An offer from the Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training


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.

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?

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

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.

Yes. You can also apply for recognition from abroad. Do you want to immigrate to and work in Germany from a Non-EU country

What is vocational recognition?

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

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.


Recognition Finder

University/university of applied sciences

Start a business in Germany

Study in Germany


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


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?


University/university of applied sciences

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

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.


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.