Youth Mobility Visa Germany: My Experience

25th February 2018

When I decided to move from Asia to Europe, I didn’t know where I would base myself. Most Working Holiday Visa (also called Youth Mobility Visa) for Canadians end at 30 years old, but a few European countries offer them for people aged up to 35. Upon doing some research, I found that my options were the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland or Ukraine. I was pretty amazed when I realised the working holiday visa possibilities! I picked the Youth Mobility Visa Germany program based on the number of people who had told me how much I would love Berlin and how easy it would be to find employment as a non-native German speaker. Want to test the water and visit Berlin first? Here’s how to spend 2 days in Berlin!

Youth Mobility Visa Germany

So, on a bit of a whim, I was moving to Germany!

working holiday visa

The other decision I had to make was between the two visa options: the Youth Mobility Visa Germany or the Freelance Visa for Artists. I’d been a freelance blogger and graphic designer for over two years, and the thought of being an employee again gave me the heebie-jeebies a little, but I had to face the fact that what had allowed me to travel through Asia for this long was possibly not going to be sustainable to travel through Europe. Plus, the Working Holiday Visa would allow me to continue doing some freelance work while also having a regular source of income on the side.

Another factor I had to take into consideration was that the Youth Mobility Visa Germany has to be obtained in person in Canada (at the time of writing, which was a while ago) – at the Toronto embassy to be more precise. I do believe this is no longer the case, however. It can also be done via mail from within Canada, but the visa will only be valid for three months and will require an extension pretty much upon arrival via one of the many confusing German government offices you will have the pleasure to experience once you get here.

However, you can obtain the Freelance Visa from within Germany, and this was a selling point for me since I started researching this from Malaysia with absolutely no intention of commuting through Canada to obtain the visa first. But in the end, tails of white-knuckle expectation periods on impending expiring Schengen visas and the incertitude that freelance work would be enough income for me to live in Germany had me decide on the former. And the idea of surprising my family for Christmas after two years away sealed the deal.

edit: I am now on the Freelance Visa for artist and will be writing more about it soon


The first step was to book an appointment at the German Embassy in Toronto for my application. Oddly, the system didn’t offer to book an appointment for the Youth Mobility Visa Germany, and I remember something being said to the effect of having to go to the Austrian embassy in Ottawa or something random after I had booked my flight to Toronto. Fret not. That is just the beginning of a maze of incomprehensible twists and turns that should, in the end, take you where you want to go. Book an appointment for the “national visa – longer stay” category. With that done, I started preparing my paperwork.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Your original valid Canadian passport (issued within the last ten years and with at least three months validity after leaving Germany with at least two empty pages). You will have to leave it with them, so don’t plan any travel outside of the country for at least a month, two to be safe.
  • The visa application form, fully completed and signed
  • The visa declaration form 1, fully completed and signed
  • The visa declaration form 2, fully completed and signed
  • The liability insurance declaration, fully completed and signed
  • Passport size picture, not older than three months with a bright background and frontal view of the face
  • Photocopy of your passport’s data page
  • Proof of bonds to Canada (name, address, phone number of two relatives or friends in Canada, and relationship)
  • Signed letter of motivation, travel plans, etc.
  • Proof of first housing in Germany (a hostel booking reservation will do)
  • Return flight to Germany even though you might be rejected and/or will elect to stay longer. This is totally dumb, up to you what you make of it.
  • Proof of travel insurance. After researching many expat insurances, I went with Safety Wing and highly recommend them!
  • Prepaid Xpresspost envelope (Canada Post only), Regional Standard to Ontario or National Standard to all other provinces, shipment to a Canadian address only!
  • Visa fee ($100) in CASH, unlike what you might have read elsewhere (aka the embassy’s own website). Bank drafts or money orders are not accepted. WTF.

Many countries will require seeing proof that you have sufficient funds to support yourself for the first three months, however, in my case it was not requested (thank goodness!) Always good to have this ready anyway. Better come over-prepared than under.

My interview was surprisingly as straightforward as the guy making sure all the papers were in order and duly signed and waving me off. This was probably the easiest step towards becoming a honorary Berliner.

Two weeks later, low and behold, I received my shiny German visa in the mail!


Some of the first German words you will learn upon entering the country are Anmeldung and Bürgeramt. It’s just one of the many above-mentioned obscure government offices where you’ll find yourself shuffling stacks of unpronounceable forms in front of an aloof clerk. The Anmeldung is the act of registering yourself at a flat in the city and is a mandatory step for anyone staying longer than three months. The Anmeldung is necessary for getting a job and opening a bank account (although not with N26, which is the bank I use). A lot of information on this can be found online so I won’t lecture you on the subject, but make sure you find a German speaker to come along.

From my experience, it was not possible to book an appointment online, so I had to queue once to book the appointment and return a few weeks later to register myself. I went to the Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf Bürgeramt in Berlin, and it was surprisingly straightforward. I would recommend going to a Bürgeramt that is a little out of the city centre. Most jobs will let you start even if you are not registered yet, a proof of Anmeldung appointment will do.

Ok. Whew. Questions?

38 thoughts on “Youth Mobility Visa Germany: My Experience

  1. Katy

    Immigration is not straightforward is it? A friend of mine just moved to Berlin on the Freelance Visa for Artists and is loving the open minded and creative environment there. Just not the bureaucracy! But I guess it is the price to be paid for mobility

  2. Kate @ Love From Scotland

    I hope that all this doesn’t change! Whilst it seems complicated now, the ability of Europeans to be able to travel is one of my favourite things. Good write up of the process, very useful.

  3. Cameron

    Visas can be such a pain. We plan to make use of an artist’s visa in Japan and do not look forward to the hoops we’ll have to jump through.

    1. Amélie Post author

      Oh, wow didn’t know that was an option. Would love to hear about it once you’re through the hoops! 😉 Just about to go through the artist visa here in Germany in fact, since my current visa is expiring soon.

  4. Vicki Louise

    Immigration is never straightforward -I had a few ups and downs when migrating to Aus. Its worth it in the end!
    Great guide too – I’ll certainly pass it onto to anyone that’s looking to move to Germany!

  5. Shobha

    wow! that’s a comprehensive checklist! I was lucky and had an employer sponsor my visa to the UK but it sure looks like quite the endeavour to do on your own.

  6. Megan

    Thanks for sharing your experience – always so helpful for others obtaining a visa. We relied on personal online accounts when applying for visas throughout the US, so it really does help 🙂 I’ve always wondered why countries, not just Europe but all over, cap their working visas at 35 years of age. I guess it’s probably because they think older people may try to retire there and never go back! But really, people are living so much longer these days and it’s a shame that people in their 40’s and 50’s are ineligable. Better do it while we’re young right!!!

    1. Amélie Post author

      I always wondered the same. To me, older people are a lot more reliable. I’ve just reached my expiry date anyway.

  7. Travelling Tom

    That’s a lot of stuff you need for a working holiday. When I did mine in Australia and NZ it was a lot simpler! I really don’t think some countries want people to do it, so they make the process as difficult as possible!

  8. James

    I’m a little confused… by “six months along the line” did you mean that you had to wait 6 months after getting the visa before you were able to go to Germany? Or were you able to go as soon as your visa was approved?

  9. Tyrel

    Great post, heaps of useful information! I’m currently preparing all my paperwork for my application.
    You mentioned there is a way around needing the travel insurance for the whole duration. Could you shed some more light on this please?

    Thanks in advance!

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  11. Naz

    Hey – thank you for this info! I wanted to know if this visa type is only for those who are employed as artist? Did you have to show proof of employment in Germany once you got there?

  12. Daniel

    My Canadian health insurance is about to run out since I’ve been away for two years. I heard Germany requires travel insurance. I’m curious about the part where you say you don’t need it to apply. I thought this was a strict requirement they had, to make sure you’re covered for an entire year? I’d much prefer to just sign up for some German version instead of travel insurance.

  13. Lana Zee

    Fantastic blog Amelie! Just an update on your post – Canadians can now apply for the Youth Mobility visa after their arrival in Germany. This is great for people who are already travelling or who don’t live in the Toronto area. The YMV can be applied for twice under different categories and the second year visa can now also be applied for directly in Germany for those currently in Germany. I run a Working Holiday program in Berlin and we provide visa support as part of our package. For anyone moving to Berlin that is looking for some help with the move check out our package that includes accommodation, German course, admin support, visa support, workshop &, job placement advice. 🙂

  14. Hanna

    Great Blog!
    I was wondering, you’ve written that you can apply for the working holiday visa only in Canada. But I was reading online that it is possible after arrivel in Germany at the Embassy! I’m trying to get through all the visa stuff for my boyfriend who is coming to Germany in July! It’s pretty frustrating since I have no idea how to get a visa for Germany.. 🙁

  15. Warren

    Hello, great information! Could you please elaborate on the travel insurance/health insurance part at the end of the post? We don’t need it to apply for the visa?
    Thanks in advance!

  16. mitch

    Hey! I hope you’re checking this! Safetywing seems great, but I thought you needed to show one year of coverage for the visa, and safety one sells insurance in 4week rolling increments. Was this accepted or did you need to do something else?

    1. Amélie Post author

      Hey Mitch! I personally had 6 months worth of insurance and it was OK. Please double check this information is still valid though, as I know things have changed a bit since I originally got my youth mobility visa a few years ago.

      Best, Amelie

  17. Julia

    Hi Amelie! I am just wondering did you find a job after you landed in Berlin with the visa, or did you find a job after you got your visa and before you arrived in Berlin? Thanks 🙂

    1. Amélie Post author

      Hey Julia, I was already doing the blog when I came here and earning from it, so I took my time at looking for something else. After about 3-4 months of being here, I got a job as an event manager for a few months, and then went back to freelance.

  18. Jamie

    Hey Amelie, Thanks so much for sharing a little of your experience about your YMV. I’m really hoping you might have some thoughts for me given that I’m Canadian currently in Europe and successfully received my YMV after applying from Toronto before I left. I’m having a really hard time clarifying exactly what this visa allows me to do. My travel plans have changed, I’m currently in Switzerland and am still pinning down where I’m going to be based in Germany because I’m looking for work. More specifically, do you know if I’m authorized to visit other countries in the Schengen district for the year-long duration of my visa or am I limited to the standard 90/180 days Schengen Visa for all other Schengen countries? Do you know how strictly this is enforced, given Schengen is a passport free travel zone? Also, do you have a sense if it’s only when I plan to stay in one part of Germany for more than 3 months that I need to register with the authorities? Any thoughts or resources you have to share would be so great! Thank you so much, Jamie

  19. Carlos

    Great post! Regarding the flight details, did you book the flight or just mention the intended duration of stay? Thanks!

      1. Sam

        Hey Amélie, do you get the visa for 12 months when apply in person? Cause i am a bit confused about it as their website states you only get 3 months visa when apply by mail.

  20. Sam

    Hey Amélie, that means after getting 12 months visa from toronto i do not have to get extension or residence card once i reach Germany. As some people are saying you need to get some sort of residence card from immigration office in germany as well.

    1. Amélie Post author

      I’ve never heard of this. You need to get a new visa once that one expires, but the youth mobility visa IS a visa. You need a local health insurance when you arrive and not a travel one, however.


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