Immigration. Travel. Living.

How to get a German volunteer visa?

In Germany, public work is very common, about 30% of people in the country are employed in some kind of volunteer or social activity. The main law governing youth volunteering and incorporating major volunteer programs is the Youth Volunteering Promotion Law. The Law on the Federal Volunteer Service regulates the volunteering of adults and youth in the social, environmental, and cultural spheres. See links to laws below on the page.

Volunteers are provided with housing, food, social security, and pocket money.

Volunteering is organized by various associations, initiatives, charitable organizations, both state and private or religious. Volunteers are either employed full-time in social work or set aside a little time for this weekly. In addition to residents of the country, foreigners can also take part in volunteer activities. Volunteers are usually provided with housing, food, and social security, they receive pocket money, the amount of which depends on the program, federal state, host institution, and other factors and is usually 150-200 euros or more. In particular, the following programs operate in Germany in which you can participate:

List of volunteer programs in Germany:

  • Federal Volunteer Activities (German Bundesfreiwilligendienst or BFD)
  • Voluntary Social Year (German Freiwilliges Soziales Jahr or FSJ)
  • Voluntary Ecological Year (German Freiwilliges Ökologisches Jahr or FÖJ)
  • Volunteer camps (German Workcamps)
  • International volunteer youth activities (German Internationaler Jugendfreiwilligendienst or IJFD)
  • Volunteer activities Weltwärts

Obtaining a visa for volunteer work in Germany

Citizens of foreign countries outside the European Union need a volunteer visa to enter Germany and take part in one of the volunteer programs. To obtain a consultation and a visa, you need to contact the Embassy or Consulate General of the Federal Republic of Germany in your country of residence. Organizations implementing these programs usually help foreigners with paperwork for obtaining a visa. To obtain a visa, a foreigner needs to collect a package of documents, the main ones are presented in the following list. Depending on the visa and country of origin, a different list of documents may be required. Depending on the validity of the visa and the duration of the volunteer service, it may be necessary to extend the visa or obtain a permit to stay in the country; to do this, contact the local office for foreigners (German: Ausländerbehörde)

Documents for a volunteer visa to Germany

  • Visa application;
  • Availability of a foreign passport;
  • A volunteer service agreement with a host organization in Germany;
  • Autobiography and motivation letter;
  • Proof of basic knowledge of the German language;
  • Proof of education and professional experience;
  • Medical insurance.


By participating in voluntary volunteer service, young people from abroad can get to know Germany better, improve their knowledge of German or English, communicate with Germans, and gain interesting life experiences. Besides, young people can gain work experience in a certain field of activity, which can be useful for them when choosing a profession, and the chances of getting a suitable place of education increase.

If a foreigner wants to work or study in Germany in the future, participation in volunteer activities can improve his chances in this direction. Since foreigners usually attend German courses and communicate with Germans during their voluntary activities, they can significantly improve their language skills, and knowledge of German at an advanced level is a prerequisite for obtaining a job or study in Germany. Besides, since the foreigner has already worked and lived in the country within the framework of the volunteer movement, he improves his chances of getting a job in Germany, and he can also get acquainted with employment and training opportunities right in the country.

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