By now, I’m sure you have researched some of the volunteer organizations listed earlier, and read through their programs and experience offered. Have you decided on the cause that you would like to help with? Think you have found the best project for you? Great, you can now move on to the application process! Booking is an essential step as applying volunteer abroad program in advance gives you ample time for the necessary preparation. In this section, we will try to address the most commonly asked questions on how to apply for volunteer abroad opportunity, to ensure that you have a smooth transition into this rewarding process!
How far do I need to apply?
The amount of time needed for applying volunteer abroad differs for every individual. Someone with a lot of experience traveling abroad may only need two months to get all their paperwork and necessities ready while a complete beginner could do with some extra time. Ideally, you should book your program in advance, at least three months before the starting date, so that you can have a stress-free prep time.
There are several things that you must prepare prior to your travel. First and foremost, make sure that you have a valid passport throughout the duration of your program. You will then need to apply for a visa, if necessary. You should check the embassy’s website to confirm whether you would need a visa for volunteer abroad work. Visa application process can be as short as a few minutes or as long as a few weeks, depending on the country you are applying to. Bear this in mind and do apply early!
Some countries, such as Kenya and Tanzania, have mandatory Yellow Fever vaccination requirement. While other countries may not have such a requirement, it is highly advisable to go to a Travel Clinic and consult a doctor on potential diseases in the host country. Vaccinations are especially important for wildlife volunteers as you can easily catch diseases by being around animals without taking the necessary preventive measures. Vaccinations may take anywhere between one week and six months to be completed, so give yourself ample time to prepare!
How do I apply for volunteer abroad program?
Are you unsure how to apply for volunteer abroad opportunity? Feeling overwhelmed with the wealth of information online? No worries! The application process is quite straightforward and we will guide you step-by-step along the way. Most international volunteer organizations offer online application. Therefore, you don’t need to worry about postage costs and slow international mail delivery. Some organizations have downloadable pdf application forms on their websites for you to complete and email back to them.
The application form can be quite long with very detailed information requirements. You will need to enter your basic information such as name, address, contact number, emergency contacts, and affiliated organization (university or company, if applicable). Some organizations will want you to write short essays describing your past volunteering experience, reason for applying for a volunteer abroad project, reason for choosing the host country, and your program preference. All you need to do is complete this form and submit it together with the application deposit (if required). The application deposit fee normally ranges between $50 and $500.
What are application processes? Or what happens when I apply?
Volunteers often wonder what processes take place after applying volunteer abroad. When you submit your application, these organizations will usually forward it to the respective country offices. The local staffs will then vet through the application forms. Applicants are filtered according to their level of interest in the cause, experience, educational background, and other applicable skills. Once the local staffs find the project that best matches you, they will confirm the project availability and accommodation arrangements before sending a confirmation report to their head office.
The head office will then send a confirmation email to all selected volunteers together with the details of your placement. Your placement details will include all the necessary information such as the project name, contact numbers of the program coordinators, detailed contact information of local host family and in-country staffs, itinerary, visa requirements, vaccination requirements (if any), and other relevant information.
How long will it generally take to get accepted?
Is there any screening process? Can I be not accepted?
When applying volunteer abroad, applicants often wonder how long it will take before they receive confirmation on being selected for the program. It can be nerve-wrecking to wait for the decision, especially if you have wanted to volunteer at the particular site for a long time! However, worry not, as the selection process normally takes only between 1 and 3 weeks. Some international volunteer abroad organizations have a screening process for their applicants, mostly aimed to check your criminal background. This is an essential step for some volunteer programs, especially if you will be working with children and school kids. Generally, most volunteers will be accepted into the programs unless they have a serious criminal background.
Do I need to pay to book? How much?
When researching on how to apply for a volunteer job, volunteers often ask whether they will need to pay a booking fee for their application. The answer would be yes for most international volunteer organizations. Most of the time, this booking fee is not a separate fee, but part of your total program fee. Booking fees are important to get volunteers’ commitment to the project that they are applying for. When you are selected for a program, a lot of background work goes into making the logistical arrangements before your arrival. There has been many cases of volunteering pulling out at the last minute and complicating all these arrangements when they have not paid any fees for the program.
Is there any refund if I cancel?
A lot of volunteers tend to be confused about refund policies when they are researching on how to apply for a volunteer work abroad. Different international organizations have different policies when it comes to fee refunds. Some will refund fully, some may refund a portion of the fee, while some will not refund anything. Please check with the organization that you are planning to join prior to applying.
We hope this section has cleared your doubts on how to apply for volunteer abroad opportunity. You can find out more information by researching online as there are hundreds of websites offering you guidance on the application process. Here is a useful link!
Volunteer Abroad 101
- What is Volunteer Abroad?
- Why volunteer abroad?
- Is Volunteering really for Me?
- What is ethical volunteering?
- Volunteer Abroad Complaints
- What are the Most Popular Volunteer Abroad Places?
- How Can You Select the Best Volunteer Abroad Organizations?
- How can you make volunteer abroad experience rewarding?
- Cost/Money Matter
- How can I find free volunteer opportunities abroad?
- Why do I need to pay to volunteer?
- Health and Safety
- Host family
- How to prepare to volunteer abroad?
- Gift for project/host families
- In-country support or when you will be in field
- What is the daily schedule for projects?
- What are popular volunteer abroad project?
- How can you reduce the cost of volunteer abroad?