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Labour market access

The legal or professional requirements for being able to work in Germany as a foreigner.

The Residence Act (Aufenthaltsgesetz—AufenthG) regulates access to the labour market. Different regulations exist for citizens of different countries. What’s important here is the reason for the residence (see residence permit). Freedom of movement applies to residents from EU/EEA/Switzerland.

Language certificate

German: Sprachzertifikat
Also: Sprachdiplom, Sprachtest, Sprachnachweis, Deutschzertifikat

Evidence of German language skills is required for many regulated professions. This evidence is provided by a so-called language certificate or language diploma. The person must pass a language test successfully and will then receive a language certificate or a language diploma. A language certificate certifies the level of German language skills. The level is determined by the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (GER) There are different language levels. Each profession requires a specific level of language. The competent authority provides information about the level of language required for the specific profession and about the language certificate.

Language certificates for German include:

Liberal professions

German: Freie Berufe

Many professions are so-called liberal professions. These are professions which, by law, require a specific qualification or in which an individual works scientifically or artistically. The liberal professions include for example:

  • Medical practitioner
  • Lawyer
  • Tax accountant
  • Architect
  • Journalist
  • Physiotherapist

Individuals working in the liberal professions (freelancers) offer their services or work to other people for money. They are normally self-employed and work independently. This means that they have no employer.

Liberal professions are not trades or businesses (German: Gewerbe) For many liberal occupations, recognition of a foreign professional qualification is required.

Location Counselling, Location Note

German: Standortberatung, Standortvermerk
Also: Advisor Note on Location Counselling [Standortberatungsvermerk], 
Counselling note [Beratungsvermerk], 
Proof of location [Standortnachweis], 
Proof of counselling [Beratungsnachweis]

Skilled workers abroad are able to seek advice on the locations where they are needed in Germany. The Service Center for Professional Recognition (ZSBA) carries out the Location Counselling. It provides support in identifying an appropriate work location (a city or federal state) and therefore the competent authority for the recognition procedure. The content and outcome of the counselling is documented in the Advisor Note on Location Counselling. The Advisor Note on Location Counselling confirms to the competent authority that the person wants to work in the named federal state. 

The Advisor Note on Location Counselling is not essential when applying for a recognition, but it is very helpful: 

  • If the person comes from a third country.
  • If the person has still not found an employer in Germany.

Please note: Persons from third countries can also provide proof in other ways that they want to work in Germany. For this, see page “Documents needed for the application”.

Documents for the application
Service Center for Professional Recognition