au pair


The Au Pair program is still brand new in many countries and its meaning doesn't always seem to be clear for everyone. To avoid misunderstandings, offers you the Au Pair dictionary, where the whole Au Pair idea is carefully explained (meaning, requirements, pocket money, etc.).

What is the Au Pair program?

Au pair is an international cultural exchange program that gives a possibility for young people to spend some time abroad, learn more about a different culture, improve the foreign language in exchange for help with duties related to child care. The term “au pair” from French means “on equal terms”, signifying that Au Pair and Host Family treat each other as equals.   
While the Au Pair can live abroad in an economical way, the Host Family gets the benefit of flexible, affordable live-in child care. There are many countries that support the Au Pair program. 

Who is an Au Pair?

An Au Pair is a young person (female or male)  between 17 and 30 years old who stays with a local Host Family, learns their language and culture in exchange for help with childcare responsibilities. An Au Pair gets accommodation, regular meals and pocket money for personal expenses. Read about the pros and cons of Au Pair experience to find out, if it is the right program for you. 

Au Pair is neither a cleaning lady nor a full time nanny. If you are interested to live an Au Pair experience, register as an Au Pair at! 

What is a Host Family?

A Host Family is a family willing to host an Au Pair under the host country’s official program. Host Families must meet certain requirements in order to join the program. For instance, they must have a child under 18 years old, ability to host an Au Pair in their home and respect Host Family responsibilities during the program.

If you would like to host an Au Pair, register as a Host Family at!

How does the Au Pair program work?

The Au Pair program is primarily a cultural exchange, thus Host Family and Au Pair need to belong to different nationalities. Initially, Au Pairs and Host Families are looking for a perfect match. Once they find, there are several organizational points to consider before moving abroad: visa, insurance, bank account, packing and so on.  To ensure a smooth cooperation between Au Pair and a Host Family, they sign an Au Pair contract where they note down all the important details. 
Find out how to find a suitable Host Family faster or how to host an Au Pair in no time!

How long can an Au Pair stay last?

The duration of the stay depends on Au Pair, Host Family and host country’s program regulations. Some countries have set a minimum and a maximum time for an Au Pair stay, which usually varies from 3 up to 12 or 24 months. The program duration is flexible for Au Pairs within the European Union since there are no visa requirements.

Nevertheless, you need to register at the local authorities in your welcoming country and get an official Au Pair status. If the Au Pair needs a visa, in some cases this visa needs to be extended after the Au Pair's arrival. This should be done with the Host Family's support. 

Can I cancel the contract?

The Au Pair contract is signed to avoid possible misunderstandings and problems during the stay abroad. You can download the sample Au Pair contract and sign it along with the Host Family before the stay begins.  Nevertheless, there might occur emergencies or situations where you will need to terminate the contract. As a rule, there is an official two week notice period before the termination. Make sure this term is also written down in the contract before you sign it. 

What are the duties of an Au Pair?

The Au Pair’s main responsibility is to take care of the Host Family’s children as well as to perform tasks related to child care. Au Pairs do not have to cook for the host parents, clean the rooms that are exclusively used by the host parents or take care of someone else’s children, among others. 

What are the working hours of an Au Pair?

Depending on the host country, the number of working hours of an Au Pair can vary. In most countries, Au Pairs should work maximum 30 hours per week. In USA, Au Pairs can work up to 45 hours per week. Both Au Pair and Host Family should agree on a schedule and the way those hours will be split. Host Families should not forget to check the maximum hours per day an Au Pair is entitled to work in their country.

How much pocket money will an Au Pair get?

The official Au Pair program of each country establishes the minimum pocket money amount an Au Pair should earn when working the maximum hours permitted. We recommend Host Families and Au Pairs to agree on the pocket money. Au Pairs will use their pocket money to cover their own expenses. An Au Pair is not in any case supposed to buy her own food or pay for rent. 

Are Au Pairs entitled to free time and holidays?

Au Pairs are usually entitled to 1-2 free days per week (in some countries at least one free day must be on Sunday) and in some cases they will also have the right to enjoy at least a free weekend per month. In most countries, Au Pairs have up to 4 weeks paid holidays for a 12-month stay. 

During their free days and holidays, Au Pairs should be encouraged to join the Host Family in their activities. Also, during their holidays, Au Pairs are free to stay with the Host Family and get their usual amount of pocket money, accommodation and full board. That is how we define paid holidays. 

Who should pay for the travel expenses?

Although we recommend Host Families to support Au Pairs with travel costs, there are only few countries that make this expense mandatory for a family. In Au Pair USA, the ticket is totally covered by the Host Family. Moreover, if the Au Pair completes the whole stay as stated in the contract, he/she can get a return ticket as well. In China, the Host Family also helps Au Pairs to cover partially or totally the cost of the ticket depending on the duration of the stay. 
In other countries, if the future Host Family would like to help their Au Pair financially, the transportation costs should still be initially covered by the participants. After the Au Pair arrival abroad, the prospective refund can be done in installments.  

We recommend to discuss this question before the Au Pair stay begins and preferably note it down in the Au Pair contract. Learn more about other Au Pair costs for participating in the program or Host Family costs for hosting an Au Pair.

Who should apply and pay for the visa expenses?

The visa expenses must be paid by the Au Pair and the Host Family will not have the obligation to give the money back in any case.  Au Pairs need to apply for a visa at the host country’s embassy placed in their home country. Participants need to make sure they fulfill the visa requirements so that their application can be approved.   

Do Au Pairs have to visit a language course? 

Au Pairs usually attend a language course in the host country in order to improve their language skills and meet new people.

Au Pairs need to discuss the working schedule with their Host Families so they have the time to join a language course. Although in some countries Host Families have to pay for the costs of a language course, in most cases Au Pairs will pay for it.

Who needs to pay for the public transport? 

Although this is not a must in most countries, we recommend Host Families to provide their Au Pair with a car or bear the ticket costs for the public transport. This way an Au Pair can take the children to school or any other activities and attend a language school. In some countries, these costs can be subtracted from the family's yearly income tax later on.
Do you have further questions? Check out our FaQ!

See also

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