logo

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Working Holidays

    What is a Working Holiday?
    When I sign up, do I have to travel right away and have everything ready?
    What types of jobs are available? Do you provide jobs to me?
    Can I find a job or apartment before I arrive?
    Can I find work in my field?
    What if I don’t find a job?
    How does accommodation work after the first 2 nights?
    Will I have time off to travel?
    Are there any additional fees?
    What is the cost of living in my destination?
    Do I have to be able to speak the native language (for countries like Japan, Germany, and Austria)?
    What does the age range mean exactly? If I'm near the cut off can I still get the full length of the visa granted to me?
  • Teaching Abroad Programs

    Can I request where I will be placed?
    Can I be placed with a friend?
    I have a diploma/certificate, but not a Bachelor's degree, can an exception be made?
  • Language and Culture Programs

    Can my classes be extended?
    Can I be a complete beginner? What level of language will I achieve?
  • Volunteer Abroad Programs

    How safe will I be?
    Are these programs ethical and do volunteers actually contribute?
    What is included?
    What are the program dates?
  • Working Holidays

    What is a working holiday?

    Working holidays are the best way to experience life in another country! Canadians are very lucky to have so many opportunities to go live and work around the world. Not just anyone can pick up and easily move to a new country, unless they have a specific skill or family there to support them. Canada sees the benefit in sending youth 18-35 to other countries to experience them for up to 1-2 years, with an open work permit and no special requirements needed. Take advantage of these opportunities while you can!

    We understand moving to a new country can be a little overwhelming which is why SWAP exists! We make your move easy and stress-free. We offer working holidays in the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Austria, and Japan. A working holiday is meant to be a way to experience a new country in a way a tourist cannot, and by spending up to 1-2 years abroad, you really get a sense for the local customs, culture, language, food, and lifestyle that a 1 week vacation just can’t provide. As no one expects you to save up for a year off, you can work during your stay to support yourself, and find work in any industry, depending on your interests and experience!

  • When I sign up, do I have to travel right away and have everything ready?

    Moving to a new country can be a big change, so we also give you lots of time to get ready (if you need it!) You can sign up on SWAP as long as you plan on travelling within 1 year. We understand that plans can change so if you need time to prepare your application or put off travel, you do have 12 months to work it all out. Most SWAP participants sign up 2-6 months before they plan to go.

    We send you all the info you need once you sign up so we will help you plan your trip – no need to figure it out beforehand. We’re here to help!

  • What types of jobs are available? Do you provide jobs to me?

    Every country will have a huge variety of work available – it’s like asking what jobs are available in Canada. There are tons of opportunities to take advantage of, so finding work should depend on your personal interests and previous work experience. Working holidays can be a great time to try new things (especially jobs that may not be available in Canada – hello, kangaroo sitter, castle tour guide, or bungee jump operator!)

    Many SWAP participants work in hospitality, retail, and tourism, so they can have flexible schedules and get in tons of travelling and exploring. You don’t want to move to a new country just to be stuck inside an office all the time! Our local job specialists will be there to help you perfect your resume, provide you with leads, networking connections, and listings, plus help you get the essentials set up that employers will look for (banking, tax number, permanent address, and more).

  • Can I find a job or apartment before I arrive?

    It’s way easier to wait until you arrive before you start your job/apartment search – this way, you get to know your new city, meet our expert job specialists, and have a chance to see flats and talk to employers in person. There are a lot of scams online so it’s safer to wait until you can go see for yourself, and our expert staff will be there to help you get settled in quickly. The majority of SWAP participants are able to find work within only 1-2 weeks of arriving!

  • Can I find work in my field?

    Yes, the working holiday visas are open work permits, so you can look for any work you wish. Again, we always recommend being open minded though. It can be limiting if you are only willing to do one specific kind of job; we can’t guarantee availability and getting hired will depend on your education and previous work experience. No matter what sort of work you do, putting international experience on your resume is always beneficial. It shows you are independent, a risk taker, and open to experiencing new cultures!

  • What if I don’t find a job?

    We’ve sent over 65,000 Canadians abroad over the past 40 years, so helping our SWAP participants find work is something that we’re quite good at doing! We wouldn’t send SWAP participants abroad if our resources and support couldn’t help you get a job fast. As long as you go in with an open mind, you’ll have plenty of opportunities knocking on your door.

  • How does accommodation work after the first 2 nights?

    If you choose a working holiday and add our accommodation option, we make sure you sleep easy for your first 2 nights so you can shake off that jetlag. From there, you can always extend your stay at the hostel so you have time to attend orientation and chat with our staff about all the housing options available and find your perfect fit.

  • Will I have time off to travel?

    This depends on where you work and what your employer offers. Many employers in more flexible industries (like hospitality) are aware of working holiday programs and may even be willing to give you a very open schedule so you can make the most of your time living in your new city and get lots of travelling done. Generally though, vacation time has to be discussed with your employer, just like at any job you’d have back at home.

  • Are there any additional fees?

    SWAP is a not-for-profit organization, recognized by the Canadian government, so we pride ourselves in advocating for affordable travel opportunities to ensure all Canadian youth can take advantage! We keep our operating costs as low as possible to pass those savings on to you. Check out the destination pages for the programs that interest you to learn more about what specifically is included — flights, insurance, and cost of living funds are not incorporated into our programs.

  • What is the cost of living in my destination?

    Cost of living really depends on where exactly you will be living! Cities are more expensive on average than more rural towns, but they also have more job opportunities, and some countries that are more ‘expensive’ also offer high minimum wages to compensate. Check out “cost of living calculators” online for the cities you’re interested in living in for more info on everyday items and average costs.

    We have thousands of SWAP participants living abroad at any given moment and all of them are making their way and having incredible experiences, so it’s more than possible to support yourself on a working holiday!

  • Do I have to be able to speak the native language (for countries like Japan, Germany, and Austria)?

    We do strongly recommend you have conversational skills in the native language of the working holiday destination you choose. If you would feel comfortable attending a job interview held entirely in that native language, that’s a good sign you’ll be okay in finding work. Being able to speak the native language also means it’s easier to meet locals, read directions, order the right food from menus, and understand the culture.

  • What does the age range mean exactly? If I’m near the cut off can I still get the full length of the visa granted to me?

    If you are 30 or 35 (depending on the program you have chosen) you can still apply for the visa, but you should apply early enough to make sure the visa is granted to you before your 31st or 36th birthday. So, the latest you should plan to apply is about 2-3 months before your birthday (but the earlier, the better). Once the visa is issued you still get to use the full time period, even if you turn 31/32 or 36/37 during that time.

  • Teaching Abroad Programs

    Can I request where I will be placed?

    You can list preferences on your application (rural vs. urban, preference in what grade level you want to teach, etc.) however we can’t guarantee these. Placement availability depends on what schools are most in need of teachers so it’s not possible to control which areas or types of schools are hiring. The more you’re open to doing, the faster we can find a placement for you.

  • Can I be placed with a friend?

    We have placed friends together before, and usually if we cannot place you together in a school it’s possible to at least arrange shared accommodation (with both schools nearby). Again though availability depends on what schools are hiring so sometimes it’s not likely for a school to need two new teachers. We recommend being okay with the possibility of teaching at a school without a friend (however all schools will have at least 1 or more English speaking teachers).

  • I have a diploma/certificate, but not a Bachelor’s, can an exception be made?

    You can list preferences on your application (rural vs. urban, preference in what grade level you want to teach, etc.) however we can’t guarantee these. Placement availability depends on what schools are most in need of teachers so it’s not possible to control which areas or types of schools are hiring. The more you’re open to doing, the faster we can find a placement for you.

  • Language and Culture Programs

    Can my classes be extended?

    Of course! If you would like to immerse yourself even more and really dedicate yourself to learning a new language, you can absolutely extend your courses – usually for as long as you wish! Contact SWAP at info@swap.ca for more details and pricing options.

  • Can I be a complete beginner? What level of language will I achieve?

    Our courses have options for complete beginners! For our Japanese program we do recommend you know the Hiragana alphabet (we’ll include a copy in your SWAP guide to memorize) as this will accelerate your learning once you being your classes. Learning a language can be different for everyone depending on how quickly you pick it up and how much you practice, so the more you put into it, the faster you can become fluent!

  • Volunteer Abroad Programs

    How safe will I be?

    The safety and security of our participants is SWAP’s number one priority, so every measure is taken to ensure a comfortable and safe experience. With any sort of travel though, there are always risks, but as long as the normal precautions are taken, you can enjoy your stay with your mind at ease. We provide secure airport pick up and drop off services and our staff is available around the clock. For our participants in Soweto, South Africa, at our orphanage project, the orphanage is in a gated community to protect the children so volunteers are also highly secure.

  • Are these programs ethical and do volunteers actually contribute?

    We are well aware that some volunteer programs can be the opposite of helpful to a community in need; we strive to ensure our programs are only offered if volunteers are truly needed and if they can contribute in a positive way. Our orphanage program is always in need of staff to care for the children, who are legitimate orphans due to the high rates of HIV/AIDS. Our wildlife conservation is set on a reserve that has the highest Rhino population in South Africa, all due to their tireless efforts to protect the wildlife against poachers, so extra sets of helping hands are always in need.

  • What is included?

    Everything you need to have an amazing volunteer experience is included in our program; all meals, your accommodation throughout your stay, the placement itself, dedicated and friendly staff, plus airport pick up and drop off.

  • What are the program dates?

    Our volunteer programs in South Africa offer 2 orientations per month; the first and third Tuesdays. Our program in India runs almost every Monday throughout the year – check out our India page for more details.

Contact Us

  • Email Us

    Questions? Concerns? Comments? Of course! Write us any time at info@swap.ca and we will get back to you right away.

  • We can call you

    We would be happy to arrange a call back for you with one of our Merit Travel agents. Please send an email to info@swap.ca with the following details:

    • Your name
    • Your nationality
    • The program (or programs) you are interested in
    • Your phone number (including area code)
    • The dates/times you are available. Please note we can only arrange call backs within our business hours (Monday - Friday, 9:00am to 5:00pm EST)

    We need these details to ensure we can arrange a call for you quickly and efficiently.

  • In Person

    Click here to visit the Merit Travel site and view a map of all its offices in Canada.