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Volunteer Abroad FAQ with IVHQ

Frequently Asked Questions

Here, we answer all your questions about volunteering abroad with IVHQ

We are looking forward to helping you out. However, before reaching out to contact us please check the below list of most frequently asked questions. This will give us more time to answer specifics and it saves you time waiting for our reply.

Getting Started

International Volunteer HQ has been a registered New Zealand company since 2007. Our company incorporation number is 1936998. We are also verified by a number of international volunteer travel portals, including Go Overseas and Go Abroad, and you can read reviews from past volunteers on TrustPilot. Our team has over 16 years of experience in supporting more than 133,000 travelers from over 100 different countries to volunteer abroad. You can learn more about their experiences via our social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. If you wish to speak with a member of our team to learn more about our volunteer programs, please feel free to contact us.

To volunteer abroad is to travel overseas with the purpose of donating your time, skills and energy to support a community that values your contribution. When volunteering abroad with IVHQ, you can expect to volunteer alongside local people and other international volunteers who are working towards a common goal, supporting the long-term social or environmental objectives of your host community.

We believe in traveling with purpose and our programs are for people who want to make a difference through immersive volunteer travel opportunities and cross-cultural learning. There are a huge number of benefits of volunteering abroad for both your personal development and the needs of your host community. Here are just a few examples:

  • Build confidence and push yourself out of your comfort zone
  • Find your independence and get to know the real you
  • Meet new people and build meaningful friendships easily
  • Share ideas, languages, values and culture with other volunteers
  • Immerse yourself fully in a different culture by living like the locals
  • Cultivate new skills and gain international experience that you can add to your resume
  • Explore your career path and form new life goals
  • Make a visible impact that you can attribute to your personal input
  • Give back to communities and causes that value you as an individual
  • Contribute to IVHQ projects that work towards the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals
  • Return home energized, motivated and with a fresh perspective on life

Find out more about why we think you should volunteer abroad.

With an alumni network of over 133,000 volunteers and a portfolio of 300+ volunteer projects to choose from, IVHQ is the world’s largest and most trusted volunteer travel organization. Our volunteer reviews on TrustPilot, Go Overseas and Go Abroad are testament to the high quality travel experiences we facilitate. We are also the most affordable way to volunteer abroad, with program fees from just $20 (approximately $20) per day covering your entire in-country hosting experience, including accommodation and meals. We make it easy and safe to organize an international volunteer trip and we take pride in providing superior pre-departure and in-country support services to IVHQ volunteers. Our volunteers trust us to ensure they can volunteer abroad with confidence, knowing they’ll be supported at every step of the journey. With online training, airport pick-ups, in-country orientations, safe and comfortable accommodation options, and meaningful volunteer projects abroad, IVHQ is the volunteer travel organization of choice for over 15,000 volunteers every year. Learn more about IVHQ’s unique approach to volunteer travel.

You can choose to volunteer abroad in over 50 destinations with IVHQ across Africa, Asia, Central America, North America, South America, the Caribbean and the Pacific. Explore our volunteer abroad destinations, or take this Where Should I Volunteer Abroad? quiz for some inspiration.

We’re proud to offer the world’s largest range of affordable volunteer abroad projects. Whether you want to volunteer and teach abroad, support conservation projects, volunteer with animals, or provide support within childcare centers, we have volunteer opportunities to suit all interests and skill sets. If you’re pursuing a career in medicine or nursing, or if you’re a qualified healthcare professional, there are a range of medical volunteer abroad projects to suit all levels of experience and specialities also. Browse our affordable volunteer projects to find the project best suited to you.

Volunteer requirements vary from project to project as some have minimum age or physical fitness requirements. However for the majority of IVHQ projects, the only requirements are a high level of competence in English, a clean criminal background, and a willingness to learn. You do not need to have volunteered before and for most of our projects you do not need to have experience in the type of volunteering you wish to undertake. Please note that for our Medical and Healthcare projects, volunteers must be qualified or training in a relevant medical field and documentation to confirm this must be presented to our local team on arrival at orientation.

Yes, most programs accept under 18 volunteers when traveling with a parent or guardian. We also have a number of IVHQ programs that accept volunteers between 16 and 18 years-old who are traveling independently. Volunteers under the age of 18 will be required to provide IVHQ with parental or guardian consent plus two character reference letters in order to participate, and may be asked to provide further documentation to the local team depending on their chosen project. Our Teen Volunteering Abroad webpage lists all the destinations and projects that accept under 18s.

Minors who are volunteering as part of a group with adult minders, such as a parent, guardian or family member who is 18 years or over, are able to join select IVHQ programs. When a child applies to volunteer with IVHQ, it is important that the name of their minder is noted on their application, so we know that they are eligible to volunteer and our local team can ensure they are accommodated with their minder. Minors are required to provide IVHQ with parental/guardian consent and two character reference letters. For more information on where children are accepted, please review our Teen Volunteering Abroad or Family Volunteering Abroad webpages.

Absolutely! Friends and couples are welcome to volunteer together and our local teams are able to ensure that you are placed in the same accommodation and on the same project. To apply, one person needs to complete the application process first and select ‘Yes’ to the question ‘Will you be volunteering with a friend, family member or group?’ in the application form. They will then be prompted to create a group and invite the other person(s) to join. An email will then be sent to the invitee(s), so they can follow the link in the email to apply. Following this process will ensure you can be accommodated and placed together.

Yes, we can accommodate families on our volunteer programs and our local teams are able to make arrangements to ensure you are accommodated together and placed on the same volunteering project. To apply to volunteer abroad as a family, one person needs to complete the application process first and select ‘Yes’ to the question ‘Will you be volunteering with a friend, family member or group?’ within the application form. They will then be prompted to create a group and invite the other family members to join. An email will then be sent to the other family members, so they can follow the link in the email to apply. Learn more about our family volunteering opportunities to find the program best suited to your family.

Definitely! IVHQ has hosted thousands of university groups, schools groups, youth groups and corporate teams on our volunteer abroad programs. We offer a range of options for group volunteering and specialize in creating customized itineraries that provide a safe environment for group members to develop and challenge themselves. We achieve this through providing impactful volunteer programs that foster cross-cultural understanding and make a positive contribution to community projects. Learn more about our volunteer group trips to find a project best suited to you.

IVHQ is a social enterprise and not a charity. As a social enterprise, we are a registered company with a strong social mission and commitment to operating transparently. We are focused on providing affordable, quality and responsible volunteer abroad opportunities but as we are not a charity, we cannot accept donations. If an IVHQ volunteer wishes to make a donation to their volunteer placement, we encourage volunteers to inform our local team so they can identify an effective way for the donation to be invested.

Of course! Although IVHQ operates out of New Zealand, we are an international volunteer travel organization with programs in 40+ countries across the globe. Almost all of our volunteers live outside New Zealand. We host people of all nationalities on our volunteer abroad programs, and have supported over 133,000 volunteers of over 150 different nationalities to volunteer abroad over the last 16 years including the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Netherlands, Germany, United Arab Emirates, China, Hong Kong and Singapore.

Yes we do! IVHQ has a sister organization, Intern Abroad HQ, that specializes in facilitating internships abroad and remote internship. With a choice of over 180 internship programs in over 20 countries, Intern Abroad HQ offers the opportunity to provide valuable support to a community while also gaining hands-on work experience in a cross-cultural setting that supports your professional and personal development goals. Our team will organize everything for you, including sourcing your internship placement, arranging local accommodation, and providing on-the-ground support and supervision. To explore international internship options, search for a program by destination or by career field.

How to Volunteer Abroad

Applying to volunteer abroad with IVHQ is simple. Once you have decided where you would like to volunteer and which volunteering project you would like to join, you just need to submit an online application for your chosen dates. It is free to apply, it only takes a few minutes, and there’s no commitment at this stage. We will then check there is availability and that you are suitable for your chosen project, then accept you onto the program. Once you have been accepted for your chosen dates, you will be invited to complete your registration by paying your Registration Fee. This will then confirm your place on the program. Learn how to get started.

We recommend applying as soon as you know when you would like to volunteer, and which program you would like to join. This helps to ensure that you can secure your place on the program of your choice, as some programs can be fully booked many months in advance. If you need to make changes after you have completed your registration, you can change your start date, duration, program choice or even destination for free up to 14 days before your start date. You can start your application here.

After you have submitted your application to volunteer with IVHQ, we will review your details to confirm there is availability on your chosen start dates and verify the program is suitable for you. We will then accept you into the program and your MyIVHQ account will be upgraded. You will also be connected with your IVHQ Program Manager who will help you prepare for your volunteer trip. The next step after this will be for you to complete your registration by paying your Registration Fee. At this point your place on the program is secure and you will be given access to extra preparation tools within MyIVHQ, including an in-depth Program Guide, a comprehensive preparation checklist, and interactive training modules. Your IVHQ Program Manager will be able to answer any questions you may have and will collect all the required information from you before you depart. In addition, you will be introduced to our local team who will email you to welcome you to the program.

Yes, you can log in to MyIVHQ to make changes to your application at any time before you register. If you would like to make a change to your application after you have paid your Registration Fee, please email your Program Manager to arrange this. You can make changes for free up to 14 days before your scheduled start date.

If you would like to apply to volunteer on more than one IVHQ program as part of the same trip or on different trips, you should submit an application for your first program and wait until you are accepted. Then you can apply for further programs from within your MyIVHQ account by clicking on ‘My Applications’ and selecting ‘New Application’ from the drop-down menu.

If you are considering multiple programs but plan to only participate in one of these, you do not need to submit multiple applications. Just apply for your first choice and let us know in your application which other programs you are considering. Your Program Manager will be able to help you choose the best program for you and amend your application if necessary.

Volunteer Fees

As an IVHQ volunteer, you give up your time and your skills to assist abroad, therefore many people ask us why they have to pay a fee to volunteer with us. Being transparent and making sure IVHQ volunteers understand what their fees cover is important to us. IVHQ provides a service to our volunteers. We organize your trip, ensure you are prepared in advance, and support you before, during and after your trip. We charge a Registration Fee to cover our costs for providing our volunteers with these services. Once you are in-country participating on your volunteer program, we provide an airport pick up, orientation meeting, accommodation and meals, and 24/7 local support for the duration of your program. Your Program Fee covers these costs. Many of the local organizations our volunteers support are NGOs, not-for-profits or small community organizations, so it is unrealistic to expect these organizations to cover the costs of hosting you.

To volunteer abroad with IVHQ you need to pay two fees: a Registration Fee and a Program Fee. The Registration Fee of $329 pays for the services IVHQ provides to you in organizing your trip and supporting you from start to finish. It also enables IVHQ to provide a range of value-add services that ensure you have the best possible volunteering experience. The Program Fee is paid separately as this is passed on to the local team and organization hosting you in-country to cover the expenses associated with your stay, including your airport pick-up, orientation, accommodation, food and staff support to ensure that your volunteer program goes as smoothly as possible. To see exactly what you receive for your fees, visit our Fees page.

IVHQ was established to provide genuinely high quality, responsible and accessible volunteer travel opportunities. Keeping our fees as affordable as possible allows as many volunteers as possible to make a difference abroad with us. Read about how we are able to keep our fees so much lower than other organizations.

If you are looking for a short-term volunteer abroad program, IVHQ’s Peru - Lima, India - Delhi, South Africa and Nepal programs have the most affordable Program Fees, starting from just $275 for 1 week.

The crowdfunding platform, Go Get Funding, provides IVHQ volunteers with access to professional online fundraising services. Go Get Funding has proven to be a successful platform for IVHQ volunteers to help fund a volunteer abroad trip, with thousands of dollars being raised by volunteers every year. If you would like to explore other forms of fundraising in addition to Go Get Funding, see our Volunteer Fundraising Tips page to pick up some more fundraising ideas from previous volunteers. Your Program Manager can provide you with a verification letter to validate that you are volunteering with IVHQ and provide your supporters with information about what you are doing to help you raise money.

All volunteers who have completed an IVHQ program are eligible to receive a 10% discount off their Registration Fee when they register for their next IVHQ program. Volunteers who register for more than one IVHQ program for the same trip (for example, 2 weeks in Kenya, followed by 2 weeks in Ghana) are eligible to receive a 10% Registration Fee discount for each subsequent IVHQ program that they register for. See the IVHQ Rewards and Ambassador Programs Terms & Conditions for more information.

Preparing to Volunteer Abroad

To keep our volunteers, staff and local communities safe during the Covid-19 pandemic, all volunteers must present a negative Covid-19 test upon arrival at their program. We accept both Lateral Flow tests and PCR tests. This must have been dated from within the last 72 hours and is a requirement regardless of whether you have been vaccinated against Covid-19 or not. We strongly encourage our volunteers to be fully vaccinated before starting their trip, but since the availability of vaccines varies by country we do not currently require our volunteers to have been vaccinated. For more information on how we keep you safe, visit our Volunteer Health & Safety page.

Every situation is different and visa requirements are dependent on the country you are traveling to and your nationality. Please use the handy Visa Requirements and Travel Restrictions tool on every Program and Project page to check if you’re able to travel to that country. More information on visa requirements can be found in your IVHQ Program Guide which you will gain access to after registering to volunteer with IVHQ.

To participate in an IVHQ volunteer program, all volunteers are required to provide a criminal background check to our local team during their program orientation. To find out how to obtain a criminal background check document in your country, please search online or contact your local police station. To ensure the background check you obtain meets your IVHQ Program requirements, you can refer to your program information booklet once you have registered, or you can ask your IVHQ Program Manager. For further guidance, please see the IVHQ Criminal Background Check page.

Travel insurance is mandatory in order to volunteer abroad on an IVHQ volunteer program. Although it is not included in your Program Fees, you will be able to purchase IVHQ travel insurance once you have secured your place in the program. Our travel insurance cover has been customized specifically for the types of claims you may need to make while volunteering abroad with us. Learn more about IVHQ Travel Insurance.

The vaccinations you require will depend on which vaccinations you have had previously, and the country that you are traveling to. The only vaccination legally required in some countries is Yellow Fever. This is only a requirement in some countries in Africa and Latin America and depends on where you have been traveling through. A full list of recommended and required vaccinations is provided in your Program Guide, which you will receive once you register on an IVHQ volunteer program.

Language requirements vary from country to country and can depend on the type of project you are participating on. However, for the most part, volunteers are generally only required to speak English to participate on an IVHQ program. On some of our programs in Latin America, volunteers are required to speak varying levels of Spanish or Portuguese. More information on language requirements is provided within the relevant Destination page. IVHQ volunteers are provided with basic language lessons during their orientation and we recommend that volunteers take additional language lessons where available. The more you can speak and converse in the local language, the more you will be able to immerse yourself into the program and local culture.

Your Program

When you arrive at your destination, you will be greeted at the airport (or a local pick-up point if you are traveling overland) by a representative of our local team. They will take you to the volunteer accommodation and introduce you to your new home away from home, your local hosts and fellow volunteers. Before beginning your volunteer placement, you will attend a program orientation which is hosted by the local team to give you an introduction to the local culture and customs, safety advice, transport options, rules and expectations, your placement, and weekend travel opportunities. Our local teams are available 24/7 to provide support to you during your volunteer program, so whether you are traveling solo or with a group of people, you know you will always be well looked after.

The type of accommodation and meals provided on IVHQ programs vary from country to country. For more information on this, visit the specific destination page that you are interested in via our Volunteer Abroad Programs page.

The number of other volunteers varies by program and time of year. Some programs may host dozens of volunteers at the same time, while on others there may only be two or three other volunteers. If you have any questions about who else will be on your program, please contact your Program Manager or send us a message.

Many of our volunteer programs offer optional language lessons which are available to IVHQ volunteers at an affordable rate. These can be arranged through IVHQ and paid for prior to departure.

As an IVHQ volunteer, you will have your free time and weekends available to explore more of your host country. Our local team will be happy to provide recommendations for tours or trips that you can take. While we believe that an IVHQ trip is the most authentic way to experience a country through living and working with local people, we understand that many of our volunteers wish to visit and experience sites like regular travelers too.

Your IVHQ Program Manager can provide you with a letter of reference at the completion of your trip, upon request. Our local staff are often happy to act as referees for past volunteers as well.

You can obtain an International Certificate of Volunteering after completing your IVHQ program, which reflects the date and duration of your volunteer program. This certificate can be a valuable addition to your resume as many employers recognize that volunteer travel is beneficial for personal and professional development, as well as cross cultural competence.

How to get started

Pick a destination + project and apply for free
Meet your personal volunteer travel expert
Pay the Registration Fee to secure your place and upgrade your MyIVHQ account
Get ready to volunteer abroad, we’ll support you every step of the way!
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