Recognition of vocational credentials in Germany
There are all kinds of different names all over the world for similar professional qualifications. For example, do you know what “Dipl-Ing.” is? It is the conventional university qualification for German engineers. It is unlikely that your professional qualification will be familiar to every German company. That means that the company will read the name of the qualification in your application and still not know what you can do and whether you are sufficiently qualified for the job. So here’s our tip: have your qualification recognised. You can find out how to do that here.
Must I have my qualification recognised?
Must I have my qualification recognised?
For many qualifications, it is helpful to have them recognised. For others, it is an actual requirement for being able to work in Germany. It really depends on your profession:
- Who needs recognition? In Germany, certain professions are "regulated”. Germans and foreign nationals may only work in these professions if they have a very precise qualification. This applies to professions such as doctors and lawyers. It also applies to different masters of manual trades if they work as independent contractors. If you want to work in one of these regulated professions, you need to have your professional qualification recognised in Germany.
- For whom is recognition helpful? Most professions are not regulated. If you are going to work as a business manager, IT specialist or baker, for example, you will not need to have your qualifications recognised. However, it may still make sense to have your qualifications recognised – even in cases of partial equivalence. Recognition will help companies understand your skills and qualifications, so that you can leave a good impression as you apply for a job.
Please note: If you would like to relocate to Germany from a non-EU country, and if your qualification is non-academic, you will have to have it recognised before taking up employment in Germany.
However, recognition of your vocational credentials alone is not sufficient if you would like to work in Germany. In order to obtain a residence permit with permission to work you will need to meet a number of additional criteria. Please refer to the Quick Check to assess your options of living and working in Germany.
Recognition of foreign certificates
For whom is the recognition of foreign certificates necessary? How does the recognition procedure work? This is shortly and clearly explained by the 2-½-minute video from the portal "Recognition in Germany".
How do I apply for recognition?
How do I apply for recognition of my vocational qualification?
Step 1: Find out who provides recognition. Start by finding out which authority or professional association you have to apply to. That depends first and foremost on the profession and where you work. For example, for certain professions, the chambers of trade and industry (Industrie- und Handelskammern, IHK) or trade corporations (Handwerkskammern, HWK) are responsible. The quickest way to find out who you should contact is to use the “Recognition Finder” at anerkennung-in-deutschland.de (in German and English)
Step 2: Advice. Talk with your local contact centre before applying. It will give you the necessary forms to fill in and help you to define which German reference profession applies to you. It will also tell you which documents you need for your application. Are you uncertain about which contact centre is responsible for you? Do you want to find out more about the application process? You will find full information about procedures for getting professional qualifications recognised as well as advice on further topics at http://www.anerkennung-in-deutschland.de/html/en/index.php. You can also obtain an initial consultation by phone from the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees. The hotline is available Mondays through Fridays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the following number: +49 30-1815-1111. The consultation will provide you with initial information – in German or English – concerning the recognition of foreign vocational qualifications in Germany.
Step 3: Prepare your application documents. Ask your local contact centre which documents you need to have translated. Fill in the application forms and send everything to your local contact centre. Your local contact centre will compare your foreign professional qualification with a German reference profession. At the same time, it will check whether there are any major differences between your professional qualification and the German one. Professional experience you have acquired can also be taken into account.
Step 4: Receive notification. Once your application has been processed, you will receive a notification from your local contact centre. This written notification will tell you whether your foreign professional qualification is equivalent or similar to the German qualification. If the authority has not found any equivalence, and if the application concerns a regulated profession, then you will be informed of concrete measures you can take to compensate for the differences. In the case of professions that are not regulated, the notification will state the qualifications that do exist, as well as the differences between your professional qualification and the German reference qualification; this will help you and potential employers to properly gauge your qualification.
Information on this portal
Information on the World Wide Web
Recognition of qualifications in Germany
All you need to know about “Recognition of professional qualifications”, including a "recognition finder” which tells you where to find your local contact centre. (German, English)
Information portal for foreign professional qualifications and detailed information on foreign basic and advanced vocational training courses (German)
Central Office for Foreign Education (ZAB)
Information about getting university degrees recognised (German)
Federal Ministry of Education and Research
Information about the German Professional Qualifications Assessment Act and recognition of qualifications in Germany (German, English)
Federal Office for Migration and Refugees
Information and a hotline on “Recognition of foreign professional qualifications” (German, English, Turkish, Russian)
List of regulated professions in Germany (English)