Volunteer abroad requirements
While researching volunteer abroad opportunities, you’ll find every program has a list of requirements for prospective applicants. Make sure to double check the program’s requirements carefully before submitting your application!
Here are some common requirements to volunteer overseas include:
- Physical Ability: Some assignments may demand a higher degree of physical activity. If so, they will list it to ensure you can participate.
- Passport & Visas: In order to go abroad, you’ll need to be eligible for a passport in your home country and apply for visas as necessary.
- Language: Though this requirement does not apply to all volunteer programs, some programs may require volunteers to speak the country’s native language if the projects involve direct communication with locals and takes place in a country where English isn’t widely spoken. Fortunately, there are many volunteer projects that do not have a language requirement and will even provide lessons to volunteers to help overcome language barriers. Ultimately, it always helps to brush up on your language skills or take a quick course before heading overseas.
- Field Experience: If your volunteer assignment requires professional skills (like medical work) you may be required to have six months to a few years of professional experience in order to be eligible for the program.
- A Good Attitude: While this may seem like a no-brainer, some volunteers forget this isn’t a vacation. You’ll have to be positive, adaptable, and willing to work hard.
Can I volunteer abroad at any age?
While volunteering abroad may be popularized by young travelers, it isn’t exclusive to them. Though many programs require volunteers to be at least 18 years old, others may be specifically geared to high school students, families, and even adults who’ve long completed their education. Below are some different volunteer program types:
High school and gap year volunteering
There are plenty of volunteer programs designed specifically for teens, with many offering solo and group options. You can invite your best friends or opt to go the independent route, depending on your comfort level! Some common volunteer projects for high school students include helping paint the walls of local schools, assisting with after-school youth programs, and learning about conservation efforts.
Volunteering post-college or during career breaks
Whether you’re looking to volunteer during your gap year, or plan a meaningful travel vacation, there are plenty of volunteer opportunities for young adults like you! Maybe you want to surf in Costa Rica and learn about saving the sea turtles! Or explore the snow-capped mountains of Nepal and help out the local communities! You can personalize programs to find your perfect project match and even extend the duration of your volunteer time to fit your schedule and lifestyle.
Volunteering during retirement
Having life, career, and travel experience can serve as a great asset overseas, which is why many organizations host volunteer programs aimed specifically for more mature travelers! Some common project types for older volunteers include providing medical and clinical services, assisting with infrastructure and urban planning, and even lending a hand on administrative tasks for local organizations.
So, don’t let your age deter you from considering a volunteer abroad experience. Just be sure to double check age and physical fitness requirements before filling out your application. You’ll find many volunteer programs are looking for people with your exact age range and experience!
Visa requirements for volunteering
Visa requirements to volunteer abroad vary by country. While some volunteers use a tourist visa to go abroad, others may use a student, working, or working holiday visa. These requirements depend on your home country’s passport, the destination country, and the length of your stay.
Before you volunteer abroad, check the destination country’s requirements and your program details:
- Do they require a special visa for passport-holders from your home country?
- What type of organization are you volunteering with? (Travel Company vs. Long-Term Volunteering vs. Paid Program)
- How long can you stay in the country with a visa?
- How long does it take to process a visa request?