The 6 stages of the recognition procedure

Recognition procedure

You have acquired your professional or vocational qualification abroad and wish to work in Germany in your chosen profession or occupation? You have the option of having your foreign qualification recognised. In some cases, this will be mandatory. The way in which the procedure works is described below.

During the recognition procedure, the competent body in Germany investigates whether your foreign professional or vocational qualification corresponds to the German reference occupation. This means that it will check whether there are any substantial differences. This process is referred to as an equivalence assessment. For this purpose, the competent body requires certificates and documents which provide information on aspects such as the contents and duration of your qualification. Any relevant professional or occupational experience is also important.


  • You have completed a professional or vocational qualification abroad.
  • You wish to work in Germany.    

In order to obtain recognition of your professional or vocational qualification, you do not require German citizenship and will not need a so-called “residence permit” for Germany. There is no necessity for you to be resident in Germany. You may also submit your application from abroad.

If you are still living abroad, check the conditions under which you will be permitted to live and work in Germany. The Quick-Check provided on the “Make it in Germany” portal will help you to do this.

Use the Recognition Finder to discover whether you will have to seek recognition of your professional or vocational qualification or not. To do so, enter your German reference occupation into the search field.

The Recognition Finder will show you the competent body at the location searched for. The Recognition Finder also provides information on the profession or occupation and further specific details regarding the recognition procedure in this profession or occupation and the documentation which you will need to submit to the competent body.


The advisory centres of the “Integration through Training” (IQ) funding programme will offer you free guidance in Germany and will support you with any questions relating to the correct German reference occupation, or documents to be submitted together with the application. They will also assist you with any other important issues connected with recognition.

There are also advisory centres outside Germany.

Telephone guidance is available from the “Working and Living in Germany “ Hotline provided by the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF). This service operates from Monday to Friday between 8 am and 4 pm CET on +49 30 1815 1111.

Are you living abroad and planning to apply for recognition from there? If so, following counselling by the hotline, you can receive further in-depth counselling and personal support during the recognition procedure from the Central Service Agency for Professional Recognition (ZSBA).


You will need to provide documentary evidence of your professional or vocational qualification, for example by supplying certificates. These certificates must be submitted together with the recognition application and other documents. They should be sent to the competent body. You may also make a recognition application if you are not yet living in Germany.

Do you no longer have your certificates?

Are you in a position where you have acquired a state-recognised professional or vocational qualification in your country of origin but have been unable to bring all your documents with you to Germany? As part of the recognition procedure, you may be able to demonstrate your professional or occupational competences in a practical way by completing a skills analysis. Seek guidance from one of the advisory centres.

Please note – many employees at government authorities in Germany speak only German.

Please note – costs are normally incurred for a recognition procedure. More information on this can be found in the pages relating to your profession or occupation in the “Recognition Finder”. The competent body will be able to notify you of the precise costs involved.

The competent body will check your documentation within 3 months as soon as you have submitted all the evidence required. In the case of some professions and occupations, however, different regulations may apply in respect of this deadline. In difficult cases, the competent body may extend the deadline on one occasion if a reason is given. This deadline also does not apply if a skills analysis is conducted because documents are missing.

When the competent body has reached a decision regarding your recognition application, you will be notified of the outcome in the form of a so-called recognition notice, also referred to as a “notice of equivalence”.

The recognition notice may contain various results of the recognition process.

„Full recognition“

Your professional or vocational qualification is equivalent to the German reference occupation. Full recognition is statutorily mandatory in regulated professions (e.g. doctor, teacher).

„Partial recognition“

Part of the professional or vocational qualification is accorded full recognition, but substantial differences have been identified in another area. For this reason, you do not receive full recognition. If you wish to achieve full recognition, you may complete compensation measures or adaptation training in order to offset the substantial differences.

„No recognition“

You will receive a recognition notice attesting no recognition if the differences to the German reference occupation are too large.

Updated 02.09.2019

Coronavirus: Fewer recognition services

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, some services for the recognition of foreign professional qualifications in Germany are currently not available.

You can learn more about recognition from us whenever you like. Take some time to read our information, available in 11 languages! Then you will be well informed for the next steps.

Via the Recognition Finder you can find out everything about the recognition procedure for your occupation, which documents you need and where you should send your application: › To the Recognition Finder

Our FAQ provide answers to the most common questions about recognition:  › To the FAQs

You can find out which services are not available or only available to a limited extent by checking our information page on the current situation: › To the information page