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Questions concerning "Recognition of foreign professional qualifications"

Who is entitled to apply?

Applications can be made by anyone who has successfully completed professional training outside Germany. Important: Your nationality is not relevant to the process. Nor do you need to have a residence permit.

Can the application be made from abroad?

You can apply if you do not live in Germany. You must simply have a professional qualification that you have gained outside Germany and prove that you intend to work in Germany.

How much does the process cost?

The fees are set by the office responsible. Therefore you should find out about the likely costs in advance of making your application. If you are registered as looking for work or receive state benefits, the costs can be met by state offices under certain conditions.

Where should the application be made?

The application should be made at the chamber or authority responsible for the respective professional training and entry to the profession. Above all, in the case of professions requiring apprenticeships, the application should be made to the local Chambers of Commerce and Industry and Chambers of Trade. For regulated professions this is usually the authorities responsible for the relevant profession in the respective Land.

Which documents are required for the process?

Your foreign qualifications and professional qualification certificates must be submitted. As a rule, at least if the applicant is in Germany, original documents or certified copies are required. The responsible offices may in certain cases allow simple copies to be sufficient if these are adequate. As a rule the documents must be translated into German.

You will need the following documents to make your application:

  • Tabular overview of education and employment to date (in German)
  • Proof of identity (personal identification card or passport)
  • Proof of the final qualification acquired in the foreign country
  • Proof of relevant professional experience and further training courses
  • Declaration that to date you have not applied for an equivalency check
  • Proof that you wish to work in Germany (not applicable for nationals of the European Union, the European Economic Area or Switzerland or for people resident in these countries)

How long does the process take?

With effect from 1 December 2012, if all documents are complete, the process should as a rule not take longer than three months.

What are the options if the application is rejected?

If the authority decides that there are significant differences in training, there is the option of taking further training. In the area of regulated professions it is obligatory to attend adaptation measures (course or exam) if significant differences have been established. If you are unsuccessful in passing the adaptation measure, you may not practice your profession in Germany. Courses and exams are offered by the Federal Länder. As a rule, the costs of adaptation measures are to be borne by the applicant. In certain circumstances, financial support can be offered by the Employment Agencies or the providers of basic social security as part of their support of professional training.

There is no obligation for further qualification for non-regulated professions (professions requiring apprenticeships). Applicants can work in these professions without having their qualifications checked for equivalency. The available qualifications will be documented in the ruling and the significant differences to the comparable profession in Germany will be explained. This will help the applicant and the prospective employer. On this basis, applicants can take further training courses to improve their chances in the labour market and, if necessary, to allow them to achieve full equivalency in their professional qualifications. Under certain conditions, further training can be funded by the Employment Agencies or providers of basic social security as part of their support of professional training.

What is recognised by law?

Professional qualifications which have been acquired outside Germany can be compared with a German profession in the recognition process.

This recognition is important, particularly for qualifications in regulated professions, to which access is regulated by the state. These professions include doctors, caring for the sick and elderly, pharmacists, lawyers and master craftsmen. For these professions, checks will be made to see if the foreign professional qualification is equivalent to the German professional qualification. If this is not the case, there are adaptation measures, i.e. examinations or courses available to achieve the required standard. Without these the applicant cannot practise the profession in question in Germany.

There are however regulated professions the regulation of which falls within the jurisdiction of the individual Federal Länder. These professions include educators, teachers and architectural and engineering professions. Legal regulations are prepared in the Länder so that these professions can be recognised.

Qualifications in non-regulated professions, i.e. particularly in the professions requiring apprenticeships in the "dual system", can also be recognised. For these professions, checks will also be made to see if the foreign professional qualification is equivalent to the German professional qualification. If there is no equivalency, a certificate will be issued which will document the qualifications as they stand and the deficiencies compared with the German qualification as a reference. This will allow potential employers to assess applicants with foreign qualifications. In addition, those affected also have the option of attending relevant qualification measures and then, if necessary, making a new application for recognition.

Where can I find out more information?

You can find out if your profession is regulated in Germany, which laws apply to the regulation and which office you must contact to have your qualifications checked by visiting Here you will find advisory offices in your region.

You can also obtain initial information from the hotline for recognising foreign professional qualifications at the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees on telephone number: +49 30-1815-1111.

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