Moving To Canada For Kiwi’s (IEC)

Want to move to Canada on a Working Holiday but you’re not sure how?
Keep reading!
I moved to Canada in January 2018 and as difficult as moving abroad sounds, it’s actually relatively easy. Just have some patience and save some money!

Step One
Find out if you’re eligible to apply.
To participate for a Working Holiday Visa, your country must have an agreement with Canada that allows you to apply for an IEC work permit. Thankfully, New Zealand does. As long as you’re between the ages of 18 – 35 you can head to Canada on a Working Holiday and work on the Ski Fields as much as you like!! (Or another job of your choosing)


The Working Holiday Visa is designed for New Zealand citizens who want to come to Canada to travel, but also want to work at the same time. This could be anything from working on the Ski Fields to working as a Receptionist, Travel agent (such as myself) or doing Waitressing work.
You have to remember however that you only get your Visa for 23 months. Many other countries (Australia, UK etc….) get a Visa for 24 Months – so make sure not to commit to anything for the full two years work wise as you can’t legally be there unless you apply for Permanent Residency. 

Also note that if you are wanting to apply, you must

  • be a citizen of New Zealand,
  • have a valid New Zealand passport for the duration of your stay in Canada—your work permit in Canada will not be longer than the validity of your passport,
  • have a minimum of CAN$2,500 to help cover your expenses in Canada,
  • have health insurance for the duration of your stay—you may have to present evidence of this insurance when you enter Canada,
  • be admissible to Canada,
  • have, before departure, a round-trip ticket or demonstrate that you will have the financial resources to purchase a departure ticket at the end of your authorized stay in Canada,
  • not be accompanied by dependents, and
  • pay the fees.

Step Two
Start a profile!

Head to the website I just posted above and get started with making yourself a profile. If you want to travel and work temporarily in Canada as part of International Experience Canada (IEC), your first step is to become a candidate in one or more IEC pools.

If you think you want to head to Canada in the next 12 months, do this as soon as possible. The whole process can take up to 3-4 months in some cases so you really want to start getting everything organised ASAP.
If you think you’re wanting to leave in 2-3 years time – just wait. As soon as you get your acceptance letter, you have 1 year to enter the country. If you don’t enter the country, you’ve basically missed your chance to experience a Working Holiday Visa.

Once you’ve submitted an IEC Profile, you need to wait for an invitation to apply for a Work Permit Application.
If you’re invited to apply, you’ll get a message in your account. The message will list your category and your next steps.
You have 10 days to decide if you’ll accept the invitation. The deadline will be in your invitation. From the day you accept the invitation, you’ll have 20 days to apply online for a work permit.

If you do not respond by the deadline shown in the invitation, the invitation will expire. If it expires, you’ll have to submit a new IEC profile and be accepted to the pool again before you can be considered for future invitations.

Step Three
Once you’ve been accepted into an IEC pool, start getting your documents together. These are things like Police Certificates, proof of funds from your bank, a medical exam (ONLY if you’re planning to work with Children do you need this), your passport and your CV.


Once Canada choses your name out of the pool of people to apply, they only give you 20 days to complete and submit your application for a work permit and submit all supporting documents. If these documents are ready in advance, it will be easier to apply within the 20 days.

Remember, at this stage if you decided that Canada isn’t right for you, you can always decline the invitation and do it again before you’re 35. 

Step Four
Fill out all the fun paperwork!
As mentioned above, you’ll have to upload a criminal record from the Ministry of Justice  to your account. (What Canada calls your ‘Police Certificate’) To get this, go here 

You will also need to make sure you have a passport that is valid for your duration of stay in Canada, along with a copy of your CV that has a description of your education, qualifications, work experience etc…
If you are planning to work with Children, in the Health Field or in Elderly Care, you also need to complete a Medical Exam. I had always planned to work as a Travel Agent when I came to Canada, however there was a fear that it could not work out and Nannying would have to be my back up. I decided to get a Medical Exam while I was in New Zealand so I could legally work with kids and WOW DID IT COST A LOT. Approx $600 to be exact.giphy-2
The thing is, you can’t just go to your usual doctor and get one. There are only SPECIFIC Doctors in New Zealand that can do it for you. These doctors have to have been approved by the IRCC and you have to get an information printout sheet or an IMM 1017B Upfront Medical Report form for them to complete.

Once you’ve done all this, you then must pay the IEC participation fee of CAD$150 and the open work permit holder fee of CAD$100.

Please note the open work permit holder fee is refundable only if you withdraw your work permit application before they issue your letter of introduction OR your work permit application is refused.

When you’ve finished filling out the paper work and uploading documents – send it all off!

Step Five
It can take up to 8 weeks for your work permit application to be reviewed. So don’t go buying any plane tickets or accepting any job offers until you have your application approved.

If your application is approved, you’ll receive the magical port of entry (POE) letter in your account!! This is what you need to enter Canada.

Once you have this, you can buy a plane ticket, organise a Bon Voyage Party and sell your car – woohoo! You’re off to Canada!

giphy-3When you do eventually arrive into Canada, make sure to bring your POE letter with you and get your Visa issued before the expiry date of the letter. 
I know that some people come here and want to do a little holiday before they actually get a job and start working. You can totally do this. If you don’t want your Visa to start on the day you actually get here, you just need to exit Canada (by crossing the boarder or flying out) and come back in to get your Visa issued. 

Questions I always see people ask online:

Q: I need Travel Insurance that will last me the whole 23 months I’m in Canada, however I can only find Insurance Companies that sell 1 year policies?

A: This seems to be the biggest issue people have. And I’m going to tell you a trick that some people will either like or not like.
I purchased a year policy through World Nomads Insurance. It cost me NZD$1,173.92 for one of their ‘explorer’ plans. I then purchased a second year of Insurance through another company the day before I flew to Canada (Cost me around NZD$1,800) and then as soon as I arrived into Canada and got my work Visa issued I cancelled my second year of insurance and got my money back. 
Read the policy wording but I can assure you that nearly every Insurance in NZ will have some kind of ‘cool down’ period where you can cancel your insurance within 48 hours and get a full refund.

I in no way was planning to live in Canada and have absolutely no insurance. I had my first year covered and as soon as I was here 3 months I applied for the Government Health Plan called MSP (Medical Service Plan) PLEASE NOTE THIS IS ONLY FOR PEOPLE WHO WILL BE LIVING IN VANCOUVER
As long as you are working full-time here, they will cover you for many (but not all) things medical related. (Eg, Doctors visit, medically required eye examinations, x-rays, dental and oral surgery, when medically required and other things like surgery, hospital care etc)
I have Psorasis, (a skin condition) and I attend Light Therapy Treatments at the Skin Clinic 2x a week. This is all covered under MSP. I had to get surgery on my wrist for Ganglion Cysts and all my surgery and specialist visits would have been covered (I ended up not getting it because they disappeared for a bit).
My partner broke his finger playing Rugby and his surgery, hospital visits, after-care etc were all covered by the MSP.
The medical care here is amazing. It does cost you approx $37 a month but it’s totally worth it.

Do note however that if you decide to travel outside of Canada, you will need some other type of insurance. ESPECIALLY if you go to the USA. You don’t want to be traveling there with no health insurance as medical bills are thousands of dollars. You don’t want to be caught out. The MSP will also not cover things like baggage loss, flight delay etc… they’re not a Travel Insurance.

Q: Do I have to let New Zealand customs know I’m leaving when I fly out?

A: No. They don’t really care. Just let your bank know so they don’t block your cards when they see transactions over-seas (They may think you’re getting scammed)

Q: Will my phone work in Canada?

A: On roaming it will but it will cost a lot. Use the Airport Wi-Fi when you arrive and sort out a SIM card later.

Q: What if I don’t have the CAD$2,500 needed to show for a visa?

A: Then you can’t afford to live here. Hopefully you have a plane ticket booked home.

Q: How long does it take for my Visa to get issued when I arrive?

A: Hours. I waited at YVR Airport for so long. But of course it all depends on how busy it is that day. 

Q: Who flies to Canada from NZ?

A: Air New Zealand. I couldn’t recommend them highly enough. They do a direct flight from AKL – YVR. Also, Air Canada is going to be starting a non-stop service in December 2019 AKL – YVR. However, I’ll always prefer Air NZ over them haha.

Q: What happens to my Student Loan?

It collects interest when you’ve been gone for more than 6 Months. See below on how much you need to pay to keep on top of things.

Hopefully this information helped!

If you have any questions, comment below 🙂 Coming to Canada has been one of the best things I’ve done. To live in a new country is the coolest experience – I highly urge you to do it if you’re considering it. 

Should out to for heaps of this info.