Can I wwoof/volunteer as a tourist on a farm?

As a tourist, you are allowed to work on a farm

  • only for room and board
  • only on non-commercial farms
  • only to a maximum of 4 weeks per farm

For work on commercial farms and/or for longer than 4 weeks, a work permit is mandatory. You can do this with the Working Holiday work permit.

Even if someone claims they have been on a farm for longer, it does not mean it is legal. This person then works illegally, which can have serious consequences for the farm and the worker if caught. Apart from the fact that the health insurance will reject the claim in the event of an accident while working illegally. Here is the official paragraph from the government’s website:

“For instance, if a tourist wishes to stay on a family farm and work part time just for room and board for a short period (i.e., one to four weeks), this person would not be considered a worker. Work on a farm that is expected to extend beyond four weeks would require a work permit.”

What does non-commercial mean?

Non-commercial farms are farms that do not make money from outside. Whether from tourists or through sales. They must not have the intention of making a profit, but must only be self-sufficient. In short: A hobby farm/family farm

What is commercial?

The farm makes money from the outside. The following examples where you are not allowed to work as a tourist:

  • a guest ranch or B&B that accommodates tourists for money,
  • a horse ranch where people pay to learn to ride
  • a small ranch, but which offers trail rides for tourists for money
  • a large farm that harvests fruits and vegetables and sells them on the market
  • a horse breeding farm, dog breeding farm
  • a dairy farm
  • a winery
  • etc. 

What is wwoofing?

WWOOF stands for “World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms”. The volunteer or “WWOOFer” has the opportunity to spend time on the farm to help with the daily routine. Simple work in exchange for accommodation and three meals a day. The work includes, for example, weeding, helping with the harvest, milking cows, mucking out horse stables or feeding animals.

Where can I wwoof?

These three main pages list many wwoof hosts:

How many hours do I have to work?

For board and lodging you help the farm with the daily routine. Usually it is 4-6 hours a day to help on the farm. Some travellers report a 40-hour week, which means the farm is exploiting their workers. For this full time job, the farm would have to pay you as a full-time employee. Since many Work and Travellers are not aware of this or even do not care, they allow themselves to be exploited and treated as “slaves”.

My farm mother wants me to take care of the children

This is a real job as an ‘au pair‘, ‘nanny‘ or ‘babysitter‘ and requires a work permit and additionally the medical exam for working with children. If you work without a work permit and without a medical exam, it is illegal work that can get both you and the farm into trouble with the immigration authorities.

Important for entry as a tourist!

Wwoofing on a farm must not be the main reason for entering Canada. As a tourist, you have to have other plans for most of your time in Canada. E.g. travel, visits to family and friends. As soon as you mention the word “work” in front of the border officer, even if it is “farm work”, they can refuse entry.

​>Here< are the official instructions that government officials must follow and check.