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Professional Recognition

You obtained your professional qualification abroad and would like to work in Germany?

First of all you should find out whether your profession is a regulated profession in Germany.  Recognition is required by law only if this is the case.

What is a regulated profession?

A profession is regulated if access and exercise is subject to the possession of a specific professional qualification or if the awarded title is legally protected.

In Germany, regulated professions are for example medical or legal professions, but also teachers at state schools. An overview of regulated professions and the relevant recognition authorities can be found in the database 'anabin'.

What are the criteria for recognition in a regulated profession?

In EU countries and within the European Economic Area (EEA), access to regulated professions and their exercise is covered by Directive 2005/36/EC. The Directive applies to citizens of Member States who obtained their qualification in another Member State. It guarantees access (like local residents) to the same profession in all other Member States. Mutual recognition is guaranteed by a treaty with Switzerland as well.

A professional qualification acquired outside the EU, EEA or Switzerland may be recognised depending on the comparability with the relevant German qualification. This is the case if there are no significant differences in training and job description.

What if the profession is not regulated?

In this case a formal recognition is not needed, so you can directly apply for a job in Germany or become self-employed. However, a recognition or evaluation may be useful in order to allow future employers to assess your qualification. If you completed an academic degree, you may apply for a Statement of Comparability issued by the Central Office for Foreign Education (ZAB).

Changes brought about by Länder regulations

In April 2012 the Federal Recognition Act came into force. It is now possible to obtain recognition or evaluation for professions that are not regulated. The Act applies to regulated and non-regulated professions governed by Federal Law, e.g. all training professions that are offered in the dual system. Members of these professions (for example qualified craftspersons or office clerks) now have the legal right to apply for recognition.

The Federal Recognition Act brought changes to various laws for individual professions. Applicants, who obtained their qualification outside the EU, are now entitled to having the equivalence assessed. The process is geared to the criteria of the EU Directive.

The recognition of professions governed by Länder law (e.g. teachers, child care workers or engineers) requires legal foundations in the respective Länder. Most of them have already enacted the relevant laws.

Brief summary

Brief summary

  • You can apply for a job in Germany with your foreign professional qualification.
  • If your profession is a regulated profession in Germany, a formal recognition for access and exercise is needed. The competent authority can be found in the database 'anabin'.
  • If your profession is not a regulated profession in Germany, you can directly apply for a job or become self-employed.

Documents and useful links