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If you’re from an eligible country, the Working Holiday visa Australia (subclass 417) offers an amazing opportunity to travel and work in Australia.

The working holiday visa allows you to explore Australia’s beautiful landscape, make friends from all over the world and take on short-term work in Australia while you do it.

Although the 417 visa only lasts a year, you can apply for a second 12-month Working Holiday visa if you’ve completed three months of specified regional work and meet the age conditions.

This blog post will outline the cost, age limit and conditions of the 417 visa as well as the alternative Work and Holiday 462 visa (for those not on the eligible country list) to help you determine whether you’re eligible.

I’ll also explain why Australia is such a brilliant country for first-time travellers and the benefits of travelling and working in Australia!

Working Holiday Visa Australia: Table of Contents

To jump straight to a topic, click on the links below.

Working Holiday Visa Australia (Subclass 417): Eligible Countries

To qualify for the First Working Holiday visa (subclass 417), you will need to have a passport from one of the following countries. If your country isn’t on the list keep reading to find out about the alternative 462 visa.

Belgium, Canada, Republic of Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Republic of Ireland, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Taiwan, United Kingdom.

Working Holiday Visa Australia (Subclass 417): Cost & Conditions

The Australian Working Holiday visa (417) costs $635 AUD from 1 July 2023 to 30 June 2024 (if you apply for it over the internet). You will need to meet the following conditions to be eligible:

  • Be 18 to 30 years old at the time of applying (or under 35 if you’re a citizen of Canada, Denmark, France, Ireland, Italy or UK);
  • Not have a dependent child accompanying you at any time during your stay in Australia;
  • Have enough money to support yourself during the working holiday and fund your outward ticket at the end of your stay (about $5,000 AUD);
  • Have not previously entered Australia on a 417 or 462 visa;
  • Meet character and health requirements;
  • Not have debts owing to the Australian government.
A German backpacker on a working holiday visa in Australia.
My travel mate, Michi, on his Working Holiday in Australia

Work and Holiday Visa Australia (Subclass 462): Alternative Option

If you do not hold a passport from one of the countries on the 417 list above, there is an alternative Work and Holiday visa (subclass 462) (note the slightly different wording).

The difference between the 462 visa and the 417 visa is that the 462 requires you to meet educational requirements (which differ for each nationality). You may also need to provide a letter of support from your government, depending on where you’re from, and provide evidence of functional English.

To be eligible for a Work and Holiday visa (subclass 462), you must hold a passport from one of the following countries:

Argentina, Austria, Brazil, Chile, People’s Republic of China, Czech Republic, Ecuador, Greece, Hungary, Indonesia, Israel, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Mongolia, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Poland, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, Uruguay, USA, Vietnam.

What Does the Working Holiday Visa Australia Allow You to Do?

On both the Working Holiday visa (417 ) and Work and Holiday visa (462), visitors are allowed to do the following:

  • Stay in Australia for up to 12 months;
  • Work in Australia for up to six months per employer;
  • Study for up to four months;
  • Leave and re-enter Australia any number of times while the visa is valid;
  • Do three months of specified work to become eligible for a second Working Holiday or Work and Holiday visa.
Backpackers working in construction in Perth, Australia.
Michi and other backpackers working on a construction site in Perth

Working Holiday Visa Australia: Processing Times

According to the Home Affairs website, these are the current processing times for the working holiday 417 visa in January 2024:

  • 50% of applications in less than 1 day;
  • 90% of applications in 17 days.

These are the current processing times for the work and holiday 462 visa in January 2024:

  • 50% of applications in 16 days;
  • 90% of applications in 83 days.

Why Australia is a Great Country for First-Time Travellers

If you’ve never travelled before and feel a bit nervous, Australia is the ideal destination for your first backpacking adventure.

Australia is English speaking, very safe compared to many other countries and generally friendly and accepting of tourists.

I was only 20 when I first backpacked around Australia during my exchange year to the University of Queensland in Brisbane, and I loved Australia so much a that I returned on a Working Holiday visa and eventually moved here permanently!

That first travelling experience in Australia gave me the confidence to travel solo for a year after I graduated university, which was an amazing experience.

Blogger Lisa Bull and friends on a student trip to Fraser Island.
A trip to Fraser Island with university friends back in 2002

Since so many people backpack the country, there are absolutely loads of hostels in Australia, and they are usually safe and of a fairly high standard.

There are also plenty of other types of cheap accommodation in Australia, such as campsites, holiday parks and Airbnbs. I saved thousands of dollars travelling Australia by house sitting!

Australia also has a wide range of transport options such as tour buses, public coaches and trains, as well as cars and campervans to buy or hire.

Once you’re used to the travelling lifestyle and realise how easy it is, you’ll feel much more confident visiting other countries that have a very different culture to your own.

Why You Should Travel and Work in Australia

Australia is an absolutely beautiful country with a hugely diverse landscape. You can have entire beaches all to yourself, swim with dolphins and sea lions, dive and snorkel the Great Barrier Reef, climb mountains, ski, surf and kayak, hike through pristine rainforest and camp in the outback.

There is a ridiculous number of national parks and world heritage sites in Australia, as well as big cities and nightlife. There really is something for everyone.

Australian sea lions at Baird Bay.
Swimming with sea lions and dolphins in Baird Bay, South Australia

Since there are so many backpackers in Australia, you’ll meet people from all over the world. Most people travel alone and are keen to socialise, and if you stay in hostels you’ll easily make friends.

Remember that the visa is only open to those under 31, so do seize the opportunity before it’s too late! It’s so much fun travelling in your twenties when you don’t have many responsibilities.

If you’re not a native English speaker, a year working in Australia is a great opportunity to improve your English. I know this is a big aim for many people on working holiday visas.

Two backpacker girls in Perth, Australia.
Me in Perth in 2015 with my Japanese friend, Maika, who’d just arrived in Australia on a Working Holiday visa

A working holiday is also a great opportunity to try out living and working in Australia if you think this is something you may be interested in doing in the future.

Since you’ll already have the right to work here, you may have the chance to get your foot in the door with a company that could sponsor you (this is when a company you work for organises a long-term working visa for you, which can lead to permanent residency).

If you’re not ready for that yet, but you complete the regional work for your second Working Holiday visa in Australia, you can always come back and use your second visa a few years later once you’ve got some work experience and try to get a sponsorship then.

To start planning your big adventure, make sure you read through my detailed guide on planning your working holiday in Australia. It includes all the steps you need to take before and during your trip.

To read a more personal review of what backpacking Australia is really like, check out my interview with German backpacker Michi (who I travelled with). It includes tips on how he maintained his fitness on the road and how he found work in construction in Perth and Melbourne.

Happy travels!

Lisa Bull
Written by Lisa Bull

Lisa Bull, founder of Dreaming of Down Under, has been living in Australia as a British expat since 2015. After travelling to every state and territory in Australia and living in Perth, Brisbane and Sydney, Lisa knows from first-hand experience the best destinations to visit in Australia and the best budget travel tips. Her guides on this blog have been read by over 700k readers and helped thousands of people achieve their dream of living in or travelling Australia.