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Cook Your Way Around the World: A Guide to Passport Requirements

Nov 1 2018 - 10:03am
Cheffing is one of those inspiring professions that can really feed your wanderlust. So what do you do when the world and all its flavours are tempting you to pack up your chef’s knives and go in search of international job opportunities?

Depending on your country of domicile, the first hurdle you’re likely to encounter is acquiring the necessary paperwork to legally work in the destination of your choice. In many instances the process can be time-consuming, expensive and downright stressful – so it’s best to do your research well in advance. You’ll also have to make financial preparation for application fees, travel and accommodation expenses, as well as insurance and other pertinent necessities.

Let’s explore some popular destinations for chefs and what the documentation prerequisite is for legally working in those parts of the world.

The United Kingdom

At the time of writing this post, the outcome of Brexit is still a murky gravy boat; so while the red tape for EU citizens is still relatively minimal, this may not last for much longer. On the upside, the Guardian recently reported great demands for chefs as the dining-out culture in Britain continues to boom; hopefully, this means that hospitality professionals will be accommodated within the plans being formulated.  

We’ve broken things down into three routes:

1. EU citizen

This means that you come from Switzerland or one of the European Economic Area countries. According to, you will not require a visa to live and work in the UK as of yet.

2. Tier 5 (Youth Mobility Scheme Visa)

This one isn’t for everyone, unfortunately, but if you’re between the ages of 18-30 and come from one of the countries mentioned below, you may be able to live and work in the UK for up to 2 years.

Eligible countries:

  • Australia

  • Canada

  • Japan

  • Monaco

  • New Zealand

  • Hong Kong*

  • Republic of Korea*

  • Taiwan

You can also apply if you meet the criteria specified on Ensure that you can demonstrate personal savings amounting to £1890.

* Citizens of Hong Kong and the Republic of Korea will require a certificate of sponsorship reference number before applying.

3. UK Ancestry visa

According to, you can apply for a UK Ancestry visa if you are:

  • a Commonwealth citizen;

  • applying from outside the UK;

  • able to prove that one of your grandparents was born in the UK;

  • able and planning to work in the UK;

  • able to meet the other eligibility requirements.

The European Union

The European continent is home to some of the most esteemed cuisines in the world. Experience in a European kitchen can finely garnish your CV and give you a highly demanded set of skills.

The European Union is a political and economic cluster of 28 member states. If you come from any of these states and wish to work in another, the official EU website states the following: “As a EU national, you’re entitled to work – for an employer or as a self-employed person – in any EU country without needing a work permit.”

If, however, you are not a EU citizen and wish to go to a specific country within the area, you will have to consult the embassy of that country and find out what the eligibility requirements are.

Australia and New Zealand

If you have a suspicion that there’s more to life down under than the hallowed ‘barbie’, you must be wondering how you can relocate to Australia and New Zealand.

These countries are notoriously not the the most generous with their visa handouts, so you’ll undoubtedly have to delve much deeper into what applies to you, but we’ve broken it down to the most basic options.


  1. Working Holiday visa: subclass 417 and 462

Both of these visas will only allow you to stay in Australia for up to 1 year and you will only be able to work for 6 months of that year. Using one of these options may also enable you to apply for a second Work and Holiday Visa if you have spent 3 months working in northern Australia in the tourism and hospitality industry. Each of these visas has a list of eligible countries, so make sure you’re applying for the one that applies to your nationality. Sadly, these visas are only targeted at 18-30-year-olds.

To see if you are eligible for any other options, visit the work visas page on the Australian government website.

New Zealand

The role of Chef de Partie features on the long-term skills shortage list as per New Zealand’s immigration website. If you meet the requirements, this may be a point of entry for you. You will have to apply through the New Zealand General Skilled Migration Program.

If you are a UK citizen and between the ages of 18-30, you can apply for the United Kingdom Working Holiday Visa which will entitle you to live in the UK for up to 23 months and work to a maximum of 12 months.

North America

United States of America

Do you specialise in a certain cuisine and have the CV to back this up? There may be several routes to pursue when applying for US visas. The website for the US embassy in the UK, states that their government does not issue work visas for casual employment and it is most likely that you will need a specific offer of employment before applying.

Here is a list of visas which may be suitable to your case:

1. H-1B Visa Speciality Occupation

You will be required to have a bachelor’s or higher degree in your speciality, and you will need to fulfil the rigorous requirements of the US Citizenship and Immigration Services.

2.   H-2B Visa Skilled and Unskilled Worker

     This visa is available for temporary or seasonal type of work for which there is a shortage in the US.

If you are looking to enter the United States from a country outside of the United Kingdom, please consult your local American embassy for more detailed information about what is relevant to your situation.


Canadians love food; so if you’re excited by the abundance of exclusive fish varieties and the unique dishes that have been created through the intermingling of French, British and aboriginal cuisines, Canada may be the place for you.

You may meet the requirements for the Federal Skilled Trades Program as a chef or cook. This is listed in the National Occupational Classification under Minor Group 632. You will have to support your application with evidence of experience. You can read more about your options on the Canadian government website.          

Hong Kong

If you think that your particular brand of cooking could cause a stir in the Asian market, then Hong Kong is calling your name.

  1. Like many of the other destinations listed above, Hong Kong also offers a Working Holiday Scheme, enabling 18-30-year-olds to live and work in that country for 12 months and work for the same employer for a maximum of 6 months. Again, this is a fantastic option if you’re looking to get some real cross-cultural experiences while having the time to explore and learn about Hong Kong’s unique culinary offerings. To see if your country is on the list of acceptable applicants, visit the government website. 

  2. You may also be eligible for Employment as a Professional under the General Employment Policy. You will be required to show supporting evidence of relevant qualifications and experience as well as show that you are filling a genuine job vacancy. This means that you will need confirmed employment before applying.

Admittedly, relocating to unchartered waters can be an overwhelming process. But once you set your heart, mind and taste buds on the destination of your dreams, it’s just a matter of sorting through the paperwork and making sure you have the means and support to make your move as stress-free as possible.

In an increasingly globalised market, there is high demand for variety and high-quality food in the restaurant business. If you’re ready for the adventure, start planning now, reach out to employers, talk to reliable visa agencies, and thoroughly investigate the country you’re looking to cook your way through.

The information we’ve supplied in this post is a simple outline of the options available to you and is subject to change as rules and regulations are always being updated. You should seek the advice of the immigration authorities for the country you are considering travelling to.

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