I'm from overseas. Can I volunteer in the UK?

If you’re entitled to do paid work in the UK then you’re also entitled to volunteer. Therefore the following groups of people are automatically entitled to volunteer (subject to any further requirements or restrictions):

  • All EU or EEA citizens (except Bulgarians and Romanians, unless they have work permits)
  • Those granted refugee status in the UK
  • People from outside the EU or EEA who have work permits (subject to the terms of their work permit).

Asylum seekers are also allowed to volunteer at any stage during the asylum process, as long as they’re working within the volunteering guidelines and not being paid for their work. Things to bear in mind about asylum seekers and volunteering:

  • Asylum seekers are only allowed to volunteer, they’re not allowed to do unpaid employment, so be aware of the differences between a volunteer and an employee.
  • Volunteering activities must not interfere with the asylum process; events such as an asylum interview, for example, can’t be rescheduled due to volunteering activities.
  • Depending on where they’re from, asylum seekers might have difficulties getting a DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) check.

Organisations that accept volunteers who aren’t legally entitled to work in the UK are at risk of being fined. It’s worth contacting the Home Office in this instance for clarification.

See the following links for more information:

Sport England – What is the difference between employees and volunteers?

Sport England – How do I carry out a DBS check if a volunteer is not a UK national?

Gov.uk - Permission to work

Volunteer Centres - Who can volunteer?