Voluntary Social Year

The Voluntary Social Year combines educational and vocational orientation elements. It is also an important form of social commitment and serves the common good as well as the participant’s own personal development.

Possible placement locations are not-for-profit institutions from the following areas:

  • social and disability assistance;
  • care for the elderly;
  • care for drug-dependent persons;
  • care for people affected by violence;
  • care for refugees and displaced persons;
  • care for the homeless;
  • childcare;
  • working with children, young people and senior citizens;
  • rescue services.

The Voluntary Social Year can only be performed at a placement location designated by a recognised institution. The participants must not have any relevant vocational education in the respective area of application.

Minimum age

As a general rule, it is possible to complete a Voluntary Social Year programme from the age of 17. In the case of special suitability, the Voluntary Social Year is also possible for young people from the age of 16. The existence of special suitability is determined on the basis of the application, an admission interview and a selection seminar.


The Voluntary Social Year may only be completed once. The duration is limited to a maximum of twelve months.

Pocket money

The institution is responsible for paying pocket money to the participants.

Family allowance

Under the Familienlastenausgleichsgesetz, family allowances for children of full age are generally only granted if they are in vocational education or training. There are specific arrangements for the Voluntary Social Year, which allow family allowances to be granted until the person concerned reaches the age of 24.

Sickness, accident and pension insurance

Under the ASVG, participants in the Voluntary Social Year programme are insured under the sickness, accident and pension insurance schemes.

Counting towards civilian service

Under the Voluntary Work Act, participation for an uninterrupted ten-month period in a Voluntary Social Year, Voluntary Environmental Protection Year, Austrian Holocaust Memorial Service or Peace and Social Service Abroad programme can count towards a person’s regular civilian service.


In principle, citizens from other EU Member States also have the opportunity to participate in a Voluntary Social Year. More detailed information about this can be obtained directly from the approved institutions – freiwilligenweb portal for voluntary work (→ BMSGPK)German text or from the expert advisor of the Federal Ministry of Social Affairs, Health, Care and Consumer Protection (→ BMSGPK)German text.

Further Links

Translated by the European Commission
Last update: 30 March 2022

Responsible for the content: Federal Ministry of Social Affairs, Health, Care and Consumer Protection