Servas International

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Servas International
Motto Open Doors for Peace and Friendship
Founded July 1949 by Bob Luitweiler in Askov, Denmark
Type Non-profit, Interest group
  • Global, settled in Switzerland, Zurich
Services hospitality among members, some meetings
Fields Peace, Travel, Friendship, Human rights
13,950 worldwide (06/2015)
Key people
President: Jonny Sågänger (Sweden); Vice President: Ann Greenhough (Britain); General Secretary: Jaime Alberto Romero (Colombia); Peace Secretary: Danielle Serres (France); Treasurer: Mirek Wasiliewski (Poland); Hostlist Coordinator: Arnoud Philippo (Netherlands)

Servas International is an international, non-governmental, multicultural hospitality association present in 128 countries and run mostly by volunteers. It was founded in 1949 by Bob Luitweiler and his friends as a peace movement. Servas International promotes world-peace by encouraging individual person-to-person contacts.

Servas means "to serve", in the sense of "serve peace", in the language Esperanto. The organization was originally called Peacebuilders.

It operates through a network of hosts around the world who are interested in opening their doors to travelers, and through open-minded travelers who want to know the countries they visit from within. Travelers and hosts are usually interviewed when they apply to join the organization according to branch (member country) practice; travelers write a self-introduction on a special form valid one year, that is shown to hosts upon arrival.

Servas International has consultative status as a non-governmental organization with the United Nations Economic and Social Council, currently with representation at many of the UN's hubs of activity.[1]

There are 14,000 Servas 'open doors' scattered throughout almost every country in the world. Because having a conservative basis, Servas has not grown as most similar hospitality organizations born recently. 30 years ago, Servas had 8,000 members worldwide; it has just followed the general increase of population in each country. There are not official general statistics, but in Italy in 2007 the average age of members was 52 years old with a slight predominance of females.


Servas activities may vary depending on the country, but they mostly consist in hosting and traveling (or both). Unlike many other hospitality exchange networks, Servas requires that potential members be interviewed and approved.

Decisions on activities (like meetings, election of representatives, fees required) are taken within local, national or international assemblies or from an elected group of members. The 2006 General Assembly established a set of Financial Policies since updated, which provide the basis of annual audits, and which include procedures for preparing and reporting on expenditures, officer reports, and revenues through fees.[2]

Servas Argentina
The individual fee (decided by the national committee) is AR$500 ($90) per year for new International Travelers and AR$250 (45) for travelers having more than a year as a host or Day host in the organization. Host lists have an also a cost of AR40 for each one ($8) non refundable.
Host and national travelers within the county are not subject to fees.

Servas Australia
Traveler fee for one year is AU$100. There is no host membership fee. See the website of Servas Australia for specific information[3]

Servas Denmark
Traveler fee for one year is DKR 130. There is no host membership fee. See the website of Servas Denmark for specific information[4]

Servas Brazil
Traveler fee for one year is Reais 120 (EUR 40) for "only travelers" and 60 (EUR 20) for "hosts". There is no host membership fee. See the website of Servas Brazil for specific information[5]

Servas Britain
Traveler fee for one year is 25 to 35 Pounds ($34 to $48) Host membership fee in 12 Pounds ($18). There is s special Youth traveler fee in which cost 10 Pounds ($14). See the website of Servas Britain for specific information[6]

Servas Germany
Traveler fee for one year is EUR 20 ($26) Host membership fee is EUR 10 ($13). See the website of Servas Germany for specific information[7]

Servas Hungary
Traveler fee for one year is HUF 3000 ($12). Annual membership fee (for both travellers and host households) is HUF 1000 ($4).

Servas India
Traveler fee for one year is 600 Indian Rupee ($11). There is no host membership fee. See the website of Servas India for specific information[8]

Servas Mexico
Traveler fee for the first year is MX$300 ($24) and MX$100 ($8)for the following years. Host membership fee in MX$350 ($28). See the website of Servas Mexico for specific information[9]

Servas Norway
Traveler fee for one year is CR$200 ($38 to $53) There is no host membership fee. See the website of Servas Norway for specific information[10]

Servas Russia
Traveler fee for one year is 1500 rubles ($50). There is no membership fee[11]

Servas Spain
Traveler fee for one year is EUR 18 ($23). Host membership fee is EUR 13 ($17). See the website of Servas Spain for specific information[12]

Servas Sweden
Traveler fee for one year is CR$400 ($60) but hosts pays CR$300 ($45). Host membership fee in CR$100 ($15). See the website of Servas Sweden for specific information[13]

Servas Turkey
Traveler fee for one year is about $20[14] A membership fee ($33) is required only for new members, there is no annual fee.

Servas United States
The most common activity in the U.S. branch is the Domestic and the International Travel. The individual fee (decided by the national committee) is for the Domestic Travellers $50 per year (or $25 for college students), and $85 per year for International Travelers. Within the travellers yearly membership, there is no limit to the number of trips even in different countries one can make. Members schedule their own trips and pay for their own travel expenses.
Host are not subject to fees, a $40 donation is only suggested.

Officially Registered Servas countries[edit]

  • Servas Italy
  • Servas Germany
  • Servas Netherlands
  • Servas Poland
  • Servas Switzerland
  • Servas USA
  • Servas France
  • Servas Spain
  • Servas Sri Lanka
  • Servas Hungary
  • Servas Canada
  • Servas New Zealand

Servas International organisation[edit]

SERVAS MEMBERS from Member countries are represented by their respective National Committees at SI General Assembly

  • General Assembly
    • Servas Branches
    • Executive Committee (President, General Secretary, Treasurer, Vice President, Peace Secretary, Host List Coordinator)
      • Officers reporting to EXCO:
        • Archivist
        • Newsletter Editor
      • Committees reporting to EXCO:
        • Development Fund committee
        • Statutes and Job Description committee
        • Area coordinators
        • Youth Committee
        • Conflict Resolution Committee
      • Committees reporting to General Assembly:
        • Audit Committee
        • Information Communication Team
        • Nomination Committee

Servas international conferences[edit]


First Servas international Conference[edit]

  • Seeds of servas, Bob Luitweiler

First Peace Builders International Conference, Hamburg, Germany Out of which came the name "Servas" (1952) (L to R) Folke Hertling, Germany, Chris Smith, UK; Nana Fundar, Denmark, Claus Weiss, Germany, Leticia Grove, Bob Luitweiler, USA, Dagny Ingvorsen, Esma Boroughs, UK, Connie Jones, UK, August Budinski, Helmut Hertling, Germany, Krisun Ingvorsen, Denmark

Should I continue my planned trip through South East Asia, the Philippines and Japan or retrace my steps back to Europe? I canceled my plans to continue around the world and took the next ship back to Europe. The first International Servas gathering met at Claus Weiss' and the Hertling's house near Hamburg. Gertraud Hertling who had sown the first seed for our program was not there but her father took us in like his family. Only England, Denmark and Germany were officially represented. Besides agreeing on some basic procedures, we settled on a name for our program. Esther liked "Open Doors." I liked "Peace Builders" but did not like using an English title. Esma Boroughs, the first International Setvas Secretaty, chose "Servas" that is Esperanto for "serve," in the present tense. We all agreed. The thought was that people who traveled would learn from their hosts how they could more effectively serve in their home communities to develop programs and human relations that were free of the seeds of war. At no time did anyone suggest that choosing Servas meant we would abandon our original purpose of peace building. The story that choosing the name Servas meant we wanted to alter the aim of our program is wrong. We just wanted a name that was more international then Peace Builders which was exclusively English. By the time I returned from India, Claus Weiss with fellow students Joachim Wessloh and Gertraud's brother Volker had established a German working committee and had already gathered around 40 hospitality addresses. Joop van der Spek was leading the program in the Netherlands. Nana Funder who had an outstanding preschool in Denmark and had been a Servas traveler in the US along with Kristen Ingvorsen a manufacturer of roofing tiles, ran Servas in Denmark for many years.In those early years the leadership of Servas in most countries changed frequently.

Criteria for deciding where the Servas International conference is to be held[edit]

The 2001 GA in Thailand adopted a set of criteria for deciding where the Servas International conference will be held. The criteria are:

  1. Rotation (conferences should be held in different areas of the world in the course of time)
  2. Health standards
  3. Safety standards
  4. Immigration (passports and visas)
  5. Accessibility (travel to and from)
  6. Adequate infrastructure (communications, roads, hospitals, etc.)
  7. Feasibility study on costs
  8. Sufficient local Servas members to help organize
  9. Consider development potential in the area
  10. Adequate conference facilities


  • 1973 UN placed Servas International on its roster
  • 1972 Statutes were drawn up and accepted by 13 Servas branch countries, Wetzlar

Servas Youth Meetings[edit]

  • Kyrgyzstan July–August, 2014, Cholpon-Ata (North of the lake Issyk-Kul), Kyrgyzstan
  • Poland August, 2012, Tylicz (near Krynica-Zdrój), Poland
  • Uganda July, 2011, Kampala, Uganda
  • Denmark July, 2011 Hvalsø (near Roskilde), Denmark
  • Brazil October, 2010 Bahia, Brazil
  • Mexico March–April, 2010 Xochicalco, Mexico
  • Turkey July, 2008 Istanbul, Turkey
  • England July, 2007 Yorkshire, England
  • Argentina July, 2006 San Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina

Servas countries[edit]

Servas International is a federation. Each country has its own rules and structure. Diversity is quite complex. Each National Servas country can have its own website, usually reachable from the main international site.

The Servas member-countries who have a website:


External links[edit]