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Recognition of Foreign Professional Qualifications

Since 1 April 2012, opportunities to have foreign professional qualifications recognized in Germany have improved significantly. The Federal Government's Recognition Act introduces the legal right to have qualifications gained abroad assessed in comparison to the equivalent profession in Germany. The first year of experience shows that the new law is a success.

Germany needs experts! Many businesses, handicraft enterprises, hospitals and care facilities already depend on experts from abroad. For this reason, the Federal Government has created the Recognition Act as an instrument to secure the availability of skilled workers in Germany.

Success Stories

Michelle Anged MonteuA doctor of medicine from Cameroon: Michelle Ange Monteu (33) is from Cameroon and has lived in Germany for nearly 5 years. She studied medicine and then worked as a physician in Mali. Following a successful assessment exam, she obtained her license to practice medicine and now works at a hospital as a doctor. You can find out more information here.

Susanna KenettiAn optician from Finland: Susanna Kenetti (44) comes from Finland. She is a qualified optician and business economist. She has been living in Berlin for 5 years. Now, her training has been recognized by the Berlin Chamber of Trades. More information is available here.

The Recognition Act

The Federal Government's Recognition Act ("Act to improve the assessment and recognition of foreign professional qualifications") has been in effect since April 2012. It improves opportunities for individuals who have gained professional qualifications abroad to practice their learned professions in Germany. The process and criteria for occupational recognition have been standardized, expanded and improved, which makes a sustainable contribution to securing a skilled labour force and facilitates the integration of people with good foreign qualifications on the job market.

In accordance with the Recognition Act, professional certification gained abroad can be recognized as equivalent to Germany certification. In many cases, this is the prerequisite to work or start a business in Germany. This is especially true for "regulated professions" such as trades that require authorization, medical doctors, nurses or pharmacists.

 The Recognition Act includes a new Federal Law, the Professional Qualifications Assessment Act (Berufsqualifikationsfeststellungsgesetz - BQFG) under the responsibility of the BMBF, as well as regulations for the recognition of vocational qualifications in around 60 professions under federal legislation, such as healthcare professionals and master craftsmen.

Further information on the Recognition Act and the concrete assessment procedures is available at:

First Positive Experiences

There has been great interest in the new procedure during the Recognition Act's first year. Many consultations have been held and thousands of applications submitted. In hundreds of cases, full or partial recognition of foreign qualifications was certified. The data show that in the first year since the Recognition Act entered effect, around 30,000 applications for vocational recognition were submitted. This is a preliminary estimate, due to the fact that the first representative data for recognition statistics are currently being prepared, and will be made available in the middle of 2013, as stipulated by the Act.

The majority of these first requests however have been reported in the regulated professions - for example, physicians, pharmacists, dentists, psychotherapists, and midwives. In these professions, the recognition of foreign qualifications is a prerequisite for practice in Germany. The Länder responsible for the procedures regarding these professions estimate that in just the first 9 months (April - December 2012), around 20,000 applications were submitted in the field of health care professionals alone. In non-regulated professions as well, around 4,000 applications for recognition have been filed with the responsible chambers - clearly a positive development.

Clear interest is also visible in the statistics for the online Internet portal "Recognition in Germany." Since its launch on 1 April 2012, the portal has had over 360,000 visitors, around 40 per cent of whom view the site from locations outside of Germany. The information centres are also reporting a massive increase in visitors. But not every consultation leads necessarily to an official request; the consultations help many to pursue different measures, such as addition training.

Additional facts and figures are available here (in German only).

Advantages for Migrants

In the past, only a very limited number of people who came to Germany with professional and vocational qualifications were entitled to apply for qualification recognition. The Recognition Act changes this and establishes a standardized and transparent procedure for all federally regulated professions.

The introduction of  legal claim to assessment procedures for the roughly 350 "non-regulated professions" - training occupations in crafts and trade as well as those in  Germany's "dual system," as outline in the Vocational Training Act - is a milestone in Germany's recognition practices. In the past, recognition in these professions was hardly ever provided. In these professions, questions regarding the equivalency of qualifications gained abroad to those obtainable in Germany will now be assessed in a standardized procedure according to standardized criteria on the basis of the BQFG. This creates a high degree of transparency for applicants, employers, and relevant authorities.

A special feature of the BQFG - particularly in international comparison - is that relevant vocational experience must be taken into account during an equivalency assessment.

Before the Recognition Act entered effect, the practice of a wide range of professions as well as access to the necessary recognition procedures was only available to citizens of Germany or other EU member states. The Recognition Act does away with this restriction to a great extent. In most occupational fields, only the content and quality of the professional qualifications plays a decisive role. Now, a physician from Turkey, for example, will be able to obtain a license to practice, providing he or she meets the professional requirements. This would not have been possible previously - even if the physician had studied in Germany.

All important information on recognition procedures and the corresponding legislation is available at:

A First Step Towards Standardization of Recognition Practices

The act lays the foundation to significantly improve previously non-uniform assessment practices in Germany. Because for federally regulated professions, the implementation of this law will be the responsibility of the Länder, it is crucial that they contribute to the uniform implementation through, for example, the establishment of assessment locations or the bundling of responsibilities.

Because not all occupations are regulated by federal legislation and thus do not fall under the jurisdiction of the Federal Recognition Act, the Länder are currently forming legislation for recognition of professions that fall within their jurisdiction (including teachers, engineers, architects, and social workers). In five Länder, state-wide recognition legislation has already entered effect. In order to offer all individuals with foreign qualifications a standardized procedure, the Länder are to simplify the recognition procedure of third-country nationals for all occupations - and especially for urgently required occupations like teachers and engineers.

Further Information and Advice

The online portal "Recognition in Germany" points the way to the right agency and offers much information regarding the recognition procedures in both German and English.

The Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF), on behalf of the BMBF, has opened a telephone hotline available for people both in Germany and abroad from Monday to Friday, 9am to 3pm. The number is +49 (0)30-1815-1111.

In all Länder, the IQ Drop-In Centres offer initial advice at the regional level to individuals seeking recognition. The Federal Government supports this service through its funding programme "Integration through Qualification - IQ," which is run by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, and the Federal Employment Agency.

Additional information

Deutsche Version dieser Seite

 "Recognition in Germany," the new information portal of the Recognition Act, is now online. If you would like to obtain recognition for professional qualifications gained abroad, you can use the portal to find up-to-date information on the legal foundations and procedures of professional recognition, as well as information on your local contact centre. To access the portal "Recognition in Germany," click here



© 07/24/2014 04:31 Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung