Working in Germany: the official website
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Recognition of foreign 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.

Which laws apply to which occupations?

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.

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.

The project “Unternehmen Berufsanerkennung” offers companies concrete guidance as well as opportunities in communication and networking regarding the recognition of professional qualification. The consultants responsible for crafts businesses are the project office of the ZHW (Zentralstelle für die Weiterbildung im Handwerk e.V.)  in Düsseldorf. Companies from industry and trade, please contact the project office of the DIHK Service GmbH in Berlin. Click here for contact details. 

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.

For a better assessment of foreign professional qualifications, the BQ-Portal provides various country and professional profiles. Here you will find comprehensive information on vocational training systems and training content in different countries worldwide.

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.

Information on the internet

Recognition of qualifications in Germany

Recognition Finder (i.a..German, English)

The EU Recognition Directive (i.a. German, English)

Länder regulations (i.a. German, English)

Financial aid for the recognition procedure (German)

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