Am I Eligible to Volunteer?

India is one of the world’s most beautiful countries; it is an incredible place and somewhere that many travelers dream of visiting their whole lives. There are few places as organically beautiful as India in the world, which is what makes it such a popular place for volunteering. While a beautiful country, India is also somewhere that is full of hardship and poverty.

For many people living and working in India, life is not easy. For this reason, there are various charities and aid organizations across the country that are doing all that they can to help make life in India easier. However, they cannot achieve their goals without the help of volunteers.

The good news is that today, there are more people wanting to volunteer than ever before, which means that there is plenty of help available to poorer countries like India. However, just because there are more people wanting to volunteer, that doesn’t mean that everyone who wants to is able to volunteer.

You see, to be able to volunteer in India, just like in many other countries, you must be eligible to do so. To learn how to determine if you are eligible to travel to India and work as a volunteer, read on – everything that you need to know is discussed below.

Am I Eligible to Volunteer in India? Who can and cannot travel to India?

Like every country in the world, India does have certain requirements in terms of who can and cannot enter the country. However, there are very few groups of people who cannot enter India, as the laws here are much less strict than nations such as Canada and Australia, for instance.

Of course, that being said, you may still need a visa to visit this amazing country. India has a range of entry requirements for its visitors, with these varying depending on the person and their nationality. Some visitors to India require a pre-arranged visa, others are eligible for a visa on arrival, while others are exempt from needing a visa altogether.

Anyone who is a citizen of Nepal, Bhutan, or the Maldives, do not require a visa to enter the country unless they are coming via mainland China, that is. It is also important to note that while citizens of Nepal and Bhutan can stay as long as they like without visas, people from the Maldives can only stay for 90 days or will require a visa to remain in the country legally.

People who have a Persons of Indian Origin card are able to enter India without a visa, as long as they do not come from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, Nepal, Pakistan, or Sri Lanka.

India is able to grant visas on arrival for any visitors from Cambodia, Finland, Indonesia, Japan, Luxembourg, Myanmar, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, and Vietnam. Visas on arrival are only granted for 30 days and are only suitable for people entering the country as tourists only, not to work.

Citizens from every other country, from the US and the UK to France and Spain, are required to apply for visas in advance of their trip. So if you are from a country that does not qualify for a visa on arrival or visa-free entry, it is crucial that you get your visa sorted in advance of your volunteering trip.

Where in India can I volunteer?

Once you have been granted entry to India, you are able to go to anywhere within the country’s borders. From the larger cities to the more rural areas, once you have been granted entry, you are free to work anywhere within the country as a volunteer. It’s just a case of determining where the most suitable volunteering project for your skills and experience are located.

If there is one area of India that you have always dreamed of seeing, don’t put off of going there in case there is not a suitable volunteering position. Because the fact is that across the country there are various charities and aid organizations that are offering all manner of help and support, so wherever you choose to go, you should be able to find a suitable project to get involved in.

Dharamsala is one of the most popular places for volunteers to visit in India, as there is such a vast range of projects on offer here. However, while the projects here have a lot to offer, it is important to realize that this is just one area within India that needs help – there are hundreds of others to choose from.

What do charity organizations require from their volunteers?

Of course, that being said, when it comes to selecting an organization to volunteer for, you have to ensure that you are able to meet their requirements. The fact is that each organization has its own set of requirements for its volunteers, which depend on a range of different factors, from the type of work that is required to how skilled the roles are.

One thing that all organizations require is their volunteers to be 16 years old with parental permission or 18 years old without it. Age is vital when it comes to securing a volunteering position for a charity or aid organization, which is why it is so important to take your age into account when applying for a position at a certain organization or charity.

Then there is the question of experience and knowledge. Many charities and aid organizations require their volunteers to have a range of appropriate experience for the position that they are applying for.

For example, for a volunteer position in a medical facility, most charities would expect volunteers to have a medical background, whether that’s a career in medicine or currently being at college studying it, it doesn’t matter, just as long as you have adequate experience in the field.

The same goes for volunteer teachers, nursery nurses, care workers, and construction engineers – having certain skills and experience is vital when it comes to successfully applying for a place as a volunteer.

Many charities and organizations also require that their volunteers and aid workers submit a letter of recommendation from someone notable within their field of work or study, to help back up their application. That is why having the adequate experience and skill is vital before applying, as you may need to provide proof of your experience and knowledge via a recommendation letter.

When it comes to selecting suitable volunteers, most organizations look for people who are kind, caring and loving. The work that volunteers tend to undertake can be difficult and upsetting at times and can require some incredible people skills, which is why volunteers who have a gentle and kind nature tend to be favorites with many organizations.

Volunteers should also be open-minded, enthusiastic and eager to learn. The entire volunteering process is meant to be a learning curve and a way to develop self-learning. It doesn’t matter how long you have been a nurse or a teacher for, spending a few months volunteering in India will open your eyes to things that you could never have imagined dealing with in your home country. You will learn so much by spending a few months practicing in another country, but in order to be able to learn, you need to be open-minded and eager to learn about new methods of doing things, as not all of the technology available at home will be available in India.


Organizations also look for volunteers who have the ability to adjust easily. Life as a volunteer in India is always going to offer air workers and volunteers a culture shock, from how they will live to what they will eat, but some people adjust better to this change of lifestyle than others. Most volunteer accommodation and facilities are shared ones, which means that volunteers will need to get used to sharing their space with other volunteers and living in close proximity to each other.

Often, volunteers are chosen because they are positive people. All of the best volunteers are people who are able to see the good in every situation and work hard to keep themselves and their workmates positive. In situations such as when volunteering and dealing with sad and upsetting circumstances, having a positive outlook on life can be highly beneficial and can have a huge impact on how much you enjoy your time in India volunteering, which is why aid organizations always prefer to take on volunteers with a cherry disposition.

The fact is that volunteering is not as simple as signing up and showing up, there is actually a lot more to it than that. Aid organizations look for volunteers with a range of specific skills, to ensure that they are taking on people who have the knowledge and experience to deal with the task at hand. They also look for people with certain characteristics, to ensure that their volunteers are able to get on well with their work and thrive while doing it, which is what volunteering is all about – thriving in a new environment and honing your skills in ways that you could never imagine.