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General information & FAQ

Questions? You will find many answers here below. And if you still need more information, get in touch with us!


If you are aged over 18 years, and are in good health* you can apply for any of the volunteer roles you meet the  qualifications for.

*Given the demanding nature of service on board, a medical must be passed as part of the application process.

Most common exclusions include

  • Insulin dependent diabetes
  • BMI >35
  • High blood pressure

The minimum duration depends on the respective work area. For some medical positions (surgeons, anaesthetists, operating theatre staff, dental volunteers) the minimum commitment is two weeks.

For all other areas, the minimum is 2, 3, 6, 12, 24 or 36 months depending on the specific role requirements.

We are aware that this can come as a surprise for some!

The reason is that crew fees help cover operational expenses on board, so we can maximise the impact of donations by spending 75% directly on programmatic expenses, such as the cost of a surgery for a patient in need.

By contributing to the costs associated with your stay on board, you are freeing up funds that will directly benefit the people who need it – our patients, and all those who benefit from our training.

Many friends and family who are not able to GO themselves are delighted to be part of your support team by helping you on your way.  All contributions made towards the costs of accepted through through the Mercy Ships national office are tax deductible donations.

Every crew member contributes monthly Crew Fees towards the costs of room and board during their service.

  • For a commitment of less than 1 year:  NZ$650/mth (quoted as $400/mth USD) 
  • For a commitment of 1 year and more: NZ$530/mth (quoted as US$200/mth) More details in the link above.

Other costs for volunteers to consider: the airfare to and from the ship in Africa, and the costs for immunisations.

Currently, it is also necessary to add the expenses related to the Covid test which is to be done at most 72 hours before travelling to the vessel.

In addition, you should set aside some pocket money for your personal needs, so that you can go out for a meal in a restaurant or accompany friends to the beach. There is a Starbucks Café on board and a mini kiosk for drinks, chocolate, etc. We therefore recommend that you plan on spending USD 100 per month. However, this is only a recommendation and it can be less.

The biggest “challenge” is obviously your expenses, because even if you go abroad, you still have to be able to cover the costs at home during your absence. In a guide specially designed for our Kiwi volunteers, we give you some advice on how to manage this administrative part.

Yes, because many jobs do not require any specific training, such as galley and dining room staff, housekeeping, warehouse management, reception staff, etc. These positions are often filled by students who wish to take a break during their studies.

No, because we do not have the infrastructure or the facilities to offer internships. In addition, the governments of the countries where we carry out our field services require our medical staff to have recognised diplomas from their countries of origin. Another reason is that we put the focus on training local caregivers in order to leave a lasting impact.

  • You should be at least 18 years of age
  • Be in good health,
  • Have good English skills (B1)
  • Be willing to volunteer, and pay for both accommodation and airfare as well as immunisation costs.

For the majority of medical professions (nurses, surgeons, anaesthetists, laboratory technicians, etc.), professional experience of at least two years after obtaining the diploma is essential. For dental staff, at least one year of professional experience is required.

Yes, the ships are equipped with several cabins that are specially for legally married couples. Unfortunately, the number is limited and often not enough to accommodate all the couples applying. It could therefore happen that you have to wait for a longer time.

There is a very limited number of family cabins, designated for critical roles. They can accommodate a volunteer family with up to four children who have committed for a period of two years or more. For children of school age there is a preschool to high school academy on board the ship exclusively for the crew children.

Mercy Ships is a faith-based organisation and many of our staff are Christian believers. All volunteers, regardless of their background, are welcome on board if they are committed to the mission of Mercy Ships, if they support the core values of Mercy Ships and if they have the necessary skills. 

No, our host countries exempt us from the visa requirement. If you are involved, Mercy Ships will provide you with documents confirming that you can enter without a visa.

You will certainly have many opportunities to do so!

Whether it is through your local work colleagues (Day crew) or during visits to orphanages and prisons (activities that are regularly organized and all you have to do is sign up), during your free time you will have the opportunity to discover the host country.

All those staff members who are not working in the medical field will also have the opportunity to visit patients in the infirmary and thus establish contact with them.

The main types of surgery offered are: general, gynecological, maxillofacial, ophthalmic, reconstructive plastic, orthopedic, and dental / oral care.

For a typical field service, the ships stay in the same port for about 10 months, usually. During the remaining 2 months the ships are taken to a shipyard for maintenance, often in the Canary Islands.

The Africa Mercy and Global Mercy are a smoke and alcohol free environment. However, outside the ship, there are no special restrictions, as long as it is done discreetly.

The main reason for this is a matter of safety, but one must also consider the fact that for some cultures we visit, the simple act of smoking or drinking alcohol can be misperceived or misinterpreted.

Go to the website Select the desired position and click “Apply”. The HR service for the ship is managed by our “Operations Center” in the USA. We recommend sending your application at least 6 months before your desired commitment. You can also send the form one year in advance, which can increase your chances of being accepted. After receiving your application, the US Team will contact you.

Explore our “How to apply” page for more detailed information on the application process.

The New Zealand office is at your disposal at all times for information or support.

Fiona Hunt-Baker
Volunteer Mobiliser

I love talking to people about finding their fit on board, and I’m here to answer your questions about volunteering.

Phone me on: 09 217 6369

Or email:

“Five billion people in the world live without access to safe, timely, affordable surgery. Our family is proud to be part of an organisation working to change the global surgery crisis by transforming lives and extending dignity to thousands of people in great need.”