Going on a working holiday adventure is jumping into the unknown with hopes and both eyes closed. If you speak some French and if you’ve been to Europe before, France may seem like a cozy, familiar destination. For others, it will be a brand new continent and country with possibly strange customs (blue cheese, anyone?)

Either way before, during or after your adventure, you will probably have questions, plural. Let’s try to answer a few of them!

Before going to France

“Do I need to know French?”

The short answer is no. There are no formal language requirements to obtain a Working Holiday Visa to France. But when it comes to living everyday life abroad in a foreign language, the full answer is a bit more nuanced. To learn more, read our article Do I need to know French to live in France?.

“How and where do I book a visa appointment?”

Depending on your nationality, your appointment may either be through VFS Global or a French consulate/embassy. Canadians and Australians, for example, book through VFS Global. Argentinians, Brazilians, Chileans, and Colombians book through their local French consulate/embassy. To check for your country, visit this website by France-Visas.

Regularly check the appointment page in the morning, as other applicants may cancel their appointment or new availability may be added.

“How should I write my application cover letter?”

Firstly, know that it does not have to be written in French, since there is no language requirement for the French WHV. Just explain that you want to discover a new culture and that you’re applying for a working holiday to spend time in France and work as needed to pay for your living expenses. There’s no need to go into extreme detail. However, it is essential that in the letter you commit to not overstaying your visa, and that you will return to your home country before the expiration date.

“Do I need a medical certificate and a criminal record check?”

It depends on your nationality. Canadians and Australians, for example, do not need to provide these documents when applying for a working holiday to France, as they are not “provided for” (terminology used by the French authorities) in the bilateral accord. Japanese and Taiwanese applications only need to provide a medical certificate. Other nationalities generally need to provide both.

In any case, once you start your application on France-Visas, the portal will list the supporting documents to provide.

“Where should I settle in France?”

It all depends on what you’re looking for. Do you want to live in a city, in the mountains or by the sea? In the north or the south? Just remember you’re free to travel around the country so if you don’t like a place, go somewhere else!

“Is it difficult to find a job in France?”

If you’re looking for a basic customer or food service job, you should be able to find work opportunities easily. There’s a huge shortage of workers in the food and retail industry in France.

It gets tricky if you’re looking for a skilled job in your field—ultimately, it depends on your language skills, experience, and the current job market.

“What about finding housing?”

Again, it all depends on the city you pick. Demand is very high in some cities, especially in large cities or those with a large student population.

Expect landlords and rental agencies to ask for various documents to assess you as a tenant (guarantors, proof of sufficient funds, work contract, etc.).

“Will my driver’s license work in France?”

It depends on your country/province/state of origin and duration of stay. Foreigners from most countries are permitted to drive in France with their own license if they are just visiting temporarily. For longer stays, the rules can vary more. Check the agreements between your country and France to be sure. And when in doubt, it doesn’t hurt to apply for an international driving permit either, especially if your license is in neither French nor English.

Some additional information for Canadians: Holders of valid driver’s licences issued by Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Ontario, Prince Edward Island and Quebec can drive cars in France with their Canadian licences for one year. If you’re staying longer, you can use the reciprocal agreements to exchange your licence for a French one. The process must be completed online and there is a fee.

“Are there any important documents I should bring with me?”

For most nationalities on a working holiday in France, they will not be asked by French authorities to show any important documents (beside the obvious, passport and visa). If you want, it doesn’t hurt to print out proof of your private health insurance, in case of emergency.

Canadians should bring their birth certificate, since they’ll need it to register for the French sécurité sociale if they stay in France for another 12 months after their first 12-month working holiday. Don’t forget to have it apostilled by the Canadian embassy in Paris. This does not apply to other nationalities, since they do not have the option of extending beyond 12 months.

“Are the French actually mean?”

No. The French can appear snobbish at first glance. However, they are just straightforward, honest and proud, with an ironic sense of humour. Not all French people act like Parisian waiters, and even that’s just a cliché.

“How can I make the most of my experience?”

Fear always comes up to question our decisions. Even if your year in France doesn’t go as planned, you’ll still grow from the experience.

During your Working Holiday in France

“Are my healthcare expenses covered by the French sécurité sociale?”

No. As a working holiday maker, you must pay for your healthcare expenses. This is why buying private health insurance is not only important, but also a requirement for most applicants from most countries.

“My employer is asking for my social security number. What should I do?”

Know that WHV holders automatically have work authorization, they do not need a social security number to start employment. Though it is not obligatory, your employer can still obtain one on your behalf through the URSSAF. Regardless, WHV holders are not eligible for social benefits in France. Read the following article to learn more.

“Which bank and telephone plan should I choose?”

The easiest way is to go with an online bank, such as Wise. Otherwise, for your phone plan, Free is a solid option—you don’t even have to provide a home address, and it has excellent options for global roaming.

“Can I travel outside France?”

You certainly can. You can travel within the Schengen area and you can leave and re-enter France as often as you like. You can even go back home to visit relatives and friends.

“Who do I contact if I have issues?”

You can contact the embassy of your country in Paris if you have issues during the working holiday in France.

For Canadians only: “Do I have to renew my health insurance if I stay in France for another year?”

Yes, you absolutely must renew your travel insurance plan for the second year. This is a document you will have to provide if you extend your Working Holiday Visa. This is not relevant to other nationalities, which are not permitted to extend their stay.

After your working holiday in France

“Can I stay longer in France after my working holiday?”

It is possible, but you’ll have to apply for another type of visa. To do this, you must go back to your home country first to avoid overstaying your WHV. From there, you can explore other options such as applying for a work permit through your French employer, or visa for students, entrepreneurs, family reunion etc.

“Can I go on another working holiday adventure elsewhere in the world?”

It is very likely that your country has agreements with more countries than just France. Check the government website of your country (or the website of the embassy of France in your country) to confirm what options are available to you, and head to the forum if you have more questions.


Je suis Meghan, rédactrice web pour Pvtistes. Je suis Québécoise, originaire de la Côte-Nord. Je suis en PVT France depuis un peu plus de 1 an déjà. Je me suis installée dans le département du Nord, à Lille.

I’m Meghan, a writer for Pvtistes. I’m originally from the Côte-Nord region of Quebec. For my working holiday, I settled in Lille, the Nord department of France, and I’ve been here for just over one year now.

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