Custom Visits FAQ - Compassion International

Custom Visits FAQ
What does the visit process look like?

When you have a firm weekday date to meet your sponsored child, please select the tab that best meets your needs, and then fill out the request form. After your details are reviewed, you will receive an email from Compassion with a link to register for a visit. The next steps you need to take. Once you complete those steps, we will contact our field office and start coordinating your visit logistics. We will then contact you with the visit itinerary and request payment for the expenses that need to be covered prior to your departure. After you submit your payment, Compassion will provide contact information for your visit host and our field office, and any final details.

What happens if Compassion is not able to approve my visit date?

If your visit is not possible, Compassion will provide you with instructions on preparing a special gift package for your sponsored child. Although at times a face-to-face visit is not possible due to challenges such as holidays or short notice, please be assured that if you send a gift, your child and his or her family will be very blessed by your thoughtfulness.

Do I need to contact anyone after I arrive in country??

Yes! Please contact our field staff by phone after you arrive. The numbers will be provided to you before you leave for your trip. This is very important, as our field staff members need to know that you have arrived safely so your visit can go forward as planned.

Is my visit considered a group or an individual visit?

An Individual Custom Visit is when one sponsor visits one or more children they sponsor. The sponsor may bring other family or friends as guests on their visit. A Group Visit is when two or more sponsors are visiting two or more children whom they sponsor separately. The following examples may help you determine which visit request form to submit:

  • I would like to visit my sponsored child in Kenya, and my five friends who are traveling with me would like to come along on the visit. Please submit an Individual Visit Request form. Your friends will be listed as your guests on your visit.
  • My husband and I sponsor three kids in Peru. We will be going there on vacation and would like to visit our sponsored kids. Please submit an Individual Visit Request (since you and your husband sponsor the kids together).
  • My sister and I each sponsor a child in Ecuador, and we would both like to visit our sponsored children together while we're there. Please submit a Group Visit Request (since you each have a separate sponsor number and separate sponsored children).
What does a typical visit day look like?

With a typical visit, you’ll meet with your Compassion visit host and then be introduced to your sponsored child. Children are normally accompanied by a parent or guardian as well as a staff member from their Compassion-assisted child development center. If you visit your child’s home and center, you will see where your child attends his or her Compassion program and learn about his or her day-to-day life. If you have your visit in another location, you will share an activity together. In both instances, you will have time to get to know your child, ask questions, exchange gifts, and share a meal.

How long will I be able to visit with my sponsored child or children?

A typical visit is limited to a single day, averaging 2-6 hours. If you are visiting more than one child, we may be able to honor additional visit time with a maximum of 3 days.

Do I have to travel to my child’s area, or can he or she be brought to me?

We can coordinate plans for you to travel to your child’s area or we can bring your sponsored child to your location for a visit. Please share your preference when you register for your visit. (If a visit to your child’s area will not be safe, our field office will notify us of this when we submit your visit request to the office, and suggest an alternate meeting location in a safe place).

What activities will a visit itinerary include?

Our local field office will recommend activities for your visit, and you may also share your preferences with us, including such activities as a visit to a park or a zoo. We also recommend that you visit your sponsored child’s home and Compassion-assisted child development center if possible.

Can I meet my child’s family?

A child will be accompanied by one parent or guardian during a visit, and if you visit your child’s home then you will have the opportunity to meet additional family members. If your child will be brought to another location for your visit, and you would like additional family members to come as well, please let us know when you register for your visit.

Can I bring gifts for my sponsored child(ren)?

Absolutely! You are welcome to bring gifts for your sponsored children and their families. Please view our list of gift suggestions and helpful tips for your visit.

I am fluent in my child’s language. Do I still need a translator for my visit?

Even if you are fluent in your child’s language, a Compassion host will still be present to facilitate your visit, in accordance with our child protection policies.

Why am I not able to visit my child on weekends or holidays

We do not ask Compassion representatives to host weekend visits out of respect for their personal family and worship time. During holidays, our field offices and student centers close to allow children and staff members time to celebrate with loved ones. Children are not required to be in the area to attend the Compassion program, and many travel with their families to visit relatives in other areas. Additionally, our staff members, most of whom are volunteers, are also given this time off. It is important for staff members to have time to rest, so that they can return to their work of serving the children with renewed hearts.

Why do you ask for so much advance notice?

Our local field office staff is responsible for coordinating and hosting all trips and visits for Compassion’s global constituency. This includes not only Compassion USA, but all of our partner countries. The advance notice provides the field office time to balance incoming requests with previously scheduled trips and visits. Visits can also require considerable coordination between your child’s family and local Compassion staff, the field office, our USA office and you.

I just learned about my trip and can’t give eight weeks’ notice. Can I still meet my child?

Although Compassion asks for a minimum of eight weeks’ advance notice, we recognize that in some cases sponsors may not be able to provide such notice. Please proceed with a request form. We will be happy to review your travel information and the logistics necessary to accomplish a visit to determine if a visit can be arranged. Please note that Compassion has limited resources available for arranging and hosting short-notice visits, and approvals are limited. If a visit will not be possible, we will be glad to provide you with instructions for preparing a special gift package for your child.

Will Compassion arrange my international travel?

With a custom visit, Compassion only facilitates the visit day itself, so you are responsible for all international travel and lodging. We recommend you contact a travel agent for assistance

Will I need immunizations?

You may need immunizations for international travel. As Compassion cannot suggest which immunizations will be appropriate for you, we recommend you check with your personal physician, as well as the State Department or Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If you would like to utilize a travel clinic, we highly recommend Passport Health.

Will I need a passport and/or visa? If so, how do I obtain these?

A passport is required for all travel outside of the United States. You may check with the State Department for visa requirements. If you need assistance with your passport and/or visa applications, we recommend Travisa Passport & Travel Visa Service, which also offers Compassion travelers a discount for using its services. The Compassion discount code is CC1229.

Why are background checks required and what is the cost?

It is the policy of Compassion International to protect children in our programs from abuse by instituting reasonable guidelines and procedures to direct the interactions of Compassion International staff, partners, sponsors and other visitors with Compassion beneficiaries. In accordance with our Commitment to Child Protection, Compassion requires a Background Check for all adult visitors (18 and older) who are meeting any beneficiary of a ministry program. Compassion's background checks are valid for 12 months. If you travel on another Custom Visit or Sponsor Trip during this time frame, you will not need to complete another one. This includes arrangements to meet any sponsored child, or Compassion-assisted child development center or Child Survival Program.

Each adult visitor will be responsible for paying the $40 nonrefundable, non-tax-deductible fee, as well as submitting the information to our third-party vendor, ScreeningONE. Instructions for the background check will be provided upon registration for a visit, and completion is required before arranging a custom visit.

Can I provide you with a copy of a background check from another source?

We are unable to accept background checks from other sources, as Compassion cannot authenticate the validity of such a report.

Is there a cost for me to visit my sponsored child? What charges should I prepare for?

Yes, there will be costs incurred with a custom visit. Compassion requires visitors to cover any costs incurred, which may include but are not limited to transportation, host services, meals and lodging. The expenses involved in a visit day depend on the logistics necessary to accomplish the visit. Because each visit is unique, the costs can vary widely and may be anywhere from under $100 up to a thousands of dollars, depending on the logistics. When we arrange a visit, our field office will provide an estimate of any anticipated expenses when they confirm a visit date. We are not able to provide a specific estimate prior to this.

Do you charge an administrative fee for visits?

Yes. Compassion charges an administrative fee when going on a visit, which is $25.00 and includes you and one guest (additional guests would be $10.00 per person). This covers the staff and resources necessary for these programs. Since a very small percentage of sponsors have the opportunity to travel on a trip or visit, we do not feel it is appropriate to have the cost taken from the 20 percent administrative side of sponsorship fees. This would not be fair to those sponsors who are not able to meet their children.

Can I give cash to my child or their family?

Visitors may not give cash directly to the student center staff, Compassion staff, the child or student, or their family. Giving cash to your child and family may cause conflicts and generate negative attention within their community, so we ask that all gifts be given through Compassion USA. By doing so, your donation can be appropriately recorded and we can ensure that it will be used responsibly.

What is the value in meeting my sponsored child?

A personal meeting is a deeply significant event. A child in poverty struggles with a deep-seated belief that he or she is insignificant, powerless and hopeless – a belief that perpetuates a poverty of spirit. Nothing says “You are special, valued, significant and powerful” like a visit from a child’s sponsor; it is a life-changing event! The surprise is that the sponsor often feels the same message from his or her sponsored child – this interaction is nothing short of a truly sacred encounter. We encourage you to read the stories of other sponsors who have met their children on our Custom Visits Testimonial tab.

Can I contact the field office directly to arrange a visit?

Compassion USA will act as a liaison for your visit. Our guidelines require our Colorado Springs office to be involved to ensure timely and accurate responses to questions, and the prompt acquisition of necessary information. The field offices expect to work through the Colorado Springs office to arrange visits, so if they start working directly with sponsors, even with the best of intentions, often expectations are not met and the quality of the arrangements and plans can be affected.

Is there an age limit for Custom Visits?

Because Compassion only facilitates the visit day itself and is not responsible for international travel, there is no minimum age requirement for Custom Visits. However, Compassion requires all minors to be accompanied by an adult.

I’m traveling to a country near my sponsored child. Can I still meet him or her?

Compassion is not able to bring children across international borders, so you will need to arrange transportation into your child’s country for a visit to be possible.

I am not able to travel to my child’s country for a visit. Can she travel to the USA to see me here?

Unfortunately, Compassion does not allow sponsored children to be brought to the United States of America for visits. The only way to meet your sponsored child in person is if you travel to her country on a Custom Visit or a Sponsor Trip.

When will you tell my child I am visiting? Can I write my child and tell him or her that I will be visiting?

Compassion’s policy is to not inform children of a potential visit until everything is confirmed on both sides and a sponsor has arrived in country, just to minimize the chance of disappointment if plans change. However, it is possible that a child might inadvertently become aware of the visit just through the course of checking with local staff members, parents, etc. to make arrangements for the visit.

I will be traveling to my child’s country, but I will not have enough time in my schedule for a visit. Can I still bring a gift?

Yes, you certainly can. Please contact our Sponsor and Donor Relations' department at or call (800) 336-7676 and we will share instructions for bringing a special gift package for your sponsored child.

I am not traveling to my child’s country, but I have a friend or family member who is. Can they visit my child for me?

Yes, they can! The same guidelines apply for your friend or family member to visit your sponsored child. We will make sure your child understands that your friend or family member is visiting on your behalf.

Can I visit a Compassion Child Development Center, even if I don’t sponsor a child in that country?

If you will be in the same city as our field office, we can assist you with a visit to one of our child development centers, where you will have the opportunity to meet local staff members and spend time with the children at the center. Please check the Child Development Center Registration tab.

My child is no longer in Compassion’s program. Can I still have a visit?

When a child leaves Compassion’s program, contact may become very difficult. If your previously sponsored child left Compassion’s program less than six months ago and you are planning to visit a currently sponsored child in the same country, a visit may be possible, though we cannot make any guarantees. Please contact us at so that we may review your specific situation.

My child sent me a friend request on Facebook. What should I do?

Compassion has established guidelines for correspondence to ensure the safety of children and sponsors. All communication must be channeled through our ministry. Please do not respond to or pursue communications through Facebook or other social networking sites. You may contact our Sponsor and Donor Relations department at or (800) 336-7676 to notify us if your child or his or her family member attempts to contact you in this way.

Are Custom Visit payments tax deductible?

Compassion Custom Visit payments are not tax deductible contributions according to IRS guidelines. Traveler payments are directly paying for your visit costs, which is not considered a charitable activity.