All about your Freiwilligendienst

We've collected all the important things you need to know about doing a Freiwilligendienst. Starting with A (as in Age) up to Z (as in Zeugnis/certificate), this is where you find everything that is important for you. If our collectection does not clear up all your questions, get in touch! You can reach us via our hotline (06131 2828 1380) or write us an email ( If your questions during your voluntary service are of a very personal nature or you need to reflect on something acute, reach out to your Bildungsreferent*in. You'll find all our contacts on our team-site.


Up to the age of 27, completed compulsory schooling

Federal Voluntary Service (BFD) or Voluntary Social Year (FSJ)

Usually 12 months


25 DRK educational seminar days

26 vacation days

€450 monthly pocket money

Coverage of statutory social security contributions

Individual support from an educational referent (DRK organization)

Guidance by a supervisor (in the respective place of assignment)

Bundesfreiwilligendienst 27plus

From the age of 27 and above

Federal Voluntary Service (BFD)

Usually 12 months

Three time models (20.5 hours / 30 hours / full-time)

12 days of educational seminars in 12 months

26 vacation days for full-time service

Monthly pocket money according to the extent of service, up to €490

Coverage of statutory social security contributions

Individual support from an educational referent (DRK organization)

Guidance by a supervisor (in the respective place of assignment)



International Applications

Applicants need to be registered in Germany. Unfortunately we can not offer accomodation for volunteers.

In addition to the documents mentioned in the application form, we need:

  • a copy of a valid visa (non-EU) or your residence permit for Germany
  • work permit regarding your volunteering (after we issued your contract)
  • CV
  •  good language skills in German (level B1 recommended)



  • the allowance you receive is not enough to cover the cost of living in Germany
  • we do not participate in the Incoming Program. This means, it is not possible, to do a volunteering service in Rhineland-Palatinate with the Red Cross, if you don't have a work permit yet. It is possible in other federal states. For more information, see here: Bewerbung Incoming - DRK Wohlfahrtspflege


From A to Z

  • A

    Accidents at Work

    If an accident occurs during working hours, it must be reported directly to the relevant professional association by the placement site. It's also advisable to inform your education coordinator (Bildungsreferent*in) at the DRK in such a situation.


    You can volunteer as a Freiwillige*r, if you*ve completed your compulsory education. More precisely:

    Freiwilliges Soziales Jahr (FSJ):
    age 15 - 26

    Bundesfreiwilligendienst (BFD):

    age 15 and older (no age limit)

    ALG ii (Unemployment Benefits)

    A voluntary service is generally possible for individuals receiving ALG II (unemployment benefits). During the service, there is no obligation to take up employment. The allowance is offset against ALG II.


    In the Youth Voluntary Service, you currently receive a monthly allowance of €450. This allowance includes a contribution for accommodation and meals. For the BFD 27plus, the allowance depends on the working time model and ranges between €330 and €490 per month.


    The process is handled through the website You will need the following documents:

    • Last school certificate (always required)
    • Driver's license (if applicable)
    • Visa/residence permit (if applicable)
    • Curriculum vitae (for BFD 27plus)
    • Employment reference (for BFD 27plus)
  • B

    BFD 27plus

    his voluntary service is aimed at individuals who are older than 27 years. It can be completed on a full-time or part-time basis. Instead of educational weeks, there are 12 educational days to be attended over 12 months of service.

  • C


    You will receive several certificates from us. The first one is provided at the beginning of your service. It includes the expected duration of your service and can be used, for example, when dealing with authorities. At the end of your service, you will receive a completion certificate indicating the actual duration of your service. To qualify for such a completion certificate, a minimum of six months of service must be completed.

    If you need a current certificate earlier, please contact your education coordinator at the DRK. In such cases, you can obtain a provisional certificate, for instance, for job applications.

    Certificate of Conduct (Führungszeugnis)

    A certificate of conduct (Führungszeugnis) must be provided to the placement site when working with children and adolescents. You won't incur any costs if you have proof of the necessity for this document. You will receive such a letter from your future placement site.

    Child Benefit

    Your entitlement to child benefit continues during your voluntary service until you reach your 25th birthday. A certificate for the family allowance office will be provided to you along with your agreement before the start of the service.


    If you encounter any issues during your service, always reach out directly to your supervisor. They will be happy to assist you. If something cannot be resolved immediately or you want to discuss matters further, the relevant education coordinators are available to provide guidance and support.

  • D

    Data Protection and Confidentiality

    Sensitive and personal information that you come across during your voluntary service must not be disclosed to third parties. Discuss with your supervisor at the placement site to clarify which information falls into this category. Violating data protection or confidentiality can result in employment-related consequences.

    We will only process and use personal data necessary for the voluntary service.

    Data Sheet

    You will receive the data sheet along with the agreement before the start of your service. The data sheet serves as the basis for the allowance payment and must be filled out completely and returned to us. The following information is requested on the data sheet:

    • Bank details
    • Tax ID
    • Tax class
    • Health insurance
    • Social insurance number


    Usually, a voluntary service lasts for 12 months. To be recognized as a voluntary service, your service period must be at least six months. You have the option to shorten your service if needed (see termination) or extend it for up to 18 months (see extension).

  • E

    Educational seminars

    For a one-year voluntary service, you are required to attend either 25 seminar days (FSJ/BFD) or 12 educational days (BFD 27plus). During these days, the focus is on developing social, personal, and intercultural skills. All volunteers can participate in selecting topics and shaping the content. Additionally, these days provide an opportunity to exchange experiences with other volunteers. Feel free to visit our Instagram channel for insights into seminar activities.

    Emergency Medical Services

    A voluntary service in the emergency medical service has some specific requirements. Firstly, you must be of legal age and possess a Class B driver's license. Additionally, you must successfully complete a three-month training course to become an emergency medical technician (Rettungssanitäter) before starting your voluntary service. The time spent in the training course is not counted as part of your voluntary service. Your rescue station (Rettungswache) will register you for the training course, so you don't need to arrange it yourself.


    You can extend your voluntary service for a total of up to 18 months. To do so, you must submit a written request well in advance. You will receive the form from your education coordinator, and it must be filled out and signed by both you and the placement site. For each extended month, an additional legally required seminar day and two more vacation days will be allocated.

  • F


    Flexitage are one- to four-day educational events (online or in person) in addition to the welcome day and fixed group seminar dates. You can choose the specific days according to your interests. This is done through our website, and you will receive detailed instructions from your education coordinator, no later than during the first seminar week.

  • H

    Health Insurance

    Volunteers are generally required to be members of the statutory health insurance system. The contributions are fully covered by us and are paid directly to the health insurance provider. Family insurance coverage is not possible during the duration of the voluntary service.

  • I

    Illness (Seminar)

    If you are ill during seminar times, you must inform the responsible education coordinator by phone before the start of the seminar (no later than 9:00 AM on the first day). Starting from the first day of illness during seminars, you will need a medical certificate for incapacity to work. Failure to provide this certificate may result in a warning. If you are not ill for the entire duration of the seminar, you should return to the seminar from your first day of recovery.

    Illness (Service at the Placement Site)

    If you become ill, be sure to notify your placement site by phone before your scheduled service start time. Starting from the third day of illness, you must obtain a medical certificate and present it to the DRK no later than one day afterward. The placement site should also be informed about the expected duration of the illness.

    Initial Examination

    It may be necessary to undergo an initial examination before starting your voluntary service, especially for individuals under 18 years of age, in accordance with §32 and §42 of the Youth Labor Protection Act. The costs for this examination may be covered by either the health insurance or the placement site.

  • L

    Legal Agreement

    Before the start of your service, you will receive three copies of the legal agreement from us. All three copies must be signed by us, the placement site, and you or your legal representative. The agreement outlines the rights and obligations of all parties involved during the voluntary service. One of the agreements is for you, one must go to the placement site, and one is retained by us as the organization.

  • M


    As a volunteer, you are entitled to being mentored during your commitment. A mentor at your deployment site will:

    • instruct you professionally and personally
    • support you during your service


    Misconduct can include:

    • Alcohol consumption during working/seminar hours
    • Incorrect or late reporting of illness
    • Disregarding smoking bans
    • Refusal to perform work

    If such misconduct occurs, it can lead to a written warning. In cases of repeated misconduct or extreme situations, termination by the organization may be possible. To prevent such measures, be sure to communicate with your supervisor, especially at the beginning of your service, about how to behave correctly and what you should definitely avoid.

  • O

    Observation (Hospitation)

    Before starting your voluntary service, you should spend at least two days observing and trying out the work at your future placement site. This allows both you and the placement site to assess whether the placement is suitable. This observation is a mandatory requirement before starting your voluntary service.

  • P

    Parental Leave and Maternity Protection

    During the voluntary service, you are not entitled to parental leave. After maternity protection, you can resume your duties. However, the Maternity Protection Act applies to voluntary service as well. This means there are special regulations regarding job security, workplace accommodations, and more. If this becomes relevant for you, it's best to contact your education coordinator for guidance.

    Part Time

    In the BFD 27plus, part-time service is possible. You can choose between 20.5 hours, 30 hours per week, or full-time. The specific working hours need to be coordinated with both the placement site and us as the organization.

    For volunteers under 27 years old, part-time service is only possible if there is a legitimate reason. Whether part-time service is possible should be clarified on a case-by-case basis.

    Pedagogical Guidance

    During your service, you will be accompanied by an education coordinator. This means you will participate in seminars with a fixed group and contact persons, receive professional guidance based on learning objectives, and receive individual support from us for any questions or problems. Our goal is to provide you with the best possible placement, where you can gain and reflect on impressions and experiences.

    Probationary Period

    In the case of FSJ (Freiwilliges Soziales Jahr), the first 12 weeks are considered the probationary period, while in BFD (Bundesfreiwilligendienst), it's the first 6 weeks. At the end of the probationary period, you and the placement site should have a conversation about this initial phase and determine further focuses of your service.

  • R

    Rest Times

    If you are under 18 years old, your break times are as follows:

    • 30 minutes for a working time between four and a half to six hours.
    • If you work for more than six hours, your break should be 60 minutes.
    • You should not work for more than four and a half hours continuously without a break.

    If you are over 18 years old, your break times are as follows:

    • 30 minutes for a working time between six to nine hours.
    • If you work longer, your break should be 45 minutes.
    • Deviations from these rules may be regulated in a service agreement if necessary.
  • S

    Secondary Employment

    You can engage in a secondary employment to a limited extent during your voluntary service. The requirements are that you are of legal age, your primary duties in the voluntary service are not compromised, and you adhere to legal working and rest periods. You must apply for secondary employment in writing through us. You can obtain the application from your education coordinator.


    In addition to your placement at the site, pedagogical seminars are also a part of the voluntary service. Typically, in the Youth Voluntary Service, there are 25 seminar days in the form of single and multi-day seminars. For volunteers in the BFD 27plus, there are different regulations, but in general, 12 seminar days are mandatory for a one-year contract. We will provide you with the seminar dates at the beginning of your service, and we will also inform your placement site. Participation is mandatory, which means that no leave can be granted during the seminars. During multi-day events, all volunteers stay in seminar accommodations. You can actively participate in shaping the seminar content and contribute your personal interests to it. You can check out our seminars at our Instagram!

    Social Security

    During your voluntary service, you will become a member of the statutory pension, accident, health, long-term care, and unemployment insurance systems. The entire contributions, both the employer and employee portions, are covered, and you will not incur any costs for these insurances.

    Start dates

    In principle, the start of a voluntary service with us is possible year-round, either on the 1st or 15th of any month. However, there are various factors that can influence the actual start date. It is advisable to apply early and coordinate with the placement site.

  • T


    During the probationary period, all parties can withdraw from the agreement within 14 days without providing reasons. After the probationary period, the voluntary service can be terminated with a notice period of four weeks, either on the 14th or at the end of a month. You will need a form for this, which you can obtain from your education coordinator.

    Transportation Costs (Commute)

    You may be eligible for a discounted public transportation ticket for your daily commute. Information regarding this can be obtained from the relevant regional transport association. The corresponding application will be signed by us and can then be submitted. Please note that we cannot reimburse any commuting expenses incurred.

    Transportation Costs (Seminar)

    The costs for traveling to seminars will be reimbursed by us. The following conditions apply:

    • Use of public transportation, train (2nd class), or private car is possible.
    • Choose the most cost-effective route.
    • To claim reimbursement, you will need to submit an appropriate application along with the original ticket(s) and/or directions.

    You will receive the application for travel expense reimbursement from your education coordinator. The completed and signed application, along with the original tickets or directions, should be submitted to us no later than 8 weeks after the seminar.

  • V


    All volunteers serving for 12-months have the right to 26 workdays of vacation. If you end your service earlier, your entitlement to vacation days will be reduced accordingly. You must coordinate your vacation with the responsible person at the placement site well in advance. Vacation is not possible during seminar times.


    You may need to have specific vaccinations before your deployment, such as hepatitis or measles vaccinations. Whether this is required or not will be assessed and decided by the placement site. You won't incur any costs for these vaccinations; they will be covered by your placement site.

    Vocational Certificate

    At the end of your service, you can request a vocational certificate of your service through your placement site. The placement site provides the content assessment, but the transmission of the certificate is handled by us as the organization. The form for creating the certificate can be requested by the placement site through us. Once it's completed, it should be sent back to us via email and will then be forwarded to you by mail after the end of your service. You will only receive a certificate if you request it.

    Volunteer ID

    All volunteers receive an ID card at the beginning of their voluntary service. This card is similar to a student ID and grants various discounts. For example, it can provide discounts on admission to amusement parks or possibly on public transportation tickets.

  • W

    Welcome Seminar (Willkommenstag)

    The Welcome Day takes place shortly after the start of your voluntary service and serves as an initial opportunity for the volunteers and us as the organization to get to know each other. Additionally, you will receive important information about your voluntary service during this event.

    Working hours

    Generally, voluntary services are a full-time commitment. In the case of BFD 27plus, part-time options are available as well.

    In some work areas, there may be weekend, night, or late shifts. However, for volunteers under the age of 18, the Youth Labor Protection Act applies.

    Working Areas

    You can freely choose your placement area based on your own interests. Possible placement areas include, for example, daycare centers, all-day schools, nursing, emergency services, senior and youth work, and many more. Feel free to visit our page with placement sites to discover the one that suits you best.

  • Y

    Youth Labor Protection Act (JArbSchG)

    The Youth Labor Protection Act (Jugendarbeitsschutzgesetz or JArbSchG) applies to individuals under 18 years of age. This law primarily outlines regulations regarding working hours, leisure time, weekend shifts, and break times, which are determined by the placement site. It's advisable to discuss these regulations with your supervisor if you are under 18 years old. If you have any questions, feel free to contact your education coordinator.

    Youth Voluntary Service

    If you are between the ages of 16 and 26, you can participate in a Youth Voluntary Service. This typically involves full-time practical work at a placement site, supplemented by educational days provided by us. If you complete a one-year service, you will participate in 25 educational days. During your service, you will be supported and guided by an education coordinator from the DRK (German Red Cross) and a supervisor at your placement site.

    A Youth Voluntary Service can take the form of either a FSJ (Freiwilliges Soziales Jahr) or BFD (Bundesfreiwilligendienst), which usually depends on the specific placement site.

Youth Labor Protection Act (JArbSchG)

If you are not yet of legal age, special protections apply to you during your voluntary service. This means that there are specific rules for you in certain areas. Here is an overview of these areas based on the Youth Labor Protection Act (JArbSchG).

  • Working Hours and Rest

    Working hours refer to the actual time spent working, excluding rest breaks.

    For individuals under 18 years old:

    • The daily working time must not exceed 8 hours per day and 40 hours per week.
    • An exception is that if on certain workdays (e.g., Fridays), the working time is reduced to less than 8 hours, young workers can be employed for up to 8 ½ hours on the remaining workdays of the same week.
    • Young workers can only be employed between 6 am and 8 pm.
    • After completing their daily working time, young workers must not be employed again until they have had an uninterrupted break of at least 12 hours.
  • Shift Time

    Shift time refers to the daily working time plus rest breaks.

    For individuals under 18 years old:

    • The shift time must not exceed 10 hours per day.
    • In shift work in hospitals, nursing homes for the elderly, and children's care homes, young workers can work until 11 pm.
    • There must be a minimum of 12 hours of free time between the end of one shift and the beginning of the next. Therefore, young workers cannot start the early shift the day after a regular late shift.
  • Breaks

    Young workers must be granted predetermined rest breaks of adequate duration.

    Rest breaks must be at least:

    • For working hours of more than 4 ½ up to 6 hours = 30 minutes
    • For working hours of more than 6 hours = 60 minutes

    Young workers must not be employed continuously for longer than 4 ½ hours without a break.

  • 5 Day Weeks

    Young workers may only be employed for 5 days a week. Ideally, the two weekly rest days should follow each other whenever possible.

  • Saturday Rest

    Generally, young workers should not be employed on Saturdays.

    Exception: Employment on Saturdays is allowed in the following cases:

    • In hospitals and in nursing homes for the elderly, as well as in children's care homes.
    • In open retail stores and businesses with open retail sales.
    • In bakeries and confectioneries.
    • In the hairdressing trade and market trade.
    • In transportation.
    • In agriculture and animal husbandry.
    • In family households.
    • In the catering and fairground business.
    • During music performances, theatrical shows, and other performances, as well as in radio (broadcasting and television) recordings, on sound and image carriers, and during film and photo shoots.
    • In extracurricular training programs.
    • In sports.
    • In emergency medical services.
    • In vehicle repair shops.

    If young workers are employed on a Saturday, they should be given another day off during the same week. At least 2 Saturdays per month should be kept employment-free (exceptions can be made by mutual agreement).

  • Sunday Rest

    On Sundays, young workers should generally not be employed.

    Exception: Employment on Sundays is allowed in the following cases:

    • In hospitals and in nursing homes for the elderly, as well as in children's care homes.
    • In agriculture and animal husbandry for work that must be done out of necessity on Sundays and holidays.
    • In family households when the young worker is part of the household.
    • In the fairground business.
    • During music performances, theatrical shows, and other performances, as well as during live broadcasts on radio (broadcasting and television).
    • In sports.
    • In emergency medical services.
    • In the catering industry.

    If young workers are employed on a Sunday, they should be given another day off during the same week. Every second Sunday of the month should be kept employment-free, and at least two Sundays per month must be employment-free.

  • Holidays

    Young workers must not be employed on:

    • December 24th after 2:00 PM
    • December 31st after 2:00 PM
    • The following statutory holidays:
      • January 1st (New Year's Day)
      • Easter Sunday
      • May 1st (Labor Day)
      • December 25th (Christmas Day)

    On the statutory holidays, young workers may be employed under the same conditions as on Sundays. It does not matter which day of the week the holiday falls on.

    • Good Friday
    • Ascension Day
    • Whit Monday
    • Corpus Christi
    • October 3rd (German Unity Day)
    • November 1st (All Saints' Day)
    • December 26th (Second Christmas Day)

    On these statutory holidays, young workers may be employed in:

    • Hospitals and nursing homes for the elderly
    • Agriculture and animal husbandry for work that must be done out of necessity on Sundays and holidays
    • Family households when the young worker is part of the household
    • The fairground business
    • Music performances, theatrical shows, and other performances, as well as live broadcasts on radio (broadcasting and television)
    • Sports
    • Emergency medical services
    • The catering industry

    If young workers are employed on a statutory holiday, they must be given a substitute rest day. If the holiday falls on:

    • A Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday, young workers should be given another day off during the same week or the following week.
    • A Saturday, young workers should be given another day off during the same week or the following week. The young workers can choose whether the substitute rest day should be in the same week as the holiday or the following week.
    • A Sunday, young workers should be given a substitute rest day in advance during the same week.
  • Vacation

    The employer is required to provide young workers with paid annual leave for each calendar year. The annual leave entitlement is as follows:

    • At least 30 working days if the young worker is not yet 16 years old at the beginning of the calendar year.
    • At least 27 working days if the young worker is not yet 17 years old at the beginning of the calendar year.
    • At least 25 working days if the young worker is not yet 18 years old at the beginning of the calendar year.

    Conversion to a 5-day week:

    When calculating the number of vacation days, the Youth Employment Protection Act, like the Federal Leave Act for adults, assumes a 6-day workweek. However, all FSJ helpers, including those on shift duty, have a 5-day workweek. Therefore, the above-mentioned vacation days must be converted to a 5-day workweek. The conversion results in annual leave entitlements of:

    • At least 25 working days for those under 16 years old
    • At least 22.5 working days for those under 17 years old
    • At least 20.8 working days for those under 18 years old.

    The DRK collective agreement provides for 26 working days of annual leave for all volunteers, regardless of their age, for a 12-month service period.