An offer from the Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training


Frequently asked questions

FAQs - frequently asked questions

Here you can find the answers to frequently asked questions about the recognition of foreign professional qualifications in Germany and on other subjects.

Initial orientation

You ask yourself: Where do I have the best job opportunities?

You don't yet know where you would like to work in Germany? You can seek advice on the locations where you are needed in Germany. The Service Center for Professional Recognition (ZSBA) carries out the Location Counselling. It provides support in identifying an appropriate work location and therefore the competent authority for the recognition procedure. 

Service Center for Professional Recognition

Are you still looking for employment in Germany? You may be able to find your future job on the “Make it in Germany” job exchange.

Make it in Germany: Job exchange

Recognition may be helpful if you wish to enter Germany for the purpose of looking for a job. Full recognition means that you will receive the so-called opportunity card and will be able to enter Germany immediately. The opportunity card also brings advantages to those with partial recognition.

Make it in Germany: Self-check opportunity card

You ask yourself: Can I work without recognition in Germany?
What is the difference between working with and without recognition? 

In order to be allowed to work in Germany, recognition is essential for regulated professions. Regulated professions are legally protected occupations, for example in the security and healthcare sectors. Sometimes it is possible to work in a specific field without official recognition. For example, as a pedagogical specialist in a nursery.

Exception: You come from the EU/EEA/Switzerland and you only occasionally practice your occupation in Germany. In this case you must register with the competent authority. Recognition however is not necessary.

Non-regulated professions are not legally protected. Do you want to work in a non-regulated profession? In this case you do not require recognition. However, a recognition procedure or an assessment of your higher education qualification may bring advantages for your future in Germany.

Whether regulated or non-regulated: In our “Recognition Finder” we have listed the options for working in your profession without official recognition. Enter your profession  and the tool will guide you with questions. Under “My other options” on the last page, there is another paragraph: “Working without recognition”. 

Recognition Finder

Are you from a non-EU country? Recognition of your foreign professional or vocational qualification may help with entry and residence. If you wish to work in a regulated profession, then you will need to obtain recognition of your foreign professional qualification. In the case of non-regulated professions, recognition may be necessary in some circumstances for entry to Germany from a third country.

The recognition procedure and the visa procedure are separate processes. You must apply for both procedures.

All information relating to visas and residence is available on “Make it in Germany”. The site also includes a quick-check function, which enables you to quickly find information about your own visa requirements.

Make it in Germany: Visas and residence

You can find out how recognition and entry are linked on the Immigration page.


No. The recognition procedure and the granting of a visa are two separate procedures.

Are you from a third country and want to work in Germany? If so, in most cases you need to apply for a visa. 

You can apply for a visa to a German mission abroad in your country of origin.

Following entry into Germany, you must have the visa re-registered into a residence permit at the relevant immigration office. You are then permitted to live and work in Germany for an extended period.

Further information about the granting of visas is available from our online portal on the “Immigration” page.



If you have questions about the recognition procedure that cannot be answered via the “Recognition in Germany” portal, you can choose to seek advice. This is provided in Germany and abroad. The specialist advisers support you throughout the entire recognition procedure.

Information about counselling
Counselling search

In Germany and in some other countries, counselling on the recognition of professional qualifications is available free of charge. You can find the right counselling offer for you on our online portal via the Recognition Finder.

An overview of all provision is available on the counselling page on this portal.

In most cases you are able to work in a non-regulated profession without recognition.

There are also the following alternatives to recognition:

Without recognition you are not permitted to work in Germany in a regulated profession. However, you are able to work in non-regulated professions. You do not need recognition for non-regulated professions. This might be, for example, working in research for companies or in other occupational fields.

Do you have a qualification in an academic regulated profession? If so, you are also able to apply for positions in non-regulated professions

Recognition of your foreign professional or vocational qualification may help with entry and residence. Here are a few examples.

The counselling centres, your competent authority and the hotline “Working and Living in Germany” are able to provide you with individual advice on the various options.

Higher education qualifications






The recognition procedure checks individually whether your qualification can be recognised. For this, the competent authority compares your professional qualification against the German reference occupation. Your professional experience will also be taken into account. It is therefore sometimes difficult to make general statements about the chances of success of a recognition procedure.

The requirements for a recognition procedure are:

You receive a recognition notice following the check. The notice informs you of the result of the recognition procedure. There are various results: The professional qualification is recognised, there are substantial differences compared to the reference occupation or the professional qualification is not recognised. In most cases substantial differences can be compensated for by participating in training.

Are you not able to provide a final certificate? If so, for non-regulated professions you may be able to complete a skills analysis. This also applies to a master craftsperson qualification in the trades or crafts that require a licence. There are also options for regulated professions. For example you can complete an adaptation period or take a test.

You will find your reference occupation in the Recognition Finder. There you will also find information about counselling offers and about the competent authority for your application for recognition.

Recognition Finder

Counselling search

How do I get recognition?

You ask yourself: For which corresponding (German) occupation should I submit an application for recognition? 

You must submit an application for recognition of your “reference occupation”. This is the German occupation that most resembles the profession you trained in.

You can find your reference occupation when you search for the profession you trained in using the Recognition Finder. Sometimes it is difficult to identify the reference occupation yourself. Sometimes there is not even a corresponding occupation in Germany. Advisory centres for recognition help you narrow down the search.

Recognition Finder
Counselling search

You must submit your application for recognition to the competent authority in Germany. You can find the competent authority and the application procedure in the Recognition Finder.

Documents for the application
Recognition Finder

The competent authority checks whether: Your professional qualification is equivalent to the German professional qualification. This check is referred to as an equivalence assessment. The check is made on the basis of your certificates and documents. The competent authority compares, for example, the duration of your foreign training with the duration of training in the German reference occupation. When checking, your professional experience is taken into account. The competent authority informs you of the result in a notice.

How do I get recognition?

Yes. You can also apply for recognition from abroad. Do you want to immigrate to and work in Germany from a Non-EU country? The recognition of your professional qualification may play a role here. You can find out more about this on the Immigration page.

What is vocational recognition?

You ask yourself: In which profession can I work with a recognised professional qualification or a recognised higher education qualification? 

With a recognised higher education qualification, you are generally not limited to certain jobs when searching for a job as a skilled worker. This means You may work in Germany in all non-regulated professions, including professions not related to your vocational qualification. 

This does not apply if you would like to work in a regulated profession in Germany. In this case you need formal recognition of your professional qualification.

If you live in a country outside the EU, the recognition partnership could be interesting for you. The recognition partnership is a residence permit for people from third countries. A recognition partnership allows you to enter Germany without prior recognition of your professional or vocational qualification. One of the things you will need for this is an employer.

As part of a recognition partnership the skilled worker and employer are obligated to submit an application for recognition following entry to Germany and to carry out the procedure. The entire recognition procedure takes place in Germany. Employment is possible in many areas of work from day one.

The aim is to conduct the recognition procedure in Germany and to conclude the process with full recognition after a maximum period of three years.

Recognition partnership

If you have a foreign higher education qualification for a regulated profession you are required in each case to apply for recognition. This applies for example to medical practitioners and pharmacists. A higher education qualification enables you to apply directly to the job market for non-regulated professions. This applies, for example, to mathematicians and sociologists.

However, a recognition procedure or an assessment of your higher education qualification may bring advantages for your future in Germany.

Advantages of recognition
University / university of applied sciences
What is vocational recognition?

Have you applied for recognition? If so, you will receive notification from your competent authority after one month at the latest. This notification states that the competent authority has received your documents. You may then be required to submit further documents The competent authority will inform you if any documents are missing.

Have you submitted all the necessary documents to the competent authority? If so, the processing will then take 3 - 4 months. By then you receive the recognition notice containing the result. In certain cases the competent authority is able to extend the recognition procedure once. It may last longer, for example if a skills analysis takes place.

Under certain circumstances, employers are able to apply for the so-called accelerated process for skilled workers from third countries. The recognition procedure may then take only 2 months. Approach your future employer about this!

How do I get recognition?

There are various results. There are two possible results for regulated professions and three possible results for non-regulated professions.

Regulated professions

There are two possible results for regulated professions: Recognition or no recognition.

Non-regulated professions

There are three possible results for non-regulated professions: Recognition or partial recognition or no recognition.

  • In this case you receive recognition: Your professional qualification is equivalent to the relevant German professional qualification.
  • In this case you receive partial recognition: Your professional qualification is only partially equivalent to the German professional qualification. With partial recognition you are permitted to work in a non-regulated profession in Germany.
  • In this case you do not receive recognition: The difference between your professional qualification and the German professional qualification is too large.

You are able to compensate for substantial differences in regulated and non-regulated professions with training measures. For example, with a compensation measure or with refresher training.

You receive the result of the recognition procedure in a notice.

How do I get recognition?

What happens after the notice

In the anabin database you can search for your higher education qualification online and save or print an extract. You cannot find your university or higher education qualification? The qualification should be at least bachelor’s level. Or does the university not have the appropriate status (H+ or H+/-)? You can then apply to ZAB for an individual Statement of Comparability. The anabin extract is free of charge; the Statement of Comparability costs a fee.

The anabin extract is formally sufficient for the visa. The Statement of Comparability is an official document which records the quality of your higher education qualification. However, this may be helpful, for example, when applying for a job.

Important: The entries in the anabin database and the Statement of Comparability do not replace the recognition procedure for regulated professions.

Higher education qualifications

There is also a graphic explanatory video on the page!

You’re asking yourself:

Is my profession that is recognised in EU/EEA/Switzerland also automatically recognised in Germany?

Unfortunately not. Because: In this case recognition means that a foreign professional qualification is legally equivalent to a German professional qualification. This means that the foreign professional qualification is recognised in Germany. The equivalence is valid for a specific German reference occupation.

Non-regulated occupations

You can work without recognition in a non-regulated profession. Non-regulated professions are not legally protected.

Regulated occupations

Recognition is essential for regulated professions.

Exception: If you are legally settled in another EU country, you can also work in Germany without recognition for a limited period of time. This is called “freedom to provide services” (Dienstleistungsfreiheit). However, you must report this in advance to the competent authority.

Automatic recognition

Some regulated professions are automatically recognised within the European Union (EU). These professions are always equivalent. This is because, in the EU, uniform standards exist in the vocational qualification in these professions. Individuals in these professions are therefore permitted to work in all countries of the EU. They must, however, have completed the training in a country which is part of the EU.

An application for recognition must also be made to the competent authority for automatic recognition. However, in the recognition procedure there is no assessment of equivalence.

You’re asking yourself:

Is recognition of my profession in Germany valid across the whole EU/EEA/Switzerland?

The recognition of your profession is only valid for Germany.

Do you need information on the regulation of professions or recognition procedures in another EU, EEA or Swiss country?

Please contact the national advice centre in your destination country. A list of all the Assistance Centres is available on the EU Commission’s English language page: Free movement of professionals.

EU Assistance Centre

You’re asking yourself: Is my recognition valid across Germany?

This depends on the profession.

For certain professions, federal laws and regulations apply to recognition. Such as for doctors, dentists and nurses. For some professions, recognition is valid nationwide and you may work all over Germany. You can work in another federal state anyway if your profession is not regulated, as in this case recognition is only optional.

For the recognition of other professions, the laws and regulations of the federal states apply.
All federal states have their own professional qualifications assessment laws and sectoral laws. 
Recognition is only valid in the federal state in which you applied for recognition and received the notice.
The following occupations are governed by legislation in the respective federal states: teacher and engineer.

You’re asking yourself: Can I apply for recognition of my professional qualifications in multiple federal states at the same time?

No, you only submit the application in one federal state.

You’re asking yourself: Can a federal state take over the processing of my application from another federal state?

No, the federal states cannot take over any applications from other federal states. But the competent authority will help you with the next steps.

Please seek free advice on recognition from a counselling centre in Germany or abroad!

Counselling search
Legal basis
What is recognition

You ask yourself: What does the notice mean for me?

You have received your recognition notice. Find out here what happens next.

What happens after the notice?


The recognition procedure can cost up to €600. Sometimes it may even cost more. The competent authority will inform you of the exact costs of your recognition procedure. You can find the competent authority in the Recognition Finder. In addition, there are often costs for translations, certifications, compensation measures and refresher training. You may also need to obtain necessary documents in person from your country of origin In this case there are also travel costs. Under certain conditions you may also receive financial support with the costs.

Recognition Finder

Financial support

Yes. Various institutions are able to provide financial support for your recognition procedure. Funding is available, for example, for recognition procedure fees, for certification of documents or for travel costs. Some providers also cover the cost of training after the recognition procedure.

Get advice on the options available to you! The recognition counselling centres and your competent authority will be happy to provide you with information.

Financial support



You’re asking yourself:

  • What do I do when I do not receive recognition due to substantial differences?
  • How can I get full recognition?

Substantial differences between your professional qualification and the German reference occupation can usually be compensated for with a training measure. How the identified differences can be best compensated for varies from case to case. Possibilities include attending a teaching course, completing an examination, or taking part in company-based refresher training

Important: The training must be the right training for your profession and your qualification. Only then can you use it to achieve full recognition. Please seek advice regarding this.
You can find counselling centres in our counselling search.

What happens after the notice?

I have partial recognition: where can I find a course to acquire the missing knowledge?

Get advice on the training!

Important: The training must be the right training for your profession and your qualification. Only then can you use it to achieve full recognition. Please seek advice regarding this. You may be able to get professional support with your training.

Training: advice and support

Are you still abroad? If so, under certain conditions, you are able to come to Germany for training to support recognition and also work here at the same time. Further information is available on the immigration page.


You’re asking yourself:

Can I participate in training measures in another federal state if there are no suitable offers in the responsible federal state?

Yes, you can participate in training measures in another federal state. However, it is very important to discuss this with the competent authority in advance so that the completed measure is accepted later.


You do not need knowledge of German to apply for recognition. In the recognition procedure the competent authority compares your professional qualification against the German reference occupation. However, in some professions you need knowledge of German for authorisation to practice. Medical practitioners are required, for example, to pass a specialist language examination for approbation (licence to practise medicine in Germany). For many other professions language skills are not tested. Information about the language skills required in your profession are available in the Recognition Finder Information about the different German courses is available on our Learning German webpage.

Recognition Finder

Learning German

Good knowledge of German helps you in your profession and everyday life. It is essential for certain professions. Knowledge of German is frequently a prerequisite for a visa.

You ask yourself: How can I learn German in my own country?

You can learn German while still in your country of origin. This can often be done online. Courses provided, for example, by the Goethe Institute and Telc are ideal for this. These institutions offer German courses at all language levels in many countries around the world. The language certificates from the Goethe Institute and from Telc are also accepted when applying for a visa.

Learning German


You must always submit the following documents to apply for recognition:

  • Application
  • Proof of identity
  • Evidence of the content and duration of your vocational qualification

You will frequently be required to submit further documents. The competent authority will inform you about the necessary documents, about the form of the documents and about any required translations into German. You can find the competent authority in the Recognition Finder.

Application documents

Recognition Finder

Finding translators

Are you unable to submit all of the documents relating to your professional qualification? If so, you may be able to provide evidence of your professional skills in a practical way. You can do this for all dual training occupations, master craftsman occupations and advanced training occupations by means of a skills analysis. There are also options for regulated professions: You can complete an adaptation period or take a test— for example, for occupations in the healthcare and nursing sector.

How do I get recognition?

Frequently asked questions about skills analysis

When do I have to have documents translated?
Frequently you are required to submit a German translation of your documents. Publicly appointed and authorized translators must prepare these translations. The responsible authority determines whether a translation is necessary for your specific application. If this information is available, you can find it in the Recognition Finder under “Documents for my application – Translations and certifications”.

Can I have the translation done in my home country?
Sometimes competent authorities do not allow translations from a translator who has been publicly appointed abroad. It is therefore important to ask the competent authority about this before a translation: Can I have my documents translated in my country of origin? The German embassies in other countries provide information about the contact details of publicly appointed or authorized translators abroad.

I should submit my documents in the original
If the competent authority requires “original” documents, then you should submit officially certified copies. Do not send originals. In the case of officially certified copies, the documents remain in the original language. 
Can you submit your application digitally? It is often sufficient to scan or photograph your documents.

Documents for the application

Any questions?

Some of the words and terms on the website are not easy to understand. We have explained these words and terms in the glossary.


Make use of the information provided on the portal “Anerkennung in Deutschland”! This takes you to the homepage for skilled workers.

Did you not find the information you were looking for on our portal? If so, you can contact us directly using the following contact form: contact form

Special questions

Yes. If you are a refugee in Germany you can apply for recognition of your vocational qualification. This is because professional recognition has nothing to do with residence status or nationality. The recognition of your vocational qualification can be helpful or even necessary for your professional future.

Professional recognition for refugees

What is professional recognition?

The recognition of professional qualifications from the United Kingdom is still possible. Since 1 January 2021, the regulations for professional qualifications from third countries have applied for new applications.

Regardless of this, EU citizens who obtained their qualification on or before 31 December 2020 in the United Kingdom can continue to apply for and receive recognition in accordance with the regulations of the EU Directive on the Recognition of Professional Qualifications.

In the case of professional qualifications that have already been recognised, the recognition will remain valid after Brexit.

Federal Government information page on Brexit

Ethnic German resettlers were already entitled to a recognition procedure before 2012. These persons therefore have a choice of two processes for the recognition procedure:

These are the key differences between the two procedures: For the recognition procedure under the BQFG, your professional qualification is always compared with a current German reference occupation. The recognition procedure under the BQFG also takes into account your professional experience. This may enable you to compensate for substantial differences identified in the recognition procedure. The Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) has a flyer providing information about the differences between the procedures.

Further information and advice can also be obtained from your competent authority. You can find the competent authority in the Recognition Finder.

Recognition Finder

BAMF flyer: “Professional recognition for ethnic German settlers”

Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) information page for ethnic German resettlers

If there is a similar professional qualification in the Federal Republic of Germany, you can have your professional qualification from the GDR checked for equivalence. Who carries out the procedure? The competent authority in the federal state in which your training organisation has its headquarters. You can find the competent authority using the Recognition Finder. To do this, simply enter your profession and the location in which you completed your final examination. In most cases you are able to apply for the equivalence check to your competent authority under Article 37 of the Reunification Treaty. You may be required to pay a fee for the procedure.

Did you obtain the professional qualification of "Facharbeiter" [skilled worker] in the GDR? Or the title of "Meister/Meisterin" [master craftsperson]? If so, then please contact the regional Chamber of Crafts and Trades (HWK) or the Chamber of Industry and Commerce (IHK). The Competence Centre of the Chambers of Commerce (IHK FOSA) is not responsible for this.

Recognition Finder

Legal text relating to recognition of qualifications from the former GDR.