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
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! There is now a fee associated: €99 or ~ $145 CAD. Considering the UK visa costs approximately $1500 to get at the moment, this is still 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, Mayotte, and St. Pierre & Miquelon) 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!
A new note: A friend of mine recently used this visa to move to Paris (September 2018). She was informed by the company that hired her that she could only work a maximum of 964 hours per year (6 months full-time) on this visa. Keep this in mind if you’re planning to apply for full-time jobs.
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!
Last Updated: January 6, 2020
- 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: €2500 or $3625 CAD
- Submit all documents necessary
Applying for the Visa
Start your application online here. Under ‘Your plans’ select ‘Other’ and then Working holiday for ‘Main purpose of stay’.
Pay your €99 fee.
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.
You will need your passport and details of any previous French visas.
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.
Read their Frequently Asked Questions page!
In any case, I’m one of those cautious types of people so here are some details about the things I overthought:
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.”
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.
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
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 a total 36 months) then you have to visit the Préfecture where you’re residing. That’s whole different story!
137 thoughts on “How to Work in France: Get a Working Holiday Visa”
This was exactly what our son’s experience was applying for and receiving this visa. Only challenge for our son was having to get from Calgary to Vancouver for the interview at the consulate (so a little extra cost – he took Flair Air though and was there and back for under $200). Interview on Thursday, passport with Visa in hand the next Thursday. Amazing.
Thanks, glad it was helpful!
Do you happen to know after the visa has been issued how long you have to enter France before it expires?
Up to 1 year.
Do you know if we are allowed to go to other countries within the Schengen Zone for the entire visa period?
As a Canadian you can only spend up to 90 days in any 180 day period in the Schengen zone without a visa.
Hi Alyssa, do you know if this visa allows you to move freely between the Schengen Zone for the 1 yr? Or are you only allowed to stay in France?
As a Canadian you can spend up to 90 days in any 180 day period in the Schengen zone without a visa.
Thanks so much for this very helpful post! I’m starting a 14-month business school program in France later this year. If I wanted to continue working in France after the program ends, would it make more sense for me to apply for the working holiday visa, given the possibility of two extensions? Or would I need separate visas for the study and work portions? I know that under the regular student visa, you can get a one-year permit to work and look for work when you’re done.
You should probably get the visa that your school advises you to get.
I’m on the tier 5 youth visa in the UK, and on the link you sent it allows me to go through TLS (https://fr.tlscontact.com/gb/LON/index.php) to book an appointment at the french embassy to hand in all the paper work. Does this sound right to you? Can I apply for this visa from the embassy in london and not from Canada?
Thanks for your help!
I don’t know as I did my application from Canada.
Its a confusion applying from there. I went in 3 times. They kept asking for a letter for the agreement or something like that I cant remember but it was a letter that I never got. I called the Canadian embassy in london and the french embassy in canada and no one could help. I sent countless emails. In the end I went back to canada to apply. If you do that I advise you to book your appointment online for the french embassy in advance so that you do not loose time. Let me know how it goes.
I’m currently in the UK on the tier 5 youth mobility visa, which sadly comes to an end on dec 1 2018.
Thank you for your very helpful blog, it was great to refer for advice/ tips and amazing guideline.
I come back to you now for 2 questions.
1) is there some timeframe to leave the UK after visa expires?
2) i’m ready for a new adventure…paris is my new choice. I’ve been doing some research and came across some info that confused and worried me….Can you please confirm if i’m eligible to apply for the work holiday visa? is this the same as the 3D visa??
i fit all the requirements…except im confused by this line i came across ;
” Have never benefited from this visa or the other two types of visa under the mobility agreement;”
I’ve been feeling confident that i would have no problem to apply for a new visa for france, but now this is stressing me with worry that this could crush my plan!
IF i can apply for the a visa for france, are you aware if I must stay in canada for a certain length of time before leaving again??
I appreciate your kind help!! Looking forward to your reply.
Thanks again for sharing your experience and knowledge!!!
thank you kindly Alyssa!
Thank you Alyssa for your reply.
do you think it may have changed the rules since in the 2017 version?
this is the point that stresses me out
2 – THE 3D VISA: CONDITIONS OF ELIGIBILITY
Have never benefited from this visa or the other two types of visa under the mobility agreement;
the application form for the 3D is downloaded from this site. https://ca.ambafrance.org/ExperienceFrance
( is the tier 5 youth mobility not part of the mobility agreement?? )
thank you kindly for your help!
all the best
Why would the UK be part of the France-Canada mobility agreement? There are four types of visas: 3A through D… it means you can’t have done one of them in the past.
Hi Alyssa, I was wondering how long this process took start to finish. I’m currently in france and will be returning to Canada to apply for my working travel visa, then returning back to france, so ideally I’d just book a round trip flight and I’d like to get a sense of the timing.
Quote: “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.”
Awesome post! I just received my WHV and looking to book my flight to France (I will be renewing it for an additional year before it expires). I was wondering if you booked a round-trip ticket or a one-way? I contacted different airlines and they have all said that they abide by the French Customs & Immigration entry requirements, which I am having a difficulty finding. Any insights? Did you book a round-trip or one-way ticket?
Thanks for your help!
Hey Alyssa! Thanks so much for all this great info.
Would you happen to know the name of this treaty that exempts Canadians from paying tax in Canada for their income in France?
Also, did you have to purchase and show your round-trip ticket at the visa appointment?
Merci beaucoup! This is the most helpful blog yet.
Hi Cheryl —
No I didn’t.
Hey Alyssa! Thank you for this informative post – this stuff always makes me nervous so it’s good to see how someones else got the visa (and to be reassured that it’s easy!).
For the proof of provincial health coverage, is this an old requirement? I can’t see it mentioned in the application package. I’ve been living in Australia for the last 4 years, so am no longer covered by my Alberta health insurance.
Thanks in advance!
Yes, it’s old – I’ve been meaning to update.
What did you do in terms of income tax? Do you need to get a tax number or you claimed the income you made back in Canada? Thanks in advance.
Hi Maria – I didn’t earn any money while I was on this visa but Canada and France have a tax treaty, so you don’t necessarily pay tax on the income earned in France.
I am looking at the travel medical insurance section of the form and I am wondering why we need provincial coverage proof and external medical coverage from a company? It doesn’t specifically state I need provincial coverage but do you mind clarifying this part?
I really appreciate it.
I just got the Letter for service Ontario. It says you are eligible for OHIP coverage from 25-8/17 your Ontario health card will be sent to you in the near future. I’m sure this is the letter to show proof. I told the lady is for France visa and she confirmed it and yet wrong document sent. It’s frustrating cause at the end it says this is not proof of OHIP coverage
What should I do as my appointment is within 2 weeks.
Sorry to bother you but can I ask why we need to show provincial coverage? It doesn’t seem to be on the 3d checklist.
Looks like they got rid of this requirement – I’ll update the post soon. Thanks for pointing that out!
First I have to say thanks so much for the information regarding the UK scheme. I’ve followed your advice and got my visa within 9 days. Now I just booked for my appointment for the French visa in 2 weeks. Since I was away for 2 years I was no longer covered for provincial health. But the lady said she will send my letter stating my coverage began on August 2017. I came back from the Uk May . Which was a good call. However how do I obtain the civil liability insurance? Is there any company you would recommend?
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.
Hi Monica – Yes. I don’t know what you’re referring to. No. After. WELCOME! 😛
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.
Just put any hotel near in the city you’re going move to.
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!
That sounds exciting! I’m not sure, but generally with these visas you can apply in your 35th year.
Curious to know if any readers here renewed this visa and could give me a bit if advice… thanks
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.
Hi Katja, I suspect it’s the same as you would anywhere – search for jobs, get in touch with recruiters, and apply.
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!
HI day what did you end up doing for this? I am in the same boat.
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!
It makes no difference – the point of the WHV is that you will be able to work if you so choose. Good luck!
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?
You need private travel medical insurance and a letter from OHIP.
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!
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!
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.
Hi Marina, I don’t think I did!
Anyone have any idea about renewing the visa for that extra bit of time?
Go to the Prefecture where you’re living and they will give you the details about what you need to do. I hope that helps!
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!
I wasn’t going to be out of the country for more than 6 months which is how I got my letter from Ontario. I hope that helps!
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!
I am in the same boat here and was wondering if I needed to get the provincial coverage if I get private insurance. What company did you end up going with?
I am in the same boat here and was wondering if I needed to get the provincial coverage if I get private insurance. What company did you end up going with? Did you get civil liability insurance?
Monica. Forget the provincial. Go private. It works. I didn’t have because I was on another youth mobility. I used Williams russels. Let me know if you want my reps email. She is super effective and even wrote me a letter in French for my visa
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!
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?
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.
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!
Working holiday visa and leave it blank.
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.
D’accord. Thank you also!
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?
The visa is your CDS.
Hello! I’m just wondering at what time of year you applied for your visa?
I think it was in March.
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.
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!
Have you found this out? I haven’t yet found a Working Holiday Program Application form that differs from the Long Stay Visa Application.
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?
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?
Hi Jenn, there is no OFII form included in the package.
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.
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.
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?
You can work where you like.
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?
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.
I imagine you can photocopy your visa or BRP? But I’m not really sure what you’re talking about.
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.
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 🙂
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 😉
I wasn’t in mainland France so I can’t say… But I opened my account with Bred and others were successful with BNP. Sorry I can’t be more help!
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.
I enquired about it a few years ago but I can’t remember. Work contract and a bunch of other stuff.
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
Whichever visa she is eligible for. They are all on the same page.
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!
If you click the link where it says “It’s totally allowed!” then you would see that it’s fine for this visa: http://www.consulfrance-toronto.org/spip.php?article540
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.
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!
No problem with that, the trouble will probably be getting an employer to offer you a CDI on a temp visa!
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
Yes I was. Yes I did, 8 months. No problems.
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.
Every province has different rules. In Ontario, you must be in the country at least 153 days of the year to be covered, unless you are working, studying, or volunteering.
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.
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.
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?
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!
Thanks for the fast response. How long did you get your visa for with the letter that they gave you for provincial health coverage?
Six months or so? It’s valid until November.
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?
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.
Hi Alyssa, do you know if proficiency in the French language is required for this visa?
If it’s not on the list of requirements…. 😛
Do you need to be outside of France in order to apply for the France YMS? Or can you arrive to France and apply for it?
Hi Shannon, you’ll have to apply for this in Canada.
Hey Alyssa, thanks for the shout out! Great job on this nice and concise guide to the french visa.
Cheers, happy travels!