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FAQ

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.

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

Recognition Finder

The recognition procedure checks whether your qualification can be recognised. For this, the competent authority compares your professional qualification against the German reference occupation.

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

How do I get recognition?

That depends on whether your profession is regulated. And it depends on your country of origin.

Regulated professions

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.

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

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. Do you want to immigrate to Germany from a third country? In this case recognition is generally required for a residence permit.

What is vocational recognition?

Immigration and residence

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: Counselling search

Do you come from the EU/EEA/Switzerland? If so, you need recognition for a regulated profession. 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.

Do you want to immigrate to Germany from a third country? If so, you need recognition for a regulated profession. For a higher education qualification in a non-regulated profession you need a statement of comparability from the Central Office for Foreign Education (ZAB). The recognition or the statement of comparability is a requirement for your entry into Germany. The recognition or the statement of comparability is also a requirement for a work permit.

Please note: Subject to specific conditions, IT workers may immigrate to Germany for work without recognition and without a formal qualification. 

What is vocational recognition?

Immigration

University/university of applied sciences

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

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. In this case you receive recognition: Your professional qualification is equivalent to the relevant German reference occupation and you meet the further criteria. Further criteria include, for example, your personal aptitude or knowledge of German. In this case you do not receive recognition. Your professional qualification is not equivalent or you do not meet the further criteria.

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?

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

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.

Options for immigrants from third countries:

Do you want to immigrate to Germany from a third country? If so, in most cases you need recognition of your professional qualification. Without recognition you have the following options:

Please note: Subject to specific conditions, IT workers may immigrate to Germany for work without recognition and without a formal qualification.  

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.

Advice

Recognition Finder

University/university of applied sciences

Start a business in Germany

Study in Germany

Hotline

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 need recognition for a visa. Have you received a notice showing partial recognition? And are you able to compensate for the substantial differences in Germany? If so, then you require a visa for entry into Germany. When you apply for a visa you must submit the notice.

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.

Immigration

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 third country? If so, then you usually need recognition in advance.

Please note: Subject to specific conditions, IT specialists may immigrate to Germany for work without recognition and without a formal qualification.

What is vocational recognition?

Immigration

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 up to three months. By then, at the latest, you receive recognition notice containing the result. In certain cases the competent authority is able to extend the recognition procedure by one month. 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!

What is vocational recognition?

Substantial differences are differences between your professional qualification and the German professional qualification, for example in terms of duration and content. In most cases you are able to compensate for substantial differences.

For this you have these options: 

In a regulated profession you can compensate for substantial differences in most cases with a compensation measure. You must successfully complete the compensation measure and then you will receive recognition. You are only permitted to work in Germany in a regulated profession with recognition.

In most cases you do not need to compensate for substantial differences in a non-regulated profession. You are permitted to work in the profession without recognition. However you can compensate for substantial differences with refresher training. You then submit a follow-up application.

Do you come from a third country? If so, you almost always require recognition of your professional qualification. This applies to regulated professions and to non-regulated professions. With the recognition you are able to obtain a visa for employment in Germany. You are also able to enter Germany for a compensation measure or for refresher training. For questions relating to entry and residence, please make use of the advice from the hotline “Working and Living in Germany”.

Please note: Subject to specific conditions, IT workers may immigrate to Germany for work without recognition and without a formal qualification.

How do I get recognition?

Hotline

Immigration

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

Counselling

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?

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

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

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.

Up until 31 December 2020, the United Kingdom will be treated as a member state of the European Union (EU). Up until then, EU regulations will continue to apply to recognition.

The recognition of professional qualifications from the United Kingdom will also be possible after 31 December 2020. However, at this point, EU regulations relating to recognition will no longer apply to British citizens. The United Kingdom is then a third country.

Federal Government information page on Brexit

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