Le Volontariat de Solidarité Internationale (VSI)

Volontariat de solidarité internationale (VSI) is a scheme governed by the law of 23 February 2005. Its aim is "the full-time accomplishment of missions of general interest". The VSI arranges the mutual commitment of a sending organism and a volunteer and this arrangement is contractual En 2013, 25 organisations are authorised by the State for sending VSI volunteers.

In 2012, there were 2300 VSI in the world (source : Ministry of Foreign Affairs - MAE), a figure that varies from one year to another. The main host countries for VSI are Madagascar, Cambodia and Haiti.


Who ?

  • VSI is looking for people who have attained the majority, single or couples, with no nationality conditions or age limit.
  • In practice, most are between 18 and 40 (In 2011, 44% were between 26 and 30*).
  • They are mostly qualified professionals (in 201153% had 5 years’ post-baccalaureate education*), with or without experience.

*(source MAE)

Why ?

The interest for the host partner

The host partner can be an association, a local authority, a planning office, a bilateral or multilateral organisation, local a state structure, etc. It may be :

  • a European project operator in the host country
  • European, supporting a local structure
  • a local structure in the host country.

Their interests may be :

  • technical : The VSI responds to specific requests for technical assistance or training of local workers in all fields of development, renovation and sometimes in emergency situations. 
  • policy : The VSI in its capacity for mediation, representation and first-hand accounts of experience, makes it easier to foster and communicate international cooperation relations.
  • economic : With the ASI, the host partner has the advantage of the services of a committed professional Moreover, this service can be put to good use as counterparty to obtain international financing.

The interest for the sending partner

The sending partner is an association for international solidarity accredited by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and authorised to sign a VSI contract to mobilise volunteers for itself or for another organisation. The VSI runs development, emergency or renovation projects in the host country. 
Their interests may be :

  • Political/ethical : Contributing to the rapprochement of two countries. Best serving the interests of the hosting structures by working alongside and providing high quality human and technical aid.
  • Economic : Maintaining the economic balance of the association.
  • Professional : The VSI can be a nursery for future employees with the voluntary service becoming a period of learning.

The interest for the volunteer

International volunteer service satisfies their desire for commitment. It offers :

  • an ethical framework,
  • corporate and social utility,
  • an administratively and financially secure period of experience,
  • professional experience. 

The VSI is involved in his learning, allowing him to exert responsibility and prove his skills in a foreign cultural context. In this way he is able to become accomplished, humanly and professionally.

How ?

What fields does VSI cover ?

Teaching, Health and social work, Information and communication, Rural development, Management and coordination of development projects, Public and local administration, etc.

What kinds of project ?

  • reinforcing the professional skills of local workers in various fields such as training, project management, internal and external communication, appropriating specific technologies, etc.
  • helping to connect with the world outside (networking).

The VSI can only work outside the European Economic Area.

For how long ?

A minimum of 12 months and a maximum of 24 months. The total time anyone can spend with VSI is limited to 6 years.

What statutory guarantees are there ?

The volunteer signs a VSI contract with an accredited association. (cf. "Guarantee to the volunteer" below).

What specific measures are there ?

It is obligatory to prepare your departure if you want to become a volunteer. As well as professional qualification, your commitment is essential to becoming a volunteer.

How much does it cost ?

The French State

Supports the sending structure by :

  • sharing a fixed amount of the costs of social coverage and management of volunteers
  • making a fixed contribution to training before departure
  • making a fixed contribution to help the return of volunteers
  • giving an indemnity for professional resettlement (subject to conditions, paid directly to the volunteer)
  • giving an indemnity for professional reinsertion (subject to conditions, paid directly to the volunteer)

The accredited sending organism

Guarantees the volunteer :

  • a monthly indemnity (100 Euros minimum excluding accommodation and meals)
  • complete health and social protection
  • old-age insurance
  • travelling expenses to and from the location of the mission
  • preparation before departure and support on return from the mission.
  • a resettlement indemnity (subject to the condition of length of stay)
  • 2 days minimum of leave per month of mission carried out if the contract is for 6 months or more.

The host partner

  • if it is a foreign organisation in the host country

Contributes financially to all or part of the following costs : travel, complementary health insurance, volunteer indemnity, housing, training cost complement, etc.

  • if it is an organisation of the host country

In principle it contributes modestly in the same way, in nature or in financing, to the volunteer’s stay. This participation for housing, meals, work necessities tends to be highly variable.

The Volunteer

Can be asked to contribute ; for example if his volunteer indemnity is too low or of the host structure cannot provide financing, he will have to contribute.

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Stéphanie - VSI France Volontaires à Hanoï... par EV_Vietnam_Laos