Recognition of qualifications
If you want to work or start your own business in specific professions in Germany, you must have any qualifications you obtained in other countries recognized in Germany. This section gives you an overview of the recognition processes for foreign vocational and university qualifications, what they cost, how long the process takes and who to contact. We have compiled the most important information for medical practitioners in a separate section.
German Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF)
You can obtain initial information on recognition of foreign vocational qualifications by telephone from the service hotline between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. CET from Monday to Friday at the following telephone number:
Tel. +49 (0)30 1815 1111
Recognition in Germany - The Procedure
In Germany, some professions are regulated. When qualifications are required to enter and practice a profession, it is called a regulated profession. For example, this includes crafts professions subject to approval, medical practitioners, nurses or pharmacists. Before practicing these professions, you must have your foreign vocational qualification recognized. Moreover, there are certain training-based occupations which do not attract sufficient numbers of trainees, so-called "bottleneck occupations". You can check the 'positive list' of the German Federal Employment Agency to see whether your profession is listed or not. If you obtained your training certificate abroad and the occupation is listed on the positive list, you are allowed to work in Germany without a priority examination of the labour market.
All other professions are non-regulated, which means that recognition of your foreign vocational qualifications is voluntary. However, it is often recommended to help you get started in a new job in Germany faster and easier. The aim of the process is to establish whether the foreign vocational qualification is equivalent to the German qualification.
The recognition process takes up to three months and is subject to a fee.
You must have a work permit before you start the recognition process.
The website "Recognition in Germany" provides a lot of additional information on recognition in seven languages. It also has a recognition finder, which allows you to check in advance whether the qualification you obtained is classified as being "equivalent". The website also contains details of the responsible authority for you to consult.
The Foreign Skills Approval of the Chambers of Industry and Commerce (IHK FOSA) is responsible for reviewing and recognizing the vocational qualifications in the industry, trade, hospitality and services sectors.
You can check the IHK FOSA list to see whether your profession is listed there. If so, you can complete the application for an equivalence review and submit it in writing to IHK FOSA. The procedure costs up to 600 Euros. See the IHK FOSA fees schedule for the exact prices. For an individual initial consultation, you should generally contact your local Chamber of Industry and Commerce (IHK).
At a glance
- Vocational qualifications are qualifications verified by educational certificates, certificates of proficiency or professional experience obtained overseas.
- Recognition of vocational qualifications means assessing whether the qualification is valid in Germany or not.
- If the decision is positive, this confirms the equivalence of your foreign qualification.
- Equivalence assessments can take up to 3 months.
- See the recognition finder for the responsible authority;
- IHK FOSA is responsible for vocational training professions and continuing professional development qualifications in the industry, trade, hospitality and services sectors.
Checklist for applying to the HWK
- application form (available at the first consultation)
- personal data sheet (CV)
- legally attested copies (in colour) of the original documents as well as the German translations of:
- all certificates / diplomas of your vocational qualifications
- grades of your exams
- all documents which proove your acquired professional skills, e.g. curricula, Training rules etc.
- employment references of the country of origin / of Germany or the "Arbeitsbuch", if available
- your ID card or your passport
Checklist for applying to IHK FOSA
EU/EEA/Swiss citizens are exempt from this.
- Completed application form,
- Table containing a list of completed courses of education and the profession practiced
- Simple copy of proof of identification (identification card or passport)
- Verification of the professional qualification obtained overseas (education certificate)
- Verification of relevant professional experience
- Other proofs of competence (for example continuing professional development, retraining)
- Verification that the applicant wants to work in Germany (for example proof of contact with potential employers, application for entry visa, business concept)
All documents must generally be translated into German; all copies of certificates must be authenticated.
Advice on recognition of vocational qualifications - IQ Netzwerk
In Baden-Wuerttemberg, the welcome offices and competence centers of IQ Netzwerk offer personal advice on the recognition process in Germany. The welcome office in Mannheim is responsible for the Karlsruhe TechnologyRegion.
The welcome office and competence center in Mannheim offers the following services:
- Information on recognition of foreign qualifications
- Referral advice and support of international specialists in the recognition process (finding the responsible recognition authority, help compiling documents, further support in the recognition process if necessary)
- Advice on professional orientation (options for adaptation and retrospective qualification and labor market-specific development options, referral to other advice services)
Recognition of professions in Germany – Procedures
Links and Downloads
Chamber of Handicrafts - HWK
Chamber of Industry and Commerce - IHK
To the Website
Tel. +49 721 174-360
Fax: +49 721 174-279
Personal advice on the recognition process:
Mannheim (for Karlsruhe administrative region)
Ms. Maryam Shariat-Razavi
(Interkulturelles Bildungszentrum Mannheim gGmbH)
Ms. Aicha Berth (see above)
N 4,1, 68161 Mannheim
Tel. +49 (0)621 437 731 13
Fax +49 (0)621 124 79 104
Have you graduated from university in your home country and now you want to work in Germany? There are two ways you can check whether your university qualification is recognized in Germany. In this section, we will explain both alternatives.
As a rule, foreign university qualifications can only be recognized in Germany if they were obtained at a state or state-approved institution. The anabin database of the Central Office for Foreign Education (ZAB) allows you to check whether the university in your home country is also state-approved in Germany.
You can apply for a certificate assessment. A certificate assessment is an official document from the Central Office for Foreign Education (ZAB) which describes foreign university qualifications and certifies them for professional and academic use. Certificate assessments by ZAB are intended to give you access to the German labor market with a foreign university qualification.
A certificate assessment is only a comparative evaluation, not a recognition.
Application procedure for a certificate assessment
You can fill out an online application form to apply for a certificate assessment by the ZAB.
- Complete the pre-form. You will then receive an e-mail with the application form.
- Complete the application form on your PC and return it to the ZAB online. If you want to have more than one university qualification assessed, download a separate application form for each qualification.
- Then print the application and send it to the Central Office for Foreign Education in Bonn with the required documents.
At a glance
- A certificate assessment clears your path into the German labor market.
- However, certificate assessment is NOT the same as recognition of the certificate.
- You cannot work in regulated professions in Germany unless your university qualification/degree has been officially recognized.
Costs of certificate evaluation for a foreign university qualification:
- 200 Euros to issue a (first) certificate
- 100 Euros to issue every further certificate, if you want to have multiple qualifications assessed
- 100 Euros to have a certificate re-issued (e.g. if lost)
- The fees shall not be waived under any circumstances.
- The responsible authority for certificate assessment is the Central Office for Foreign Education (ZAB).
Recognition for medical practitioners
Recognition of medical qualifications is regulated at a Federal State level and therefore varies by state. As practicing medicine is one of the regulated professions in Germany, foreign physicians who want to work in Karlsruhe TechnologyRegion must apply for a license to practice medicine. In Baden-Wuerttemberg, Department 92 of the State Assessment Office for Medicine and Pharmacy of Stuttgart Regional Council is responsible.
The Department, which is also the medical licensing authority in Baden-Wuerttemberg, issues medical licenses to EU citizens after completion of the above-mentioned education. That gives them comprehensive professional approval for the corresponding work throughout Germany. Other foreign citizens with the appropriate qualifications can also receive a professional license valid for Baden-Wuerttemberg, which is generally restricted to certain specializations.
As described above in the Recognition of foreign qualifications section, you should first have your qualification assessed for equivalence by the responsible licensing authority. The equivalence assessment and the evaluation of professional experience are assessed individually by the responsible authority. The decision notification you receive informs you what you have to do next. As these are complex assessments of individual cases, we advise you to contact the responsible authority directly.
Evidence of general German language skills equivalent to Level B2 in accordance with the European reference framework, and occupation-specific language skills equivalent to Level C1 must be provided. The responsible recognition authority in Baden-Wuerttemberg accepts language tests from recognized language institutes.
Overview of the required documents
ausländisches Bildungswesen (ZAB)
D - 53012 Bonn
Tel.: +49 (0)228 501 664
Landesprüfungsamt für Medizin und Pharmazie
D - 70191 Stuttgart
Tel. +49 (0)711 9043 5000