Are you in the application process for the Working Holiday Visa (WHV)? Or maybe you’ve just gotten your WHV for France and now you’re on the final stretch: preparing for your departure day! Moving abroad is no small feat and consists of some big steps, including booking a flight and finding temporary housing before you land. I hope this checklist will help you to stay organized and keep track of all the most important items.
1- The plane ticket
The plane ticket can be a big line item in your budget. Firstly, know that it is no longer necessary to activate your Working Holiday Visa within three months of arrival in France. Instead, it activates automatically on the start date indicated on your visa.
This means that if your initial entry into France is one month after the start date on your visa, you effectively lose one month of time. In other words, the start of your 12 month countdown timer does not start when you touch down in France, but rather on the date indicated on your visa. Finally, remember that within the validity period of your WHV, you can enter and leave France as many times as you wish.
One way or roundtrip? It all depends on your budget and plans. A roundtrip ticket locks you into a predetermined return date, but it might be cheaper than booking two separate one way flights if you already have a return date in mind (e.g. in a couple months for the holidays or a wedding). Regardless, you are allowed to fly with just a one way ticket, on the condition that you have the €1000 in savings for an eventual return flight, in addition to the minimum savings requirement of €2500 (or around CA$3500).
2- Your passport
Your passport must be valid for the entire duration of your WHV, and also 6 months after. If you haven’t submitted your application yet and your passport is approaching expiration, consider renewing it before proceeding.
As mentioned above, there is no additional step required to “activate” your WHV upon your arrival in France. Issued directly in your passport, the visa is automatically effective as of the start date indicated on it.
3- Your WHV health insurance
If you are reading this article, you likely have already gotten insurance. But if you haven’t yet, know that health insurance is mandatory for the WHV application, even if you still maintain coverage from your home country’s plan. The insurance must cover the entire duration of your stay. Ensure that the start date of your insurance coverage is consistent with your departure date, which you should have already indicated in your WHV application.
Since 2005, Globe WHV has been a trusted partner of pvtistes.net. It is an insurance provider that offers several advantages:
- A competitive rate of €540 per year (€45 per month)
- It will reimburse you for months of coverage that you do not use if you end up leaving France early. This way, you can sign up for a whole year without worry of wasting money
- Filing claims is simple: you don’t need to have a doctor fill out any specific form, instead just the report for your medical visit is enough
- The Globe WHV team is available on our discussion forum (or private messenger) to reply to your questions
4- Your personal documents
A legalized birth certificate may be requested of you in certain administrative processes, such as applying for French healthcare (applicable to Canadians in year 2). To learn more about how to legalize documents, please consult this article.
5- Finding temporary housing
In your WHV application, you are required to provide a mailing address. Note, however, this address is for informational purposes only and is not binding; you are not obligated to reside there if your plans change between time of application and arrival.
Some popular options to consider for short term housing are: youth hostel, hotel, and Airbnb. The choice of housing depends on your budget and plans. One week in a hostel might be convenient and affordable. Or maybe a month in a room of an owner-occupied space to give you some more time to find long term housing.
Due to the large number of online scams, we do not advise you to look for a property or room for lease before your arrival. Take a look at our article How to Find Housing During Your Working Holiday Adventure in France.
6- Read up about working in France
Whether you plan to work in your field or not, inform yourself on how job searching works in France. This can help you anticipate your own search and draw up an action plan. The job market and workplace mentalities are not necessarily the same as in Canada, for example, and it is good to avoid being caught off guard.
Read the full guide on how to find a job in France.
7- Cash, cards, and money transfers
You can consider mix of strategies:
- Bring your bank card from home. With modern security features, credit or debit cards should work without risk of being blocked for use abroad.
- Bring some euros in cash by visiting your bank or a currency exchange bureau. Alternatively, you could also just bring some cash in your home currency and then exchange it once in France. However, try to avoid unfavorable exchange rates at places catering to tourists, such as airports.
- Opening a local bank in France usually requires proof of a local residential address, so you may not be able to do so right away upon arrival. However, you can still open an account with Wise. Our partnership with Wise grants you a first money transfer with zero fees. You just need to provide a phone number to open an account. You can even do this in advance of your flight to France, no need to wait until arrival.
8- Register for our next virtual session on departure preparation for WHV France
Is departure day just around the corner? Join one of our virtual sessions where you can ask any questions you might have. Facilitated in small groups, these sessions are there to help you find the answers you need. If you’re interested, sign up to discuss with our team and hear other travelers.
9- Listen to our podcast, Changer d’horizon
In July 2023, pvtistes.net launched its own podcast Changer d’horizon. If you want to practice your French listening skills, it is the perfect place to find traveler stories and hear tips about topics such as budgeting and work. Even episodes about countries other than your own destination can be a great way to get a feel for what it is like to live in a new culture on WHV.
10- Read our other helpful resources about the France WHV
- 5 Important Things to Know to Before Landing in France
- Landing in France with a WHV — a guide to your first steps
- Key documents / procedures for WHV holders starting a job in France
- Everything You Need to Know About “Sécurité Sociale,” the French Health Insurance System
- How to Find Housing During Your Working Holiday Adventure in France
- How to extend your Working Holiday in France with an APS
- Complete guide on how to find and start a job in France
- 3 Tips for Canadians Applying for a Working Holiday to France