Federal Recognition Act

Federal Recognition Act

Paragraph in the recognition act
© H-J Paulsen / Fotolia

The Federal Recognition Act simplifies and standardises procedures for the evaluation of foreign professional or vocational qualifications governed by Federal Law and opens up such procedures to target groups not previously entitled to pursue such a route.


Aims of the Recognition Act

Securing of skilled workers: The Recognition Act is an important building block for securing the requirement for skilled workers in Germany. It makes it easier for skilled workers from abroad to use their professional or vocational qualifications on the German labour market and thus provides a greater incentive to come to Germany.

Integration: The recognition of professional or vocational qualifications fosters the integration of migrants into the world of work and enables the areas of skills potential they display to be more effectively exploited for the German labour market. The Recognition Act also enables migrants to be accorded greater esteem for their achievements in life.

What is regulated by the Recognition Act?

The “ Recognition Act” is the abbreviated title of the “Law to improve the assessment and recognition of professional and vocational education and training qualifications acquired abroad”, which entered into force on 1 April 2012.

The Recognition Act is an omnibus act (download PDF, 209 KB). It comprises several laws or amendments to existing laws and relates to over 600 occupations governed by Federal Law. 

  • Article 1: Vocational Qualifications Assessment Law (BQFG)
  • Articles 2-61: adaptations and amendments to professional and vocational laws (such as the Crafts and Trades Regulation Code, the Federal Medical Code and the Nursing Act). Prior to the enactment of the Recognition Act, these existing professional and vocational laws contained provisions for the recognition of European professional and vocational qualifications in some areas as a result of stipulations promulgated in European Law (in particular EU Directive 2005/36/EC on the recognition of professional qualifications). Where necessary and possible, the Recognition Act opens up these procedures for qualifications and nationals from outside the European Union, so-called third countries.

What is not regulated by the Recognition Act?

The Recognition Act does not apply in the following areas.

  • Recognition of occupations which are regulated at federal state level 
  • The recognition of higher education qualifications which do not lead to a regulated occupation (e.g. mathematician, chemist, economist) 
  • The academic recognition of studies and examinations completed abroad within the context of admission to higher education 
  • The recognition of school leaving certificates

Special provisions apply to these areas. 


Vocational Qualifications Assessment Law (BQFG)

The BQFG is a Federal Law. It regulates the procedures and criteria for the assessment of the equivalence of foreign professional or vocational qualifications vis-à-vis the respective German reference occupation.

When is the BQFG applied?

The BQFG particularly applies in respect of all training occupations in the dual system, some 330 in number. It otherwise only applies in circumstances where occupational laws do not contain any regulations regarding recognition. The special provisions included in professional laws (relating to professions such as doctor or nurse) take precedence over the BQFG at all times and are to be applied in equivalence procedures for these professions (principle of subsidiarity).

Benefits for skilled workers and employers

The BQFG is the first law to give all persons in training occupations in the dual system a legal entitlement to individual assessment of the equivalence of their vocational qualifications, regardless of nationality. For these training occupations, the question of the equivalence of a qualification brought to Germany will in future be determined on the basis of standardised criteria and a uniform procedure.

The absence of full equivalence does not constitute failure. In such cases, the assessment notice documents existing skills and describes the significant differences in the foreign training compared to the German reference qualification. This assists with applications on the labour market and makes it possible to pursue further training in a targeted manner.

More details on the procedure.

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