An offer from the Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training

EU Recog­ni­tion Di­rec­tive

The EU Recog­ni­tion Di­rec­tive reg­u­lates the recog­ni­tion of pro­fes­sion­al qual­i­fi­ca­tions in the Eu­ro­pean Union (EU). In do­ing so it pro­vides free ac­cess to the labour mar­ket of mem­ber states.

Here you can find answers to the questions:

  • What is regulated by the EU Recognition Directive?
  • What does Freedom of establishment mean?
  • What does Freedom to provide services mean?


What is regulated by the EU Recognition Directive?

The EU Directive on the Recognition of Professional qualifications (Directive 2005/36/EC) guarantees the freedom of movement of employees and freedom of establishment and freedom to provide services in the European Union (EU). Each state has the right to make entry into a profession and the practising of that profession dependent on specific qualifications. Citizens of a member state of the EU, the European Economic Area (EEA) and of Switzerland should also be able to practise the profession in which they trained in another member state. Regulation is therefore required relating to how the professional qualification acquired in one state can be used in another.

For this purpose, the EU Recognition Directive defines regulations for the mutual recognition of professional qualifications for Regulated professions. Key elements in this are Automatic recognition and the European Professional Card introduced in 2013.


What does freedom of establishment mean?

If citizens from the EU/EEA/Switzerland wish to settle permanently in another member state and practice a regulated profession, they are able to claim freedom of establishment. This requires recognition of the professional qualification. In order to make the Recognition procedure easier, simplified regulations apply to some professions—this is referred to as automatic recognition. This applies to the following professions: medical practitioner, medical specialist, dentist, veterinarian, pharmacist, nurse, midwife, architect. Uniform training standards apply to these professions in the European Union. The European Professional Card (EPC) also simplifies the recognition procedure for some professional qualifications within the EU and EEA.

European Professional Card (EPC)


What does freedom to provide services mean?

If citizens from the EU/EEA/Switzerland wish to work only occasionally on a temporary basis in a regulated profession in another member state, they are able to claim freedom to provide services. This does not usually require recognition of the professional qualification. For many occupations however, particularly in the health sector, the activity must be reported in advance to the Competent authority. You can find out which documents are required for this in each individual case from the competent authority. Further information is available from the Profi-Filter.


Information and guidance

All countries of the European Union (EU) the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland as well as member states of the Council of Europe and of UNESCO (European region) have an information office which provides information within the framework of the EU Recognition Directive regarding qualifications and professional entitlements in the individual state. This role is generally performed by NARIC (National Academic Recognition Information Centre) and the ENIC (European Network of Information Centres). In Germany, the Central Office for Foreign Education (ZAB) performs this role.

The Internal Market Information System (IMI) was also launched in connection with the EU Recognition Directive. The IMI supports the exchange of information by authorities in the European Economic Area and is also used for questions relating to vocational recognition. “Anerkennung in Deutschland” is an official EU assistance centre and cooperates with the national coordination centre of the IMI system (NIMIC) in Germany.