Living & Working Abroad

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This section contains all the information you need to know about the world of working abroad. It is important to know your rights and what to expect from working in other parts of the world. Whether you want to find employment abroad, take a gap year or sabbatical, this section provides details and explanations of ways you can do this.

More and more Britons are choosing to work abroad. By 2020, it is estimated that an extra two million people will become migrant workers.

  • Many people choose to work outside of Britain for a new challenge, for a change or new experience and sometimes for a better quality of life
  • Working in a foreign country can be a daunting experience, so it is vital you plan ahead as much as possible

The Mix’s Guide to Gap Years, Work and Study Abroad

Things To Consider Before You Leave

  • Contact your local job centre for more information on working in Europe. They can help you find work abroad and explain your rights
  • You may want to travel to the country you would like to work in to look for work. You will also be able to see exactly what the country is like and decide where you would like to live
  • When applying for jobs abroad, put together a CV and list your qualifications, skills and work experience. You may want to do your own job-hunting to find somewhere to work
  • Be aware that different countries have different ways of writing CVs and letters
  • You may find it is not essential to learn the language of the country you will be working in, but you should consider learning it to enhance your experience
  • The more you try and understand about the country you’re visiting, the better your experience will be. Do your research and find out about the country before you go


  • Some countries in Europe that are not part of the EU have restrictive laws regarding the employment of people who are not from that country. Your local job centre will help you with more information
  • Some countries will require you to have a visa or work permit in order to work abroad. It is a good idea to contact the UK based Embassy for that particular country. They will be able to give you information on visas, work permits, benefits and necessary qualifications

Voluntary Work

  • Volunteering abroad is a great way to build your confidence and experience
  • Volunteering is a very rewarding way of seeing the world. Voluntary work abroad gives you the opportunity to experience new cultures, learn new skills and meet new friends, whilst making a difference to people’s lives
  • Make sure you pick a reputable agency to help find you a placement. The best thing to do is speak to other people who have done something similar or research online
  • Volunteering doesn’t always have to be done through an organisation, you could offer to help an elderly neighbour with their garden or at home

Volunteering Wales

The Mix – Volunteering

Below is a list of international volunteering agencies that offer voluntary work programs all over the world:

GVI Volunteer Work Abroad

International Volunteer HQ

Maximo Nivel

Love Volunteers

Seasonal Working

Seasonal working generally refers to types of jobs that people can do for a summer or winter season.

  • Make sure you plan well ahead for jobs as there can be a lot of competition from others looking for jobs for the summer or winter
  • Popular jobs over the winter and summer include hospitality and catering as well as tourism and travel, entertainment and childcare
  • It will help if you have relevant experience or a qualification. This will mark you out from other candidates and increase your chances of getting a job

Work Visas And Permits

Working abroad is a great way of getting to know a country, but before you go away it is vital you make sure you get the right work visa or permit.

  • If you wish to go to a country that is part of the EFTA, EEA or European Union then you don’t need a visa or work permit
  • There are many schemes which organise work placements abroad such as Camp America or some jobs where you work as a TEFL (teaching English as a foreign language) teacher. These companies will organise your work visa for you
  • Depending on which country you want to go to, you might need to show proof that you have a job there before you leave. This is the case in the USA, where your employers will have to sponsor your work visa
  • You could get in touch with the embassy of the country you want to travel to which can tell you about work visa requirements for that country
  • You can check what you need to visit each country with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s directory

Gap Years

A gap year is a chance to see and do things you would never normally experience before continuing your studies or finding a job. It’s a chance to leave responsibilities behind while experiencing the world.

  • Gap years have become so popular that there is a wealth of opportunities available to you in Britain and abroad. You can travel with a group or by yourself or get some valuable work experience or training
  • Gap years are generally taken after leaving school and before starting university or a job, but you can take a gap year at any time in your life. For more information see the Sabbaticals page [link to 3c8 Sabbaticals] of this site
  • It is a good idea to talk to other people who have already been away. They can give you first hand advice about what to do and where to go


  • There are many companies who run organised gap year trips around the world. Very often these gap year schemes are split into different sections, and you may take part in a voluntary project such as teaching or community work, followed by an expedition or independent travel
  • These schemes can be quite expensive, and you will probably have to do some fundraising work before you go away. However the benefit of these projects is having everything organised for you whilst meeting lots of new people and gaining valuable experience
  • If you prefer your own company, you can always go alone. Independent travel can be a great way of gaining confidence and discovering new things about yourself. Once you’ve looked after yourself in a foreign country where you don’t know the language or customs, you’ll probably feel ready for anything. It’s also a great way of meeting people you might never have come across otherwise
  • If you are travelling in Europe, you may want to consider buying an Inter-rail pass which will give you unlimited train travel in certain countries
  • If you are going further afield, a round the world plane ticket might be a good option. You choose your destinations before you go, then as long as you stick to your departure back to the UK, you can travel as slowly or as quickly as you like


  • You will probably want to get a job at home during part of your gap year to fund your studies abroad. This is a good idea as the more prepared you are financially, the less you’ll have to worry about on your trip
  • As well as a casual job, you may want to get work experience of the career you want to go into. Some large companies run gap year placements for school leavers, especially in industries such as banking, engineering and IT
  • You can also work when you are abroad to fund your trip. Many people do casual jobs like being a fruit picker or a waiter for extra money
  • It is harder to get work visas in some countries. If you wanted to work in the United States for instance you would have to make sure you had a place to work organised before you went to sponsor your trip. However in Australia it is fairly easily to get a visa for casual work. Contact the embassy of the country you want to work in before hand to check the rules. For more information, visit the Work Visas and Permits section of the website
  • Work doesn’t just mean getting paid – you may also want to consider voluntary work. You could volunteer abroad, perhaps as a teacher, or do something closer to home, like working at a local care home. Volunteering is an immensely rewarding way of helping other people, and it can also be great fun. For more information, visit the Volunteering section


  • Studying during your gap year is a good way of finding out what you want to study later, especially if you’re unsure about what to study at University
  • You might want to take a foundation course, to find out which area of a subject would be of interest. Subjects where a foundation course are useful include art or medicine if you don’t have science-based A Levels
  • You could also take the opportunity to learn a completely new skill. You could learn a language, take your European Computer Driving license, or try a vocational course like plumbing. Your local further education college should have details on which courses are available
  • You could take a course abroad. If you’re interested in art history for instance, you can go to Italy to study the actual paintings you are interested in, or if you want to look at ancient history, you could visit Roman and Greek sites in the Mediterranean


Gov.UK’s Advice on Gap Years

The Student Room – Gap Years


Work exchanges are increasingly common, and involve swapping jobs with someone in a similar position. An exchange can also refer to an internship or period of work abroad, a bit like a school exchange.

  • If you are in full time work, you can use the internet to find someone doing a similar job to you in another country and organise your own exchange
  • Some professions are particularly well suited to exchanges, these include teachers, librarians, manual workers and agriculture
  • An exchange can often enhance your understanding of your own job by giving you experience of how things work in another country
  • As a young person, you can take advantage of many exchange programmes which will organise your flights, work visas and sometimes your place of work. These can be helpful as they can take a lot of the hassle out of the exchange for you. These don’t necessarily have to involve swapping jobs with someone else with organisations like UNA Exchange
  • You can sometimes swap jobs, perhaps with someone within the same organisation as you. It is worth doing some research work with the person you wish to swap with and approaching your employers with a firm plan

Inter Exchange


It is becoming increasingly common to take a break from full-time work to travel or volunteer abroad. You may want to take some time out before you settle down to long term commitments, or want to take some time to think about what you want to do with your life.

If you are considering taking a career break, it is important you look at the reasons why you want to do it. If you are unhappy at work or in a relationship, try to fix any problems before you go – they will likely deteriorate when you get back.

  • A sabbatical can be arranged with your employer so that you will return to work for them after a set period of time. Ask your manager what the company policy is on sabbaticals. They can be paid or unpaid, but you will have to discuss this with your boss
  • You could continue to work if you decide to travel. If you are a journalist for instance you could write about your experiences travelling
  • Remember, a sabbatical is a privilege and not a right. To persuade your employer of the benefits it can bring, you should take time into planning a rewarding agenda
  • Some employers offer sabbatical schemes as part of your contract. If you work for a set period of time, usually a few years, you can be eligible for a sabbatical
  • Before deciding to take a sabbatical you will probably be expected to develop a skill that will enhance your work when you return, such as learning another language
  • Your employer may also impose certain restrictions on what you do, for instance to prevent you from working for a rival firm
  • Before deciding to take a sabbatical, make sure everything is clearly arranged with your employer. Even if you are not being paid, ensure that you remain an employee of your company. This will prevent you losing your employee rights such as pension allowances
  • A sabbatical is a common bonus of many academic jobs. Many university tutors use this time away from teaching to write books or carry out research