Acknowledgement and recognition of qualifications

Your company has to be able to know and judge what qualifications and skills foreign applicants have to offer. The chambers of trades and government agencies will help you in evaluating qualifications such as university or vocational diplomas and comparing them with those of German workers. You can learn more about the procedures and who to contact here.

Recognition of foreign qualifications

Recognition of foreign qualifications © istockphoto / andresr

Recognition of foreign qualifications

Under the Federal Recognition Act (Anerkennungsgesetz) every foreign skilled worker is legally entitled to have their Professional qualification checked for equivalence. This applies if the worker has a foreign qualification and intends to exercise gainful employment in Germany.

Which laws apply to which occupations?

If the German reference occupation (comparable occupation) is governed by federal law, the qualification is checked for equivalence under the federal Recognition Act. This applies both to non-regulated and regulated occupations. The majority of the regulated occupations, such as doctors and pharmacists, are governed by laws specific to them which include the special provisions concerning EU and EEA nationals. You will find further information about the special provisions concerning EU and EEA nationals on the information portal for foreign professional qualifications and on the Recognition in Germany portal.

For occupations subject to the jurisdiction of the Länder (e.g. architects, teachers and educators), corresponding Länder laws apply. You will find further information about federal or Land jurisdiction on the Recognition in Germany Portal.

For academic qualifications which are not a prerequisite for a regulated occupation, such as economists or IT specialists, various laws apply. The Central Office for Foreign Education (ZAB) is responsible for conducting “certificate assessment for foreign university qualifications”. You can find out more on the ZAB Website.

Advantages for businesses of recognition

Getting a foreign qualification recognised is not only a prerequisite for exercising regulated occupations – the medical professions, for example. On the European Commission website, you can consult a list of all the professions that are regulated in Germany.

For non-regulated occupations, which include most of the 330 or so professions in the dual education system, the recognition procedure is not compulsory, but it can aid transparency. Moreover, it can help provide a better assessment of a person’s professional capabilities, which can in turn help their needs for additional training or retraining to be accurately assessed.

Important note: For people from third states, establishing the full equivalence of their foreign qualification is one of the prerequisites for a visa, regardless of whether the foreign recruit is to work in a regulated or non-regulated profession.

Video: Recognition of professional qualifications - an opportunity for professionals and businesses

Source: www.unternehmen-berufsanerkennung.de

Recognition procedure

Recognition procedure © istockphoto / BernardaSv

Checking a foreign diploma for equivalence with the German reference occupation can result in one of several outcomes:

If the foreign qualification largely corresponds to that in Germany, a notice of equivalence is issued. If it corresponds partially, a notice of partial equivalence may be issued. This describes the main differences between it and the German reference occupation to allow targeted further training to be dispensed. This is known as the Defizitbescheid (literally “notice of deficit”). In the regulated professions, exact adaptation measures are laid down by the competent authorities.

The procedure can take up to three months from submission of a complete application. It is subject to fees according to a scale set by the competent authorities. You can find further information about the costs of the equivalence check on the information portal for foreign professional qualifications. People with few financial resources and in particular employees doing jobs beneath their qualification can apply for financial aid for the recognition procedure. You will find further information about financial aid for the recognition procedure on the Recognition in Germany portal.

You can see exactly how the recognition procedure works from the graphic on the information portal for foreign professional qualifications. This flow chart maps the individual steps in the recognition procedure and shows potential sources of support.

Tip: Help your future employees through the recognition procedure by putting them in contact with the competent authority, explaining which documents they need and perhaps paying the costs of the procedure. On the BQ Portal website for foreign professional qualifications, you will find a checklist explaining which documents have to be provided. Furthermore, here you can find the information about the content of foreign professional qualifications and make yourself the first picture of the qualification.

Competent authority

Competent authority © istockphoto / leonardo255

The Recognition Finder on the Recognition in Germany portal helps you find the competent authority (chamber of trade or federal state authority).

The competent authorities are responsible for determining the equivalence of diplomas and issuing certificates of equivalence.

Competent authorities for recognition of professional qualifications

  • For all manual occupations: the Chamber of Crafts (Handwerkskammer, HWK)
  • For all professional qualifications covered by the Chambers of Industry and Commerce (Industrie- und Handelskammer, IHK): IHK FOSA [Foreign Skills Approval] and the IHKs of Hanover, Braunschweig and Wuppertal-Solingen-Remscheid
  • For agricultural qualifications: the Chambers of Agriculture
  • For qualifications in the liberal professions: the chambers and associations of the liberal professions
  • For other regulated professions: the respective federal state authorities

PDF downloads

The information portal for foreign professional qualifications

Graphic showing the recognition procedure (German, English)

The information portal for foreign professional qualifications

Checklist of required documents

Information on this portal

Recognition of qualifications in Germany

Recognition of foreign qualifications

Information on the World Wide Web

Recognition of qualifications in Germany

Länder regulations (German, English)

Recognition of qualifications in Germany

The EU Recognition Directive (German, English)

Recognition of qualifications in Germany

Financial aid for the recognition procedure

The Central Office for Foreign Education (ZAB)

Recognition of foreign diplomas

European Commission

Database of regulated professions (German, English)

Recognition of qualifications in Germany

Recognition Finder (German, English and other languages)

“Unternehmen Berufsanerkennung” project team

Information about the recognition of professional qualifications

Welcome to Niedersachsen - Bildungswerk der Niedersächsischen Wirtschaft gemeinnützige GmbH

Five years of recognition Law (German, English)