How to Get a French Working Holiday Visa, in Australia – FAST!

Unfortunately, there’s no express option for processing a French working holiday visa and the overly elaborate process doesn’t make it any easier. Alas, follow my steps to get your visa in the most timely fashion. 

I got mine in less than a week because I was able to plan ahead and be prepared to achieve the fastest processing time possible!

Quick Summary 

At first glance, applying for a working holiday visa (vacances travail) for France seems like a very complicated process. Welcome to France!

In reality, as with many different French democratic processes, obtaining a working holiday visa for France as an Australian is actually quite simple if you follow the steps below.

📆 Period of Validation:1 year💲Cost:€99
🕓 Processing Time:3 days – 2 weeks🗣️ Interview:In-person at VFS Global Centre

Step 1: Book your appointment! 

According to the official websites, this is supposed to be the last step when you’re ready to apply however as appointments usually book out a month in advance, book this first!

You’ll have plenty of time to organise the rest of the application once you have this deadline. Remember that the only place you can currently apply in Australia is at the VFS Global Centre in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, or Adelaide, and you must do this in person.

Also, remember that you have to enter France within 3 months of getting your visa

Booking the appointment is free, so even if you’re not 100% sure you’ll be going straight away, it’s worth booking in and cancelling later if you must. 

NOTE: The VFS Global website has different login URLs for each country’s visas that they represent. Make sure you are using the correct URL for French Visas (above) to access the correct appointment centers.

Step 2: Decide on an entry date & book some accommodation 

This can be a bit of a stumbling block for some people as there are no real guidelines for how you are supposed to provide an address if you don’t yet have a visa organised to move to a new country.

I booked just one week’s worth of refundable accommodation in a hostel in order to have an address for my application.

Once you have this, you can begin your application. After receiving the visa, I immediately cancelled the hostel as I was already working on finding an apartment to rent.

Step 3: Complete your application form online and print your receipt. 

For the online form, you will just need the usual details such as passport numbers and contact info, plus your chosen entry day and details of your accommodation in France.

You don’t actually have to enter France on the date specified however your accommodation and proof of entry must match it. 

Step 4: Finalise your bookings, pay for travel insurance & gather your documents

You will need printouts of the following: 

  • Entry ticket to France across a non-shengan border. This can simply be a bus ticket from London. 
  • Exit ticket OR signed affidavit promising to leave France before the end of your visa.
  • Federal Police check certificate + photocopy (they will certify it with the original) 
  • 1 year of travel insurance coving repatriation and a minimum of $50,000 in hospital fees. (Read Below if you don’t intend to stay for the full year)
  • Last 3 months’ bank statements with a balance of $5,000 AUD. Must have your full name printed on it. 
  • Proof of accommodation. (Your booking confirmation will do) 
  • Photocopies of your passport 
  • Passport photo 
  • Pre-paid express, registered mail satchel for returning your passport if you don’t intend to pick it up yourself. 

The list of requirements mentions a medical certificate “if the bilateral agreement requires it” but nowhere on the Internet tells you if it does or not.

For Australians, you do not need this. If you are an international residing in Australia, you will have to contact your own embassy to find out and also supply proof of legal residency status in Australia.

Travel Insurance

If you don’t intend of staying the full year or simply want the option to be more flexible in extending your travel insurance as I did. I recommend Fast Cover!

Their flexible policies allow you to extend your cover whilst already overseas, as well as having a 14-day change of mind window.

This means that after purchasing your policy if you change your mind within 14 days, you are allowed to cancel with a full refund, no questions asked.

For my purposes, I purchased the policy the day before I flew to Sydney for my visa appointment. This meant I had at least 2 weeks for the visa to process and then be able to safely cancel and change my policy to my intended length of 11 months. Use my Fast Cover link for $5 off!

Check out my post on How to Choose the Best Travel Insurance for your Trip!

Step 5: Attend your Appointment 

Take all your documents, pay the money, have your photo taken and have it all over within 2 mins! 

The “interview” is more of a double-check of your documents. They took my application, checked all the information with the documents I provided, stamped all my pages of tickets, insurance and proof as accurate, and told me to wait for the mail!

TOP TIP: If you’re in a rush, try telling them you will be leaving Australia on an earlier date.

As my entry ticket was from London on the 18th, the lady asked me when I was actually going to be leaving Australia (ie when I would need my passport back) and when I told her the earlier date, she wrote it in big letters at the top of my application. 

I can’t guarantee this will work however, the consular representative told me that it shouldn’t take longer than two weeks to process. 

If you have all your documents in order and manage to book your appointment early, the process is actually a lot more simple than the lack of available information makes it out to be. 

How long does a French Visa take to process?

Despite the fact that all my research told me I was in a high-demand period of the year (November), my visa only took 2 days to process + 1 day to receive in interstate mail.

I actually received my passport back in the mail before the online visa process tracking information was even updated with the approval date!

The official website says that receiving a French Working Holiday Visa could take anywhere between 10 days-2 months however I believe this is possibly the very worst-case scenario. The lady who checked all my documents at the French Consulate told me it doesn’t take longer than 2 weeks.

FAQs about the French Working Holiday Visa

What are the requirements for getting a working holiday visa for France?

You have a valid passport from a participating country, be between 18-35 years old, and have $5,000 AUD in savings plus travel insurance to cover a 1-year stay

Do Australians need a visa to work in France?

Yes, Australians must hold a valid work permit and Visa to legally work in France.

What jobs can you do on a working holiday visa in France?

You can work nearly any job in France while holding a valid working holiday visa

Does my French working holiday visa need to be activated when I enter the country?

No. You must enter France through a non-shenanigan border so they will inspect your passport, but you do not need to do anything special to activate your visa. It is valid for 1 year from the date specified in your passport.

Pack your bags and go! If you’re reading this post, France is probably calling your name right now! 

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Helpful Resources - My favorite place to find the perfect hotel for any budget and location with lots of filters to easily narrow it down to a select few. - Another great place to find a hotel with specific requirements for your trip.
Agoda - Best for booking hotels in Asia. Has options worldwide however in Asia it seems to have the most options of all the booking sites.
Hostelworld - Perfect for backpackers, Hostelworld is my go-to to find dorm rooms and cheap, social accommodation options.
Rental Cars - My preferred place to find rental cars at great prices around the world.
Discover Car Hire - Another option to compare rental car companies and providers worldwide.
Sixt - Previously “Thrifty” car rentals.
Europcar - Offers car and van hire around the world.
AutoEurope - Best place to find RV’s to rent for your trip.
Paul Camper - Rent campervans directly from their owners at reduced prices.
Get Your Guide - My preference for finding and comparing city tours, day trips and attractions around the world.
Viator - Preferred by US providers so sometimes has a bigger range of activities in select locations.
Klook - Most popular in Asia, you will find a bigger range of attractions and tours in the region of Asia on Klook.
Civitatis - Specializing in European Cities. Although it provides tours worldwide, always check here for additional options if visiting Europe.
HeadOut - Best place to find discounted attraction tickets.
Tiqets - Offers a lot of combo tickets. Make sure to visit if you are planning on visiting a few iconic attractions within a city.
Tripaneer - Where to go if you want to book retreats of any kind (yoga, cycling, outdoors etc).
Guru Walks - Book your spot on a free walking tour.
G Adventure - Lets you compare multi day tours around the world to pick the right itinerary for you.
Cruise Critic - Check out the different cruise options for long or short trips world wide.
Cruise Direct - Another option for comparing and booking cruises for your trip.
Backcountry - The best place to buy quality specialized gear that will last you for years of adventures.
Helly Hanson - Norwegian based clothing brand which produces durable outdoor clothing, particularly ski gear.
The North Face - High quality clothing for all your outdoor adventure needs.
Decathlon - Has a great range of cheap equipment and clothing for a huge range of sports and outdoor activities.
Sport Chek - Everything you need for general sports and outdoor adventures under one roof (or website).
Skyscanner - My preferred place to compare and find the cheapest flights to different destinations around the world.
Kiwi - Best platform for comparing different routes and dates.
Flixbus - Cheapest bus service mostly serving Europe but available in a few other destinations.
Greyhound - US long distance bus transport service.
Busbud - Compare and find all the bus times and providers for your chosen route.
Trainline - Find train times and tickets for long distance travel around the world.
Save a train - Another place to get train tickets and compare services for your destination.
Welcome Pickups - Pre book your airport transfer to your hotel.
Get Transfer - Another option to find airport transfers within your destination city.
Kiwi Taxi - Find and pre-book a taxi service in your location (including airport transfers).
World Nomads - Great comprehensive worldwide travel insurance for adventure travel.
SafetyWing - Best for digital nomads, offers ongoing monthly travel insurance plans.
Bonzah - Rental car insurance. Cheaper plans than those offered by the rental car companies themselves.

Bags Always Packed is a reader-supported site which means some of the links on this page may be affiliates. I spend a lot of time researching these hotels, tours and products and only recommend those which I would use myself. Booking your trip through my links is a great way for you to support my work for free, as I will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. ♡

Kate is the outdoor loving, mountain obsessed creator behind Since the age of 18 she has travelled to 50+ countries in search of the tallest peaks, new cultures, and the most off the track experiences possible. With over 10 years of adventures under her belt, Kate is dedicated to sharing all her experience through this website, helping you to plan your own trips and experience the world, no matter your budget!


  • Huey

    It’s actually a great and useful piece of info. I’m happy that you shared this useful info with us.
    Please stay us up to date like this. Thank you for sharing.

  • myles

    Hey Kate.

    Thanks for this post, it’s awesome! I’m just a bit confused in the application process as alot of forums online are saying I need a pre-booked or proof of 3months of accomodation prior to entering, but you’ve said that you only had the 1 week. Did you have no issues with this at all?

    Thanks in advance.

  • Myles

    Hey Kate, thanks for this post, it’s awesome, really settled my nerves about applying a bit. I just have some confusion around pre-booked accomodation. Is one week of accomodation all you need forapproval? I have seen online on some forums they expect 3months of pre-booked accomodation. But you didn’t find this an issue?

    Thanks in advance!

    • Kate Fletcher

      Hi Myles,
      It was a few years ago now that I applied myself but I didn’t have a problem with only having 1 week of accommodation booked. The only way I could see it being a concern to the visa official is if your arrival date is peak summer tourist season (July/August), as accommodation in popular cities does sell out in advance during this time. I was arriving in winter but the lady didn’t batter an eye at it during my interview.

      If you are worried, you could book 1 month of accommodation to give yourself time to find a rental, but I think 3 months seems like a bit of an overkill considering you’re going there to live, not as a tourist.

      Hope that helps!

  • Madeline

    Hey Kate,

    This blog is fantastic and definitely helped us with our application. We did have to submit a medical certificate that stated we were fit and healthy for the year abroad.

    I also wanted to ask you what your “approval” email looked like? I have read in messages above that it seems you went directly to the embassy rather than via VFS Global – was the communication you received about your approval via the embassy direct? Our only form of notification is that our passport is now on our way back to us, and VFS Global have not been able to confirm whether our visas are approved or not – will will only find out when our passports arrive back in the mail.

    • Kate Fletcher

      Hi Madeline,
      Happy I could help! Good to know that now you are required to submit the medical certificate as it wasn’t required when I applied a few years ago.
      When I applied you had to do it directly through the consulate in Sydney, not VFS. From memory there was an online portal where you could track the process of your visa and it had the acceptance date stated there when it was approved, but I actually received my passport (with an approved visa) before the tracking was updated.

      Honestly you don’t need to worry about this too much at all as working holiday visas are generally just about checking all the boxes. If you submitted everything they asked and fall within the correct age categories for the visa you’re almost guaranteed to be granted the visa. 🙂

      Have an amazing time in France!

  • Danni

    Hi Kate,

    Thank you so much for this blog post, I never would have started my application if I hadn’t found it!

    I’m wondering about how strict they are with the travel insurance requirements – because of the travel time and stopping in Ireland beforehand my 12 month policy won’t cover the entire 12 months in France.

    And I can’t update the policy until a month prior to travel, which is later than my visa appointment. Any thoughts on this?

    Even if I do the 12 months insurance from my departure date from Australia and book accomodation in France as if I’m starting there it will still be a couple of days short of 12 months due to the travel time to get to Europe.

    Also do you know if the 12 month visa starts from the start date you give on the visa application, or when you actually enter France? (Within the 3 months of the visa being issued).

    Thanks again!

    • Kate Fletcher

      Hi Danni,
      So happy to help! I’m pretty sure missing a few days of insurance won’t be a problem as everyone coming from Australia to France would face the same problem with travel etc. The worst thing that could happen is that you just get a couple of days less than a year on your visa (although they didn’t bat an eye about this for me), they won’t reject it completely for that reason.

      The 12 months will start from the date you put as your arrival date on your application, but you don’y actually have to arrive on that date if you have other plans. For example, my arrival date/visa start date was 8th of December but I didn’t actually arrive in France until the 1st of Jan. This meant my visa did expire on the 8th of December the following year but I actually stayed for a couple of extra weeks at the end as a tourist before moving to another European country.

      If you choose to do the same (stay a little longer as a tourist), just be prepared to explain yourself at the airport when you depart. You shouldn’t have any trouble as long as you are within the regular Schengen limit of 90 days, they just might ask for some clarification.
      Have fun!

  • Angel

    Hey Kate,
    Thanks for all your advice! I’m just stumped on the booking an appointment before the visa application part. Even though I’ve checked time and time again that I’m using the VFS global website they only seem to give options for an India Office (i.e. Melbourne India Office) I know this is a super strange request but anything you have to expand your point on booking an appointment first (how you did it, what you selected etc. Would be really helpful)

    Thank you!

    • Kate Fletcher

      Hi Angel,
      You have to make sure you are using the correct URL for the country you are going to apply for. For some reason when you google VFS Global, the website that comes up first is for their Indian visas. Here is the URL for French Visas, I’ve added it into the post now too. If you click through that one it should show you all the French Visa appointments.

      Hope that helps!

  • Bronwyn

    Heya Kate! Thanks for this article, it’s super helpful! A quick question – I see you mention it in a comment above but just wanted to clarify. Just wondering around if any restrictions are imposed with this visa for visiting other Schengen countries? ie. are you able to travel to other Schengen countries for an unlimited period during this time or does the 90 day limit still apply? Thanks!

    • Kate Fletcher

      Hi Bronwyn,
      Technically, the 90 day limit still applies to all other schengen countries except the one you have a visa for (France), but in reality, there is no formal border crossings between the schengen countries so they can’t really keep track of it. I know plenty of people who have used this loop hole without a problem so it’s generally fine, but of course it’s all up to your own comfort levels. 🙂
      Hope that helps!

  • Josh

    Hey Kate,

    Thanks for detailing your experience with the WHV application, it’s very informative.
    How did you make an appointment at the French Consulate-General in Sydney? I can only see options for appointments at the VFS Global Centres in Sydney, Brisbane, etc. Would you recommend going to the French Consulate-General in Sydney instead of a VFS Global Centre in Brisbane (even if I live in Brisbane)?


    • Kate Fletcher

      Hi Josh,
      I just checked and they seem to have changed the system since I applied. When I got my WHV you could only apply at the embassy in Sydney, but now it appears you can only apply via VFS and they pass it along to the embassy for you. This is great news as you no longer need to fly to a different state to apply (it was a pain when I needed to do this)! All the other parts of the process seem to be the same steps as above.

      Thanks for letting me know about this, I will update the article with the new information! 🙂

      All the best,

  • Hannah Hassen

    Hey Kate! This blog post has been a livesaver in dimming the stress of planning our WHV to France for 2024.

    There is one thing I’m stumped on – you mentioned that we have to enter France across a non Schengen border. I can’t seem to see this requirement anywhere else on the internet.

    My hubby and I are leaving from Japan and would like to head to a few other Schengan countries before arriving in France. Will that be okay?


    • Kate Fletcher

      Hi Hannah,
      So happy to hear my blog is easing some doubts. The reason you need to enter across a non Schengen border is simply so France has a record of when you arrived. Since there are no border crossings within Schengen, if you were to enter from Italy for example, there would be no arrival stamp in your passport for France.

      I think this rule was stated on the paper I received with my passport and visa, but I just had a look online and I also cannot find it anywhere else so there is a good chance they removed it all together. When I entered from the UK to France by land they barely even looked at my passport.

      The only hiccup I could see as a potential is if you enter and leave from a country other than France at the end of your WHV. They may ask you to explain your trip to ensure you didn’t overstay the 90 day Schengen rule (since this rule still applies to you in every country other than France), as there is no documentation of you actually being in France for the majority of your year.

      But I also wouldn’t stress too much about that as I actually did the same thing way back when I had a Germany working holiday visa. I applied for it in Poland and left the continent from France so there was no paper trail of me being in Germany at all. They asked me a couple of questions about why I was leaving from France and not Germany but then let me go on my way without a problem in the end.

      Have a great trip and let me know if you have any other questions!

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