Recognition of Foreign Professional Qualifications

The opportunities to have foreign professional qualifications recognized in Germany have improved significantly thanks to the Recognition Act.

 As Germany continuously needs experts, many companies, craft businesses, hospitals and care facilities have already come to depend on experts from abroad. This is why the Federal Government introduced the Assessment and Recognition of Foreign Professional Qualifications Act, or "Recognition Act", as a new instrument to secure the availability of skilled workers in Germany.

More than 26.000 experts have applied for the recognition of their professional qualifications and experience since the new act came into force in 2012. 96 percent of them successfully obtained recognition.

In the past, only a very limited number of people who came to Germany with professional and vocational qualifications were able to apply for qualification recognition. The Recognition Act has changed this and introduces a standardized and transparent procedure for all federally regulated professions. This provides the basis for establishing the equivalence of a foreign qualification with a corresponding German qualification. In many cases equivalence is a prerequisite to work in one's profession or to start a business in Germany. This is especially true for "regulated professions" such as trades that require authorization, for medical doctors, and for nurses or pharmacists. The Recognition Act improves opportunities for individuals who have gained professional qualifications abroad to practice their learned professions in Germany and thereby assures that these individuals can be better integrated into the labour market.

The Recognition Act

The Recognition Act includes the Professional Qualifications Assessment Act (Berufsqualifikationsfeststellungsgesetz - BQFG) under the responsibility of the BMBF as well as provisions for the recognition of vocational qualifications in around 60 federal laws and regulations governing professions, such as healthcare professions (Medical Practitioners' Code, Nursing Act) and master craftsmen (Craft Trades Law).

The Länder have also adopted their own legislation concerning the professions for which they are responsible (e.g. teachers, engineers, architects, occupations in social services). All of the Länder legislation on recognition became effective on 1 July 2014. In the interest of providing a standardized national procedure to people with foreign qualifications, further efforts will be made to open up the recognition procedure to individuals with third country qualifications in all professions – in particular in shortage occupations such as teachers and engineers.

Success Stories

Gaspare Marulli © BIBB

An industrial mechanic from Italy

Gaspare Marulli came to Germany in January 2012. His work experience has successfully been recognised. He can now permanently pursue his career as an industrial mechanic.

Dmitry Gladchenko kam 2011 aus Kasachstan nach Deutschland. Frustriert von einem Gelegenheitsjob entschied er sich im Mai 2013 für das Anerkennungsverfahren. Heute arbeitet er in seinem Traumjob als Elektroanlagenmonteur.
Dmitry Gladchenko kam 2011 aus Kasachstan nach Deutschland. Frustriert von einem Gelegenheitsjob entschied er sich im Mai 2013 für das Anerkennungsverfahren. Heute arbeitet er in seinem Traumjob als Elektroanlagenmonteur. © Portal „Anerkennung in Deutschland“/ BIBB

An electrician from Kasachstan

Dmitry Gladchenko moved to Germany from Kasachstan in 2011. Being frustrated from merely occansional jobs, he decided for the recognition procedure and obtained recognition. Today he works in his dream job as an electrician.

Positive experiences with enforcement of the Act

Experience has shown that there is a great interest in the new procedure. There have been a great number of counselling sessions, thousands of applications for recognition have been made, and the majority have been granted equivalence.

The majority of applications are in the regulated professions – physicians, pharmacists, dentists, psychotherapists or midwives –  because recognition is a prerequisite to practice these professions in Germany.   Clear interest is also evident in the statistics for the online portal "Recognition in Germany": some 40 per cent of the hits on the site are from locations outside of Germany. The information centres and the hotline of the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees have reported a massive surge in the number of requests for counselling. Not every counselling session automatically leads to an application for recognition. Counselling can help many individuals in other ways which include measures to gain qualifications or retraining.

On 15 October 2013 the Federal Statistical Office issued the first official federal statistics on the applications and notifications concerning professions which are governed by the Recognition Act. For information on the results and other statistics on counselling click here. Updated statistics from the Federal Statistical Office for the 2013 reporting year are expected to be published in autumn 2014.

The Federal Government adopted the first "Report on the Recognition Act" presented by the BMBF on 2 April 2014. Click here for more information

For the first time, the Federal Government's Assessment and Recognition of Foreign Professional Qualifications Act, or Recognition Act, establishes a legal claim to have foreign qualifications assessed for their equivalence to a German reference occupation. The Federal Cabinet adopted the first Report on the Recognition Act on 2 April 2014. The experience of the first two years since its enactment shows that the Recognition Act is a success.