German Working-Holiday/Youth Mobility visa for Citizens of Australia, New Zealand and Japan

The Working Holiday Visa Programme is the visa ninja’s way of staying in Germany and traveling around Europe for up to 12 months without applying for a traditional German residence visa or require sponsorship or steady employment.

You must pass the following requirements:

  • be a Citizen of Australia, New Zealand, Chile (*1) or Japan
  • be aged between 18 and 30 years old (from the age of 18 up to and including 30)
  • not be accompanied by dependent family members (e.g. children)
  • your Passport must exceed the end of your stay by at least 3 months
  • have proof of health insurance valid in Germany (e.g. travel insurance for Germany) with coverage of at least €30,000 (EUR) and including costs for medical evacuation/repatriation
  • show a recent bank statement (with full name) indicating proof of sufficient funds – up to $7100 (AUD) for the duration of your stay; calculated at:
    • cost of return flight from Germany to Australia: $2100 (AUD)
    • living costs without free accommodation: $5000 (AUD)
    • living costs with free accommodation: $1800 (AUD) (*2)
  • pay the €50 (EUR) visa fee at time of visa application in Germany

(*1) Citizens of Chile are recommended to apply for a Working-Holiday visa before traveling to Germany.

(*2) If staying in Germany with free accommodation (e.g. relatives or friends) you must show an invitation letter and passport photocopy of the inviting German Citizen.

If you’re over this age limit or not a Citizen of one of the ‘best friends’ nations then you must consider a traditional residence visa for Germany (e.g. general employment, self-employed, job-seeker visa, EU-Blue card, internship, artist, etc.), the Working-Holiday visa is not appropriate for you.

Australian citizens (as well as New Zealand and Japanese citizens) are encouraged to apply for a residence permit after entering Germany at the local immigration authority (‘Ausländerbehörde’), without prior applying for a visa in Australia.

German Missions in Australia – Working Holiday Visa

The perks of this visa is you can travel around EU-member states with your Schengen visitor visa for 3 months then return to Germany and without appointment submit your visa application in-person at the closest Ausländerbehörde (German immigration authority) then continue traveling.

In my case the closest immigration authority was Altona Kundenzentrum in Hamburg and I was granted a Working-Holiday visa valid for 12 months on the spot after queuing for less than 4 hours!

Note: Check if your closest German immigration authority requires prior appointment for visa applications, an example is Welcome Center Hamburg which requires appointments for all visa applications with a appointment waiting list of 3-6 weeks. No appointment was necessary for visa applications at Altona Kundenzentrum.

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Michael Visser

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21 thoughts on “German Working-Holiday/Youth Mobility visa for Citizens of Australia, New Zealand and Japan”

  1. Hi,

    I am looking at getting the Working holiday visa. Do I need to enter Germany to activate my visa? I turn 31 in March so I need to apply before then, but I might not be able to fly into Germany until after March. If I have the visa confirmed before March can I enter Germany and use it in say June? I realise I will only have 9 months left on it. Also do I need to have flights booked at the time of application, or is it enough to show I have the funds for a return flight? Thanks

    1. Hi Sandra, you’ll need to have your visa confirmed in writing before the day of your 31st birthday (March) – I’d recommend having all paperwork confirmed by the German Embassy here in Australia – but you’re right that will mean you only have 9 months left on it if you enter in June.

      If you’re an Australian, New Zealander or Citizen of Japan then you won’t need a return flight booked but will need to provide evidence of funds for your stay including flight in the form of bank statements or a letter from your Australian bank.

      As mentioned to Hamish earlier today do keep in mind that other European countries have reciprocal Working Holiday and Youth Mobility programs so if you wish to travel longer in the Schengen Area consider applying to neighboring countries at the end of your German Working Holiday visa. 🙂

  2. Hi Michael,

    I have been doing some research, but can not find some definite answers to some questions, including among your blog posts. I hope you can help, please!

    I am an Australian citizen and I have just returned from 8 months in Germany, where I had a 12-month Working Holiday Visa. The visa expires in May 2018.

    1. Am I able to use this same visa if I was to return to Germany before it expires? Or must I apply for a second Working Holiday Visa visa?
    2. Would I be able to apply for a second Working Holiday Visa after it expires?
    3. I am currently 30 years old, but I turn 31 in July. Am I still eligible to apply for a visa before I turn 31 years old?

    Thank you for your help!

    Mit freundlichen Grußen,


    1. Hi Ben, happy to help! Here goes…

      Yes you can leave and enter Germany (e.g. return to Australia and fly back to Germany, or travel to the US and return to Germany) without restriction until your German working holiday visa expires. Once your working holiday visa expires you are not permitted to enter again with that visa and will need to be issued an alternate entry visa on your next entry into Germany (e.g. tourist visa, student visa, work visa, etc.).

      As far as I’m aware you can only apply for a Working Holiday visa in Germany once up and including the age of 30 years old, so you will not be able to apply twice for the same category visa; Working Holiday and Youth Mobility visa. Alternate visa categories to explore include a work employment visa sponsored by a Germany company, joining a language school or if you are self-employed applying for a freelance visa.

      Here’s a different spin on things, look at the Working Holiday visa programmes in neighbouring countries and continue to live in Germany for the next 12 months, Working Holiday visa’s are essentially extended tourist visas so there’s a lot of wiggle room if you don’t need to work in the country that issues your residence visa. Hope this helps, prost!

      1. Awesome, that’s a big help.

        I’m guessing, however, that Working Holiday Visas are only valid for the country they are granted in? E.g. A visa granted in Austria is not valid for Germany.

        1. Working Holiday visas grant residence and short-term work opportunities to the country of issue but you are not restricted from travel within the EU so you could stay/holiday in Germany or anywhere in the Schengen Area during that period. Whether Germany accepts this is another point but it’s worth looking at.

          In the case of Denmark you must be holding a valid residence visa in Germany when applying from there otherwise you have to do it from Australia, the same goes for neighboring Czech Republic; as a New Zealand Citizen you can apply up to the age of 35 so you could jump between Working Holiday visas for years to come!

  3. Hi

    I’m currently on a working holiday visa and i’m from Australia and I’m told that without sponsership from a company I can not extend my visa?

    I’m in Germany with my Girlfriend who is German and she is back home to study so my plan is to stay 3-4 years until she has finished her studies.
    How do i go about this?
    My current visa runs out end of September and finding work has been really difficult due to only knowing English.
    I need some help in ways to extend my visa or to apply for another visa that will allow me to stay 4 years minimum.
    what are my options?


    1. Hi Dan, unless you take on German language studies full-time you are limited to two options (that I’m aware of):
      A) Find employment and get sponsorship for that period of time that you are in Germany.
      B) Get married. Germany is old-school, once you’ve signed a Marriage Certificate waltz over to your local Kundenzentrum.

      Option B was on the cards in my situation but we had the flexibility to move whereas your partner with studies in Germany doesn’t. Good luck!

      1. Thankyou Michael much appreciated.

        One more question
        If I manage to get a job and study German fulltime how can i stay longer?

    1. Hi James, nice! Simple start looking for work!

      While you’re applying for jobs register yourself a Steuer-Identifikationsnummer with the tax department. I’d visit your local Kundenzentrum (Citizen Center, ala Council) and they’ll step you through any paperwork. In my case the Welcome Center Hamburg was connected to Handelskammer (Chamber of Commerce) and they sorted it there on the spot. Hope this helps!

        1. I don’t think so, just the tax number. The working holiday visa is your residence visa, check with Kundenzentrum when you’re there but once I got my working holiday stamp I was good to live there for 12 months before exploring other visa opportunities. 🙂

  4. Quick question mate, I am also going to apply at the Altona auslanderamt tomorrow. Do you know/did they tell you how long we are allowed to work for one employer for? From what I read it appears to be unlimited duration, but I also heard 3 months.

    1. Hey David, it’s a 3 month per employer limit. Quote from my passport insert:

      “Working Holiday. Beschäftigung max. 3 Monate beim selben Arbeitgeber.”

  5. Hi, you make it sound so easy!
    I’m planning to head to Berlin next month and want to apply for a visa. I’ve heard wait times for appointments can be months and sometimes longer than the Schengen visa is valid for. I tried to book online in Berlin however I couldn’t secure an appointment. I am considering visiting a smaller German town to apply for my visa as it appears to be quicker, Hamburg seems like a good option. What did you do about proof of residency though if you don’t plan to live in Hamburg? Also do you know how official this needs to be? I’ve booked accom at an air bnb for a month however I’m assuming I may need a rental agreement? Would hugely appreciate your advice 🙂 thanks!!

    1. Hi Lani, I covered how to get the proof of residency bit (Anmeldung) as a traveller in this post linked below. It’s not hard but is a requirement for most residence visas.

      You can use a hostel or even your AirBNB address, when you arrive scout out your local Ausländerbehörde, if you’re moving to inner- Berlin look at an office a little further out of the city and say they were too busy for foreigners and sent you here. 😉

      Regarding the appointment waiting time (if there is one), you can visit any Ausländerbehörde and ask for a temporary visa extension if you’re worried about your visa period lasping. That will give you an immediate 90 day extension to stay in Germany and resolve your visa application, that’s covered in the post below.

      If you need any help just ask here, prost! 🙂

    1. Hi Peta, I’m a New Zealand and Australian Citizen so could apply within Germany, I did it in-person and without an appointment at my local Ausländerämter (Foreigners Authority). Do check which Ausländerämter you will be submitting at as some require prior appointment as well as specific days for submitting visa applications.

      It took 3-5 hours from arrival at the Ausländerämter, that includes queuing, submitting my completed Working-Holiday visa application, then waiting to receive my modified Passport. 🙂

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