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How do I get recognition of foreign qualification in Germany?

Expatrio 2024-07-12
Man filling out forms for recognition of his foreign degree in Germany


Are you thinking about starting your career in Germany as a skilled worker? That’s great! But before you pack your bags and head over, there’s one important step you need to take: getting your qualifications recognized. Whether you're a nurse from the Philippines, an engineer from India or a teacher from Spain, you'll need to go through this process to ensure your professional skills are valid in Germany.

What is professional recognition of foreign qualification?

The recognition of foreign professional qualifications (Anerkennung ausländischer Berufsabschlüsse) is a process that determines whether your skills meet German standards. If your qualifications are recognized, it means you're considered just as qualified as someone trained in Germany. It also protects the quality and safety of services provided in the country. This is especially important for regulated professions such as doctors, nurses, engineers and teachers, where standards are very specific. Without recognition of equivalence, you may not be allowed to work in your chosen profession in Germany.

Don't forget: recognition of professional qualifications is required if you apply for a work visa as a foreigner or the German Opportunity Card.

Who needs a professional recognition recognized in Germany?

Now that you’ve got a grasp on what professional recognition is, let’s figure out if you actually need it. This part is crucial because it determines whether you can jump right into the job hunt or whether you need to do some paperwork first.

The answer depends on your profession. If you're in a regulated profession, then yes, you definitely need recognition. Regulated professions are those that require specific qualifications by law. Here are some examples:

  • Healthcare: doctors, nurses, dentists, pharmacists etc.
  • Engineering: certain engineering fields such as civil engineering
  • Education: teachers and other educators
  • Legal: lawyers and other legal professionals

If you're in a non-regulated profession, you don't technically need to be recognized to work. Such professions are those trained in the dual system of vocational training. But having your qualifications recognized can still be really beneficial. It helps German employers understand your background and can significantly boost your job prospects.

How do i get my qualifications recognized in Germany?

The recognition procedure for regulated professions is roughly divided into four steps.

Step 1: Identify your professional qualification

The first step in getting your qualifications recognized in Germany is to identify your specific qualifications and profession. Start by taking a close look at your current qualifications. This includes your diplomas, degrees, certificates and any other relevant educational or professional credentials. Make sure you have a clear understanding of what each qualification entails as you'll need to provide this information during the recognition process.

To find out if your profession is regulated, you can check the recognition finder and take a look at the professional qualification list. The next step is to see if your qualification is equivalent to the German standard. The ANABIN database is a great resource for this. It provides information on how foreign qualifications compare to German standards.

Step 2: Find the relevant authority

Each regulated profession in Germany has a specific authority that handles the recognition process. Here’s how to find the right one for your profession:

  1. Check out the "Recognition in Germany" portal: On the website, you can enter your profession and the portal will guide you to the right authority.
  2. For lots of different jobs professional chambers handle recognition. Some examples are:
  • Chamber of commerce (IHK): For business-related professions and certain technical fields.
  • Chamber of crafts (HWK): For trades and crafts.
  • Medical chambers: For healthcare professionals.
  1. Some professions are regulated at the state level, so you might need to get in touch with the relevant state authority. The portal can help direct you to the correct state office.

Here are a few examples to give you an idea of where to start:

  • Doctors: Contact the State Medical Association (Landesärztekammer) in the state where you plan to work.
  • Engineers: Check with the Chamber of Engineers (Ingenieurkammer) for your specific engineering discipline.
  • Teachers: The relevant State Ministry of Education (Kultusministerium) handles recognition for teachers.

Step 3: Prepare your documents

Now that you've done your research, it's time to get your documents in order. Make sure you have everything you need to get through the recognition process smoothly. Start by making a checklist of all the documents you need.

These are the most common documents:

  • Diplomas and certificates: Your university degree certificates and any other relevant qualifications.
  • Transcripts: Detailed transcripts or mark sheets that show the courses you’ve taken and the grades you’ve received.
  • Work experience certificates: Proof of any relevant work experience such as employment certificates, references or a detailed CV.
  • Proof of identity: A copy of your passport or ID card.
  • Language proficiency: Certificates proving your proficiency in German if required (e. g. B1 or B2 level for many professions).
  • Professional licenses: If you have any professional licenses or certifications from your home country, include these as well.

All of your documents must be translated into German by a certified translator. This is a critical step because improperly translated documents can result in delays or rejections. Use translators who are officially recognized and certified to ensure the accuracy and acceptance of your translations.

Step 4: Submit your application

You've figured out if your profession is regulated, got all your documents together and found the right authority. Now it’s time to submit your application for professional recognition.

  1. Complete the application form

Each profession and authority will have its own specific forms but there are some common elements you can expect:

  • Personal information: Your name, address, date of birth and contact information.
  • Educational background: Details about your qualifications, including institutions attended, dates and degrees obtained.
  • Work experience: A summary of your relevant work experience, including job titles, employers and duration of employment.
  • Language proficiency: Information about your German language skills, including any certificates you may have.
  1. Submit your application

You can submit your application in one of two ways:

  • Online submission: Many authorities offer online application portals where you can upload digital copies of your documents.
  • In-person submission: If required, you can submit your application in person at the relevant authority or send it by email.
  1. Pay the application fee

Just a heads-up: you'll need to pay an application fee. The amount varies depending on the profession and the authority. Keep a copy of your payment receipt as proof.

  1. Confirmation of submission

After submitting your application, you'll get a confirmation. This may be an email or a formal letter confirming that your application has been received. Some authorities provide a tracking number or an online portal where you can check the status of your application.

  1. Processing time

On average, the recognition process can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months. If there are significant delays, you can contact the authority to ask about the status of your application.

It's always a good idea to keep copies of everything you submit. This includes the application form, any supporting documents and your proof of submission.

Are my qualifications recognized in Germany? Possible outcomes

Great job! You've successfully submitted your application. But what happens once the recognition authority reviews your application? Here are the possible outcomes you might get and what to do next.

Full recognition

  • What it means: Your qualifications are fully recognized and match German standards.
  • Next steps: You’re good to go! Start applying for jobs in your field.

Partial recognition

  • What it means: Your qualifications are mostly equivalent but there are some gaps.
  • Next steps: The recognition authority will let you know what you need to do. This could be some extra training, practical experience or exams. Once you've completed these requirements, you can either reapply or submit proof to get full recognition.

No recognition

  • What it means: Unfortunately, your qualifications don’t meet German standards.
  • Next steps: This can be a tough one but it’s not the end of the road. You might need to look into retraining or consider other types of recognition.

If you think the decision was wrong, you can appeal by clearing up any misunderstandings. Just follow the appeal process which usually involves sending a formal appeal letter and your new evidence.

Remember, this is just one step on your journey to working in Germany. No matter the outcome, there are always ways to move forward. Keep a positive attitude, be proactive and explore all your options.

European Professional Card (EPC) for EU citizens

If you’re an EU citizen, the process of getting your qualifications recognized in Germany can be a bit simpler thanks to the European Professional Card (EPC). It's a digital proof of your qualification, recognized across EU countries. This simplifies the application process and ensures that decisions are made faster.

You can apply for the EPC in Germany if you work in one of these fields:

  • Pharmacist
  • Mountain guide
  • Estate agent
  • Nurse responsible for general care
  • Physiotherapist

The EU has some rules to help make it easier for your qualifications to be recognized across member states. The Directive 2005/36/EC covers the recognition of professional qualifications across the EU. It helps make sure your qualifications are recognized quickly and fairly. The European Commission’s website has all the details about the EPC and other recognition processes.

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