Recognition of foreign professional qualifications

Who needs recognition?

Depending on your country of origin and professional field, recognition of your professional qualification may be necessary. You can find detailed information on this here.

Regulated professions require recognition

You may only work in regulated professions in Germany if you have a specific qualification. This applies, for example, to many professions in the fields of healthcare, legal advice, teaching at state schools and engineering. There is also regulation for certain master craftsmen who run a business. If you would like to work in one of these regulated professions, you will always need recognition of your foreign professional qualification, regardless of your country of origin. In regulated professions, recognition is usually decided as part of the procedure for granting a license to practice the profession.

Non-regulated professions may require recognition

Most professions in Germany are not regulated. These are, for example, the dual training occupations and many professions with a university degree. To work in Germany as a business economist, IT specialist or baker, for example, you do not need recognition of your foreign professional qualification. For third-country nationals, recognition of the foreign professional qualification or the comparability of the university degree is usually a prerequisite for the issue of a visa. Third countries are countries outside the EU, EEA and Switzerland.

Visa for the recognition of foreign professional qualifications

Have you applied for recognition of your professional qualification and the recognition body in Germany has determined that you lack the qualifications for full recognition? In this case, you can attend qualification programs in Germany to acquire the missing theoretical and/or practical skills. These can be, for example, training courses in a company, specialist training courses, preparatory courses or job-related German courses. To participate in such a program, you need a residence permit for the purpose of recognition of foreign professional qualifications (§ 16d AufenthG).

What requirements must be met in order to obtain a visa for the recognition of foreign professional qualifications?

- In a notice of recognition, the competent recognition body in Germany has determined that you still lack theoretical and/or practical skills in order to receive full recognition of your qualification.

- You have successfully registered for a corresponding qualification measure. If this is a predominantly practical training course in a company, this company must describe in a further training plan the specific measures that will be used to remedy the deficits identified by the recognition body. The training plan should also outline what salary the company will pay you during the practical training course. In this case, the Federal Employment Agency (BA) must approve the training measure.

- As a rule, you must have German language skills at level A2 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR).

- You can prove that your livelihood is secured for the duration of your stay.

What prospects does the visa for the recognition of foreign professional qualifications offer?

After entering Germany, you will generally be issued a residence permit for up to 18 months for the purpose of having your foreign professional qualification recognized or for the purpose of completing post-qualification measures. It can be extended for a maximum of six months in individual cases, for example if you have to retake an examination or if the issuing of the certificate is delayed.

If you wish to work alongside the qualification measure, this is possible: you may pursue a part-time job independent of the qualification measure for up to ten hours a week. If the activity is related to the occupational field for which you are seeking a recognized professional qualification and you have a concrete job offer for later employment, you can pursue this without any time limit. In this case, the Federal Employment Agency (BA) must approve the employment.

Options after successful completion of the training program

Have you successfully completed your further training and obtained full recognition? Then you can stay in Germany for another year to find a suitable job that matches your recognized professional qualification. This requires a residence permit to look for a job (§ 20 Para. 3 No. 4 AufenthG), which you can apply for at your local immigration office without having to leave the country. During this time, you are allowed to work in any occupation.

How does the process work?

In the "recognition procedure", the so-called competent authority in Germany checks whether your foreign professional qualification is comparable to a German one and whether there are any differences. The procedure is also known as an "equivalence check". The competent body will usually review your documents within 3 to 4 months once they have been submitted in full. The "Recognition in Germany" portal explains exactly how the recognition procedure works and where you can find detailed information.

Result of the recognition procedure

Your foreign professional qualification will be recognized if it is equivalent to the German one. If significant differences are found during the equivalence check, the type of profession is important:

In the case of non-regulated professions, the professional qualification is partially recognized if parts of the training are equivalent and others are not. You will be informed of the main differences to the German reference occupation in a notification. As a rule, you can compensate for significant differences with an adaptation qualification. You can then submit a follow-up application to obtain full recognition.

In the case of regulated professions, the competent body determines a compensation measure with which you can compensate for the significant differences. If you successfully complete the compensation measure, equivalence will be established. Further criteria for admission to the profession are then checked. The result of the recognition procedure will be communicated in an official notification (notification of recognition).

If you would like to work in a regulated profession in Germany, your professional qualification must be recognized as equivalent. If you want to work in a non-regulated profession, come from a third country and have a professional qualification (vocational training), you also need "full" recognition. Only then can you obtain a corresponding residence permit as a skilled worker.

If you come from a non-EU country and significant differences have been identified in your equivalence assessment, you can obtain a residence permit for the purpose of recognition of professional qualifications. This applies regardless of whether it is a regulated or non-regulated profession. This allows you to enter Germany in order to complete a compensation measure or adaptation training. You can find more information on this in our section "Visa for the recognition of foreign professional qualifications".

Adaptation qualification

If you still lack some qualifications for full recognition, you can continue your training in Germany with a so-called adaptation qualification. The content of this qualification measure can vary greatly depending on your profession and your level of knowledge. For example, you could learn job-related German or deepen your technical or theoretical knowledge. If you successfully complete your course, you can then have your vocational qualification recognized as equivalent and work in your profession in Germany.

Costs for the recognition procedure

The recognition procedure can cost up to 600 euros, in some cases even more. In addition, further costs may be incurred for a recognition procedure, for example for the procurement of documents, translations, certifications, travel costs and possibly for compensation measures or adaptation qualifications.