The UK Youth Mobility Scheme (T5) Visa for Australians

The UK Youth Mobility Scheme (T5) Visa for Australians
London, UK. Photo by Matt Graham.

The United Kingdom (UK) is one of the most popular working holiday destinations for young Australians, who have the opportunity to live and work in the UK for up to 2 years! This will soon increase to 3 years when the upcoming changes to the Youth Mobility Scheme visa take effect (see below).

Many young Aussies dream of living and working in London. Thanks to the UK’s Youth Mobility Scheme visa, which is the UK equivalent of a working holiday visa, you can! In fact, thousands of backpackers travel each year between Australia and the UK – countries with strong cultural, economic and historical ties.

This page contains information about the UK Youth Mobility Scheme (T5) visa for Australian citizens and living in the UK. It was last updated on 17 January 2022.

Please note that COVID-19 may impact your ability to travel to the United Kingdom at this time.

The UK border is currently open to Australians, but COVID-19 entry restrictions may apply. For example, you may need to complete a Passenger Locator Form and/or get a COVID-19 test within 2 days of arrival in the UK. See the UK government website for the latest information on coronavirus travel requirements.

Key facts about the UK

  • Population: Approx. 68 million
  • Official language: English
  • Capital city: London
  • Largest cities: London, Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds, Glasgow, Liverpool
  • Currency: Pound sterling
city road people street Edinburgh
Edinburgh, Scotland. Photo by Anna Urlapova on Pexels.com.

UK Youth Mobility Scheme visa (T5) requirements

The UK offers Youth Mobility Scheme visas to citizens of Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan, Monaco, New Zealand, San Marino, South Korea & Taiwan. See the UK government’s website for more information.

This information is applicable to Australian citizens and may be different for citizens of other countries.

To apply for a UK Youth Mobility Scheme (T5) visa as an Australian citizen, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Aged between 18-30 years old (inclusive) at the time of application
  • Have at least £2,530 (approx. AUD4,700) in savings

You cannot apply for this visa if you:

  • Have dependent children who live with you and/or for whom you are financially responsible
  • Have already completed a working holiday in the UK under the same scheme

More information is available on the UK government’s website.

Documents needed to apply for this visa

When applying for a Youth Mobility Scheme visa for the UK as an Australian citizen, you’ll need to provide the following documents:

  • A valid passport
  • Bank statement showing you have at least £2,530 or equivalent in savings (you must have had the money in your account for at least 28 days in a row, and the 28th day must be within a month of your application)

It costs £244 (approx. AUD460) to apply for a Youth Mobility Scheme visa.

However, you will also need to pay a £940 (approx. AUD1,770) Immigration Health Surcharge, bringing the total cost to around AUD2,230 for a 2-year visa application. See below for details.

Immigration Health Surcharge

You will have to pay an Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) at the time of applying for your visa. (This would be refunded in the unlikely event your visa application is not approved.)

You can use the UK government’s calculator to determine exactly how much you would need to pay. But an Australian coming to the UK for two years on a Youth Mobility Scheme visa could expect to pay around £940 (approx. AUD1,780). While this is quite a lot of money, in return you will have access to free medical treatment through the National Health Service (NHS) while in the UK.

How to apply for a Youth Mobility Scheme (T5) visa for the UK

You can apply for a UK working holiday visa up to six months before your intended arrival date in the UK. It generally takes around 3 weeks to get a decision (so ensure you leave enough time), although you can pay an additional fee to get a faster turnaround time.

You’ll need to apply online on the UK government’s website for this visa before arriving in the UK. You’ll then also need to have your fingerprints and photograph taken at a visa application centre (in Australia, this generally means visiting a VFS Global office).

Upcoming changes to Australia’s working holiday agreement with the UK

In June 2021, the Australian & UK governments created a new Free Trade Agreement which will include more flexibility for Australians travelling to the UK on working holiday visas. Once the agreement is finalised, Australians will be able to stay in the UK on a Youth Mobility Visa for up to 3 years. The scheme will also be open to Australians aged 18-35.

These changes have not yet come into effect. If you apply now, you will be subject to the current Youth Mobility Scheme rules and will only be able to stay in the UK for 2 years.

While the Australian and UK governments have already agreed to these changes in-principle, they are not yet legislated. A start date for the changes to take effect has also not yet been announced.

See here for more information: UK to Offer 3-Year Working Holiday Visas to Australians

Arriving in the UK

When making your visa application, you’ll need to provide your expected arrival date in the UK. You must collect your biometric residence permit in the UK within 10 days after your nominated arrival date.

If it’s not already printed on your biometric residence permit, you might also need to apply for a National Insurance Number after arriving. You’ll need this if you want to work and/or open a UK bank account.

If you wish to open a bank account, you may need a local address. But some banks no longer require this. You could also consider opening an online bank account, e.g. with Monzo.

Speaking of your address, you’ll need to find somewhere to live. Rental properties can be notoriously expensive in London, but may be more affordable in smaller cities and regional areas – as well as various boroughs of London.

If you do want to live and work in London, be prepared to commute to work every day. (Luckily, public transport in London is very good and you can even tap on & off the Tube using your credit card.) But don’t be afraid to live in other parts of the UK – there’s more than just London!

London Tube Tottenham Court Road station
Many Londoners commute on the Tube. Image by Michele Mex on Pixabay.

Spare Room and Badi can be useful websites for finding spare rooms and rentals with flatmates. Or you could try websites like Right Move or Zoopla if you’d like to rent a whole apartment.

After arriving you should also consider purchasing a UK SIM card and registering with a local doctor.

The Aussies in London website and Facebook group may also be useful resources for you.


While best efforts are made to keep this information updated, we do not guarantee its accuracy. If you spot an error, would like to suggest new information to be added or simply have a question, please let us know in the comments and we’ll endeavour to respond or update the article as quickly as possible!

4 thoughts on “The UK Youth Mobility Scheme (T5) Visa for Australians

  1. Thank you for the information here. I am 33 and the Youth Mobility Scheme Visa has not yet come into effect. Will my application be successful if I apply before the changes have been legislated given my age as I cannot wait until later this year or next year to travel to the UK. Alternatively can I apply for a YMS visa whilst in the UK?

    1. Unfortunately, the changes to the Youth Mobility Scheme visa (increasing the age limit to 35 and the visa length from 2 to 3 years) have not yet come into effect. While there is no timeline yet on when this will happen, it could be as soon as mid-2022.

      Until the changes come into effect, unfortunately you won’t be able to apply for this visa as you are over 30. It is also not possible to apply after you’ve already arrived in the UK – you need to apply for the visa online before travelling to the UK.

      If you can possibly wait a few more months, I think that’s probably your best option until we find out when the Youth Mobility Scheme visa changes will be legislated. If you can’t wait that long, I’m afraid you might need to look at a different type of visa.

      In the meantime, there are a few other countries including Ireland and France that offer working holiday visas to Australian citizens aged up to 35 years old (see https://www.workholiday.com.au/working-holiday-visas-over-30/).

      1. Hi Matt,
        Thank you very much for your reply, much appreciated as the Australian VFS global office could not provide much help. I am going to the UK in the middle of the year to study as part of my Churchill Fellowship so I am hoping the Youth Mobility Visa will be legislated before I leave so I can stay over there for the year. Is there any way we can speed up the process. What do you suggest doing to be notified as soon as the changes are made?

        1. There’s probably not much you can do to speed up the process, unfortunately, until the new agreement is legislated. Obviously it would be helpful if they would get on with it, but that’s beyond our control.

          Certainly, once the changes to the UK Youth Mobility Scheme visa are brought in I’ll be writing about them on Working Holidays for Aussies. Keep an eye out.

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