This page is meant to give you an overview of the administrative procedures you will have to perform. It is not supposed to be exhaustive but to give you a general presentation of what will be further developed on specific pages. Besides, as this information is likely to evolve and change depending on each country, we kindly ask you to double-check it.
After your registration is confirmed, you will receive an info sheet that contains all the information that will help you get prepared and get to your project site. Depending on your destination, you may need an identity card, a passport, and/or a visa. Plan this well in advance! It would be such a shame to postpone or cancel your project because your documents are not in order! It is also very important to seek information about insurance or mutual companies that can cover you during your stay abroad.
- Driver's License
- Insurance and Mutual Companies
- Volunteering/Long-Term Projects
- Unemployment and Volunteering
Make sure your passport is still valid until 6 months following your return date to your country. For a passport application, contact your municipality. Should you want to apply for a biometric passport, be careful: you may have to wait longer (at least 4 weeks).
Waiting times can be very long (from 1 to 4 weeks, depending on the destination). If you want more information about the necessity to have a visa depending on the destination, its cost, and its terms of issuance, always contact the embassy of your destination country. The necessity to have a visa or not, the conditions for renewing a visa, the legal periods of stay without a visa…: all of that can change from day to day and may be applicable for nationals of one specific country and not others. Again, double-check the information you received one month before your departure and don’t hesitate to phone the embassy!
For the United States, European travellers can get an electronic visa which may also be an option to consider when you have a stopover on the American ground. You must get an authorisation via the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA). This will cost you 14$ (only by credit card), which is still much cheaper than a visa (from 115€ or 140$). Since September 2014, the SVI collaborates with agencies specialised in visa issuance.
Any national driver’s license is valid on the whole European Union territory. However, some non-European countries require an international license (please contact the embassy or the consulate of the country).
If your project lasts longer than 6 months, please check the expiry date of your credit card.
Before your departure, check with your bank whether it is possible for you to make withdrawals internationally (with no additional commission) and ask them to increase your withdrawal limit. Once on the spot, compare the banks from which you can withdraw money. Commissions can vary a lot depending on the different banks.
Always plan to have some cash with you to reduce your number of withdrawals (usually taxed abroad) and exchange your currency in your own country for a better rate. Do it at least one week in advance because some currencies need to be ordered (especially if the country you are going to is not a common destination). Find more information about budget management on our dedicated page.
No matter your situation, make sure your mutual insurance is in order.
For projects in Europe
Apply for the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), valid in all EU countries and in Switzerland, Norway, and Iceland. It is individual and valid for up to 2 years. All you have to do is ask you mutual insurance company. It is free.
For projects out of Europe, take out
- A medical insurance and repatriation policy.
- A civil liability insurance.
- A trip cancellation and modification insurance.
- A loss and theft insurance for your luggage or other valuables.
Some VISA bank cards include insurance policies that can be sufficient for travellers, as long as they used this card to pay for their transport tickets, hotels, or car rentals. Seek for more information!
Before you leave, it is important to copy, print, or even scan your most important documents such as your passport, identity card, driver’s license, visa, insurance certificate, and all documents related to your flight and accommodation reservations, etc. If possible, stock these documents on your mailbox. More information here!
If you go on a long-term voluntary project, it is necessary to:
- Give advance notice before you leave your flat (3 months or 1 month depending on the flat).
- Terminate your subscription for water, gas, and electricity.
- Decide whether you maintain, suspend, or terminate your telephone subscription.
- Change your address and have your mail forwarded to someone you trust.
- Before your return, don’t forget to unregister from all record abroad (consular registration, banks, telephone subscriptions, etc.).
The following is accurate for Belgian people only. For more information, check our “Unemployment and Volunteering” web page.
Family allowance in Belgium
As volunteering is not considered as a profit-making activity, going on a voluntary project doesn’t preclude the right to receive family allowance.
Volunteering, long-term stays and unemployment
Before the beginning of your voluntary project, you will have to inform the ONEM unemployment office about your will to undertake a voluntary activity via the C45B form. If you have not received any answer from the unemployment office in the following two weeks, you can consider your activity as authorised. Should the unemployment office refuse, you will have to stop your voluntary activity but will not be sanctioned for working during the days before the refusal.
In the event of a refusal, the ONEM must inform you about the reasons for such refusal.
The director of the ONEM may reject your application if he or she considers that this voluntary activity makes you less available for the labour market, or that the nature, volume, and frequency of work are not consistent with what is normally considered as voluntary work.
This being said, volunteering for unemployed people (and other social allowance receivers) is now expressly permitted by law. All you need to do is to send the ONEM a written declaration. More information on this website.