Frequently Asked Questions for Volunteering Abroad

Frequently Asked Questions for Volunteering Abroad

Got questions about volunteering abroad? How do I apply? It is for me? We have got the answers to your most frequently asked questions. 

General Questions: Tell me about volunteering 

Is volunteering abroad for me? 

Are you looking for more than an overseas vacation? Are you looking for a meaningful experience that will challenge you? Volunteering may be for you.  

Volunteering can be hard work, and often in conditions you may not be used to. You may have to work with basic resources, brave the wet season, or sleep under a mosquito net. Nonetheless, those who take these challenges in their stride, return home after nothing short of a life-changing experience. 

With plenty of projects around the world taking on volunteers, it’s only a matter of time before you find the right one for you. So, what are you waiting for? Start your journey today by browsing our volunteer trips. Where can you see yourself spending your time and energy to help animals in need? 

Why volunteer with Worldwide Veterinary Service (WVS)? 

Founded in 2003 by veterinarian Luke Gamble, WVS was set up to help animals in places lacking veterinary resources, and where animal suffering was at its worst. Today, we help a huge variety of species and aim to improve not only animal welfare, but also help the local communities in which we work and provide training to the local veterinary workforce. We do this by sending vets, nurses/technicians, and other support staff to where they are needed most, to increase the standard of care across the globe, as well as shipping urgent aid supplies to frontline teams, every week of the year. In 2022, we treated over 62,000 animals worldwide.

Volunteers have always played a critical role in this life-saving work. Hundreds of volunteers – veterinary surgeons, nurses, and those with a love of animals – have supported our animal welfare projects around the world. We ensure these devoted volunteers (people just like you!) can go where the need is greatest and where their impact will be felt by the animals and local communities, for years to come. 

You can join our team of international volunteers. Apply today, and become an official part of the WVS family.  

I’m not a veterinarian or a veterinary nurse. Can I still volunteer?  

Yes! Whilst some of our volunteer programmes are based in veterinary clinics or outreach centres and require a certain level of experience either as a student, graduate, or professional, we also have some programmes perfect for people without a veterinary background. Animal lovers just like you who are passionate about animal welfare, could help track animals in South Africaassist wildlife rangers in Malawi, or conduct surveys on stranded sea turtles in Uruguay, just to name a few. To view all our volunteering programmes currently open for applications, click here.  

Volunteering with WVS: How do I do it?  

How do I apply to volunteer?  

It’s simple and easy with our Volunteer Portal! The portal serves as a ‘one-stop shop’ to connect you with the volunteering experience of your dreams. It’s a hassle-free way to submit your applications and track their progress. In the portal, we’ll guide you through what documentation needs to be uploaded, when payment is due, and anything else you may need to do before take-off. You can sign up to the portal by simply clicking ‘Apply Now’ on the programme you wish to apply for, and entering your details. If you have any questions or comments about the Volunteer Portal, please don’t hesitate to email us at

What support will I receive? 

Planning your next volunteer adventure can be overwhelming. Travelling abroad, navigating through the jungle of restrictions and requirements, and being away from home have their challenges. We know that all too well, and that’s why we’re always here to help. In the lead-up to your trip and whilst you’re aboard, we’re only a phone call or an email away. You’ll be given contact details for our Head Office in the UK as well as in-country personnel to reach out at any point should you need.  

Why should I pay to volunteer? 

We couldn’t continue our life-saving work without the support of volunteers. Here’s why.  

Volunteering abroad costs money because when people come to help, expenses are incurred. In many places, the host organisation will organise the accommodation, food, and related in-country travel to ensure volunteers have the best possible experience and can easily adapt to the general operation of the project.  

By contributing to a project as a paying volunteer, you are not only covering your living expenses, but also supporting the programme itself, and ensuring it is beneficial to the community it serves long term. The money you pay and the skills you share mean that even after you leave, you are still helping the animals and people that need it most.  We keep our costs as low as we possibly can. The most important thing is that we get as many volunteers as possible out to help animals in need. Find out more about why our costs are lower than other organisations.

What’s included in the cost?  

The inclusions vary for each programme, so please browse our website for details. Additional costs to volunteers may include flights, transfer, vaccinations, and other health-related expenses, COVID-tests (where needed), visas, insurance, spending money, and additional food and drinks. 

How much time do I need to commit?  

The actual time commitment will vary from project to project. However, most of our programmes require a minimum of 2 weeks' stay, with longer stays also possible in most cases. Please browse our volunteer trips to find the one best suited to you. 

How can I make even more of a difference?  

Fundraise or donate! Before you depart, consider raising funds to support the project as best as you can. Fundraising can be as easy as telling your friends and family about your life-saving mission and asking them to donate. Email to request our fundraising guide or speak with our team today.  

You can also bring supplies with you! The project may be extremely short on certain supplies and would be very grateful for donations. However, please get in touch first to find out if there is anything that would be helpful to bring with you. This is at your discretion and entirely optional. 

What can I expect in a day of volunteering? 

There might be early mornings and late nights and no two days will be the same, so volunteers need to be ready for hard work with a flexible attitude! Expected working hours vary from project to project, with time to relax in the evenings. Exact timings will depend on workload and will be advised locally. There will be opportunities to explore the local area and arrange excursions (at your own cost) for your rest days. 

What are the requirements to join a volunteer project? 

Our volunteer programmes require a minimum age of 18 years, as well as other formal requirements, including, depending on the destination country, a valid passport, a visa, insurance, and immunisations. Some volunteer programmes also require a certain level of experience in the veterinary profession. Whilst some can accept veterinary students, others require post-graduate experience or prefer that you’ve participated in a similar placement before. The requirements for each project are listed on our websiteThe WVS head offices are located in the UK but we accept volunteers from around the world. Please get in touch if you have any questions about travel from your country.

What are the visa and passport requirements?  

All volunteers are required to travel with a valid passport, which must be valid for six months from the date of entry to the country. Visa requirements for different countries vary, therefore, we recommend that you check with the relevant government websites for up-to-date advice and guidance.  

What will I need to bring with me?  

We will provide you with a ‘what to bring’ list, which covers everything from general items to suggested first aid items, critical documentation, and paperwork. Whilst preparing for your trip, please remember to respect the culture of your destination country and dress modestly where necessary.  

Travel insurance and Covid-19:

Do I need travel insurance?  

Insurance is essential for volunteering abroad and you will need a policy that covers you for veterinary work. Any insurance policy taken must also cover emergency evacuation and any COVID-related treatments. For any policy that you are looking at, please ensure that you check the details closely, especially concerning COVID-19. 

Don’t worry, we can help with this! Become a Member of WVS and you’ll get bespoke insurance to cover all your WVS and Mission Rabies trips whilst you are a member. The annual membership costs £40, includes other great benefits, and can easily be set up online. For more information about this, please email us at

Do I need immunisations? 

As you will be working with animals, rabies and tetanus vaccines are essential for most projects. We will require you to provide a certificate or vaccination record from your doctor/travel clinic confirming you have had a full course of rabies vaccinations (or titre), as well as up to date tetanus cover, before departure.  

Many countries also require some other essential vaccinations. The following websites are helpful for advice, however, for up-to-date recommendations on health requirements, ALWAYS consult your doctor or a travel clinic before your travels.  

Please remember, you will need to allow plenty of time before travelling for vaccinations to be effective. Therefore, do not leave this until the last minute.

Some countries may also require you to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, to provide proof of a negative test on arrival, or both. Some may also have a quarantine procedure in place. Please read these requirements carefully from the relevant government to ensure you’re fully compiling and will be permitted entry to the country.  

What will happen if I can no longer travel to the destination? 

If you can’t travel due to travel bans or quarantine restrictions, we’re able to transfer your booking to a later date or a different programme. However, in the event of the following, our cancellation policy applies and your travel insurance may cover you.

  • You or your family member gets COVID-19 and you are required to self-isolate or care for them 

  • You’ve been denied boarding to your flight due to failing COVID checks 

  • You’ve been refused entry to a country for not fully complying with entry, testing, or vaccination requirements 

  • You’ve decided you don’t want to travel 

When searching for insurance, please ensure you select a policy that covers you for veterinary work, emergency evacuation, and COVID-related health and travel scenarios. If you sign up as a member for an annual cost of £40, you will receive bespoke insurance to cover all your WVS and Mission Rabies trips whilst a member. For more information about this, please email us at

What COVID-safety measures and checks are in place?

Safety measures and checks will be dependent on the country you are travelling to. Please check the Government websites to ensure you are up to date with the latest travel information and guidance for the country that you are visiting.

What happens if I or one of the other volunteers show symptoms whilst abroad? 

If you or another volunteer shows symptoms while abroad you will need to follow the guidelines of the country you are travelling to. Please ensure you are aware of these before you travel. Failure to comply with any of our COVID-safety measures will result in immediate termination of the volunteer assignment and the volunteer will be asked to leave the project/accommodation at their own expense.

Is testing available in all destinations? If I need a test, can I get one?

Across our project sites, we can help to advise on in-country testing providers. If you’re volunteering with one of our charity partners, please contact the host organisation for more information.

Have a question which is not listed above?

We are here to help! Please get in touch at

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