How to get a Hong Kong Working Holiday Visa

How to get a Hong Kong Working Holiday Visa

How to get a Hong Kong Working Holiday Visa

So you have an inkling that you might move to Asia to find work, but you have no idea where to start? Why not try Hong Kong? Hong Kong Working Holiday Visa s are available for citizens of certain countries aged between 18 and 30. It could be you! Hong Kong is an amazingly busy, cultured and fascinating place. You will also find it an easy place to get work – I moved to Hong Kong back in 2011 and had about 8 or 9 different jobs in the Kong – I use it as my base for my most recent travels!!

How to get a Hong Kong Working Holiday Visa

How to get a Hong Kong Working Holiday Visa

What is Hong Kong?

Is it a city, country, region, colony or province? That’s really up for debate. Call it a country and it won’t mind – they have their own currency (Hong Kong Dollars), their own language (Cantonese/Guangdonghua), their own visa regulations (this isn’t quite China!) and the ultimate in deciding whether a place is a country or not – a National Football Team. So I call it a country! It’s not really a city as you’ll discover, because of the outlying islands and new territories which consist of gorgeous fishing villages that feast your eyes and taste buds away from the bustling skyscraper growth in Kowloon and Hong Kong Island. My advice? Get that visa and get out to Hong Kong!

Everything you need to know is on the Official Hong Kong Immigration Website. But since I have been through the Hong Kong Working Holiday Visa process first hand, I thought I’d make things a bit easier for you…

Do I need to be able to read or speak Chinese? No, you don’t need to speak Chinese. The Hong Kong Immigration Website is also available in English and indeed there are three main languages used in the Kong: Chinese Mandarin (Putonghua), Cantonese (Guangdonghua) and English (Ying Man). Cantonese remains the number one language, but English is used for a lot of businesses.

How do I get a Hong Kong Working Holiday Visa? For a start, do everything yourself, don’t be using any agencies. Head to the Hong Kong Immigration Official Website and check if you are eligible. If you are, download the application form here.

How to get a Hong Kong Working Holiday Visa

How to get a Hong Kong Working Holiday Visa

What Age Groups Can Apply for a Hong Kong Working Holiday Visa? You MUST be aged between 18 and 30 when you apply.

What Nationalities Can Apply for a Hong Kong Working Holiday Visa? Currently only passport holders of the Republic of Korea, Australia, Canada, Germany, Ireland, Japan and New Zealand.

How Do I Apply for a Hong Kong Working Holiday Visa? Download the application form from the link here, print it out, fill it in with a pen and post it off!

Can I apply by e-mail or fax? NO, you can only apply by post.

Does a Hong Kong Working Holiday Visa allow me to visit China, Macao, Taiwan and Tibet? NO, those countries all have their own Visa regulations and you will need to apply separately for each one (though a lot of nationalities don’t require visas for Macao and Taiwan). However getting a China Visa in Hong Kong is easy as I found out. For the other countries visits this will depend on your nationality.

How long will it take for the Hong Kong Working Holiday Visa to be approved? Again this depends. I applied on an Irish Passport and received confirmation by post within a few weeks. I lived in Australia at the time.

How much does a Hong Kong Working Holiday Visa cost? My Hong Kong Working Holiday Visa was FREE. I applied on an Irish passport and as you can see from the photo below, there was NO FEE. There may be a charge for other nationalities.

How long can I stay in Hong Kong with a Working Holiday Visa? It runs for exactly one year from the day you arrive in Hong Kong.

How long can I work for under my Hong Kong Working Holiday Visa? You can work for all 12 months of your stay but officially you can only stay with one employer for 3 months (or 6 months if you are from South Korea)

Can I extend my Hong Kong Working Holiday Visa? NO, after one year that is it. You can only get one Hong Kong Working Holiday Visa in your lifetime (although changing your name and nationality may be an option!!)

How long is my Hong Kong Working Holiday Visa Valid For? Once your visa is confirmed you have 3 months to enter Hong Kong and activate it.

What else might I need to get a Hong Kong Working Holiday Visa? You might be asked for a recent bank statement to confirm you have enough funds. You might also be asked for proof of travel insurance for your stay. (in both cases send them a photocopy as proof and that should be enough).

Are there any other limits? Yes, and the last point to note is that each country has a maximum limit per year. For example only 100 Irish people per year can possess a Hong Kong Working Holiday Visa (I was one of the lucky ones!!). A useful resource for Irish people is here.

So that’s it folks!! If you are eligible to apply then go for it!!

Right so now you have landed in Hong Kong with your Working Holiday Visa activated you need four more things, as I see it:

– a place to stay

– a Hong Kong ID card

– a Hong Kong bank account

– a JOB!!

You could start off by staying at the notorious Chung King Mansions in Tsim Sha Tsui. You can make an appointment to get your Hong Kong ID card here. It’s a fairly straight forward process. As for opening a bank account, there are simply thousands of banks in Hong Kong!! Next step is to find a job and the good news is there are LOTS of jobs in Hong Kong – it’s a vibrant, booming place. The main types of jobs you can get are bar work, teaching and office jobs:

1. Bar Work:

My first job in Hong Kong was working in a bar. There is lots of bar work available in Hong Kong. I worked in the excellent Delaney’s Irish Pub in Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon. The main parts of Hong Kong to get bar work are Lan Kwai Fong, Wan Chai and Tsim Sha Tsui.

2. Teaching:

There are lots of jobs teaching in Hong Kong, mostly for Native English Teachers. I have got teaching jobs in Kindergartens, Primary Schools, Private Teaching and at Events. Easy to come by and decent rates of pay. In most cases you will need some sort of TEFL or degree (I will reveal more on that in future posts). Read my post on why Hong Kong needs English teachers.

3. Office Jobs:

Anyone that knows me knows that I actually despise office jobs and often look down on those in these types of jobs. However there are LOTS of jobs like this in Hong Kong if that is what you’re after. I’ll talk more about this in future but basically I live a lifestyle of travel – I do what I want, when I want and where I want most of the time. Why would you want to spend your entire life working away for some company in an office 9am – 9pm all your life. Think about it!! I have spent a couple of years of my life doing Office Work including a year in London doing PR for Apple. Over time I realised I want to live my own life the way I want it, so my all means go for an office job, but don’t forget to clock out at 5pm and live your life the way you want it!! That said I have enjoyed doing some part time PR work at Internations Events in Hong Kong!

So there you have it, a long winded post and believe it has taken me a lot of time and effort to write this!! During the process I have had a broken computer, a CRASHED server and a faulty hard drive. I always seem to gloss over the bad parts of travel writing. I’m now typing this on an unresponsive keyboard!! But the important thing is you now know how to get a Hong Kong Working Holiday Visa!! Feel free to leave me a comment or ask me any questions!

You might also be keen to know how to get an Australian Working Holiday Visa and I will have plenty more to come on Visas, Hong Kong and teaching.

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43 thoughts on “How to get a Hong Kong Working Holiday Visa

  • Sadly I was 31 last year… That means the end of working holidays for me and I am completing my last one in New Zealand as we speak! I’m not totally sure how I am going to get around now but I am off to Europe next (Am from UK) so I am fine there. I guess it means 3-month stays for me in Asia and most other out-of-Europe countries for me now!

  • I wouldn’t worry too much Forest! I’m 32 now and the “working holiday” option has now passed me by too (though I think Canada runs one until the age of 35 providing you study), there’s plenty of other ways to get visas and valid jobs in countries, as I found out!!

  • Hello,

    I just found your blog, really interesting !
    I’m actually traveling in Asia and plan to work in Hong Kong, so I will apply for the whv.
    I’m wondering if I have to send the money with my application…
    I’ve seen that you didn’t pay for the visa but can you tell me if you have sent the cashier order or bank draft with your application as requested and they just didn’t charge you? Or you didn’t send the cashier order or bank draft with your application?

    Thanks a lot !


  • Hi Ganesh thanks for your comment – on my nationality my visa was FREE of charge so no money issues at all. Whats your nationality? It was free when I applied in 2011. Safe travels, Jonny

  • Hi there, you said that we officially have to switch employers every three months. Is there any way of getting around this?

  • Hi Emma – yes there is – get paid cash in hand for the rest of the time or work for the same employer but with a different base (e.g. work in a chain of pubs and get the boss to say you worked in 4 different ones, each for 3 months). There’s always a way round it. Safe travels. Jonny

  • hi jonny,

    In your visa it stated that it is good for a single journey to hong kong. What if you want to spend a weekend in the near by countries? Will you be able to use this visa? or you have to stay the whole year in hong kong?



  • Hi Josh – it’s a multiple entry visa so you can come and go as much as you want INTO Hong Kong – you will need separate visas for other countries around it though to keep within the guidelines. I have only spent about 7-8 months in Hong Kong during these visas, I come and go all the time. The reason is says good for a “single journey” is that you can only travel into Hong Kong and activate it – from that single journey of activation you have one year in Hong Kong. So if you wanted to come to Hong Kong for 2 months before starting the visa, come as a tourist first, then leave and go back in using the Working Visa. Good luck and safe travels. Jonny

  • Hi Jonny thanks for the info really useful. Just a question about the insurance. Im going to send off my application next month but im not sure from which insurance company to buy from? As it states your travel insurance must hold Medical, healthcare including hospitalisation, repatriation and liability in your insurance. Does most gap year insurance cover this? and which travel insurance was you covered with?



  • Hi Will,

    Thanks for the comment – honest straight up answer – I never use travel insurance (long story but basically in my early days I wasted thousands on it and never got a penny back) and I wasn’t asked for any proof of it when coming to Hong Kong. It’s probably just for paper work purposes they ask for either travel insurance or proof you will cover your own medical costs. I think I ticked the box saying I will pay for my own. These days I happily pay for any medical costs I have on the road. A letter or a note saying you will pay for your own medical cover and doctor visits should be fine. What’s your nationality? Thinking they go easier on the Koreans and Japanese over this…best of luck! Jonny

  • Hey Jonny,

    Really useful advice. Did you have any problems applying in Australia even though you are Irish?


  • Hi Furan, no problems at all – Irish people get an allocation of 100 Hong Kong Working Holiday Visas per year and unless they’ve already filled the quota, you’ll be fine. Safe travels and good luck. Jonny

  • Hey buddy great articles very helpful as I’m planning my adventure to HK shortly. Where did you stay throughout your initial working holiday visa? Did you move around? Rent an apartment? For the jobs you had was it hard to pay for rent in some spots. Whatever details would be incredibly helpful! Thanks man!


  • Hi Jeffrey – thanks for the comment and glad youre thinking about Hong Kong – it’s a great place. I’m a nomad and a long term traveller so I never rent flats or pay bills so I can’t help you out on that one. In the first year I travelled for 3 months to other parts of Asia (China, Vietnam, Korea, Japan), stayed with my girlfriend’s family for a bit, a few nights in a hostel and shared a flat with a Chinese guy for 2 months. I was in Lam Tin, Ma Wan and Lai Chi Kok. I’d definitely NOT recommend signing a contract for a flat in HK as they are normally 6 or 12 months and that means you’ll have to commit to the full term. I hate paying rent and then taking 2-3 weeks off to travel – feel like I’m wasting money on the rent if you know what I mean? I worked in a bar at the start then worked in schools and also did some part time work at nights. It wasn’t hard at all – but then again I am a real tight assed cheapskate backpacker so that always helps!! Good luck and safe travels! Jonny

  • Thanks for the reply buddy!

    Hopefully you can help my thought a little more from your own experiences and perspective for what is possible. I was planning on winging it in HK completely as I arrived. I have this idea that when I land I’d find shelter somehow/somewhere or meet people that could help me out if it came to that. Don’t mind sleeping in random areas though lol. For job I’d do the same walk around, talk to people, email workplaces..anything to find a job. I was also planning on only traveling with only backpack and a 2 wheel carry on. I have been having doubt tho that taking a carry on to roll around wouldn’t be the best idea but it was a gift for my travels so I don’t want to not use it you know. From your observation around HK and for watching others is my winging it method a plausible one. Whats your opinion for surviving in HK with only couple pieces of luggage and not that much money to support oneself initially lol.

    Once again any extra details would be super beneficial if you could think of anything!

    Thanks man!


  • I’d say you will be absolutely fine mate!! I turned up there as a backpacker, got a job after a few days and then staretd earning! Bar work is EASY to find for English speakers especially in Lan Kwai Fong – just ask around and I’m sure you’ll get a job!! Believe in yourself and wing it as long as you work hard and actively look around you should be fine. In terms of a cheap place to stay to start with – try Mirador Mansions and Chung King Mansions – theyre old and worn, but they sure as hell are cheap enough!

    If it was me I’d just take a small carry on and a big backpack – I gave up suitcase and rolling luggage about 5 years back.

    Best of luck man!!


  • Thanks buddy! I appreciate your time!

    Keep inspiring the world to travel and live. It’s a great message.


  • Hey buddy,

    Sorry to bother you again, curious could you provide some information on what type of money you were making working your various jobs and what the minimum wage is if it changes for being on a working holiday visa! Any information would go far for my budgeting mindset haha.

    Thanks bro!
    All the best to you!


  • Hi Jeffrey – In 2011 I was earning 10,000 HKD a month in the bar, plus tips (an extra 5-6,000 HKD probably) as well as free meals and drinks. In 2012 I was earning 20,000 HKD a month in the schools. Both will probably be a bit higher now – just look around and take what you can get. As well as doing these jobs I also did some night time work at Internations Events and private tutoring. Good luck! Jonny

  • Hey Jonny,

    I applied last month and I finally got the acceptance letter today!
    The letter isn’t very clear though, how did you actually get the visa in your passport?
    Did you go to the immigration centre after you arrived in Hong Kong?


  • Hi Rob,

    I got mine posted out to me as I lived in Australia at the time – you can also arrange to pick it up in Hong Kong, but that made no sense to me, as then you’d have to go to Hong Kong on a tourist visa, pick up your Working Holiday Visa, leave Hong Kong again and back in to activate your WHV. I’d get the visa posted out. Safe travels and good luck. Jonny

  • Hi Jonny,

    This is a fantastic blog and it surely answered a lot of my questions.

    Can you please let me know how did you apply for the HK ID? I didn’t know you can obtain a HK ID while you’re on WHV. Also, can you please let me know what are the benefits of having one.

    Thanking you in advance and keep up the great blog!!


  • Hi Summer – I was going to write a post about getting the HKID but never got round to it. After you get the Working Holiday Visa and arrive in HK you need to get your ID card as soon as possible in order to start working. I made my appointment on my first day, had a temporary HKID card the following day and got my full card 2 weeks later. Some employers accept the temporary card, but just make sure you get it as soon as you can. Skipping it means you’ll have to just take cash in hand and basically a privilege you could have done on a tourist visa so defeats the purpose of getting your WHV. Hope this makes sense, best of luck and safe travels. Jonny

  • Hi everyone,
    our company are looking for a English speaking shop helper for those are staying or plan to stay in Hong Kong under valid working holiday visa. If you are interested in, please email to Toshi Lam info[at]

  • Hey Jony!

    First of all- awesome blog.
    Secondly, are there any schools you’d recommend? Or were there any well-known recruiter/ school that most NET teachers worked for?

    I am trying to get a job for September and your blog is the only resourceful blog I’ve found about teaching in Hong Kong so far! So it would be great to hear your feedback!

    Thanks 🙂

  • Hi Cherie. Thanks for your comment. I have to admit I havent been in Hpng Kong for about a year now. So I am not sure about the agencies or situation at present. My best advice is to go there, spend your first 2 weeks looking for a job and you’ll be fine. I used an agency in Yau Ma Tei to start with – they dont have a website or anything. It’s very much a face to face environment in Hong Kong for interviews and jobs so good luck!! You will be fine. Safe travels. Jonny

  • Well! How are you? I am looking into the working holiday visa but there’s little information online. So I have a few questions I would love your input on.
    How hard is it to get a job?
    It states you can only work three months for the same employer. Did you find it hard getting new jobs every three months? I have experience teaching English and was hoping to do that for a while, what the wages like teaching English on a short term contract?
    Did you have any for the jobs for more than three months? When you first arrived what kind of place did you stay?
    Any info would be great!

  • Hi John, All the information is in the post. As for getting a job, it’s easy. You’ll have one within days if not hours. All bars and restaurants in the touristy areas are looking for staff all the time, as are most schools. If you have a qualification – even better – plenty of office work. But you have to want it, be eager and go out looking hardcore for that job! I didn’t find it hard at all. The wages vary as I mentioned but generally they are amazing, even a bar job pulls is 15,000 HKD a month!! Apart from working for myself as a blogger, I have never earned so much in my life as I did in Hong Kong. Yes I worked much more than 3 months there – I kept one of my contacts and the job for 2-3 years on and off as I travel a lot so I was in and out of HK, China and Asia. You’ll earn enough in 3 months to be able to move on and come back for sure. I stayed with my girlfriend at first then tried a flatshare, then stayed with a mate on his settee. Ive done a few hotels and hostels too. Overall, just work hard and WANT IT and you will be fine. Safe travels. Jonny

  • Hello Jonny!
    I am from Hong Kong and I absolutely love your article! (Hong Kong is a country!)
    My Cornish fiancé would like to explore Hong Kong with me for a year and learn Cantonese (so he will be able to communicate with my family and our future children) but my family is strongly against this idea and think it’s a absolute waste of time. They want us to get a permanent job in the UK right after graduation but we know that we will not quit the job once we find a permanent one, which means that never again will I have a chance to spend a long period of time with my family. I see it as the last year I can spend with them and in my home town, but they won’t understand, and claim that they will visit my often after retirement, but this is not just the same.
    I hope we will be able to convince them 🙁

  • Hi Stefanie, thank you for your message, nice to hear from a Hong Kong-er on this. You probably know my view already – you should both go for it!! He should be able to use his UK passport to get a Working Holiday Visa for Hong Kong and getting a job there in a bar or a school shouldn’t be a problem. Let me know what happens and good luck with it! Jonny

  • Hello Jonny,
    I wonder if you would have the answer to this, I was recently granted a working holiday visa to Hong Kong and I intend to stay for the full 12 months. I was going to buy a one way ticket then realize how return flight is 3 times cheaper…so my question is if I bought a return ticket of 15 days to Hong Kong back to UK but obviously don’t catch the return flight and stay in HK. Will this affect my 12 months working holiday visa in any kind of way when entering immigration? I don’t want 12 month working holiday visa being knock down to 15 days just because I want a cheaper flight. I’ve got in touch with local travel agencies, they have no idea, hope you would have the answer to this to put me concern at ease.

    Thanks again!

  • Hi Michael, I’m not sure what you mean? The visa is always one year, there is no 15 day option or no termination of the visa based on flights or boats in and out. You get one year from the day you arrive whether you are in the country or not, the visa always lasts one year. Safe travels. Jonny

  • Hi Jonny,

    Quick question: do you know if I can I apply for the working holiday visa when I am already in HK as a visitor? I’m an Australian citizen and a job fell through at the last minute who was going to sponsor me but my flights were already booked. I’m within the 90 day visitor period and will stay with friends but wanted to be sure I can apply at the immigration Dept in person or do I have to send off the application prior to leaving Australia (and have someone post it to me in HK when it arrives)


  • Hi Sede, yes you can. You can apply for it for sure, and even if they said no – just head to Macau and do it from there. When I applied for mine, I was in Australia, but they never asked which country I was in. Good luck with it! Jonny

  • Thanks Jonny.
    And once you are on a working holiday visa and a company wants to sponsor you and give you a work visa is that fairly easy to change on to ?

  • Hi Sede, it was easy for me as I stayed with the same company for over a year. Just play it by ear and if you want to stay in the Kong longer, I’m sure you can. Safe travels. Jonny

  • Hi Jonny,

    This is a great piece, thanks for the info! I’m applying for a WHV.
    My question is about the ID card… I’m curious to know about the restrictions. As my partner is living and working in Macau, I’d like to know if the ID card will allow me to stay in Macau without restriction for up to 12 months. I understand that A HK Re-entry Permit or ID with * or *** or R would give me my best options. Hope you can help me out!

    Many thanks!

  • Hi Georgie, thanks for the comment. For Macau, I would not even use the HK ID card. Most tourists can stay in Macau for 3 months at a time, I’m not sure what nationality you are but on an Irish or British passport, I could stay 3 months in Macau. So just do your 3 months, then cross back into Hong Kong for a day and back to Macau for another 3 months, that is if you really fancy spending 12 months in Macau, once you’ve seen Macau, it can get boring! I much prefer Hong Kong or Shenzhen! Have a safe trip. Jonny

  • Great Post!!! Thanks for sharing the valuable information with us. I value your time Continue moving the world to travel and live.

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