What Do You Need to Volunteer Abroad?

Volunteering abroad is a fantastic way to integrate into the local community and meet new people including locals, other expats and international volunteers. At the same time, you’ll be doing something worthwhile, gaining new skills, enhancing your CV, contributing to your new place of residence and even learning the local language.

Volunteering overseas gives you the opportunity to try something completely new or to build on existing skills, qualifications and experience in an area you’re interested in and passionate about. It also gives you the opportunity to really make a difference to a community and to help improve the lives of others. It’s a valuable way to spend time in your host country with so many benefits. Most people say that volunteering abroad is a life-changing experience.

If you’re an expat wanting to volunteer abroad here’s what you need:


Whether you need qualifications or not, very much depends on the volunteer programme you choose to join. Most volunteering is about sharing your love and passion to improve the lives of those in need. Conservation programs and orphanage programmes don’t usually require any specific qualifications.

However, teaching English and medical health projects are also popular volunteer programmes that can often require you to have specific qualifications.

To teach English it’s essential that you are fluent in the English language but it can also be beneficial if you have prior teaching training or experience.

A medical/health programme will also require you to have specific skills or training. You will need to be at least a pre-med student so that you will be able to assist with treating patients. Some medical programmes allow you to join without prior experience but in this case it’s rare that you will be able to provide medical care, you would mainly be assisting with administration.

Expat travel insurance

When volunteering abroad, it’s essential that you are covered by expatriate travel medical insurance. Should you need to seek emergency medical assistance you will need to be covered by insurance. Expat travel insurance allows you the freedom to purchase either a single trip insurance plan or an annual multi-trip travel product, allowing you to travel as frequently as you like with complete peace of mind.

These policies not only cover you for urgent medical treatment, but they can also protect you if your baggage gets delayed, loss of personal belongings and other travel-related issues.


It goes without saying but the very first thing you must make sure you have is your passport.

In addition to that, you need to prepare any additional documents that you may need. This includes visas, entry forms and any documents required by your volunteer organisation. We recommend having all these documents prepared well in advance of your departure. Even if you’re only joining a short-term programme depending on your destination, they can have strict legal policies. Having your documents prepped will ensure smooth entry.

When it comes to the documents you need for your volunteering, refer to your volunteer organisations guide. This should specify what documents you may need to present for your specific programme.


Depending on which country you are carrying out your volunteering in you may be required or recommended vaccines for your trip. Different vaccines will be required for different destinations so it’s best to do your research. The nurse or doctor at your registered surgery will usually advise you on what vaccines you need depending on what activities you’re going to be partaking in and where you’ll be volunteering.

Have an open mind

Finally, with an open mind, desire to help, and the spirit to get involved becoming, coupled with choosing the right volunteering programme for you, becoming an expat volunteer will reap huge personal benefits and is a massively rewarding way to spend your time while living abroad.

Want to volunteer with animals? Find out everything you need to know about volunteering abroad with animals.

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