What You Need to Know About Compassion International Custom Visits

Custom Visits What You Need to Know

We are so excited that you will be participating in a Custom Visit! A personal meeting with your sponsored child is a life-changing event, and we hope the information provided will help you prepare for this special journey. On this page, you will find Compassion’s guidelines and rules regarding Custom Visits, including expense information and our child protection policy. Please take time to read through everything here in order to familiarize yourself with Compassion’s expectations and role in your Custom Visit.

Visit Guidelines

In order to ensure a safe, enjoyable experience for you, Compassion has established the following visit guidelines. We thank you for taking the time to review the guidelines, and we look forward to assisting you with your visit!

Visit Arrangements
  • Please provide a complete visit request with at least eight weeks’ advance notice prior to the visit date. Visit requests with less than eight weeks’ advance notice will be considered on a case by case basis, and approvals are limited.
  • Visits are arranged for a single day, Monday through Friday, during regular business hours.
  • Compassion will arrange just the day of the visit with your sponsored child. You will need to make all of the arrangements for the rest of your travel and time in country, which may include flights, lodging, documentation (such as passports and visas), insurance, and any necessary immunizations. Please check out our Visit Preparation Page for links that will be helpful for planning your travel; an experienced travel agent may also be helpful.
  • After you have requested a visit, a Compassion representative will send you an email with links to complete your visit registration and required documents. When these steps have been completed, your Visit Specialist will submit your request to our local field office and make arrangements for your visit day. Although no visit date can be guaranteed in advance, Compassion will make every effort to arrange your visit accordingly. If you decide to make travel arrangements (such as purchasing flight tickets) in advance, and your visit is subsequently declined by our field office, Compassion is not responsible for your costs.
  • When your visit has been approved and you have confirmed the details, Compassion USA will provide you with contact information for your in-country visit host.
  • Visitors are responsible for all expenses that are incurred during the planning and execution of a visit. Compassion will notify visitors of any expenses that need to be paid prior to the visit, and any expenses that need to be covered during the visit. Please review our Compassion Visit Expense & Cancellation Policy for more information.
Child Protection Policy and Required Documents

Compassion’s Child Protection Policy

Concern for the well-being of children is the cornerstone of our ministry. We do everything within our power to ensure that no harm comes to any child registered in our program and to protect our children from any form of child abuse or exploitation. We believe the vast majority of our sponsors and donors share our values of respecting and caring for children. But it’s possible that some people may seek to use our Child Sponsorship Program to gain access to children for inappropriate reasons, which is why we require a background check for everyone 18 and older who interacts with any beneficiary of our program.

  • Please read our Trips and Visits Child Protection Policy if you are considering traveling with us, as it guides interactions between sponsors and children occurring on our group trips or individual custom visits. It is meant to protect the children in our child development centers from abuse as well as protect visitors from any wrongful allegations.
  • 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. This includes arrangements to meet any sponsored child or student, to visit a Compassion student center, or to visit a Child Intervention Program.
  • Instructions for the background check will be provided upon registration for a visit. Each adult visitor will be responsible for payment of the $40 nonrefundable, non-tax-deductible fee, as well as submitting the information to our third-party vendor, ScreeningOne.
  • Each visitor must sign a visit release form (a parent or guardian must sign the form for a minor). Instructions for electronically signing a visit release form will be provided upon registration for a visit.
  • Visitors are responsible for determining the best ways to make your travel safe and enjoyable. This includes planning what you would do in the event of emergencies or natural disasters, and informing trusted friends or family members of your travel plans. You are the best judge of whether you feel comfortable and capable of traveling on your own in the developing world.
  • Compassion cannot assist you with emergencies or natural disasters outside of your scheduled visit with your sponsored child. If an emergency occurs during your scheduled Compassion visit, and you are unable to reach your designated emergency contact, we will make reasonable efforts to reach your designated emergency contact. You are solely responsible for any emergency situation that arises outside of the time of your Compassion visit. We recommend registering your trip with the State Department and signing up for their travel notifications.

If Compassion determines that any of these guidelines have been violated, whether deliberately or inadvertently, we may, in our sole and exclusive discretion, cancel or immediately terminate a visit.

  • Visitors may not seek or accept accommodations at the Compassion student center or church partner, with the family of any sponsored child or student, at a staff member’s home, or with a member of the community. Overnight stays are strictly prohibited.
  • A Compassion representative will accompany visitors at all times during the visit. This person will act as an interpreter, or a contracted translator will be hired to facilitate the visit. Visitors will not, at any time, meet with a sponsored child or student without the presence of a Compassion staff member or assigned host.
  • Visitors must show respect to Compassion staff, children, students, families and communities that they meet and take into consideration the cultural sensitivities of the country. Specifically, visitors must not engage in any behavior which could reasonably be interpreted as flirtatious, unwelcome or sexual in any manner.
  • Visitors must understand that the sponsored child or student they meet has family/parents/guardians of his/her own. Visitors will respect and adhere to the boundaries of the relationship with the beneficiary and not interfere with parenting matters that do not impact the health, safety or welfare of the beneficiary.
  • Visitors may not give any personal contact information to a Compassion sponsored child or student, and may not ask for or record a child or student’s contact information.
  • Visitors agree to comply with Compassion’s regular correspondence process and channel all communication through the ministry.
  • Visitors should not, under any circumstances, pursue or respond to communications with a sponsored child or student through Facebook or other social networking sites.
  • All gifts intended for a sponsored child or student, their family, or the community, will be in accordance with Compassion’s policies. Visitors may not give cash directly to the student center staff, Compassion staff, the child or student, or their family.
Compassion Visit Expense and Cancellation Policy

As each visit is unique, the expenses involved in your personal visit will depend on the logistics necessary. The information below details our expense and cancellation policy. Your Visit Specialist will walk you through the costs associated with your Custom Visit as well.

Visit Expenses

Your expenses will include an amount to be paid before you depart for your trip (total due prior to departure), and an amount to be paid during your visit (estimated in-country costs). We are committed to providing the expenses to you as quickly as possible, yet thank you for understanding this is dependent upon the complexity of your visit as well as the capacity of our field office staff, especially during heavy travel seasons. Barring any unforeseen circumstances, we expect to send the invoice to you at least two weeks prior to your departure. If you decide to make travel arrangements (such as purchasing flight tickets) in advance, and your visit is subsequently declined by our field office, Compassion is not responsible for your costs. Please note that payments are directly paying for your visit costs, which is not considered a charitable activity and are therefore not tax deductible.

Expenses Prior to Departure

As the field office prepares for your visit, they will provide a total of expenses that you will pay before your visit. These expenses may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Background Checks: Each adult (18 and older) visitor will be responsible for payment of the $40.00 non-refundable, non-tax-deductible fee.
  • Service Fee: This nominal fee of $25 covers up to two visitors; for additional guests, there is a fee of $10 per person. This amount helps cover administrative costs, including registration and electronic signature fees, materials, communications, and staffing.
  • Transportation for your sponsored child and companions, and possibly your visit host, to reach the visit location: This may include public or private transportation, and fuel.
  • Meals and lodging for your sponsored child and companions, and possibly your visit host: This may be necessary if your child travels over a long distance to meet you.
  • Communications between the field office staff and your child’s local Compassion staff necessary for the arrangement of your visit: This typically includes the cost of a phone card.
Expenses During Visit

In addition to the expenses paid prior to your departure, our field office will provide an estimate of expenses that you will need to be prepared to pay during your visit. These expenses may include, but are not limited to:

  • Host and translator services: Compassion requires a trained host to be present at each visit, even if you do not need a translator. In most cases, your visit host may also act as your translator.
  • Transportation during your visit: This may include a taxi or rental vehicle utilized on your visit day.
  • Meals during your visit: This may include lunch or dinner for you and your guests, your host, your child and those accompanying your child visit.
  • Activity Costs: This may include entrance to the zoo, a park, or other special activity during your visit.

Special Note for Group Visits: Compassion will provide a separate invoice for each sponsor meeting a child, and it will be the sponsor’s responsibility to pay for their own expenses. Groups that would prefer to submit one payment for all visiting sponsors will have their request considered on a case by case basis.


We ask that sponsors carefully consider any decision to cancel a visit, as a sponsored child may already be aware of the visit plans and be extremely disappointed if the visit is cancelled.

If it becomes necessary for you to cancel your visit, please contact us immediately so that we may communicate with our field office. In the event of a cancellation, sponsors are responsible for paying any service fees, as well as expenses that our field office has already incurred to arrange the visit.