US Travel Restrictions: Where Can Americans Volunteer Abroad Right Now?
The US recently announced a new set of recommendations around international travel for Americans based on vaccination status.
With all this information at hand, what does this mean for volunteering abroad? With summer here and over 45% of Americans now fully vaccinated, traveling overseas is at the top of many people’s wish list.
So, where can you volunteer abroad with IVHQ right now with limited or no quarantine required?
Quarantine-free travel destinations
If you live in the United States and have been fully vaccinated or have recovered from Covid-19 in the last 3 months, you can join any of these IVHQ volunteer programs without the need to quarantine on arrival or when you return home. All of these programs are open, have volunteers starting every week, and are fully hosted with accommodation and meals included. Volunteer for just 1 week or up to 24 weeks.
What are your options if you are not yet fully vaccinated?
If you have not yet been vaccinated and are fortunate to have not been infected by Covid-19 in the last 3 months, then you may still join all the IVHQ volunteer programs above without having to quarantine on arrival. However, you will be required to self-isolate on your return to the US for 7 days if you test negative, or for 10 days if you don’t get retested.
Please note that all IVHQ volunteers, regardless of vaccination status, must produce a negative Covid-19 test from within the last 72 hours upon arrival at your program, and another negative test prior to returning back to the US.
Summary of Covid-19 test and self-isolation requirements
If you are vaccinated
Before you leave the US: Get a Covid-19 test within 72 hours prior to travel since IVHQ requires a negative test result on arrival at your destination. This is part of IVHQ’s health & safety guidelines, plus most countries require it.
When returning back to the US: You will be required to provide a negative Covid-19 test result from within the last 72 hours or documentation of recovery from Covid-19 in the past 3 months. However, you will not need to self-isolate.
Once back in the US: It is recommended that you get a viral test 3-5 days after travel, self-monitor for Covid-19 symptoms and follow all state and local recommendations or requirements after travel.
If you are not vaccinated
Before you leave the US: IVHQ requires a negative Covid-19 test result from within the 72 hours prior to travel. The US government also requires a viral test 1-3 days before your trip.
When returning back to the US: You will be required to provide a negative Covid-19 test result from within the last 72 hours or documentation of recovery from Covid-19 in the past 3 months.
Once back in the US:
You must self-isolate at home or your destination for at least 7 days.
Get tested with a viral test 3-5 days after travel.
If you test negative, you must continue your self-isolation for the full 7 days
If your test is positive, isolate yourself until you have recovered to protect others from getting infected.
If you don’t get tested, stay home and self-isolate for 10 days after travel. Follow all state and local recommendations or requirements.
See what's required to visit your chosen destination
Fill out the quick form below to find out what the border restrictions and visa requirements are for the IVHQ destination you're traveling to, based on your country of residence. In addition to volunteers presenting a negative Covid-19 test from the prior 72 hours upon arrival, some destinations also require you to bring health documents, wear masks in public spaces, or apply for a visa. Enter your trip details below to make sure you have everything you need before arriving at your volunteer destination!
Free changes up to 14 days before your start date
We make it easy to change your travel plans should you need to - or if you simply change your mind! You can make free changes to your program start date, volunteer program or destination up to 14 days before your start date.
Protected Registration Fees
Protected Program Fees
Our flexible booking policy means that once you've paid your Registration Fee, your money is protected. Plus, you don't need to pay your Program Fee until 30 days before your start date.
If you want to volunteer but do not have the means to travel internationally, consider joining one of IVHQ's volunteer programs in your home country. For example, we offer a wide range of US volunteer programs, or you can make an impact on important social and environmental projects from home on one of Intern Abroad HQ's remote internship.Learn more about flexible booking
Volunteer health & safety
Travel insurance for Covid-19
At IVHQ, we've partnered with World Nomads because unlike many other travel insurance providers, they do not have an endemic or pandemic exclusion for policies purchased by US residents. This means that you may make claims arising from Covid-19 for the benefits specified in your policy. These benefits include emergency medical and trip interruption coverage for your personally or a travel companion who contracts Covid-19 or goes under quarantine when traveling.
For UK residents, all World Nomads policies include emergency medical assistance, hospitalization and repatriation cover if you get sick with Covid-19 while abroad. Upgrade to an Explorer plan and you'll also have cover for some Covid-19 related events, including cancelation, trip interruption expenses, and some quarantine costs. In addition, there's cover for healthcare workers, residential care workers and law enforcement officers who have their pre-arranged leave canceled by their employer due to Covid-19.
You can get a travel insurance quote from World Nomads for your volunteer abroad trip by visiting IVHQ's volunteer travel insurance page.
Health & safety measures
When the Covid-19 pandemic began, we introduce a number of extra health and safety measures across all of our local teams and programs. These have been designed to minimize the risk of volunteers introducing a new infection to the local community, and minimize the risk of cross-infection between volunteers and from the local community.
- All volunteers must provide evidence of a negative Covid-19 test from within the last 72 hours on arrival.
- Volunteers receive information on how to minimize infection.
- Enhanced cleaning practices in accommodation and placements.
- Antibacterial spray/wipes available at all placements.
- Alcohol-based hand sanitizers available at project sites and program base.
- Volunteers asked to maintain a greater physical distance from one another.
- Symptomatic individuals will be isolated from others.
- Volunteers will be assisted if they need testing, advice and/or treatment.
Wondering what it's like to volunteer during Covid-19? Hundreds of IVHQers are currently volunteering around the globe and contributing their time and skills to make a real impact during this time of need.
Find out how recent volunteers felt about additional health and safety measures on IVHQ programs, travelling without crowds of tourists and what it's like to help local communities get back on their feet post-pandemic. Read these recent stories from IVHQers on the ground in Tanzania, Costa Rica, Portugal, Ghana and Romania...
AlexandreConstruction & Renovation in Costa Rica
Volunteering in Costa Rica at this time definitely made the experience more special. We did not queue anywhere and had the usually extremely busy national parks, paradise islands, wildlife sanctuaries, volcanoes and beaches all to ourselves. It was also really rewarding to give the local people working in tourism a little hope that international travel is resuming!Read about Alexandre's experience
Despite the Covid-19 situation, I feel very safe in the volunteer house, at my placement and being out and about in Portugal. The program has implemented a number of measures to make sure we’re all safe. For example, social distancing rules are in place, the house is cleaned very regularly, there’s hand sanitizer everywhere and we have to wear masks if we go into stores.Read about Emily's experience
There was no reason for me to fear as the local team made sure that I was taken care of. I was able to teach about hygiene at a school, educate a community about Covid-19, conduct over 200 malaria tests, take blood pressure screenings and provide first aid care to people who aren’t able to access a clinic. It was an amazing experience during the pandemic and I don’t regret a minute of it.Read about Tonja's experience
We are reopening our volunteer 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 reopen in the near future, 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 your program is currently closed, our current advice is to hold off from changing or cancelling your travel until we have greater certainty over when your program will begin operating again.
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. We only reopen programs when we believe the local conditions provide a safe environment for our volunteers and we 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 following our enhanced volunteer safety procedures to minimize any risk of Covid-19 infection or transmission. You can learn more about these here.
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.
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 travel insurance 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 US residents, which means that you may make claims arising from Covid-19 for the benefits specified in your policy.
We’re offering greater flexibility for changes to travel dates and destinations during this period of uncertainty.
All volunteers can change their travel destination, volunteer project or start date free of charge as long as you contact us more than 14 days before your start date. 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.
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.
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.
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 at firstname.lastname@example.org, direct to your Program Manager by email or check out our contact page.