Working Holiday - Frequently Asked Questions

What is a POE?

The Port of Entry (POE) Letter is the approval of the Working Holiday application. It is officially called Port of Entry (POE) Letter of Introduction. It is a letter that you will be issued a work permit at the Canadian border if you meet all the requirements. Print this letter, because you have to present it to the official to get the work permit at the border when you enter Canada.

How long is the POE valid? Until when do I have to activate the work permit?

The Port of Entry (POE) Letter is valid for 12 months. This means you have 12 months to travel to Canada and activate the work permit. The date until which you can activate the work permit is printed on the POE letter. This date cannot be extended. If you miss this date, you have to re apply for the Working Holiday.

Important! If you had a medical exam, the POE will be valid for 12 months after the date of the medical exam. This date will also be on your POE. 

Can I come to Canada before I receive my POE Letter?

Yes, theoretically you can enter as a tourist and wait for the POE within Canada. But it depends at which stage you are in the application process because it could mean you have to live off your savings without working for many months.

  • If you have not yet received an invitation, it is not  recommendable to travel to Canada. 
  • If you have submitted a complete application including the biometrics, it is a matter of a few weeks so you could travel to Canada to wait for approval. 

If you are in Canada when you receive the POE you either have to

  • exit Canada and re-enter via an international flight  
  • travel to the US border to activate the permit

There is no other option to activate the work permit from within Canada. 

I'm already in Canada, can I activate the work permit at the airport or at the embassy?

No, from within Canada, the only way to activate is an immigration office. This is what you use if you fly in via an international flight from outside Canada, or if you drive to the border with the USA and do flagpoling.

You don’t have to enter the U.S. for flagpoling, you just have to go to the U.S. border and tell the officials that you want to flagpole. The officers will then guide you right back to the Canadian border guards in a U-turn, where you can then activate the work permit.

What documents do I need to activate the Working Holiday work permit in Canada?

At the time of activation you need to be able to present all of those documents 

  • your passport
  • your Port of Entry (POE) Letter
  • proof of funds
  • proof of health insurance
  • a ticket for your departure from Canada or sufficient funds to purchase such a ticket and
  • copies of the documents you provided in your work permit application

More information to the last step of the Working Holiday application guide  >> here <<. 

How long does the health insurance have to be valid for?

When activating the work permit at the border, you must have a health insurance that must be valid for the intended length of your intended stay in Canada.

Your insurance must cover:

  • medical care
  • hospitalization and
  • repatriation (returning you to your country in the event of severe illness, injury or death)

If your insurance policy is valid for less than your expected stay, you will be issued a work permit that expires at the same time as your insurance.

If this happens, you will not be able to extend your work permit at a later date. For example, if you only have a health insurance for 3 months, you will get a work permit for 3 months. A later extension of the work permit is not possible.

My bank statement is not in Canadian Dollars, is that ok?

Yes, if the foreign amount is the equivalent of the required amounts.

  • $2,500 with booked return flight
  • approximately $3,500 in funds without return flight

I have received the POE, but cannot travel to Canada before the expiration date of the POE.

NEW! As of January 9, 2023, it only counts as a participation if you arrive in Canada and activate your work permit. In the past, getting a port of entry (POE) letter of introduction counted as a participation.  

If you didn’t use your POE and you still meet the requirements for the IEC program, you can create a new profile into the pool and re-apply. You have to wait until your POE is expired before you can re-apply. 

Unfortunately you have to start from scratch and also pay all the fees involved again. The only exception is the biometrics. They are valid for 10 years and can be used again for all future temporary applications. 

I have received the POE, but cannot travel to Canada. Do I get a refund?

No. As soon as the POE is issued, there will be no refund. 

If you withdraw your work permit application before the POE is issued, your fees will be refunded. 

I changed my mind, I want to withdraw my application.

You can only withdraw your application and receive a refund BEFORE your POE was issued.

To withdraw your application:

  1. use the web form and
  2. in the your enquiry box, include “IEC work permit application withdrawal – (your application ID number).” So, for example: IEC work permit application withdrawal – W123456789.

If it’s approved, you will receive a refund of the 

  • IEC participation fee, and
  • open work permit fee 

You don’t have to do anything else to get your refund. Normally, you’ll receive it within 8 weeks of your application being withdrawn. Your refund will be issued to the credit card you used to pay the fees.

I have received the POE, but I do not want to activate the work permit yet, but travel first.

This is possible. When entering Canada, you must tell the immigration officer that you do not want to activate the work permit yet. The immigration officer must be convinced that you are only in Canada as a visitor and will not work.

If you want to activate the work permit later and from within Canada, you have to go to a “port of entry” at the USA border and do a flagpole.

When you activate the work permit from within Canada you must have an "already travelling" health insurance policy.

Depending on your citizenship, there are a few options.

I have a layover in Canada, at which airport do I have to activate the work permit?

You need to activate the work permit at the first Canadian airport.

For example, if you are flying to Calgary but have a layover in Toronto, you must activate the work permit in Toronto. On domestic flights within Canada, you can no longer get past an immigration office. You walk directly to the baggage claim to pick up the luggage.

Do I need an eTA?

Yes, to fly to Canada, you need an eTA. However, the eTA is automatically issued with the POE. The eTA number and expiry date can be found on page 1 of the POE.

I have received the POE, but my information changed, do I need to let someone know?

Situations after the POE approval could be:

  • moving and changing the address
  • travelling to other countries and getting more stamps in the passport
  • getting married 
  • getting a new passport

As soon as you received the POE, you do not have to inform IRCC about changes. You are all good to go. One exception is the new passport. Then you need to be aware of a few things, for this see the next question.  

I got a new passport. What should I do?

If you have already received the POE: Bring a copy of the old passport and the new valid passport with you to Canada. At the border, tell the immigration officer that you have a new passport. The officer will then issue the work permit on the new passport. 

Because an eTA is tied to the passport, you also have to apply for a new eTA.

The eTA costs $7 and you apply on the official Canadian government homepage.

I lost my POE, what do I do?

Your POE is a PDF document that you can re-print from your GCKey account. It will be in the “messages” section. If you have problems logging into the GCKey account, you can contact IRCC using the Web form and ask them to re-send the POE. Let them know that you cannot access your GCKey account anymore. 

I got the work permit issued at the border. What now?

No matter how fast you want to leave that immigration office, it is very important that you check all the details on the work permit before you leave the immigration desk! Have it corrected immediately by the official if something is wrong. Getting it corrected after you left is a major pain and must be done via paper application. 

Check the information on the Working Holiday work permit:

  • expiry date
  • passport number
  • “open” employer
  • “open” location

Time to pack your suitcase. Have fun on your Canada adventure!