Now that we have settled down in New Zealand, it is time to tell a little bit about the application process of New Zealand working holiday visa. Even though we actually never planned to go to New Zealand, we definitely don’t regret this spontaneous decision we made two months ago! Working holiday is a great way to experience New Zealand in many ways. It offers an opportunity to travel to the other side of the world, see beautiful places, get work experience and prep your English language skills.
What does the New Zealand working holiday visa cost then? The cost and other requirements always depend on your nationality. You can check the working holiday schemes for your nationality on New Zealand Immigration website. Handling the application takes only two working days. There are different criteria for each nationality concerning how many applicants get the visa every year and when you can apply. Some nationalities (i.e. Finland) don’t have any limits and every applicant gets the visa but some countries have a specific quota per year.
Many companies also deal working holiday visas against a service fee. From our opinion, using this kind of services is unnecessary as applying online is quick and easy. For us, the main reason why we ended up in New Zealand, was the free visa for Finnish people. Just to compare, the working holiday visa to Australia costs around 200 euros for the citizens of Finland.
Requirements of working holiday visa
To apply for the working holiday visa, you must be 18-30 years old (or for some countries 18-35). The duration you can stay in New Zealand depends on your working holiday scheme. The requirements regarding the job contracts also vary – some nationalities can’t work more than 3 months for one employer. The common rule for all the nationalities is that you cannot accept a permanent job contract. You can only get a working holiday visa once. That’s why you should be sure about your decision before you apply for the visa. You must travel to the country within one year after the visa approval date. The visa is valid from the day when you arrive in New Zealand. Sometimes you can apply for a prolongation if you have done farm work during your stay in New Zealand.
There is one important thing to notice while applying for the visa. If you have spent more than 3 months during the last 5 years in a country that has a high risk for tuberculosis, you need to attach a chest x-ray to the application. High-risk countries are for example all the Southeast Asian countries. You can find the list of low incidence tb countries here. This means that if you have spent over 3 months in a country that is not on the list, you need the x-ray. It cannot be done in any health center but the doctor must be approved by New Zealand immigration. Here is a list of the approved health centers.
Some countries belong to so-called eMedical countries. This means that the health center sends the results of the x-ray to New Zealand electronically. It makes things easier as you don’t need to send anything via post. Check the list of eMedical countries here.
Besides the chest x-ray, you also need to get a medical examination if you are going to stay more than 12 months in New Zealand. You can read more about the conditions here.
We were in Vietnam at the time when we applied for our visas. At that point, we had been traveling 8 months in Asia. Therefore it was obvious in our case that we need to get the chest x-ray for the application. We booked an appointment at a health center in Hanoi and paid 50 euros each for the x-ray. Everything went quickly and smoothly and the results went to New Zealand in one day. You don’t need to be in your home country when you apply for the working holiday visa as you can fill the online application and go to a medical examination anywhere. If you want to get your visa approved quickly, we recommend taking the x-ray first and sending the application after that.
Another requirement for the working holiday visa applicants is a valid travel insurance for the entire time you will spend in New Zealand. We can recommend the international Truetraveller travel insurance* that costs about 300 euros per year. For a small extra fee, we chose a wider activity pack that also covers physical work and volunteering. Read our whole article about True Traveller insurance here.
One unavoidable cost is naturally the flight to New Zealand. Flying to New Zealand can be quite pricey sometimes. We used AirAsia and flew from Kuala Lumpur to Auckland for 220 euros which is relatively cheap. That’s why it can be a good idea to combine New Zealand working holiday with a backpacking trip to Asia. At the same time, you might get a cheaper medical examination than in your home country.
When you arrive in New Zealand, you must either have a return flight or a proof that you have enough money to live in New Zealand. For Finnish people, the required sum for 12 months is 4200 New Zealand dollars (2500 euros). It’s recommended to print the bank statement just in case even though nobody asked us for that at any point.
Here are summarized all the costs for New Zealand working holiday visa:
- Applying for the visa: depends on your nationality
- Chest x-ray: 50-200 euros depending on the country (only needed if you have spent over 3 months in a risk country during the last 5 years)
- Medical examination costs (required if you will stay more than 12 months in New Zealand)
- A flight to New Zealand
- A return flight or the required amount of money for living
- Travel insurance for the entire period you stay in New Zealand
Eventually, we spent 570 euros each to go to New Zealand. This sum includes the travel insurance. We had had the Truetraveller insurance for almost one year already and were able to prolong the validity online. When you do this, you get a 10% discount from the normal price.
Summarized, going to New Zealand is easy but the application process depends pretty much on your nationality. Once you have arrived in the country, you must arrange all the basic things like open a bank account, buy a sim card and apply for the IRD tax number. Others want to go travel around the country right away. Then again others, like us, want to get an apartment and a job. Read our tips about the must-do things after arriving in New Zealand.
If you have any questions about the New Zealand working holiday visa, just ask us in the comments!