand for staff to keep them running. This is what draws over 20,000 Tier 5 visa holders who travel to experience the country, make friends, and save money during their stay. Before you book your flight and accommodations, however, let’s focus on getting a visa. 

A Tier 5 working holiday visa is the ideal opportunity to stay in Britain for up to 24 months, while you work with few restrictions. It’s important to note that under Tier 5 regulations, you cannot use public funds or work as a professional sportsperson, doctor or dentist. So, if you were planning your trip around these skills, this is not the visa route for you.   

UK Tier 5 (Youth Mobility Scheme) Visa Basics  

A UK working holiday visa – officially known as the Youth Mobility Scheme – is a great way to work abroad, save in a strong currency and travel the world. This is all it takes to complete the visa application:

• A valid passport 
• A passport-sized color photo that meets UK regulations 
• Evidence you can support yourself for the duration of your stay
• A completed online application form
• A blank page in your passport
• An appointment to be fingerprinted 

Are You Eligible?

If you’re between the ages of 18 and 30, live in an eligible country and fit the below criteria you can qualify provided you:

• Have no dependent children
• Have not been approved for a previous working holiday visa
• Hold a valid passport 
• Have more than £1890 in your bank account before you apply

If you are a British overseas citizen (BOC), a British national overseas (BNO) or a British overseas territories citizen (BOTC), you are also eligible to live, travel and work under the Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme. Participating countries include: 

• Australia
• Canada
• Japan
• Monaco
• New Zealand
• Hong Kong
• Republic of Korea
• Taiwan

How Long Does the Visa Approval Process Take?

Most applications are processed in 15 working days, but it can take up to 30. It’s best to apply well in advance so you don’t put yourself under time pressure. The earliest you may apply for a visa is six months before you travel. 

You’ve Secured Your Visa, Now to Find a Job

Your visa has been approved and you’re on your way, but where do you start when it’s time to put the “work” into working holiday? You likely want to find a spot that can offer the perfect combination of work and travel opportunities. 

London is a cultural hub boasting plenty of attractions and exciting nightlife, so you may want to start there. With plenty of restaurants and bars, you will be able to meet lots of people and find potential employment in no time. The hospitality industry is large, and getting a job in this industry is generally quite easy. Other popular jobs for Tier 5 visa holders include: 

• Retail assistant
• Kids camp instructor
• Customer service
• Housekeeping
• Salesperson
• Front desk agent

Getting Set Up After You Arrive 

There are a few things you’ll probably want to sort out as soon as you touch down in the UK, namely a UK phone number, bank account and National Insurance number. 

Get a UK Phone Number 

Having a local contact number is essential to live and work in the UK. You’ll need a UK debit account to apply for a contract phone so a pay-as-you-go SIM card will be the easiest and quickest option after you touch down.

National Insurance Number

Everyone who works in the UK must have an NI number. While you can work for some time with a temporary NI number, the practice of using these numbers to claim back tax is no longer allowed. Therefore, you will need a permanent NI number to claim back overpaid tax at the end of the year. Many employers won’t employ you without an NI number, so it’s best to get it sorted as soon as possible.  

Bank Accounts

If you intend to work to support yourself while in the UK you will need to open a bank account so that you can get paid, deposit cash and pay bills. Having a UK bank account means easy access to your money without incurring the money transfer costs. There are three ways you can set up a UK bank account: 

1. After you arrive: You’ll need a permanent address for this. A hostel address, a friend’s place or rental accommodation will suffice. You’ll need proof that you live there, which can be challenging to obtain if your name isn’t on any official paperwork. 

2. Arrival packages: These companies can offer an ATM card, UK SIM card and National Insurance Number but be aware that these services will incur extra costs. 

3. Offshore services: Your bank may be able to set up an account for you. However, these accounts are generally reserved for high-income earners. 

Make the Most of Your Working Holiday Visa 

Don’t Overpack

The Tier 5 visa allows you to stay in the UK for up to 24 months, so packing your bags for this time frame is not a small task. You don’t need to pack your entire life into a suitcase, and you don’t need to go on a Marie Kondo rampage either. Take what you think you’ll need to settle in during the first few months, as you’re bound to do a little shopping while you’re there. 


The key to making the most of your trip is finding the right work-travel balance. While you might be hoping for a 50/50 split, consider what this decision means for your budget. Try to plan employment around places you want to explore or focus on temporary jobs to earn some extra money in between trips. 

Live Like a Local

There is no better way to experience a country than by living like one of the locals. There is plenty of time to see the tourist attractions so be sure to find the hidden gems and make friends you’d want to come back and visit again. 

Travel Insurance 

No matter how much you plan, things don’t always go as expected. Travel insurance will help you avoid catastrophe and deal with the unexpected. Most plans include 24/7 travel assistance services to help you locate medical facilities and help with a wide range of travel situations that might occur. If you’re interested in discussing your travel insurance needs, speak to a Seven Corners agent.  

There are a lot of details that go into planning a working holiday. Let us take care of the small things, so you don’t have to. We can help you get your working holiday visa, UK bank account and National Insurance number, without any hassle and stress. Get in touch with the Sable International team for assistance.   

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