gap year visas and 
passports

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Manuel Delgado

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Aug 2017

gap year visa passport

A visa is what allows you entry into any other country in the world, and your nationality is the initial deciding factor on whether you need a visa or not. Some countries will require you to make an application in person at the embassy in your home country or even sometimes online and other countries have a visa waiver program for certain nationalities.

Currently, holders of UK passports are able to visit 173 of the world’s nations without applying for a visa, being ranked in the first position next to Germany, Sweden, Finland and the US. To see whether you need a visa for where you want to go check out this very cool interactive map by Travelscope.

Tourist visas

Tourist visas are also commonly know as entry visas and they are issued at the port of entry for personal visits. You are not allowed to work under this visas this also include voluntary work. They usually last 90 days, but the Immigration officer issuing the visa have the power to give you as many days as he/she deems fit.

Do your research - check the website of the embassy of the country that you are planning to go to or check the FCO website for the latest updates.

If you want to stay for longer, you need to find out as soon as possible if a visa extension is possible and what you need to do to apply for one. More often than not this will involve visiting the immigration office in one of the larger cities with some paperwork and a small admin fee.

Pretty straightforward stuff, but give yourself plenty of time to do this, so you are not caught short. Depending on the country, you can be penalised heavily for overstaying a visa.

Holiday working visa

Commonly known as ‘gap year visas’ due to their popularity with gap year travellers, The Working Holiday Visa (WHV) is granted to young people aged between 18 to 30yrs. This type of visa allows you to work and travel in a country for a specified amount of time.

The WHV will give you amazing opportunities to make some money while travelling, so you can travel longer, pay some of your tuition fees or have a free gap year.

You can work in any country in the European Union without applying for any type of visa, this might change in the future due to Brexit.

Australia: The amount of work available and the salaries paid make Australia the number one destination for UK travellers going on a gap year, but take into consideration that it's also an expensive country to live in.

You can get a WHV for up to one year and you can enter and re enter the country as much as you like during that time.

The work varies but fruit picking and catering jobs are the most common work for backpackers and gap year travellers, and there is plenty of work all year round

New Zealand: New Zealand is another popular destination for UK gappers. The WHV is valid for 23 months - giving you plenty of time to travel, work and get to know this beautiful country.

Fruit picking is also very popular; working in catering and farm hand jobs being the most common jobs available.

USA: Before you can apply for a J-1 visa for your gap year, you must first be accepted into an exchange visitor program through a designated sponsoring organisation.

It's a popular destination for many young people on a gap year, who want to work at summer camps as counselors, sky resorts and snowboarding instructors.

Japan: You can apply for a WHV if you are 18 to 30. This is a famous destination for teaching English, but you will need to do your TEFL course first.

The amount of money you will be paid varies depending on what work you do and the skill level involved, but the jobs can come with great perks such as free food and accommodation, so you are able to save quite a lot of your wages.

Applying for this type of gap year visa to any of the above countries can be a lengthy process, so make sure that you allow plenty of time - 8 weeks as a minimum. It can also be confusing due to the amount of paperwork and you might need to attend for an interview.

Passports

Getting your passport and visas in order way before going on your gap year should be one of you first tasks. Before you embark on your travels make sure that you get yourself a passport, as you won’t be getting further than departures without it!

You may already have one, if so that’s great as that saves you another job on the never-ending ‘to do’ list. However, if you do have a valid passport just quickly check the expiry date on it. This is an important date; when you enter another country you must have a minimum of six months otherwise you will be denied entry.

For example, that means that if you are going for a year you need at least 18 months before expiration. To avoid any problems I would recommend at least two years before expiring. Don’t forget to give it enough time to be processed, though, and this usually varies depending on the time of year, but it can take up to twelve weeks.

While travelling you will need to keep your passport in a good condition and that means that it should have a protective plastic cover; you don’t want to be surprised by sudden torrential rain while in the tropics and get your passport all wet and destroyed within minutes.

Treat your passport as a sacred document. Keep it safe and know where it is at all times; having to apply for a passport while abroad will only cause you hassle, cost you a lot of money and is time-consuming. You will need to hang around in some capital city for days and days and they are usually not the safest or most interesting places to be.