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.

Recognition of vocational credentials in Germany

Foreign professional qualifications

Must I have my qualification recognised?

In order to work in Germany, it is helpful to have your foreign qualifications recognised. In somes cases, it is even mandatory. 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. On the website “Reglementierte Berufe Datenbank” you find a list which contains all the regulated professions 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. 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 getting a visa for 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.

Aisley from the USA
I trained as a nurse at a college in the United States and obtained a Bachelor's degree in Nursing. I wasn’t aware that many foreign university degrees correspond to vocational qualifications in Germany. As a non-EU citizen without a German qualification, getting my degree recognised was a prerequisite to working in Germany. It was useful getting this important information before I moved. That way, I was able to have all the necessary documents ready, and that speeded up the recognition procedure. My tip: before moving, everybody should always find out exactly whether or not they can exercise their profession in Germany without any formalities.

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".

Fees for having your qualifications recognised

Experience has shown that fees range from 100 to 600 euros. Additional charges usually arise in the course of the approval process, for example for documents, translations, notarizations, travel expenses or language courses. The exact costs depend on the individual case.



Recognition process

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 (wish to) 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 (in German and English). Here you can also find out more about the application process and the procedures for getting professional qualifications recognised as well as getting advice on further topics. 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 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.

Step 3: Prepare your application documents. Ask your local contact centre which documents you need to have translated in advance. 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.

Recognition of your professional qualifiactions
– One step towards working in Germany

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“Recognition in Germany” is a government portal which provides comprehensive information on having foreign qualifications recognized in Germany. It is designed for professionals with foreign qualifications who would like to find out whether they require formal recognition of their qualifications in order to practice their profession in Germany.

Professionals wishing to have their qualifications recognised can refer to the portal for comprehensive, relevant information on the recognition process, required documents, the legal framework as well as guidance and advice. The portal is currently available in German, English, Italian, Romanian, Spanish, Polish and Turkish.

The website offers a very useful tool, the “recognition finder”. With just a few clicks, individuals with foreign qualifications can use the recognition finder to identify the right assessment authority for their profession. For this purpose, users need to enter their profession and then use the professional profile to find the German reference profession which best fits the qualification obtained abroad. In order to identify the competent assessment authority, the system will ask the user to enter their (desired) place of residence or work in Germany. Just a few clicks later, the system will provide the contact details of the competent assessment authority, so that the user knows where to apply to have the equivalence of their qualification assessed. In addition, the system will provide information on applying for recognition, indicating, for example, which documents the applicant needs to submit.

To access the Recognition in Germany portal, please click here

A brief introduction to the recognition finder is available here

To access the recognition finder, please click here

Foreign academic qualifications

In general, your university degree does not have to be recognised to allow you to work in a non regulated profession (e.g. computer scientist, mathematicians, economist) in Germany. If you are a citizen of a non EU-country and you need a visa – for example the EU Blue Card – for Germany, then you will have to proof your university degree to be recognised or comparable with the German qualification.

You have three options of verification:

Positive results in the database anabin

This database documents information on foreign universities and degrees. This includes degrees rated by the Central Office for Foreign Education (ZAB) at an earlier date. Unfortunately, the database is only available in German.
You have to find your university and your precise university degree in the database anabin.
Step 1: The university can be searched for here. If it is rated with the status “H+”, this means that the university is recognised.
Step 2: The academic degree can be found here. It is equivalent to a German degree, if it is listed as “gleichwertig” or “entspricht” (German for “equivalent” or “corresponding”).

Please note:

  • It is necessary to search separately for the university and the degree, because it is possible that the degree is listed without reference to the university.
  • To get the complete search result in the detail window, please click on the purple icon with the white “+” sign.
  • The two print-outs of the positive results for the university and the degree can then be used together as proof of equivalency.

Please note that many degrees are not listed in the database yet. In this case, or if anabin print-outs are not sufficient for the intended purpose, it is necessary to apply for a Statement of Comparability.

Statement of Comparability

You can only apply for an evaluation of your foreign degree at the Central Office for Foreign Education (ZAB) located in Bonn, if your university is rated with an “H+” in anabin. This evaluation is called the Statement of Comparability and it is an official document which states the obtained qualifications. It can be used in applications for jobs in Germany or when applying for a visa.
Information concerning the evaluation procedure, including a list of required documents and costs, can be found here.
Please note that the processing time can take up to three months. If you apply for an evaluation in order to receive an EU Blue Card, the processing time will take up to two weeks. Please attach a copy of your work contract in this case.
For evaluations of several degrees, please fill out the initial form for each degree separately. Every additional statement contains additional fees.
For further questions concerning the evaluation please contact the Central Office of Foreign Education (ZAB): Email:

Holding the professional title “engineer”

If you want to work as an engineer and hold the occupational title “engineer”, the recognition of your foreign qualification is mandatory. You can only be granted a full recognition, if your foreign qualification is recognized as equivalent to the corresponding German one.
The corresponding office for the recognition depends on your residence or place of work in Germany. You can find the corresponding office here. You just have to enter the occupation “engineer” and the region you want to work in.
You can find general information on the recognition procedure here.

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