You will need to check visa requirements with your travel agent or contact the Consulate or Embassy of the country you plan to visit, but we have listed below some of the more popular destinations and their visa requirements for backpackers and gap year travellers.


The UK is part of the Visa Waiver Pilot Program. This participation allows UK residents to visit the USA for up to 90 days with out a visa as long as your passport is in correct order. The other proviso is that you are in possession of a non refundable return ticket or a ticket that shows you will leave the USA to enter another country (other than Canada). Since January 2009 travellers to the USA under the scheme are required to obtain travel authorisation on the VWP and this can be done through ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) on the US government web site.

If your stay is for longer than 90 days you will be required to have a US Tourist Visa (B2). This visa will allow you to travel in the USA as a tourist or visitor from 1 to ten years. This is also known as a ‘Visitor for Pleasure’ visa and is relevant for entering the USA for short study purposes also. Each visit to the US can last for no longer than six months and do not include any employment rights; the term can sometimes be extended to cover a 12 month stay. If you are travelling to the USA to take up a position such as an Au Pair or camp councillor and are aged between 18 and 26, you will be required to apply for a USA J -1 Visa and to have a sponsor within the US. This visa can be extended for a period of 12 months.


To apply for the Australian Working Holiday Visa, you need to be between 18 and 30. Once you have successfully obtained the visa, you can work in Australia for up to two years. Your passport will need to have at least one year to run and you will need to be able to show that you can support yourself when you arrive. Under the rules of the working visa you will be able to work for an employer for a maximum of 6 months. You may also be asked to provide proof that you have a return or onward ticket or enough funds to buy one.


Residents of the UK can apply to take part in the Canadian Working Holiday Program. You will need to be aged from 18 to 30 and from the date of issue you have 12 months to enter Canada and then permission to work for up to 12 months. You may be asked to provide proof that you have available funds to look after yourself on arrival. You will need to prove that you have a written job offer from a Canadian employer and must be a full time student or to have completed your period of study within the past 12 months.

This information is a very brief snap shot and we suggest you make more extensive enquiries regarding your chosen countries of travel.