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Overview of the Incoming Program

Requirements for applying to Incoming

You must

  • be at least 18 years old (there is no maximum age).
  • have permanent residency outside Germany.
  • be socially motivated and show dedication to your work or engagement.
  • know at least the basics of the German language. For those working in the fields of curative education (children with disabilities) and senior care (homes for the elderly), a good to excellent knowledge of German is a must. If at all possible, you should provide a certification of your studies or other official proof of your German language skills. It also expected that you be prepared to improve your German during the duration of your voluntary service.
  • have already gathered practical experience in working with people with special needs or with the elderly. Should you not have this experience, you will be required to carry out a 2-week internship or training program at a qualifying institution in your home country. The Friends of Waldorf Education will be happy to assist you in making contact with organisations that fulfil these criteria.
  • be prepared to work for 12 months in a full-time capacity. Shorter terms of service are not possible.
  • be entirely open to living together with the residents and patients of an institution for curative therapy (children with disabilities), social therapy (adults with disabilities) or a home for the elderly.
  • be eager for personal development and be ready to integrate yourself fully in a new culture and work environment.
  • show initiative and a strong sense of social engagement, as these fields of work will, at least in part, be quite demanding. Additionally, most of the institutions are located in rural agrarian areas.


Before and during the period of service, volunteers receive the following benefits:

  • Support with visa application (official invitation) prior to service
  • An allowance of at least 150 euros per month during the duration of the service
  • Free room and board while in Germany
  • Free health, accident and liability insurance
  • Contractually regulated holidays
  • Educational and administrative backing and support through the Friends of Waldorf Education during the voluntary service
  • 20 accompanying seminar days, free of charge, at the beginning, during and at the close of the voluntary service, as well as transportation costs to and from the seminars

Travel costs to and from Germany must be covered by the participants themselves!

Applicants from Brazil and South Africa can receive support, advice and preparatory assistance from their local Friends of Waldorf Education.
The volunteers themselves are expected to pay for a possible preparatory seminar in the volunteers’ home country, according to a solidarity cost model.

Preparatory Internship

An internship of at least two week’s duration is the most important preparation for your voluntary service in Germany. This practical work experience will help you find out, if you have the right motivation to work in a social field. As a fringe benefit, you will ease into your life in Germany a little better, if you have the head-start of knowing your field of work. That way, not every aspect of your ‘new life’ (e. g. culture, language, etc.) will be foreign to you.
If you haven’t completed your internship yet, you may nevertheless apply. However, you should substantiate how you plan to go ahead in order to find a suitable internship. You’ll find more detailed information on the mandatory internship on our application form. Should the Friends have a partner organization in your home country, we urge you to apply for an internship there. We’ll be happy to help you, and provide you with the contact details of any affiliated institution you would like to apply to.

Application deadline and beginning your service

People of all nations are invited to apply for voluntary service in Germany sponsored by the Friends of Waldorf Education.

Most volunteers (approx. 75 people) will begin their service in August/September. Another group of approx. 50 volunteers will begin in February.

Deadline for applications for the August/September start date is normally in mid-March. However, more than half the available positions are typically filled by January. Applicants from countries that do not require a visa (European Union, Japan, Korea, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Israel) may submit their applications until mid-July to the Friends of Waldorf Education.

Deadline for applications for the February start date is the end of July of the year preceding the planned volunteer service. Applicants from countries that do not require a visa may submit their applications until the beginning of October to the Friends of Waldorf Education.

PLEASE NOTE: If a volunteer withdraws from the program during the 8 weeks prior to beginning or during the first four weeks of voluntary service, he or she is required to pay 150 euros to cover costs already paid on his or her part by the Friends of Waldorf Education.

German Skills/German course

The ability to communicate in German is a prerequisite for your participation in the voluntary service. All accompanying seminars will be conducted in German. Depending on the needs of your placement site, your language capabilities need to be more or less refined.
When working in fields like curative education (children with special needs) or care of the elderly, your language level has to be good to very good (level B1 to B2). There are also other areas that require good German language skills. Due to this reason, language training is a very important aspect of your preparation for the German Federal Voluntary Service. Your German language skills (level A1, A2… etc.) should be attested by a certificate or substantiated in some other form (e.g. by a reference of your German teacher).
Many placement sites offer complimentary German courses, which take place after the regular working hours. The Friends take it up on them to give every volunteer the opportunity to visit a German course and we offer to pay as much of the incurring expenses as we can. However, we demand that during their stay every volunteer shows the willingness to improve his or her German skills as much as possible, therefore we also ask for your own initiative.

Residency permit/Visa

A special residency permit is bound to the participation in the German Federal Voluntary Service. Applicants need to apply for their visa at the German consulate or embassy in their home country or their country of residence. The application process will take 8 to 10 weeks. It is not possible to change a visa which grants you permission to work as a volunteer, into a scholarly-, touristic or any other kind of visa.
Unfortunately, there are few cases in which a visa application is declined. Therefore it is important that you file your application as early as possible, and that you are as disciplined and straight-forward in the application process, as possible. When necessary, we will help you with your application for a visa.


Working in a social field, especially in pedagogy and working with people with special needs, requires exceptional physiological and mental strength. Volunteers need to take this into account when applying in these fields, and consequently refrain from applying in areas of work that could overburden them.
The move to a foreign country could trigger the outburst of a latent chronic disease through cultural and environmental changes.
Should you have a pre-existing illness, we ask you to consult with your doctor, whether a long stay abroad and a physically and psychologically demanding work is advisable for you. We ask you to seek this consultation before you apply for the German Federal Voluntary Service.
Organizing your voluntary service in the best possible way is important to us. Should you have any pre-existing physiological or psychological disease, this does not automatically lead to your exclusion from the program. However, your placement site and we might have to organize your volunteer service separate from the general program.
Should this be the case, we will do our best to find a place that is suitable to your health condition. We therefore ask you to answer the questions about your health straightforward and to confide in us.


Your contacts in our office in Karlsruhe are:

Department Manager Incoming
Jaromir Palmetshofer

Coordination Incoming
Diana Grözinger
Eva-Marie Schneller

Pedagogical Support Incoming
Anna Lehmann
Carolin Ebbinghaus
Fritz Ritzmann

Tel.: +49 (0)721-20111-100
E-Mail: incoming[at]freunde-waldorf.de

Applicants from Brazil and South Africa can receive support, advice and preparatory assistance from their local Friends of Waldorf Education.

Contact in Brazil:
Reinaldo Nascimento
Av. Tomás de Souza, 552
Jd. Monte Azul
05836350 Sao Paulo
Tel.: +55 (0)11 5853 8080     

Contact in South Africa:
Centre for Creative Education
Veronika Zwipf
P.O. Box 280
Plumstead 7801
South Africa
Tel.: +27 (0) 84 35 80 213
Overview of the Incoming Program

Other Questions about the German Federal Voluntary Service

My goal is actually to study in Germany. What should I do?
If your motivation for applying for voluntary service is only to spend the year preparing for study, a volunteer placement will not necessarily be an appropriately rewarding experience for you. In such a case you would be better advised to find a support program centred on studying and speaking the German language.

Can I work together with my friend/brother/sister at the same placement site?
We make an effort to bring as much variety as possible to our placement sites – in other words, placing volunteers from differing countries and cultures together in our hosting organisations. There are various pedagogical, intercultural and linguistic reasons for this. Thus you should not expect to be able to serve at the same site as a friend or family member, although it is entirely possible to meet them at the accompanying seminars. We recommend that friends, siblings, etc. apply for positions at different placement sites.

Can I work together with my spouse or partner at a placement site?
In principle, yes – it is possible for couples to serve in voluntary positions together. There are certain conditions that must be fulfilled, however. For instance, you would require a hosting organisation with larger family living quarters and in which numerous volunteers are needed. Only then would you be able to coordinate your work shifts so that you could share free time together. There may be other criteria as well, depending on the particular institution. In any case, it is especially important that both partners in a volunteer couple speak German well; in most cases they will logically speak their native tongue with each other, but it is vital that each volunteer interact individually with others at the placement site. It is especially advisable for couples to apply early for voluntary service, since the positions that may meet their requirements will be less likely to be available toward the end of the application periods. Before applying we also suggest that couples carefully consider if such an intense experience as voluntary service is something that truly suits their relationship.

Are the living communities Christian? Can I volunteer there even if I have a differing religious background?
People of all world religions are welcomed and respected by all our hosting organisations. Anthroposophy is not a religion. Since Christianity is nevertheless a part of our European culture, Christian traditions do predominate in our institutions: traditional religious festivals are celebrated, residents of the homes visit church services or take part in Bible study. It is important to us that volunteers respect the religious customs of their hosts by celebrating these festivals with their community and by accompanying the people in their care in this area as well.
If a volunteer practices the customs of his or her own religion (traditional fests, a special diet, meditation, etc.), the others at the placement site will take care to show consideration for these beliefs during everyday life. We ask only that you kindly inform us in advance of wishes or requirements specific to your religion (see the application forms).
Proselytising during the voluntary service is not permitted.

Do I need a driving licence?
The hosting organisations determine whether a driving licence is required there or not. Most of the institutions in rural areas request that their volunteers have a licence, which makes planning their daily routine and leisure time easier. Thus applicants who can drive may be preferred in some cases. Depending on your nationality, you may need to also apply for an additional international driving licence in your home country in order to drive in Germany (allow two months processing time before your departure).

Can I participate in voluntary service if I have small children?
No. We appreciate the initiative and engagement that adult volunteers of all ages bring to our program. But we have learned from experience that volunteers who leave small children behind during the voluntary year have difficulty managing this separation. They have trouble integrating fully in their new environment, since they naturally worry about the care of their family back home. In such cases the voluntary service has always been broken off by the volunteers themselves. For this reason we no longer accept applicants who have children under the age of 18. It is not our desire that anyone should have to face such a trial for the sake of a volunteer year abroad. It is unfortunately also not possible to bring your children with you to a voluntary placement.

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