wonderful time food tour, work in france, france working holiday visa, food in paris
Eat your heart out in Paris… | Private food tour with Wonderful Time in Paris

So You Want to Work in France?

If you want to work in France and you’re between the ages of 18 and 35, you’re in luck! The France working holiday visa is easy as pie to get. Why should you listen to me? Well, it appears that I have come to be known as the ‘youth mobility visa girl’.

This year (last year?) I was at a New Year’s Eve party and my friend introduced me to a friend of hers as a blogger. He asked what my blog was about and I said, “Well, it’s about travel but the UK Youth Mobility Visa stuff is probably my most popular…” He was like, “Wait, Alyssa? Like Alyssa Writes?!” and he totally fangirled (his words) — selfies included. Turns out he had been reading for a couple months. It was nice but also a little embarrassing for me!

True to form, I’ve gone and done it again. This time, I’ve applied for a French 3D Youth Mobility Agreement (Working Holiday) Visa and I’ll be spending four months in humid sunny Martinique while conducting field research for my MA.

Advantages of a France Working Holiday Visa

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Enjoy nature in an overseas department… | Waterfall at Bo La Rivié in Trinité, Martinique

You can get around that pesky 90-day Schengen Zone rule. Let’s say you’re planning a Euro trip and you want to legally stay longer in Europe than 90 days, this visa will help you do that. That’s why I got this visa!

No application fee. Let me say that again: There is no application fee! Considering the UK visa costs approximately $1500 to get at the moment, this is a pretty great deal.

You’re not limited to Mainland France. The visa allows you work in France and its overseas departments and collectivities (Martinique, Guadeloupe, French Guiana, Reunion Island, and Mayotte) for 4 to 12 months.

It’s really easy to get. I think that not many people know about this visa, even the agent at the consulate asked me how I heard about it. So I hope this helps get the word out there and provides a personal experience with the application (I found Dan Vineberg‘s blog post very helpful before I applied as well) to encourage people to apply!

About This Guide

First, I’m going to spare you the lengthy disclaimer I published on my UK Youth Mobility Visa article and just say that I am relating my personal experience and any reliance you place on this to get your own visa is at your own risk. For an extended version, please read my “Disclaimer” page.

Second, I have this terrible habit of writing everything I know in the visa blog posts I publish. Therefore, if after reading this whole post and any documents I link to you still have a question, you can safely assume that I don’t know the answer.

Third, welcome and enjoy the journey to a pleasant working holiday in France!

Eligibility

  • Be between the ages 18 to 35 on the date of application
  • Hold a Canadian passport valid for six months past the end date of the stay
  • Provide proof of sufficient financial resources to cover initial expenses: €2100 or $3000 CAD
  • Submit all documents necessary

Applying for the Visa

leucate, france, work in france, youth mobility visa france, france working holiday
Chill out in the south of France… | Leucate, France

Download this 3D Visa Application Kit (updated January 31, 2018).

Save for a few things, this application is very straightforward. There’s nothing tricky about it except one thing: You cannot apply more than three months before your departure date.

It is now possible to apply from abroad. You must be a resident of the country and you will have to apply via the French diplomatic or consular post of your place of residence.

In any case, I’m one of those cautious types of people so here are some details about the things I overthought:

Cover Letter

French people love a good cover letter. Luckily you can write it in English (or French, if you so desire). My cover letter said something along these lines:

Dear Sir/Madam: I am applying for the 3D Visa. I will be conducting research in Martinique as part of my studies. I may work at the university. Even though I lived in Martinique before, I would like to spend some time travelling around other islands in the Caribbean.

The whole letter was a few paragraphs long. When I went to my appointment (more on that later), the visa officer skimmed the letter and said “Martinique! Very good then.”

Note

The updated application (as of March 2017) asks for a “Working Holiday Program application form”. It is the same as the Long Stay Visa form:

working holiday program application form, youth mobility visa france, france work visa
From the horse’s mouth. I placed the link above.

Travel Insurance

You are required to have travel insurance for the length of your stay. I wanted to overestimate the visa length rather than underestimate. I am not a woman of means by any stretch of the imagination. I couldn’t afford to pay all the travel insurance upfront like that! So I’m going to tell you a secret: I bought my travel insurance with World Nomads just before my appointment. I printed the policy and brought it to my appointment. Then, I cancelled it after I got my passport back using the 14-day cooling off period for a full refund.

When I arrived in Martinique, no one checked to see if I had it or not. Please be aware that this is not an endorsement for undermining the requirements of the visa or travelling without insurance. Once I was sure of my actual travel dates, I purchased travel insurance that covered me for the duration of my stay in Martinique.

Proof of Financial Resources

There are no strict requirements like the UK Youth Mobility Visa. I simply printed my bank statement from the UK Barclays website and got a print out of my Canadian account from the bank.

Credit cards and lines of credit do not count as financial resources but the TFSA (Tax-Free Savings Account) does.

Proof of Provincial Medical Coverage

This one delayed my application. Do not go to Service Ontario. Call the INFOline at 1-866-532-3161 (in Toronto, 416-314-5518). Tell them that you need proof of provincial health care coverage for a French visa. They will know what you’re talking about.

If you want to spend more than five-ish months (153 days) out of the country, you will not be covered unless you have a work contract. That means that when they ask you for your dates of departure and return, they should not exceed 153 days. With that said, the letter they provide doesn’t actually state the amount of time you’re covered for, just that you are or you aren’t. Do what you will with that information.

The letter will be mailed out within two business days. I received mine about a week after calling in.

Submitting the Application

I’m an anxious kind of person so the idea of mailing my passport to the Consulate did not appeal to me. Instead I booked a visa appointment at the Consulate in Toronto. It’s now required to book an appointment at your nearest Consulate. I applied a couple months in advance so I really didn’t have to do this but it’s perfect if you’re in a pinch.

There are no biometrics to be done so the appointment is quick and painless (though the waiting in line may not be). When I was there, the official who processed visas repeatedly stressed to me “This is the easiest visa, it’s very easy!” She looked at my documents, gave me back the originals (except the passport), gave me a receipt, and told me when to come back.

It takes 48 hours to process. I had my appointment on a Thursday and picked it up the following Tuesday. The same woman was all, “Enjoy Guadeloupe!” and I just said thanks and went on my merry way.

Arriving in France

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Or in my case, “France”. The last two times I had a visa to work in France, I was subject to medical tests and extra stickers and so on and so forth. The temporary nature of this visa means you are exempt from all of that. Lucky!

If you wish to extend your stay (which you can, up to 12 months) then you have to visit the Préfecture where you’re residing. That’s whole different story!

There you have it folks — the easiest travel/work visa I’ve ever gotten (and this makes four)! Follow the instructions and you’ll be on your way to life à la française. Comme la vie est belle!

81 thoughts on “How to Work in France: Get a Working Holiday Visa”

  1. Hey Alyssa,

    I must say, you are amazing! I read your posts which helped me for my visa in the uk and now im looking to go to france. I am currently in the uk. Im pretty sure my insurance is invalid now (provincial)….. do i actually needed it? Any more tips in general about the health insurance part?

    Merci

    1. Hey! Seems like a natural progression… France is close to the UK and technically we’re all supposed to speak French, we Canadians. Yes, you do need it. No more tips than what is there!

      1. Thanks for the fast response. How long did you get your visa for with the letter that they gave you for provincial health coverage?

    2. Hi Nick,
      I am in the same boat now and very anxious about the lack of provincial health care. Did you end up applying for the whv?

      1. So you got provincial coverage back during those 8 months? I was hoping to go for 3 months or less then apply for French WHV.

  2. Hi Alyssa,

    It has been five weeks now and I still haven’t heard from the embassy. I am not from Toronto so I had to mail mine. I tried contacting them via phone and email but I have not gotten any response.

    Do you have any suggestion on how to contact them? My expected date of departure is in three weeks from now. I am really worried I won’t be able to get my passport and visa in time.

    Thank you

    1. Hi Angela, I can’t say what the typical turn around time is for mailing the visa in is so I don’t know if this is long or short. Keep calling, leave a message. Assuming you have done everything correctly (French bureaucracy can be punishing otherwise), then you should have your visa in time as they process the visas in order of departure date.

  3. Hi there,

    So Ive hit a road block. I would like to know where you in UK on youth mobility before you applied to France? Did you go back to canada in between and how long did you stay? How did that work out with provinical insurance coverage if you were in UK before? Thanks Nicole

      1. So you got provincial coverage back during those 8 months? I was hoping to go for 3 months or less then apply for French WHV.

  4. Hi Alyssa,
    Since the 3D visa is a Work-HOLIDAY visa, I wanted to know if you were limited with the type of work (CDI, CDD, etc.) you could seek and the amount of hours (part-time, full-time, etc.) you could work per week/month? Thanks!

  5. Hi Alyssa,

    I’d like to go in person to apply for my visa, as you did. But on the website is states specifically that if you are applying for the Youth Mobility Visa, you have to send your documents by mail only. Did you just ignore this and go anyway? Thanks!

      1. Oh, on the last bullet on that page it’s highlighted that if you are applying for a working holiday visa, you are to only do so by mail. I’d like to break that rule though.

  6. Hi,
    Thanks for the post and info!
    One of our children will be on a student exchange from January to June 2017, studying in Angers. After her term in France she would like to have the option to stay and work in France for the summer before returning to Canada for the Fall term. In addition to the 3B Visa, what additional Visa should what she apply for so she can work for the summer in France if she is fortunate enough to find a summer job? Just having a hard time getting an answer from embassy.Thanks

  7. Thanks a lot for the info.
    What are the requirements for prolongation of working holiday visa for another 12 months at the préfecture? I have my first visa valid till March 20, 17 but unfortunately didn’t manage to move to France yet 🙁 I hope this will not ban me from obtaining the visa for the next 12 months, this time I would actually spend a year in France.
    Thanks very much.

  8. Hey Alyssa,nice post. Thanks for the info!

    I’m here in France as well and I am curious as to which bank you went with and how you went about getting social security. So far all the banks I’ve been to have said they require applicants to be “salariée” and all the potential employers want a social security number 😉

    Thanks!
    Ariel

  9. Hi Alyssa! Thank you for the very informative post. I am preparing to apply for the same visa and was wondering whether you paid Canadian or French income tax for the period of your visa?

    Thank you 🙂

  10. I am applying for the working holiday visa ( I am in the uk on the youth mobility scheme)…the process is a bit different from when in Canada but maybe someone here can help!? They were asking me for a cover letter giving full details of the project in France and stating the 14/03/2013 bilateral agreement. Bare in mind this is not the normal cover letter. The agent said I need a letter saying I am part of the agreement. Help. Thanks in advance.

      1. No didn’t help. I asked her over and over. My next plan is to make amother cover letter and just talk about the bilateral agreement and stuff. Reference the article of the agreement and see how that goes.

  11. Hey Alyssa,
    I have my visa, but I’m not sure what to do once I arrive in France. Is there anywhere I have to go to get a French working permit or is my visa enough?

  12. Hi! Im already in France with my Visa, I have found a stage that will pay me. Now Im wondering if you know if its possible to work in an internship with this Visa Vacances Travail?

  13. Hi Alyssa

    The 3D visa kit needs the OFII form to be filled in (some long stay visas in France require you attend the OFII for medical tests etc) but you’ve said this visa is exempt…if this is the case, why does the OFII form need to be filled in?

    Thanks

    1. I believe it’s exempt as well. Submitted my application last week and I had the form filled out and ready and the lady said I didn’t need ofii for this visa. Quite confusing as the site says you need.

      1. Hi Nicole,

        Were you able to figure out the difference between the Working Holiday Program application form and the Long Stay Visa Application form? It says both are needed but I cannot find the Working Holiday application.

  14. Hi Alyssa,

    Is it required to have a France job or work contract before getting the Youth Mobility visa? Or can just get the visa first and find a job once in France?

    Many thanks,
    Steph

  15. Great info!

    One thing i’m finding confusing In the 3D VISA application package, is that one of the required items in the checklist is “working holiday program application form (with cover letter)”; which is different from the included “Long-stay visa application form”.
    Is this simply a cover letter? Or is there something else i’m missing? There is no other ‘form’ i can find with this package to fill out.

    1. I’ve actually had a look at the updated visa kit (and updated this post accordingly). I’m not sure actually! What I have learned is that the YMV people are no longer exempt from the biometric collection and the forms must be filled out at the appointment. I suspect it will be updated with more information shortly – stay tuned!

    2. Hi Steve,

      Have you found this out? I haven’t yet found a Working Holiday Program Application form that differs from the Long Stay Visa Application.

  16. Hi Alyssa,

    My working holiday visa is valid starting this Canada day, July 1st. My question is in regards to the “dispense temporaire de carte de sejour” on the visa. Is the visa itself my temporary residence card or do I need to present myself at a French prefecture and retrieve a separate document?

    Thank you!

    Lisa

  17. Hello Alyssa!

    This is a great post (even 1+ years after your post date). I am applying for the 3D Visa, but do not have a job nor French-language school lined up yet (both of which I plan on pursuing). I also have no family in France. What would you reco entering under number 23 and 24 where the form asks about purpose for visiting and name/address/email/telephone “in France of inviting employer/host institution/family member…”?

    Thanks in advance!

    Jen

    1. I left it blank. Push come to shove if you do get a problem go on ebookers and take a book now pay later reservation and cancel it without paying a thing.

  18. Hi Alyssa!!
    Thanks to your blog I am now in France 🙂
    I was wondering if you ever went through the process to get it extended though, if so, was it easy?

    1. That’s great news! I started the process once with a different visa – it required a job contract and loads of very French-style paperwork. I’m not sure what the process would be for the YMS visa. You can visit the Prefecture and they will renseigner you.

  19. Just a heads up… the WHV now requires that you travel to your designated consulate to submit (they now collect biometric data). Such a pain, but make sure to plan on an extra trip/flight!

  20. Hi Alyssa!
    I’m having trouble with Manitoba Health because they don’t want to supply me with a letter stating that I have provincial insurance because I’ll be there for a full year. How did the letter in Ontario stay vague enough to not provide any dates but still satisfy the visa requirements? Thanks for your help!

      1. Just thought I would update my situation in case anyone else is having these anxieties – I showed up to my appointment without provincial coverage but with private insurance that covered me during my entire stay and they were ok with it! Got my 12 month visa!

  21. Hey Alyssa, Im applying for this working holiday visa. Im just wondering if you purchased the civil liability insurance. It says its recommended, I just want to know if you did this or if you think its unnecessary. Really hope you can get back to me.
    Thanks,
    Marina

  22. Hi Alyssa! I’m currently in Paris on a WHV. Seeing as you said you are a freelancer in your bio, I was wondering, did you generate any freelance income while on the French WHV? How did you go about declaring that when it came to taxes? Did you need auto/micro-entrepreneur status in order to make freelance activities legal, or does the WHV automatically allow freelancing?

    Just asking because I was thinking of doing freelance work for companies outside of France, but because I am a fiscal resident of France for this tax year, need to claim this year… Just don’t want to run into any trouble!

    1. Hi Katrina, I don’t think so – I was doing research for my master’s degree. The WHV allows freelancing automatically, but when it comes to tax time it’s best to consult an expert. Good luck!

  23. Hi Alyssa, thanks for the great info!

    ‘Proof of medical coverage’ refers to a private travel medical insurance, right? Is it mandatory to purchase? I have a letter requested from OHIP mentioning that I’d be extending my OHIP coverage while outside Canada, I guess that’s not it?

  24. Hi Alyssa,
    I am a musician and looking into the 3D visa. Being self employed, do you think it will make a difference when they ask occupation and employer? Otherwise, though I have other skills, I am officially jobless at the moment..
    I know the French love art of any kind, so do you think putting musician under occupation, and self employed suffice?
    You must have met a few travelling musicians in you wonders, and thought maybe you would have some insight on this.
    Thank you for the great article, as it has already helped out a ton!

  25. Hi Alyssa,
    Great article to come by while doing my research. I will be trying to leave around July of next year for France (Nice). I was wondering about the application process when it comes to certain things though.

    In the Visa form “25. What will be your address in France during your stay?” Do you think a hotel/air bnb address for 2 weeks will suffice? How did you go about this?
    Do you know if there are any restrictions on deductibles or coverage amounts with the travel insurance?

    These two things have me worried about my application being accepted or not.
    Thanks again for your time and this article!

  26. Hello!

    Thank you for writing this. I find it difficult to actually find personal experiences of navigating this kinds of visas.

    Do you have any advice on how to find work in France, once the visa is in hand? Maybe even an article with resources.

    Thank you!
    Katja

  27. Hi Alyssa,

    I read your blog and love it! My partner and I are 33 years of age, both with professional careers, looking to visit France for 2 years to become more fluent in French and hopefully get some working experience in Europe to help further our careers (my partner is an Environmental Scientist and with France taking a lead in climate change, working on Paris Climate Agreement initiatives would be amazing experience). Unfortunately applying for a job while living in Canada would be more difficult than applying with French residency, so we are hoping to go to France using the Youth Mobility program and then get in touch with recruiters once we arrive in France.

    Do you happen to know whether you can apply for this VISA at the age of 35 up until your 36th birthday, or whether you have to apply at the age of 34 up until your 35th birthday?

    Thank you so much for your time in advance!
    -Erin

  28. Hi Alyssa!

    Your blog is SO helpful!! I find this process very daunting. Since I don’t want to book accomodations without having my visa first, what do you suggest I put in the place of the address i am staying in france? This question/area has me stumped.

    Thanks,
    Sheridan

  29. Hi Alyssa!

    Thanks for writing this. I have a few questions:

    I have applied for the inter university exchange visa a few years ago. Would I be able to apply for the work holiday?
    I was hoping to stay a year but the options are 4-6 months, 6 months, or over a year: which do you suggest I choose?
    Is there no longer an option to mail it in? Did you buy your plane ticket before you received your visa or after?

    THANK YOU SO MUCH.

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