Office for the Equal Treatment of EU Workers

Recognition of foreign professional qualifications

Since the entry into force of the Assessment and Recognition of Foreign Professional Qualifications Act (Anerkennungsgesetz) in 2012, everyone with a foreign professional qualification has been legally entitled to access a procedure to have their professional qualification recognised in Germany.

There are occupations in Germany which may only be practised with state authorisation. In the case of these “regulated professions”, you must provide evidence that you hold certain qualifications, in particular, in order to access and practise the profession. This means that you must first complete a procedure to have your professional qualification recognised. The recognition procedure is carried out by the competent authority at local level for the occupation in question.

  • The “Recognition in Germany” website and its online “Recognition Finder” tool can help you to find the right recognition authority; the site also offers important information about the recognition procedure.
  • A full list of questions and answers relating to the recognition of professional qualifications can be found here.

The recognition procedure assesses whether the foreign professional qualification is equivalent to the German qualification, or whether action (compensation measures) needs to be taken to compensate for any differences. This assessment is known as an equivalency review (Gleichwertigkeitsprüfung).

  • The anabin database provides information on the assessment of foreign educational qualifications and helps authorities, employers and individuals to identify what a foreign qualification is equivalent to within the German education system.
  • The BQ-Portal offers chambers and businesses a wide-ranging knowledge and working platform which enables them to better assess and evaluate foreign professional qualifications, if a corresponding qualification in Germany (the “reference profession”) is regulated under federal law.

There are certain professions where an equivalency review is not required. Even in these cases, however, you still have to apply for and receive authorisation to practise the profession – doctors, for example, require a licence to practise medicine (Approbation) – before you can start work. To receive authorisation, you must provide certain types of evidence (e.g. proof of necessary language skills, an official certificate of good conduct, etc.). More information on this is available in the FAQ.

If your occupation is not regulated in Germany, you do not need to use the recognition procedure. Nonetheless, the recognition procedure can be helpful when you are looking for a job and when it comes to continuing education and training, as it enables employers to better understand foreign professional qualifications.
Higher education graduates can receive an individual statement of comparability (Zeugnisbewertung) from the Central Office for Foreign Education (Zentralstelle für ausländisches Bildungswesen) in order to improve their chances when submitting applications.

Tip: You can receive initial advice on the subject of recognition by calling the hotline “Working and Living in Germany”. The hotline offers comprehensive advice, in German and English, on the following subjects:
• Job search, work and careers
• Recognition of foreign professional qualifications
• Entry and residence
• Learning German

The hotline can be reached from Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., on: +49 (0)30 1815 - 1111.

The Integration through Qualification (IQ) funding programme offers advice on recognition and vocational development nationwide, as well as additional training for regulated and non-regulated professions.

Tip: During the recognition procedure, you can receive financial support from various public agencies. More information on this is available in the FAQ. It is also common for companies to support their staff with regard to the recognition procedure, for example when it comes to completing any additional training which is required. Members of the works council (Betriebsrat) and staff council (Personalrat) are important points of contact in companies.

FAQ Recognition of foreign professional qualifications

There are 7 “sectoral” professions (doctor, dentist, veterinary surgeon, pharmacist, nurse responsible for general care, midwife, architect) where the European Union provides for automatic recognition of professional qualifications, due to the fact that harmonised training standards apply EU-wide for these professions. If you are an EU citizen and you want to practise one of these professions in another EU country, an equivalency review is not required for your qualifications to be recognised. Even in these cases, however, you must apply for and receive authorisation to practise the profession – doctors, for example, require a licence to practise medicine (Approbation) – before you can start work. To receive authorisation, you must provide certain types of evidence (e.g. proof of necessary language skills, an official certificate of good conduct, etc.).

You can receive financial support towards the recognition procedure from the German employment service:
If you are a jobseeker, the costs of the recognition procedure, such as the costs of translations, authenticated copies and fees, can be covered by the employment service’s placement budget. The employment service can also provide funding for you to attend courses which seek to promote vocational integration by imparting vocational knowledge.

In certain circumstances, the costs of continuing training and vocational development can be met both for jobseekers and for people in employment. However, the continuing training and vocational development must contribute to the recognition of a foreign professional qualification and must improve the individual’s employment chances.

In the cases set out above, you must submit an application in advance for the costs to be met to your local Employment Agency (Agentur für Arbeit) or, if you receive unemployment benefit II (Arbeitslosengeld II), to the job centre.

If you are not entitled to financial support from the employment service, you can apply for the federal recognition grant (Anerkennungszuschuss) until 30 September 2019. The recognition grant is aimed in particular at employees who are working below the level for which they are qualified and who have a very low income. The recognition grant is a maximum of 600 euros and does not need to be repaid. It is important to apply for financial support before you begin the procedure for recognition of a foreign professional qualification. You can submit the application at a recognition advice centre (Anerkennungsberatungsstelle) near you run by the Integration through Qualification (IQ) funding programme, for example. Detailed information about the recognition grant is available here.

In addition to the recognition grant, in Baden-Württemberg, Berlin and Hamburg there are also Land (federal state) programmes offering additional financial support.