Voluntary services and charity work


Doing good, acquiring new skills and getting to know the country: there are a number of volunteering opportunities in Germany. Even unpaid volunteering is considered employment and you will need a visa or residence permit authorising volunteer work.

General Information

Visas may be issued for participants in the official voluntary service programs such as the Federal Volunteer Service (Bundesfreiwilligendienst, BFD), the Voluntary Social Year (Freiwilliges Soziales Jahr, FSJ) or the Voluntary Ecological Year (Freiwilliges Ökologisches Jahr, FÖJ). There are slightly different requirements for the European Voluntary Service.

Processing period

The processing period may take 2-3 months. During the processing period you cannot inquire about the status of your application. Upon expiry of the processing period only the applicant, his/her legal representative or persons holding an authorization letter from the applicant may inquire about the status of the visas.


The fee is 75,00 € payable in USD cash only. Please bring small USD bills. The application form can be downloaded for free.

Necessary documents

Please bring the following documents in the mentioned order to your appointment at the Embassy. Additional documents may in some cases be requested. Documents sent in advance will not be archived.

Complete the online application form (application forms are required for each applicant separately; all children require separate forms).

Bring one signed copy of the form including the barcodes to your appointment.

A valid passport signed by the holder, issued within the last 10 years and valid for at least one year is necessary. The passport needs to have at least 2 subsequent blank pages. Please bring one photocopy of the passport biodata page to your appointment.

1 fully biometric passport photo, 35 x 45 mm, no older than three months. Digitally altered passport photos cannot be accepted. Please ensure that your photo adheres to German biometric requirements and is taken in front of a white/bright background.

Non-Zimbabweans - please bring your valid Zimbabwean residence permit and 1 photocopy to your appointment.

  • Contract/arrangement for your voluntary service in Germany:
  • Federal Voluntary Service (BFD) - Your contract must be signed by you and the Federal Office of Family Affairs and Civil Society Functions (BAFzA), as well as the placement department, headquarters and, where applicable, by the institution implementing the voluntary service.
  • Voluntary Social Year (FSJ)/Voluntary Ecological Year (FOJ): Your contract must be signed by you and the respective institution, as well as, where applicable, the placement department.

Evidence of sufficient funds to cover your living expenses in Germany
In most cases your volunteering sponsor will cover the cost of accommodation and board and possibly pocket money. In case the sponsor does not cover your living expenses, we will need to sight evidence that your have personal funds to cover your living expenses.

  • Confirmation of health insurance cover commensurate with the level of statutory German public health insurance (gesetzliche Krankenversicherung) - 1 copy

  • in German or English– 1 copy

  • Personal motivation letter in German or English explaining in detail what motivates you to take part in a volunteering program and what you expect to achieve through this program – 1 copy

At least A2 is required. All certificates should be presented in original form plus 1 copy each. Certificates issued by any institution testing in accordance with the standards of the Association of Language Testers in Europe (ALTE) are accepted.

Book an appointment

Please use our online appointment booking system

For voluntary service visa appointments, you have to register on our waiting list. The current waiting time for an appointment is more than a year. You will receive the notification with the appointment date approximately four weeks before your appointment date. The waiting list for au-pair and voluntary service is the same.

Booking via telephone or email is not possible. At the appointment, you will submit all required documents and pay the visa processing fee. You will be interviewed with regard to your planned stay in Germany and your biometric data (passport photograph and fingerprints) will be collected.

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