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Volunteer Abroad FAQ with IVHQ

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Volunteer Abroad Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know that IVHQ is a legitimate volunteer travel company?

International Volunteer HQ is a registered New Zealand company, our incorporation number 1936998. We are also verified by a number of international volunteer travel portals, including Go Overseas and Go Abroad. Our team has over 14 years of experience in supporting more than 115,000 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.

What is volunteering abroad?

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.

Why volunteer abroad?

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. As an international volunteer, you will open your mind to new perspectives and ways of operating, while engaging in mutually-beneficial learning exchanges with your host community and fellow volunteers - sharing skills, ideas, values, languages and cultural differences. Your contribution will make a difference as you will be working alongside like-minded volunteer travelers and local community members, building on the work of previous volunteers to support the long-term developmental goals of your host community. Learn more about IVHQ’s volunteer project objectives. The learning and growth opportunities that you will gain while volunteering abroad are invaluable to your personal and professional development. Volunteers often reflect on increased self-confidence and cultural intelligence, new friendships and greater independence as key benefits of volunteering abroad. Making the commitment to volunteer overseas can also help to enhance your future career prospects. Not only do volunteers grow their skill base, work experience and international contacts through volunteering abroad, employers often look favorably upon those who are willing to go outside of their comfort zone and give up their time to assist others.

Why volunteer abroad with IVHQ?

With an alumni network of over 115,000 volunteers, IVHQ is the world’s most trusted volunteer travel organization. We make it easy and affordable 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, secure accommodations and meaningful volunteer work, 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.

Which IVHQ programs are currently open?

As many countries are beginning to exit their COVID-19 lockdowns and re-open for visitors, IVHQ is restarting volunteer programs where the local health situation, government advice and border restrictions allow this. To see when programs are reopening, please refer to our Program Reopening updates.

Where can I volunteer abroad?

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.

Volunteer abroad frequently asked questions

What type of volunteer work can I do?

We’re proud to offer the world’s largest range of affordable volunteer abroad projects, so 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.

What are the requirements to volunteer abroad?

Volunteer requirements vary from project to project, however for the majority of projects, the only requirements are fluency in English, a clean criminal background, and a willingness to learn. 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.

Can people under the age of 18 volunteer independently with IVHQ?

Yes, volunteers between 16 and 18 years-old can travel and volunteer independently on select IVHQ programs with parental/guardian consent. Volunteers under the age of 18 will be required to provide IVHQ with parental consent and 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.

Volunteers under the age of 18 can participate on the following programs:

Can children volunteer with IVHQ?

Minors who are volunteering as part of a group with adult minders - or with a parent, guardian or family member who is 18 years or over - are eligible to participate. 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 placed with their minder. Minors are required to provide IVHQ with parental consent and two character reference letters.

Can I volunteer abroad with a friend or partner?

Yes, friends and couples are welcome to volunteer together and our local team can 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.

Can we volunteer abroad as a family?

Yes, we can accommodate families on our volunteer programs and our local team can make arrangements to ensure you are accommodated and placed on a project together. 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.

Can I volunteer abroad with a group of students, colleagues or friends?

Certainly, IVHQ regularly hosts 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.

Volunteer Abroad Thailand frequently asked questions

Is IVHQ a charity and does IVHQ accept donations?

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 and due to the fact 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.

Can people from outside of New Zealand volunteer with IVHQ?

Of course! Although IVHQ is based in New Zealand, we are an international volunteer travel organization and accommodate people of all nationalities on our volunteer abroad programs. We have supported over 115,000 volunteers of over 100 different nationalities to volunteer abroad and find the majority of volunteers come from the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Netherlands, Germany, Italy, China, Hong Kong and Singapore.

Does IVHQ offer internships?

Due to the flexible durations of our programs and diverse range of volunteer work, many volunteers choose to join IVHQ programs as international internships. This offers an opportunity to provide valuable support to a community while gaining hands-on work experience in a cross-cultural setting to support your professional and personal development goals. If you’re looking for an international internship that includes a structured and supported experiential learning program, we recommended checking out the internship opportunities available with our sister organization, Intern Abroad HQ. These intern abroad and remote internship programs run year-round and offer an affordable way to intern with reputable organizations in Japan, New Zealand, Tanzania, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Peru, Bali, Greece, South Africa and Ireland.

How can I volunteer abroad with IVHQ?

Applying to volunteer abroad with IVHQ is simple, once you have decided where you would like to volunteer and which project you would like to join, you can complete an application for the dates would like to volunteer. Once you have been accepted for your chosen dates, you will be invited to register by paying your Registration Fee to confirm your place on the program. Learn how to get started.

How far in advance should I apply?

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 months in advance. Keep in mind that you can change your application at a later date if your plans change. You can start your application here.

What happens after I apply?

After you apply to volunteer with IVHQ, you will gain access to your MyIVHQ account and be connected with an IVHQ Program Manager to help you prepare for your volunteer trip. Once you have registered on an IVHQ program (by paying your Registration Fee via MyIVHQ), 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 and interactive training modules. Your IVHQ Program Manager is also available to answer any questions you may have and to collect all the required information from you before you depart. In addition to this, you will be introduced to our local team who will email you to welcome you to the program. In order to avoid disappointment, please apply and register as soon as possible.

Can I make changes to my application if I change my mind?

Yes, you can log in to MyIVHQ to make changes to your application before registering. If you would like to make a change to your application after registering, please email your Program Manager to organize. You can make your first change without any fees to make the change.

How to volunteer abroad with International Volunteer HQ

How can I apply for multiple programs?

If you would like to apply to volunteer on more than one IVHQ program, all you need to do is complete an application for one program and then you will be directed to your MyIVHQ account, where you can apply for further programs. From MyIVHQ, click ‘My Applications’ and then select ‘New Application’ from the drop-down menu to apply for another program.

Why pay to volunteer abroad?

As an IVHQ volunteer, you give up your time and your skills to assist abroad, therefore many people fail to see why they should have to pay to volunteer. Being transparent and making sure IVHQ volunteers understand what their fees cover is important to us. Paying the Registration Fee confirms your place on an IVHQ program and is the fee that IVHQ receives to run as an organization and facilitate your volunteer trip. All programs require a Registration Fee which starts at $299 for the base tier. The Registration Fee enables IVHQ to provide a range of value-add services that support you to have the best possible volunteering experience. The Program Fee is paid separately as this is transferred to IVHQ’s in-country organization to cover the expenses associated with your stay in your host country, 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.

Why are IVHQ’s fees so much more affordable than other volunteer organizations?

IVHQ was established to provide genuinely high quality and responsible and yet affordable volunteer travel opportunities. Our Registration Fee and Program Fee have been designed to keep the quality of our volunteer programs high, while ensuring that there are no unnecessary costs or middle men, which can inflate the fees of other organizations. The Program Fee you pay goes to our local team in the country where you are volunteering, leaving only the Registration Fee to cover costs outside of the country. These are the costs that enable IVHQ to operate and provide you with the comprehensive pre-departure support that IVHQ is renowned for. Many other companies take thousands of dollars from volunteers, much of which never makes it to the country where you are traveling to. IVHQ does not sacrifice the quality of our programs, rather we work on a transparent financial system, whereby we can operate at a sustainable level, provided that we have high numbers of volunteer travelers participating on our programs.

Unlike other organizations, we have thousands of volunteers joining our programs annually. This means we can operate on a system of economies of scale, allowing us to keep fees low and the quality of our programs high. By placing high numbers of volunteer travelers on our programs, we can ensure IVHQ volunteers are offered the most affordable fees, giving you peace of mind that you will always have a group of international volunteers to socialize, work and travel with.

What is the cheapest volunteer abroad program?

If you are looking for a short-term volunteer abroad program, IVHQ’s Peru - Lima program has the most affordable program fees, starting from $180 for 1 week.

Can IVHQ help with fundraising?

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.

Is there a discount for returning volunteers or volunteers registering on multiple IVHQ programs?

All volunteers who have completed an IVHQ program are eligible to receive a 10% Registration Fee discount when they register for their next IVHQ program. Volunteers who register for more than one IVHQ program for the same trip (eg. 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 Terms & Conditions for more information.

Medical placements volunteer abroad with International Volunteer HQ

Do I require a visa to travel to the country I wish to volunteer in?

Every situation is different and visa requirements are dependent on the country you are traveling to and your nationality. You can contact the IVHQ team to provide guidance on where to find the information you require, or contact your nearest embassy for the country you are traveling to. More information can be found in your IVHQ Program Guide which you will gain access to after registering to volunteer with IVHQ.

How do I obtain a criminal background check?

To participate on an IVHQ volunteer program, all volunteers are required to provide a criminal background check to our local team during their program orientation. As IVHQ volunteers are from all over the world, there is not one process for applying for a criminal background check that will work for all. Among a number of factors, it will be determined by each individual’s country of residence. As a first step in obtaining a criminal background check, you should check online or contact your local police station to enquire what the process is in your country. 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.

Is travel insurance included in the Program Fee?

Travel insurance is mandatory in order to volunteer abroad on an IVHQ volunteer program. To keep costs as low as possible for volunteers, we do not include travel insurance in our fees. While IVHQ does everything it can to ensure your trip abroad goes smoothly and is a fantastic, memorable experience, it is imperative to ensure you have adequate travel insurance should you fall sick, your bags go missing, or something is stolen. IVHQ has therefore collaborated with World Nomads to ensure volunteers have access to the best insurance deals, designed specifically with volunteer travelers in mind. World Nomads is recommended by highly regarded travel experts, Lonely Planet, and is underwritten by insurance giants Allianz, IHI, BCS Insurance Group, BUPA, Mondial Assistance and Millstream. This insurance covers medical emergencies, emergency evacuation, trip cancellation, personal belongings and personal liability. World Nomads quotes are extremely competitive and they are one of the only insurance companies that allow travelers to claim whilst traveling, or to extend their policy if they decide to stay longer. Visit our Travel Insurance page to get more information, and a simple, no obligation free quote from World Nomads - IVHQ’s recommended travel insurance provider.

Which vaccinations will I require?

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 American 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.

Do I need to be able to speak the local language?

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 Program 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.

What happens when I arrive to my program destination?

When you arrive to your program 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.

Volunteer abroad frequently asked questions accommodation and meals

What are the accommodation and meals like?

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.

Will I be working with other volunteers?

On the majority of IVHQ programs, volunteers are placed in small teams at placements and can expect to be working with at least two to three other IVHQ volunteers. Some of our programs are flexible and if you wish to be placed by yourself our local team may be able to accommodate this, however in most cases IVHQ volunteers live and work together in small groups.

Can I take language lessons on my volunteer program?

Many of our volunteer programs offer optional language lessons which are available to IVHQ volunteers at an affordable rate. These can be arranged directly with our local team and can paid for in country.

Can I go traveling and sightseeing during the weekends of my volunteer program?

As an IVHQ volunteer, you will have your free time and weekends available to explore more of your host country and 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.

volunteer abroad frequently asked questions traveling and sightseeing

Will IVHQ provide a reference or act as a referee for me once I finish volunteering?

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.

Will I get a certificate after completing my volunteer program?

You can obtain a 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.

Have a question that is not answered here? Contact Us and have it answered now.

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!