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The application process begins by selecting a service model and finding an open position.

Peace Corps Volunteer
2 years, 3 months
Log in/check status
Peace Corps Response
Up to 12 months
Log in/check status
Virtual Service Pilot
3-6 months
Log in/check status

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If you are flexible in where you serve for the two-year Peace Corps Volunteer program, our experts can match you with a position and country based on your experience and preferences.

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Safety and Security

The Peace Corps recognizes that Volunteer service involves risk. As the Peace Corps can’t eliminate all risks Volunteers may face, and the safety and security of Volunteers is of the utmost importance, there are programs to support Volunteers throughout service.

Is Peace Corps service safe?

The Peace Corps is committed to providing Volunteers with the best training, guidance, support, and information they need to remain healthy, safe, and productive throughout their service. The Peace Corps' broad and systematic approach to keep Volunteers safe during their service is based upon several fundamental tenets of Volunteer safety and security, including building relationships; sharing information, training, site development, incident reporting and response; and emergency communications and planning. Even with this robust and evidence-driven approach, the Peace Corps cannot eliminate every risk that Volunteers face.

Living and traveling in an unfamiliar environment, having a limited understanding of local language and culture, and being perceived as financially well-off are some of the factors that can put Volunteers at risk. Volunteers can experience varying degrees of unwanted attention and harassment. Petty thefts and burglaries are not uncommon, and incidents of physical and sexual assault do occur.

Precise information about reported incident rates, by country and crime type, is available in the Peace Corps Annual Statistical Report of Crimes Against Volunteers, as well as in each Peace Corps country's section on preparing to Volunteer. Based on feedback from the Annual Volunteer Survey, the vast majority of Volunteers feel safe in the areas where they live and work.

Safety and security program

Sites where Volunteers work can be susceptible to natural disasters, transportation accidents, and civil and political unrest. The Peace Corps closely monitors, on an ongoing basis, the safety and security environment in every country in which Volunteers serve.

Peace Corps security personnel conduct regular detailed assessments of hazards, vulnerabilities, and potential impacts on Volunteer well-being and agency operations. These assessments can result in adjustments to placement decisions, policies, training, and emergency action plans.

In each host country, the Peace Corps maintains collaborative relationships with the U.S. embassy and host government officials to respond to Volunteer safety and security concerns.

The Peace Corps' overall safety and security program is overseen by the Office of Safety and Security in Washington, D.C. This office monitors security issues, advises country programs, develops training criteria, provides crisis management support, coordinates with other U.S. government counterparts, and disseminates evidence-based promising practices.

How in-country staff support Volunteer safety

At each Peace Corps post, a country director is responsible for the safety and security of Volunteers and for implementing the safety and security program. A safety and security manager assists the country director in carrying out this responsibility. Peace Corps staff work to ensure individual Volunteers integrate successfully into carefully selected sites. Each post also has at least one staff member who is available 24/7 for emergencies and to coordinate medical care for Volunteers.

In-country staff assess and approve the communities where Volunteers live and work to ensure that placements are appropriate and secure housing and work sites are available. Site selection is based on established safety and security criteria:

  • Consideration of site history to include security issues
  • Access to medical, banking, postal, and other essential services
  • Access to communication, transportation, and local markets
  • Availability of adequate housing and living arrangements
  • Potential for maintaining the acceptance and consent of host country authorities and the population at large

Peace Corps staff visit Volunteers at their sites to monitor their health and safety. If Volunteers' safety or well-being is at risk or compromised, Peace Corps staff will work to resolve the situation, including moving the Volunteer to another location.

If at any time a Volunteer feels unsafe at their site, the Peace Corps will move the Volunteer and conduct an assessment. Most Volunteers choose to continue their service after a safety incident or crime, though some may choose to end their service. The Peace Corps works with Volunteers to make decisions that are best for them.

How our Integration – Mitigation – Response model works

To reduce the risks associated with Peace Corps service, safety and security must be a partnership between Volunteers, Peace Corps staff, and community members. These three groups share responsibility for the Volunteer’s well-being as a part of the agency’s safety and security program model: Integration – Mitigation – Response.

Integration reflects the Peace Corps’ belief that Volunteers are safest when they are living and working in their respective communities—that the bonds they forge with community members form their most effective support network.

Mitigation refers to the Peace Corps policies and Volunteer training that are provided to reduce the risks and potential impacts of safety and security incidents. Even with mitigation efforts, Volunteers may still experience safety and security incidents. Victims/Survivors of crimes are never at fault for actions taken by a perpetrator.

Response refers to the immediate and long-term actions and support measures that the Peace Corps takes when potential threats arise or when Volunteers experience specific safety or security incidents.

How the Peace Corps plans for emergencies

Volunteers may live and work in communities at some distance from the Peace Corps office in the capital city of a host country. Volunteers are expected to stay in touch with the Peace Corps office on a periodic basis to ensure they can be contacted in case of an emergency. They are required to report their whereabouts when they travel away from and return to their sites and are required to receive Peace Corps authorization if they intend to leave their country of assignment for any reason.

The Peace Corps addresses larger security concerns through country-specific emergency action plans in place at each post. These plans are developed to address events such as natural disasters or civil unrest; and set forth the strategies developed by each Peace Corps post to prepare for, respond to, communicate about, and recover from such crises.

Each plan defines roles and responsibilities for staff and Volunteers, explains policies and procedures, and lists contact information for emergency resources. These plans are tested and revised annually, and Volunteers receive training to understand their roles and responsibilities.

The Peace Corps works closely with the U.S. embassy in-country and other international organizations to share information, monitor threats, develop strategies, and coordinate communication in a crisis. The agency also works in partnership with the U.S. Department of State and host country officials to ensure emergency action plans are comprehensive, current, realistic, rehearsed, and reflect promising practices for the region. If a decision is made to evacuate Volunteers from a country, the Peace Corps will commit every resource at hand to safely move each Volunteer out of harm's way.

Safety and security training

The Peace Corps takes an integrated approach to Volunteer training. Before assignment to the communities where they will live and work, Trainees participate in up to 12 weeks of intensive pre-service training in their country of service. Topics include language, culture, health, and safety and security.

During the pre-service phase, the Peace Corps typically places Trainees with local families to aid in cultural integration and language acquisition. Trainees develop an awareness of their new environment, build their capacity to cope with the challenges they may face, and practice skills that help them adopt a safe and appropriate lifestyle. Trainees are also instructed on Peace Corps policies and procedures and their associated responsibilities.

Safety training covers the following:

  • Understanding risks associated with serving abroad
  • Coping with unwanted attention
  • Reviewing local crime statistics and offender tactics
  • Employing country-specific strategies and promising practices to manage risks
  • Recognizing local cultural norms
  • Accessing services available to Volunteers who are victims/survivors of crime
  • Safely utilizing public transportation
  • Understanding and complying with Peace Corps policies and procedures
  • Reviewing emergency plans
  • Reporting security concerns or crime incidents to Peace Corps staff

Trainees are not sworn in as Volunteers unless they demonstrate proficiency in established competencies. After swearing in, the Peace Corps provides integrated safety training throughout Volunteer service to help Volunteers better understand their surroundings and develop personal safety strategies.

How Volunteers can protect their safety

Being a Volunteer requires changes in lifestyle preferences and habits in deference to host country cultural expectations to minimize security risks. Choices in dress, living arrangements, means of travel, entertainment, and companionship may have a direct impact on how Volunteers are viewed, and thus treated, by their communities.

Navigating differences in gender roles may be one of the most sensitive and difficult challenges during service, but doing so effectively can positively impact Volunteers' security and the level of protection provided by the local community. Mature behavior and sound judgment will enhance personal security.

Volunteer safety and security are predicated on the development of interpersonal relationships between Volunteers and host country community members. Volunteers' daily safety is best assured when they are well-integrated into the local community, valued and protected as extended family members, and viewed as contributors to development.

Volunteers are responsible for learning the local language and integrating into their host community. They are expected to build and maintain respectful relationships with sponsoring agency representatives, colleagues, and other community members. These relationships help Volunteers establish a presence in their new homes, pave the way for many work and social opportunities, and become the basis for their support systems in-country.

Volunteers are urged to be aware of their environment, adopt a safe lifestyle, and exercise thoughtful judgment to reduce their exposure to risks.

How Peace Corps supports Volunteers who are victims/survivors of crime

Each Peace Corps post has a comprehensive program to promote the safety and security of Volunteers.

Peace Corps staff tailors the services it provides Volunteers to the specific circumstances of each safety and security incident. Some examples of the services Peace Corps can provide are: caring for injuries and emotional impacts; evaluating the ongoing security of a Volunteer's neighborhood; repairing locks and household security devices; coordinating with local authorities to investigate a crime, ensuring community members are fulfilling their responsibilities to support Volunteers, connecting Volunteers with a victim advocate and/or local attorney, changing a work site, medically evacuating a Volunteer, and coaching Volunteers on risk-reduction strategies, along with a range of other support services.

The key components of each post's Volunteer safety and security support program are risk analysis, prevention and reduction; training; transparent information dissemination; site selection and monitoring; partnerships in host communities; standards for safe housing; emergency communication, planning, and testing; and procedures for responding to security concerns.

The Peace Corps’ Office of Victim Advocacy is another resource for current and returned Volunteers who have been victims/survivors of sexual assault, intimate partner violence, stalking, and other crimes. A victim advocate ensures Volunteers have access to the full range of support services provided by the Peace Corps.

What to do after a crime or incident occurs

Volunteers are strongly encouraged to report safety concerns and incidents to Peace Corps staff. Staff have been trained and are prepared to provide medical, emotional, legal, logistical, administrative, and advocacy support to Volunteers who are victims/survivors of crime. Staff will discuss all available options with affected Volunteers, and strict privacy controls are in place to protect Volunteers' confidentiality.