European Voluntary Service 

What is the European Voluntary Service?

The European Voluntary Service is a long-term, full-time volunteering programme open to young people aged 17-30 in participating European countries. The European Voluntary Service is one the European Commission’s fully funded volunteering programmes and is managed through the Erasmus+ Programme.

Things are Changing

EVS is changing. For all new projects funded from October 2018, EVS will just be called Volunteering. Volunteering will work in the same way that EVS did. These changes will apply only to UK volunteers going to the following countries: Albania, Algeria, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Egypt, Georgia, Iceland, Israel, Jordan, Kosovo, Lebanon, Libya, Liechtenstein, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Morocco, Norway, Palestine, Russian Federation, Serbia, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine.
In addition to this, from October 2018, the European Solidarity Corps (ESC) projects will be introduced. These projects will work as EVS did but will exchange volunteers between EU Member States only: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Finland, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Romania, United Kingdom.

European Volunteering Programmes

History of the EVS Programme

After the Second World War, the European Commission began trialling methods to promote mobility, solidarity, tolerance, active citizenship and mutual understanding amongst the young people of Europe.

The European Voluntary Service was officially launched in 1996. Since then, over 100,000 individuals have volunteered with the service.

For the past 20 years, EVS has had a major impact on the lives of many thousands of young people in Europe, improving their language and intercultural competences, enabling them to realise their own ideas and enriching local communities with their positive impact.

After 2020, EVS will be incorporated in the new programme, the European Solidarity Corps, which will give young people many more volunteer and employment opportunities. To register your interest, you don’t have to wait. Join the European Solidarity Corps now!

Implications of Brexit? Every year, about 300 British young residents take part in EVS projects. At present, we can confirm that the programme is still fully open to residents of the UK.

What are the benefits?

By taking part in EVS you will:

  • Develop new skills
  • Develop or even learn a new language
  • Make an impact to the local community
  • Learn about different cultures
  • Make new friends
  • Gain confidence
  • …and much more!

What can I do?

As an EVS volunteer, you can support a range of European organisations through your full-time, unpaid voluntary work for up to 1 year. During that time you will get to know another culture through working voluntarily in a non-profit organisation for the benefit of a local community.

You can choose a project in many different fields, ranging from protection of the environment, through arts and culture, activities with children, young people or the elderly, heritage, to sports and leisure. Your activities will normally take place in an organisation in which you will be assigned a concrete role and will have a mentor to help you develop your skills during the project. You will receive training which will help you get to know better the local culture and the country you live in. You will also receive training in the country’s language.

All travel costs, your insurance, food, accommodation and a small allowance to help you support your needs during the project will be covered by the EVS grant.

This is just a formal description of what you can do in an EVS. When you start your service you will find out that you ACTUALLY can do a lot more – you can learn in a way you have not done before – making friends while working, learning language while drinking in the bar, acquiring skills while having fun.

Who is eligible for EVS?

Anyone between 17 and 30 years old legally resident in the country of their sending organisation can take part in the European Voluntary Service.

If you are a current resident of the UK, IVS can be your sending organisation.

How much does EVS cost?

The European Voluntary Service is free! It is fully funded by the European Commission. Every volunteer receives support to cover travel and living costs, as well as a living allowance and travel insurance.

Which countries does the European Voluntary Service cover?

You can be forgiven for thinking that the European Voluntary Service only operates within Europe, but EVS projects can actually be available in other parts of the world. The vast majority of projects, however, do run in the EU.

How long is an EVS placement?

EVS projects last for a minimum of 2 weeks and can last up to a maximum of 12 months.

How do I apply?

Step 1. Find a sending organisation

If you currently live in the UK, IVS can be your sending organisation! To get in touch email us on

As your sending organisation, IVS will make sure that you fully understand the concept of volunteering and that you’re truly committed to a period of voluntary service before formally agreeing to take you on board.

Sending organisations are responsible for:

  • Helping you find a suitable placement (some sending organisations will engage you in the work of finding a placement, as this is usually a very time-consuming activity)
  • Negotiating the terms of your volunteering placement with the host organisation (agreeing start and end-dates, leave-entitlements, working hours, living-arrangements etc.)
  • Applying for a European Commission grant to cover your costs
  • Helping you to prepare for your experience abroad (could include language training, your rights/responsibilities as a volunteer, country information, problem-solving techniques etc)
  • Keeping in contact with you throughout the experience (email/telephone) and undertaking some kind of follow-up when you return. The sending organisation might want your help in promoting the EVS programme, and you might want to learn more about other opportunities available to you (e.g. Future Capital – funding made available to ex-EVS volunteers who wish to set up their own project)

IVS is an official Eurodesk Ambassador.

Step 2. Finding a host placement abroad

At IVS we currently have many open EVS projects. You can apply for these projects by contacting us directly.

You can also contact directly organisations abroad who are looking for EVS volunteers. The European Youth Portal hosts a database of volunteering opportunities containing:

  • Details of different projects
  • Descriptions of what kind of volunteers are needed
  • Contact details and application procedures
  • Application procedures vary between EVS projects, so always check the “How To Apply” section of projects that interest you.

If you can’t find a suitable project, you can browse the list of EVS organisations and get in touch with them to check if they are offering placements. Please bear in mind that some of those listed may not currently be looking for new volunteers.

Look for all EVS open projects now!

Please Note: The International Voluntary Service can only send volunteers currently residing within the United Kingdom onto EVS placements abroad. We accept volunteers into the UK, BUT we do not offer any EVS placements within the UK.