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Recognition laws of the Federal Republic and the Länder

In April 2012 the Federal Recognition Act came into force and readjusted the regulation of recognition of foreign qualifications. The aim was to facilitate recognition and make Germany more attractive to qualified immigrants.

The act applies to regulated and non-regulated professions governed by federal law. This includes around 350 vocational training courses in the dual system which are regulated by the Vocational Training Act (BBiG) and the Crafts Code (for journeymen).  Around 40 professions regulated by federal law, such as physicians, nurses or lawyers are also included.

In addition to the professions governed by federal law, there are many occupations governed at Länder level. In order for those qualifications to be recognised too, the Länder have to implement legal regulations concerning them. According to legislation at Länder level, there are regulated (e.g. teachers, child care workers or engineers) and non-regulated vocations (e.g. technical assistants receiving a higher vocational training). Some states have already enacted such laws.

In many vocational areas it is possible to obtain dual training according to the Federal Vocational Trainig Act (e.g. electronics engineers) as well as a vocational school education regulated by Länder laws (e.g. electronic assistants). Therefore, foreign occupational training qualifications may have multiple German reference vocations.

To make identifying reference professions easier you can find a Comparison of training professions in the dual system and professions governed by Länder law as well as a Compilation of further training governed by federal law and continuing education governed by Länder law here.

What did the Federal Recognition Act change?

For the first time, this law establishes a legal claim to a vocational recognition procedure for foreign qualifications within the scope of non-regulated occupations. This claim applies not only to EU citizens but citizens of all other nations as well. Additionally, it does not matter whether the qualification was obtained within the EU or elsewhere.

Such a claim was previously available for expellees according to the Federal Expellees Act only. Because of this development, the circle of persons that are eligible to apply for a vocational recognition has expanded by a multitude. All relevant authorities can be found in the 'anabin' database or the Recognition Finder of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Information on the recognition of craft vocations is accessible via the BQ-Portal of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy.

Before the enactment of the Federal Vocational Training Act there have been extensive requirements in place for regulated professions through the EU directive 2005/36/EG on the recognition of professional qualifications. In the course of enacting laws on professional recognition, laws for individual professions were amended, which led to widening the circle of beneficiaries in the scope of regulated professions as well. Now, a medical doctor who does not possess a German or EU passport can receive approbation and thus be able to work in his or her vocation. Previously, EU-citizenship was mandatory.

Brief summary

Brief summary

  • The Vocational Training Act regulates the recognition of regulated and non-regulated vocations under supervision of the Federal Government.
  • The Act establishes a legal claim to a recognition procedure.
  • For regulated vocations the Act expanded availability of recognition procedures (regulated by laws for individual professions) to non-EU-citizens and qualifications.
  • For vocations regulated by Länder law (e.g. child care workers, teachers, engineers) the Länder have enacted their own laws or are preparing to do so.