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Coronavirus - IVHQ Program Reopening Updates

Covid-19 - Program Reopenings and Keeping You Safe

Last updated: September 21st, 2020

As the world is re-opening, so are our volunteer programs.

Thanks to the incredible team effort of millions around the world, countries are exiting their COVID-19 lockdowns and re-opening their countries for visitors. While some regions may remain restricted for some months more, we are restarting our volunteer programs where the local health situation, government advice and border restrictions allow this. IVHQ’s volunteers provide invaluable support to our local communities around the world. Now more than ever, our volunteers’ contributions of time, expertise and local spending money are critically needed to help these communities to get back on their feet.

Over half of IVHQ’s volunteer programs will be open by the end of October. The IVHQ programs listed below are already open and accepting volunteers, or are due to re-open in October. For up-to-date start dates, please get in touch with your Program Manager or contact us.

You can still apply and register for all other programs beyond these dates – as far ahead as 2023. If the program you register for is not going to be open on your chosen dates, your Program Manager will let you know and you can change your plans for free thanks to our flexible booking.

Please note that many countries require proof of a recent negative COVID-19 test on arrival.

Europe:
North, Central and South America, and the Caribbean:
Africa & Middle East:
Asia & Pacific:
  • Australia – open only for those already in Australia
  • China - open only for those already in China
  • Laos - open only for those already in Laos
  • Philippines - open only for those already in the Philippines
  • Thailand (Hua Hin) - open only for those already in Thailand

Explained below are ways we’re ensuring our volunteers and communities remain safe, as well as some commonly asked questions our IVHQ team are being asked. Please stay safe, be kind, and protect the health of yourself and others, wherever you are in the world.

Thank you for your ongoing support of IVHQ and the communities we work within. If there’s anything we can do to help you with your travel plans during this time, please get in touch and one of our Volunteer Travel Specialists will be able to offer specialist support and guidance.


Your wellbeing remains our highest priority.

Since long before COVID-19 began to spread, IVHQ has followed industry-leading procedures to ensure the safety of our volunteers. As our programs start to re-open to volunteers, we will maintain our pledge to keep you safe. In addition to our standard volunteer safety processes, all of our local program teams will be following enhanced procedures we have developed to minimize risks from COVID-19. These include:

How we're keeping you and our communities safe.

All volunteers tested for COVID-19 within 72 hours of travel

How we're keeping you and our communities safe.

Health & safety information provided during orientation

How we're keeping you and our communities safe.

Strict disinfecting standards for programs & accommodation

How we're keeping you and our communities safe.

Greater physical distance between volunteers

  • All volunteers traveling abroad must be tested for COVID-19 within 72 hours prior to travel, where this is possible in their locality. Note that some governments require pre-travel testing from travelers within 48 hours of boarding their first flight. We’re asking volunteers to present a medical certificate on arrival at the program to verify they have not tested positive for COVID-19, but this may also be a mandatory government requirement in order to enter their country.
  • During orientation, each volunteer will be provided information about COVID-19 symptoms and local health facilities.
  • Increased frequency and depth of cleaning practices in both accommodation and placement locations.
  • Antibacterial spray/wipes will be present at all placements with surfaces wiped between volunteer shifts and/or individual/group changovers.
  • Alcohol-based hand sanitisers will be available at project sites and at the program base.
  • Greater physical separation between volunteers in accommodation and placements.
  • Symptomatic individuals will be isolated from others in accordance with local regulations and WHO guidelines. If symptoms persist or are of concern, individuals will be assisted in contacting a healthcare provider for testing, advice and/or treatment.

All our volunteers should also take personal responsibility for their own health and the safety of others. Please do not travel if you are feeling ill or if there is a risk you may be an asymptomatic carrier of COVID-19 – for example, if you have been exposed to an infected individual within the 14 days before you start your IVHQ program.

When you travel, protect yourself with the right insurance.

At IVHQ, we like World Nomads, because unlike many other travel insurance providers, they do not have an endemic or pandemic exclusion for policies purchased by U.S. residents. This means that you may make claims arising from the COVID-19 for the benefits specified in your policy. These benefits include emergency medical and trip interruption coverage for you personally or a travel companion who contracts the COVID-19 or goes under quarantine when traveling. If you unexpectedly catch COVID-19 at home before you leave for your trip, you may also be eligible for trip cancellation coverage, which represents compensation for any pre-paid non-refundable travel expenses such as flights, hotels, and excursions. Click here to review exactly what is covered by World Nomads’ policies in relation to Covid-19.

You can obtain a travel insurance quote from World Nomads for your volunteer abroad trip by clicking here or visiting IVHQ’s volunteer travel insurance page.

Coverage for non-U.S. residents varies and can be checked by clicking here.

Book with confidence with free changes.

We understand the ongoing uncertainty around travel restrictions can be unsettling. That’s why we’ve made it easy to change your travel plans should you need to – or if you simply change your mind.

As long as you cancel or reschedule at least 14 days before your program start date this year, you can change your start date, volunteer program or destination free of charge. Our flexible booking policy means that once you’ve paid your registration fee, your money is protected.

If you want to volunteer but do not have the means to travel internationally, you are still able to join IVHQ volunteer programs within your home country. For US volunteers, we have extended our range of US volunteer programs that will allow you to continue with your plans to give back to a local community without having to cross a border. Or if you would like to enhance your resume with international career-relevat experience, our sister organization, Intern Abroad HQ, offers virtual internships with some incredible global organizations that you can complete remotely from home.

Most of our volunteers book their trips months in advance, so please take this time to plan for the future. With IVHQ you can register for trips up to three years ahead.

Free changes.
Guaranteed flexibility.
Protected registration fees.
Protected program fees.

FAQ's.

Will my program be open this year?

We are making plans for reopening programs on a case-by-case basis, based on the latest travel advisories for each country, the status of local health risks, and any local government or border restrictions that might remain in place. Since we support volunteers from countries all over the world, our approach to opening programs is based entirely on local conditions and guidance from the relevant local authorities. Each volunteer should make their own assessment on whether they will be able to travel to participate in their program based on their own individual circumstances.

For a list of programs that are already open or that we anticipate will re-open in September, please refer to the top of this page. As the situation in each country is changing constantly, we are not able to provide certainty around program availability until a few weeks before each volunteer’s start date.

We are proactively contacting all volunteers who are due to travel in the near future to advise on program availability. Please contact your IVHQ Program Manager or get in touch with our team of Volunteer Travel Specialists for up to date information on country-specific plans.

If you are due to travel from September onwards, our current advice is to hold off from changing or cancelling your travel until we have greater certainty over when our programs will begin operating again.

Will I be safe if I continue with my plans to volunteer?

From the very start of the outbreak, our local teams implemented procedures across all our programs to ensure early detection of any cases, in accordance with the advice from local and international authorities. There were no reported cases of Covid-19 among any volunteer or staff member on any IVHQ volunteer program before they closed. We will only reopen programs when we believe the local conditions provide a safe environment for our volunteers and we will implement enhanced procedures for monitoring the health of our volunteers and isolating, caring for, and reporting any cases, should they arise, will remain in place.

All local teams on every IVHQ program will follow our enhanced volunteer safety procedures to minimize any risk of COVID-19 infection or transmission. These procedures include:

  • All volunteers must be tested for COVID-19 within 72 hours prior to travel, where this is possible in their locality. Some governments require pre-travel testing in order to enter a country and we’re asking volunteers to present a medical certificate on arrival at the program to verify they have not tested positive for COVID-19.
  • During orientation, each volunteer’s temperature will be taken and they will be assessed for signs of any other COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Increased frequency and depth of cleaning practices in both accommodation and placement locations.
  • Antibacterial spray/wipes will be present at all placements with surfaces wiped between volunteer shifts and/or individual/group changovers.
  • Alcohol-based hand sanitisers will be available at project sites and at the program base.
  • Greater physical separation between volunteers in accommodation and placements.
  • Symptomatic individuals will be isolated from others in accordance with local regulations and WHO guidelines. If symptoms persist or are of concern, individuals will be assisted in contacting a healthcare provider for testing, advice and/or treatment.

All our volunteers should also take personal responsibility for their own health and the safety of others. Please do not travel if you are feeling ill or if there is a risk you may be an asymptomatic carrier of COVID-19 – for example, if you have been exposed to an infected individual within the 14 days before you start your IVHQ program.

Will my travel insurance cover me for COVID-19?

Sometimes luck just isn’t on your side and things can go wrong on any overseas trip. Your normal health insurance is unlikely to cover you for overseas expenses, which is why travel insurance is compulsory for all IVHQ volunteers.

We’ve partnered with World Nomads for many years because their policies provide comprehensive but affordable cover for most of the typical activities IVHQ volunteers get involved with while on an IVHQ volunteer abroad program. Unlike many other companies, World Nomads does not have an endemic or pandemic exclusion for policies purchased by U.S. residents, which means that you may make claims arising from the COVID-19 for the benefits specified in your policy. Click here to review exactly what is covered by World Nomads’ policies in relation to Covid-19.

You can obtain a travel insurance quote from World Nomads for your volunteer abroad trip by clicking here or visiting IVHQ’s travel insurance page.

Can I change my travel plans free of charge?

We’re offering greater flexibility for changes to travel dates and destinations during this period of uncertainty.

We are allowing all volunteers with program start dates prior to December 31, 2021 to change their travel destination, volunteer project or start date free of charge. If you don’t know when you will be able to travel, we can hold any program fee you’ve paid as a credit on your account or provide a refund.

For volunteers due to start their programs within the next 14 days, we are dealing with each individual situation on a case by case basis. If this applies to you, please contact your Program Manager.

If you have been accepted for an IVHQ volunteer program but haven’t yet completed your registration, you can make changes to your trip free of charge at any time. This means you can select a different destination, volunteer project or travel date and still continue with your plans to make a difference abroad. When you are ready to register, we offer options that provide a refund should you need to cancel your trip closer to your departure date.

Can I get a refund?

We have always provided refunds to any volunteer who is eligible for a refund under IVHQ’s terms and conditions, and this has not changed since the current pandemic began. In addition, although program fees are not normally refundable, we are refunding these payments subject to an admin fee to cover some of the costs already incurred by IVHQ and our local country teams.

For volunteers who booked a non-refundable trip, we are offering free changes to program start dates or credits you can use in the future.

What’s the best way of contacting IVHQ?

IVHQ’s Volunteer Travel Specialists are available to answer any of your queries related to existing registrations or help with your planning for the future. You can get in touch with us by email to info@volunteerhq.org, direct to your Program Manager by email, or through our online enquiry form.

We are prioritizing enquiries based on urgency. If you are not scheduled to start your IVHQ volunteer program within the next few weeks, please be aware that there may be a delay until we are able to respond to you. We ask you to please be patient so we can better support those volunteers with imminent travel plans.