Top-Questions

  • When is recognition of foreign professional qualifications necessary?
    Please note the difference between regulated professions (for example, doctor of medicine (m/f), registered general nurse (m/f), teacher (m/f)) and non-regulated professions (for example, training occupations in the dual system, such as mechatronics engineer (m/f), baker (m/f)).

    › More

  • Who is entitled to apply for recognition of qualifications?
    You can apply for assessment of the equivalence of your professional qualification under the Recognition Act (BQFG) if you have completed your vocational training abroad or if you hold a foreign professional qualification or if you have completed a university course abroad and you intend to work in Germany.

    › More

  • What are the requirements for submitting an application for the recognition of qualifications?

    The requirements for an application for recognition of qualifications are either a completed vocational education and training or a completed university course in another country. Recognition solely on the basis of professional experience is not possible.

    › More

  • Where can I submit my application for recognition?
    Germany does not have a centralised recognition authority. The chambers (e.g. chambers of industry and commerce, chambers of crafts) are the main competent authorities for assessing equivalence regarding occupations requiring formal vocational training. Competent authorities in the respective Federal States are responsible for many regulated professions.

    › Weiterlesen

› Open all



When is recognition of foreign professional qualifications necessary?

  1. For regulated occupations (independent of the country in which the qualification was obtained).
  2. In the case of academic degrees attained in a third country if you wish to enter into Germany with a visa and the aim of seeking employment.
  3. In the case of vocational qualifications attained in a third country if you wish to enter into Germany with a visa and the aim of seeking employment.

Please note the difference between regulated professions (for example, doctor of medicine (m/f), registered general nurse (m/f), teacher (m/f)) and non-regulated professions (for example, training occupations in the dual system, such as mechatronics engineer (m/f), baker (m/f)).

The assessment of equivalence serves a different purpose for the regulated and non-regulated professions, respectively, and therefore has different legal implications. In the case of the non-regulated professions it is possible to directly apply for jobs in the employment market and to enter into gainful employment without the need for a formal certificate of equivalence.

However, the certificate of equivalence renders the foreign qualification transparent; it helps employers to better assess the qualification.

Holders of a certificate of equivalence are treated as legally equal to persons holding a corresponding German vocational qualification. Recognition is also mandatory if you are located in a third country (outside the EU/EEA or Switzerland ) and wish to apply for a German work visa. For more information, please follow this link.

Who is entitled to apply for recognition of qualifications?

You can apply for assessment of the equivalence of your professional qualification under the Recognition Act (BQFG) if you have completed your vocational training abroad or if you hold a foreign professional qualification or if you have completed a university course abroad and you intend to work in Germany.

Access to the procedure may differ depending on the regulations governing the individual regulated professions. Applications are accepted independent of your citizenship or residence status. The procedure is not open to unskilled or semi-skilled individuals, who do not hold any vocational qualification issued by another country.

If you are an Ethnic German resettler, Article 10 of the Federal Expellees Act may establish a different procedure for you. Please contact the competent authority for more information.

Proof of the intention of gainful employment is not required from EU/EEA/Swiss nationals. For more information, please follow this link. (link to question 13)

What are the requirements for submitting an application for the recognition of qualifications?

The requirements for an application for recognition of qualifications are either a completed vocational education and training or a completed university course in another country. Recognition solely on the basis of professional experience is not possible.

The vocational education and training completed abroad must be comparable to the corresponding German vocational training (so-called reference profession) and must be proven by providing a corresponding vocational training certificate. Training courses, seminars and other certificates are usually not classified as a fully fledged vocational education and training.

Recognition is possible only for the chosen reference profession and not for another, potentially related profession.

Where can I submit my application for recognition?

Germany does not have a centralised recognition authority. The chambers (e.g. chambers of industry and commerce, chambers of crafts) are the main competent authorities for assessing equivalence regarding occupations requiring formal vocational training. Competent authorities in the respective Federal States are responsible for many regulated professions.

The competent authorities responsible for the individual professions are listed and regularly updated on the Federal Government's Recognition Portal. A questionnaire in the Recognition Finder helps users interested in obtaining recognition to directly navigate to the competent authority they need to contact.

Can I apply whilst still abroad?

Yes, it is possible to apply directly from abroad; it is not necessary to be resident in Germany or to provide official proof of residence. All you need for submitting an application is your intention of entering into gainful employment at a relevant location in Germany. The local competent authority results from the general administrative law (Article 3 Section 1 No. 2 VwVfG) and can be ascertained by using the Recognition Finder.

For which professions can I submit an application for recognition?

In principle, all professions are eligible for the recognition procedure. Please contact the hotline of the German Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) for more information. For the telephone hotline, please dial: +49 30 1815-1111.

Certain examination certificates from Austria or France associated with training occupations in the dual system are automatically considered as being equivalent to the German qualifications, in accordance with the scope of regulations that govern them.

Which rules govern the recognition procedure?

There are recognition procedures based on the Federal Government Recognition Act and recognition procedures based on the recognition laws of the Federal States.

Recognition procedure based on the Federal Government Recognition Act:

This applies if a foreign professional qualification is compared with a German reference qualification that is based on federal law. This means that procedures for assessing equivalence can be carried out for:

  • all vocational training and advanced training qualifications in the dual system (as per BQFG) and
  • all professions that are regulated under federal law (as per occupational sectoral laws).

The assessment of equivalence is carried out with reference to the currently applicable German qualification.

Recognition procedure based on the recognition laws of the Federal States:

Under this procedure, a foreign professional qualification is compared with a German reference qualification that is based on federal law. The Federal State recognition laws apply to different professions depending on the respective German Federal State. Please contact the hotline of the German Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) for more information. For the telephone hotline, please dial: +49 30 1815-1111.

Will a qualification be recognised in its own right or only for a matching German reference profession?

An assessment of equivalence is carried out during the recognition process, comparing the foreign qualification with the corresponding German qualification (reference profession). The German reference profession must be specified in the application for assessment of equivalence. This specification is subject to agreement between the applicant and the competent authority. The assessment of equivalence is carried out with reference to the currently applicable German qualification.

In the event of difficulties in identifying the appropriate German reference profession, please contact the initial contact points for consultation or your competent authorities. For more information, please follow this link.

How do I identify the German reference qualification (reference profession) that matches my foreign qualification?

The keyword search in the nationwide database for all professions and vocational qualifications "berufenet" allows you to search the database for comparable German professions that might match your qualification by entering individual German search words.

Examples: You hold the foreign professional qualification of "locksmith" (German translation = Schlosser)? Then enter the German word "Schlosser" on www.berufenet.arbeitsagentur.de and you will receive a list of comparable German professions, such as "Metallbauer" (metal worker) or "Industriemechaniker" (industrial mechanic), because the profession of "locksmith" no longer exists in Germany under this name. You hold the foreign professional qualification of "Techniker Hotellerie" (technician in the hotel industry)? Then enter the German word "Hotel" on www.berufenet.arbeitsagentur.de and you will receive a list of comparable German professions, such as "Hotelkaufmann" (management assistant in hotel and hospitality), because the profession of "Techniker Hotellerie" does not exist in Germany under this name.

As soon as you have identified the German reference profession that matches your foreign qualification, you can enter it in the Recognition Finder. The Recognition Finder then leads you in only a few more steps to the competent authority that is responsible for recognising your qualification.

Where can I get information or counselling?

The Recognition Act is supported by the following advisory and information services regarding the legal foundations, procedures and competent authorities:

The multilingual internet portal "Recognition in Germany" provides information on how to proceed in order to have foreign professional qualifications recognised in Germany. The websites special service is the so-called "Recognition Finder". In only a few steps, this online tool guides you to the competent authority for submitting your application. It moreover bundles important information regarding the legal framework, recognition procedures for individual professions and advisory services. Please follow this link for navigating to the Recognition Finder.

The German Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) maintains a telephone hotline to provide information in German and English about the Recognition Act and the procedures. The telephone hotline is open Monday to Friday between 9 am and 3 noon (GMT) under +49 30 1815-1111.

The "Integration through Qualification (IQ)" programme has set up a nationwide network of contact offices that provide information about the recognition procedure and the regulatory framework. They also refer applicants to the appropriate competent authority. If necessary, these advisory contact offices provide also support during the recognition procedure.

Please note: Please submit a request for counselling only to the relevant contact office in your Federal State, depending on your (intended) location of residence or work. For contact information regarding the IQ advisory offices, please follow this link.

How much will the recognition procedure cost?

The procedure is usually subject to a fee. The amount is based on the fee schedules established by the Federal States or chambers and will vary depending on the cost and effort involved in completing the respective recognition procedure. You can enquire regarding the costs for your recognition procedure directly with your competent authority.

Based on the experience the Federal States have gathered so far, the fee for the procedure usually ranges between EUR 100 and 600. However, this can vary for the same profession between different competent authorities. As a rule, the applicant seeking recognition has to bear the costs (for example, fees, translations and authentications). The cost of documentation that is required in submitting an application depends on its scope.

What funding is available for a recognition procedure?

The costs generated by the recognition procedure can be classified in three categories:

  • costs for obtaining the legally required papers (documents, copies, authentications, translations);
  • costs of the procedure itself (fee charged by the competent authority);
  • costs arising from preparation for examinations, adaptation courses and additional qualification measures in the event of partial recognition.

Applicants already living in Germany have available the following options for obtaining financial support:

Applicants who are unemployed and seeking employment should enquire with their respective Federal Employment Agency office or job centre whether the labour administration services will meet the costs and under which circumstances. Here it is particularly important whether recognition of the foreign qualification is required for inclusion into the labour market in each individual case. The same may apply subsequent to the recognition procedure regarding the funding of potentially necessary adaptation qualifications to compensate for qualification gaps or of continuing vocational training courses.

How does the Recognition Procedure work?

On the basis of the submitted certificates and evidence, the competent authority assesses whether there are any significant differences in terms of content or duration between the professional qualification obtained abroad and the German professional qualification (reference profession).

In the event of significant differences between the two professional qualifications, the competent authority determines whether these differences can be offset by other qualifications (for example, continuing education, additional training) or by proven relevant professional experience which may have been gained either in Germany or abroad.

Which documents are needed for applying for a recognition procedure?

  • Curriculum vitae in form of a table (link to sample CV)
  • Proof of identity (identity card or passport)
  • Proof of professional qualification obtained abroad (e.g. academic degree certificate, vocational training certificate) (link to sample)
  • Proof of relevant work experience (e.g. employment reference, letter of recommendation) (link to sample)
  • Other proof of skills (such as continuing vocational education and training courses)
  • Declaration that no previous application for equivalence assessment under BQFG has been made
  • Proof of applicant's intention to work in Germany (not applicable for EU/EEA/Swiss citizens or for individuals with residence in the EU/EEA/Switzerland);
    this proof may take the form of a declaration of intent, establishment of direct contact to a prospective employer or proof of family members resident in the intended region. It is not necessary to provide a binding job offer in the intended region, which often is not possible to obtain prior to successful recognition in the first place.

Other documentation than that listed above may be required under the specialist law governing the respective regulated professions. As a rule, documents must be submitted in German translation. Translations must be made by interpreters or translators who are publicly appointed and sworn in Germany or abroad (link) and must be submitted to the competent authority in original form or as an official copy (www.justiz-dolmetscher.de). An apostille (link) is usually not required. However, please enquire with your relevant competent authority or an advisory contact office about the precise form that is requested for acceptance of your documentation. This may be subject to variation.

How long does the recognition procedure take?

Once the competent authority has received all required documents in full (see also (link to question 14)), it will begin with the assessment of equivalence.

As a rule, the procedure should take no longer than three months. In the event of complicated cases, the competent authority may extend the time limit for reaching a conclusion; the procedure may be extended only once and the authority must provide a statement of grounds for the extension. The period for the procedure commences only once all necessary documentation has been received.

The time limit for the procedure is also suspended if a qualifications analysis must be conducted, for example, because the required documents cannot be produced.

What results are possible in pursuing a recognition procedure?

Should the procedure establish that there are no significant differences between the foreign and the corresponding German professional qualification, a certificate of full equivalence will be issued. The certificate of equivalence makes the foreign qualification equal to the German qualification.

In the event of the foreign qualification featuring significant differences as well as comparable content and competences, the competent authority will, for non-regulated professions (for example, vocational training occupations), describe the existing qualifications and the differences to the German reference qualification. This detailed description of the status of their qualifications will help skilled professionals on the labour market and enables them to pursue additional qualifications in a targeted manner.

If significant differences have been determined in the case of regulated professions, there are formalized compensation measures such as examinations or adaptation programmes that can be taken to gain authorization to pursue the profession. For more information, please follow this link.

If the differences between the foreign and the German professional qualification are too great or cannot be compensated, the application may be rejected. For the regulated professions this means that the applicant can neither work in this profession in Germany nor receive advanced training in this field. In the case of the non-regulated professions, it is possible to work also without a certificate of equivalence. However, this means that third country nationals (from outside the EU/EEA or Switzerland) cannot be issued a visa or residence permit that includes a work permit. For more information, please follow this link.

What can I do if only part of my qualification has been recognised?

Apart from a full recognition or rejection, the competent authority may issue a so-called "partial recognition". If the competent authority determines the existence of significant differences between the foreign and the corresponding German professional qualification, you can offset these differences by attending compensation measures.

In the case of the regulated professions, compensation measures (adaptation programmes or examinations) are mandatory, because equivalence is a prerequisite for being allowed to work in these professions in Germany. Training courses and examinations to this end are on offer; further information can be obtained from your competent authority. As a rule, the applicants have to bear the costs for any compensation measures.

Compensation measures are not compulsory for the non-regulated professions (in particular vocational education and training occupations), because it is possible to work in these professions also without the need for a certificate of equivalence. However, the attendance of compensation measures might be necessary for obtaining a residence permit.

The certificate of equivalence documents the existing qualifications and describes the significant differences between the foreign qualification and the relevant German reference profession. This helps both the skilled professionals, who have acquired their qualifications abroad, and the German businesses. It provides the basis on which the skilled professionals can plan relevant continuing vocational training courses to improve their prospects on the labour market and, as the case may be, achieve full equivalence of their professional qualification. The businesses benefit from a transparent illustration of the existing qualifications.

If an applicant has applied for a certificate of equivalence whilst still abroad, the partial recognition of his or her qualifications may pave the way for entering into Germany for the purpose of attending compensation measures. Follow this link.

What can I do if my professional qualification has not been recognised?

Should your professional qualification fail to gain recognition, you have the option of registering for an examination as an "external". You then are admitted to take the regular journeyman or final examination for a state-recognised vocational education and training occupation. This provides you with the opportunity of attaining a formal vocational qualification and thereby of improving your career prospects. As a rule, the relevant competent authority decides about admission to the examination. This can be the regional chamber of industry and commerce for occupations in the field of industry and commerce or the regional chamber of agriculture for occupations in the field of agriculture. The regional chamber of crafts is the competent authority for occupations in the crafts and trades. For more information about applying for the examination, advisory services and examination preparation, please follow this link. You also have the option of repeating your vocational education and training course or your study course in Germany.        

Is the recognition procedure also open to academic degrees?

The Recognition Act applies only to academic degrees that qualify for the practising of regulated professions. These include doctors of medicine (m/f) and chemists (m/f). There is no recognition procedure under the Recognition Act for foreign academic degrees that qualify graduates for practising a non-regulated profession (for example, mathematician (m/f), economist (m/f), journalist m/f).

Graduates of these degree courses can have their academic degree assessed by the Central Office for Foreign Education (ZAB) and otherwise are free to apply directly for jobs on the German employment market.

From a German point of view, an academic degree only qualifies as such, if the study course comprises a minimum of three years. Foreign academic degrees that are based on a total of only two years of study, such as "Önlisans" (Turkey) and "Technicien superieur" (France), do not qualify as an academic degree under German rules. However, they often are eligible for recognition as a professional qualification. Please seek advice on this topic! (Link to question 9)

Must applicants be able to speak German?

No German language skills are required for submitting an application.

Yet to ultimately obtain the certificate of equivalence, it may be necessary to provide proof of German language skills if these are required in practising the profession in question. This is of particular relevance for some of the regulated professions, for example, healthcare professions and teachers. Applicants will be issued with the licence to practice in these professions only if they have sufficient command of the German language. So far, no nationwide uniform regulation exists regarding specifically required German language skills and mandatory proof of these skills.

As a rule, no formal requirements govern the German language skills required to work in any of the vocational training occupations in the dual system (crafts and skilled trades, industry and commercial professions). An assessment of German language skills is not part of the assessment of equivalence.

In practical terms, your opportunities on the labour market will largely depend on whether or not you have a command of the German language – regardless of your professional or vocational qualification. For information on German language courses, please follow this link. You have the option of entering into Germany for the purpose of learning German, for example, with a visa for language training (Article 16 Section 5 AufenthG – German Residence Act).

Does recognition of professional qualifications entail a residence permit for Germany?

No. Recognition of any vocational qualification obtained abroad does not automatically lead to issuance of a residence permit. However, it is part of the prerequisites for obtaining such a permit.

If you wish to enter into Germany from a third country (outside the EU/EEA or Switzerland) for the purpose of working here, you will in most cases require the certificate of equivalence of your foreign professional qualification for the purpose of obtaining an entry visa or a residence permit in the first place. This applies in particular to all regulated professions.

Whether you are allowed to work in Germany, that is, whether you will be issued a "residence permit for the purpose of gainful employment", will depend on which qualifications you hold.

A visa or residence permit for professional qualifications in the non-regulated professions will be issued only if this qualification is listed on the German Federal Employment Agency's Positive List.

A visa or residence permit will be issued on the basis of a foreign academic degree only if it has been assessed as being equivalent to a German degree. The relevant German diplomatic mission abroad uses the anabin database to determine whether a degree is equivalent. For successful equivalence, the exact degree must be listed as either "gleichwertig" (equivalent) or "entsprechend" (corresponding). The assessment of "bedingt vergleichbar" (partly comparable) is not sufficient.

In addition, the university must have the ranking of H+. (cf. Hinweise des Bundesministeriums des Innern, Teil II – B. Antragsteller ). Even if only one of these prerequisites does not apply, an application for assessment of the academic degree must be submitted to the Central Office for Foreign Education (ZAB). For more information about the entry into and residence in Germany of third country nationals, please follow this link.

Which vocational qualification is required for entering into Germany from a third country?

Since 2013, skilled professionals who have attained their non-academic vocational qualification in a country outside the EU may migrate to Germany if they fulfil the following conditions (Employment Regulation – BeschV, revised version from 1 July 2013):

  • The vocational qualification must be listed on the German Federal Employment Agency's Positive List.
  • The applicant must provide proof of employment or a binding job offer in Germany.
  • The vocational education and training obtained abroad must be equal to a German qualification, that is, it must have been recognised. In other words, the applicant must provide a certificate of full equivalence.

May third country nationals enter into Germany with a partial recognition of their professional qualification?

Yes, however, they will not be issued a visa for the purpose of gainful employment (work permit).

The type of additional qualifications that need to be completed in Germany will determine what kind of visa can be issued. The system differentiates between

  1. training courses that convey only theory (as per Article 16 Section 5 AufenthG (Residence Act) in conjunction with Article 15 BeschV (Employment Regulation)): entry for the purpose of preparing for the knowledge test – only theory) and
  2. compensation measures including practice (Article 17 AufenthG (Residence Act) in conjunction with Article 8 BeschV (Employment Regulation)): entry for the purpose of attending compensation measures – theory and practice, with practical work constituting the major part).

Please contact your relevant German diplomatic mission abroad for more information.

May third country nationals enter into Germany for the purpose of seeking employment?

As a rule, entry into Germany for the purpose of seeking employment is granted for a period of a maximum of six months if the following conditions are met:

  1. You hold a recognised or comparable academic degree.
  2. You have sufficient funds to provide for your livelihood during the full period of your stay in Germany.

If during this period you are successful in finding a suitable job, you can apply for a residence permit for the purpose of gainful employment or for an EU Blue Card. This application may be submitted directly in Germany; it is not necessary to leave the country for this purpose.

Is citizenship relevant to initiation of the recognition procedure or access to a profession?

No. As a rule, citizenship is not relevant.

Individuals from countries that are not a Member State in the European Union are equally entitled to assessment of the equivalence of their professional qualifications.

Citizenship plays a role in the exercise of a profession only in very few professions, such as that of judge.

What options do I have if I am no longer in possession of my documents?

If you are no longer in possession of certificates, either wholly or partially due to the fault of a third party, and if you are no longer able to provide these, the competent authority lacks sufficient proof for your assessment of equivalence. In this event it is possible to carry out a qualifications analysis to compare your professional skills, knowledge and competences with those that are of relevance in the German vocational education and training system.

A qualifications analysis may involve various methods of assessment, for example, work samples and expert interviews.

Who do I need to contact if I intend to study in Germany?

The Recognition Act does not apply to the recognition of foreign university entrance qualifications or to the transfer of academic course and examination credits that have been attained abroad. As a rule, this falls under the responsibility of the universities.

For more information, please contact the international relations office of the university or university of applied sciences where you intend to study.

What evidence to I need to provide for obtaining a visa if I am a doctor of medicine (m/f) or dentist (m/f) from a third country?

If you wish to enter into Germany from a third country, you need to provide a licence to practise in your profession (amongst other documentation) at the German embassy in your country of origin when applying for a visa for the purpose of gainful employment.

You can apply for issuance of this licence to practise at the regionally competent authority in Germany, also whilst still abroad.

As proof of appropriate German language skills is a prerequisite for the necessary approbation (state licence for practising in a medical profession), you may previously enter into Germany for the purpose of learning the language. As a rule, the knowledge test for obtaining approbation can only be taken in Germany.

Please contact your relevant German diplomatic mission abroad for more information.

Can I submit a renewed application for recognition?

If a previous recognition procedure has already been successful in establishing equivalence of a foreign qualification, the renewed application will be rejected by the competent authority, even though it is theoretically possible to submit a renewed application. Such recognition procedures include those carried out as per the Professional Qualifications Assessment Act (BQFG) as well as those carried out as per the Federal Expellees Act (BVFG) or other legal provisions (e.g. regulations governing the equivalence of Austrian and French examination certificates).

If a previous recognition procedure has failed to establish equivalence, a renewed application for recognition is possible only if your circumstances have changed, for example, due to compensation of the established differences through additional qualifications or the gaining of professional experience through work.

Make your vote count!

Chance to win an iPad or great gift cards –
Take part in our survey and enter our lottery!

The Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training wants to know what YOU think. Please help us to improve the web portal “Recognition in Germany” by participating in our survey.

› Click here to enter our survey.