Voluntary service is a regulated form of unpaid work. The beginning, end, and length of service, the kind of work, and the tasks, aims, and nature of the voluntary service are all laid down. So too are the financial and organisational arrangements, legal status, social security arrangements, possible placements, and sending organisations.

The usual period of voluntary service is 12 months.

Although it is open to people of all ages, voluntary service is usually undertaken on a full-time basis by young people.
Voluntary service is considered to be international when it is carried out in another country.
The sending organisations for international voluntary service, together with their partner organisations in host countries, ensure that the necessary structural and practical arrangements are in place for the performance of voluntary service. This includes preparation of volunteers for service, language courses where necessary, and de-briefing courses back in the home country after the voluntary service has been completed. During their time abroad, volunteers receive individual training/mentoring and are sometimes able to take part in seminars.

Voluntary service abroad, as a form of service for peace and reconciliation, may be performed in placements in various fields: social work; health care; cultural, ecological, political, or educational projects; sport; conservation of historical monuments and architectural heritage.

Aims and benefits

• facilitates important learning experiences –
through informal training and education and particular forms of social involvement (personal development);
• serves as a time of personal and vocational orientation;

• promotes inter-cultural and international understanding (and the development of related skills);
• strengthens civil society and fosters democratic participation;< • are a practical contribution towards building a more just and peaceful world.