Can you travel to Canada once you’ve submitted your profile to an IEC pool? Can you travel in Canada as a tourist while waiting for the results of the Working Holiday permit process? And what if you want to explore the country but activate your permit later?
We’re going to answer these questions, but do keep in mind that ultimately, the decision to let you enter Canada or not is determined by a border services officer upon arrival. Some travellers are “lucky”, while others are questioned and occasionally turned away for various reasons—unlike citizens and permanent residents, tourists and temporary residents don’t have a right to entry.
Can I travel to Canada as a tourist after submitting my profile to the Working Holiday permit pool?
In theory, yes. However, border services officers can see that you’ve submitted your profile to an IEC pool and they could assume you will stay in the country past the 90 days usually granted to tourists or try to work illegally.
Some Canadian embassies explicitly state they do not recommend traveling to Canada after submitting your profile to a pool.
If you can’t postpone your trip, it’s highly recommended to have a return ticket and firm travel plans—i.e. bus or train tickets, hotel reservations, etc.—to show that you’re indeed coming to Canada to visit the country and will not attempt to overstay.
Note that border services officers have the right to check your phone, laptop and emails to see if you’ve been trying to find work in Canada.
Border services officers can deny entry to Canada and can ban you from entering the country for a number of years.
Can I travel to Canada as a tourist after getting my Invitation to apply or during the Working Holiday permit application process?
The Government of Canada recommends postponing your travel plans as a tourist if your profile has been drawn from the pool.
Border services officers could assume you will overstay or try to work illegally in Canada, so it’s best to complete the Working Holiday permit process first and wait for your Port of Entry (POE) Letter.
Besides, your Working Holiday permit must be activated at the Canadian border, so if you receive your Port of Entry (POE) Letter while in Canada, you will have to leave the country and re-enter (taking a short trip to the US can do the trick!).
If you really want to travel to Canada, make sure to have a return ticket and a full itinerary with hotel reservations to prove you’re coming as a tourist.
Be warned, many travellers in this situation have been turned away by border services officers—it’s best to wait and enter with your Working Holiday permit!
Can I travel to Canada as a tourist after getting my Port of Entry (POE) Letter? I’d rather activate my Working Holiday permit later…
This will really depend on the border services officer you encounter upon arrival. We’ve heard from travellers who were able to enter as tourists after explaining why they didn’t want to activate their Working Holiday permit yet, but keep in mind border services officers could very well decide to activate it regardless.
Once again, if you choose to try to enter as a tourist, make sure you have a return ticket and travel plans with proof to show border services officers that you’re just going to explore a corner of Canada before starting your Working Holiday adventure in a few weeks or months.
Understandably, some Working Holiday permit holders would rather use their permit for the “working” part of the deal, but it was also designed to discover Canada and travel around the country. Note that you can always apply for a tourist status at the end of your Working Holiday permit if you need more time to travel in Canada.
Finally, don’t mention you were granted a Working Holiday permit unless the border services officer asks you about it—some travellers were able to enter Canada with a tourist status without further questions.
Final words of advice
- The decision to let you enter Canada as a tourist or not will be made on the spot by a border services officer. Based on feedback shared in our Facebook group, two travellers in the same situation can have two very different experiences and instructions at the border.
- If you can, it’s best to avoid travelling to Canada while your Working Holiday permit application is being processed. And if you really can’t postpone your trip, make sure to bring proof that you’re just going to enjoy Canada as a tourist for a set period of time.
- Finally, never lie to a border services officer! You could be refused entry this time or found “inadmissible,” and it could jeopardize future travel plans.
Main articles about the WHV to Canada
Step-By-Step Guide to International Experience Canada Work Permits
Introduction to the Canada Working Holiday permit
Guide to Working Holiday in Canada (free download)
16 Good Reasons to Apply for a Working Holiday Visa
Globe WHV insurance policy highlights
The duration of your insurance coverage directly impacts your WHV
15 Tips for a Successful WHV Experience
The Working Holiday Visa Adventure as a Solo Traveller