Recognition of foreign degrees in Germany

If you have completed vocational training or a degree abroad, your qualifications may first have to be officially recognized so that you can work in the desired profession in Germany. Whether your qualification has to be recognized depends on your profession, your country of origin and your qualification level.

Anerkennung ausländischer Abschlüsse in Deutschland - Recognition of foreign qualifications in Germany

When is recognition of foreign degrees in Germany necessary?

Candidates from non-EU countries

✔ Recognition is necessary for almost all professions

In most cases, candidates from non-EU countries need to proof that their degree is recognised or comparable to a corresponding German qualification to get a visa for Germany.

✘ Not necessary for Western Balkans Regulation visa

Candidates who apply for a visa based on the Western Balkans Regulation don’t need to provide proof of their qualifications. Still, they have to meet other requirements and can’t work in regulated professions.

Candidates from EU countries

✔ Recognition is necessary for regulated professions

Regulated professions are legally protected occupations, which require a particular qualification, for example in the security and healthcare sectors, or permission to use a title, for example in engineering.

Not necessary for non-regulated professions

Non-regulated professions are free to EU-citizens and don’t require recognition.

Different Recognition Procedures

Advantages of a recognition certificate

When applying for a German work visa, you might need to provide a full and detailed recognition certificate of your qualification, a less comprehensive statement of comparability, or just a standard printout of the comparability of your studies from the ANABIN database. This depends on the job and your qualifications.

But even if you are not required to go through a recognition procedure, it might be an advantage to present a detailed statement of comparability when searching for jobs. German employers will be able to identify your knowledge and skills immediately. The statement is also helpful when negotiating salaries or if you wish to change jobs and apply for other positions.

Candidates with academic degrees

Regulated professions

Detailed recognition of foreign degrees in Germany is mandatory for regulated professions. There are two types of regulated professions:

  • Professions that require specific qualifications and German language skills, for example, doctors and teachers.
  • Professions that require permission to use a title, like engineers. Engineers can work in Germany without holding the title. However, the title confirms that your training meets the high German standards and gives you more opportunities in the labor market. Many international engineers start without a detailed recognition and go through the process later on.
Non-regulated professions

Instead of detailed recognition, applicants from non-EU countries must prove that their foreign academic degree is comparable to a German university degree. Depending on the university, you can prove comparability by:

  • ANABIN printout: Your higher education qualification is already recognized in Germany as comparable. This means that there is already an entry of your diploma and higher education institution in the ANABIN database. You will just need to print out this entry and add it to your visa application.
  • Statement of comparability: If there is no entry of your higher education qualification in the ANABIN database, you need to get an individual statement of comparability. This is not an explicit recognition of your qualification. It provides general information about the compatibility and is sufficient for the visa application.

Candidates with vocational training

Since vocational training in most countries differs greatly from the vocational training standards in Germany, recognition of foreign qualifications is required for almost all professions. For regulated professions such as nurses, higher requirements must be met (language skills, practical experience) than for non-regulated professions. If the foreign degree is only partially recognized, missing qualifications can be made up in Germany.

Special cases

IT specialists without formal degrees

IT specialists can obtain a work visa without a formal qualification if they have worked in their profession for at least three years. You must earn a salary of at least 49,680 euros per year (2021) and prove German language skills at level B1.

Professional drivers

Professional drivers can get a visa if they have an EU driving license (CE) and proof of initial qualification (Code 95). You can also get both licenses in Germany if an employer sponsors your stay. Bus drivers need to prove German language skills at level B1.

Steps of the recognition process

Recognition of foreign degrees in Germany for

  • regulated academic professions
  • almost all vocational professions 

For regulated academic professions and almost all vocational professions, detailed recognition of foreign degrees are required in order to be able to work in the desired profession. Your foreign degree must correspond to the degree required for the reference occupation in Germany. If your qualifications are not completely equivalent, you can in most cases compensate for differences with additional training and thus receive full recognition.

Regulated academic professions include, for example, doctors, engineers, lawyers, teachers, and other public sector professions. Check the list of regulated academic professions and fields of study. The regulated professions differ in whether they require a compulsory professional license (e.g. doctors, lawyers, nurses, teachers) or a license to use the title (e.g. engineers).

The regulated vocational professions include, for example, nurses, pedagogues, medical-technical assistants. Check the list of regulated vocational occupations. If your training occupation is not on the list, this means that the occupation is not regulated and the recognition process will be a little easier.

Since most non-EU citizens need to prove that their degree is recognized or comparable in order to get a visa, you should apply for recognition from your home country as early as possible. The official portal Recognition in Germany offers comprehensive information, instructions, and support. The recognition procedures differ depending on the profession and level of education. However, all of these procedures follow these typical steps:

Compare your professional qualifications with the reference occupation in Germany. This way, you can find out whether your profession is regulated and which professions in Germany match your degree. Use the portal Recognition in Germany. 

As a rule, the recognition procedure should be initiated in the federal state in which you would like to work and live. Responsible bodies can be state institutions or chambers of commerce, industry, and crafts. After you have determined your reference occupation on the portal Recognition in Germany, you will be directed to the responsible body in your federal state. Visit their website for detailed information on the procedure and required documents.

The competent authority checks whether your foreign degree and experience correspond to the qualification required for the reference occupation. The assessment is based on your degrees and documents, but your professional experience is usually also taken into account. You will be informed after one month at the latest that your application has been received and whether you need to submit additional documents. After you have submitted all the required documents, the process takes a couple of months before you receive a notification of recognition with the result. The result can be positive or negative.

  • You will receive a certificate of recognition if your foreign qualification corresponds to the relevant German reference occupation AND you meet other necessary criteria.
  • You will not receive a certificate of recognition if your foreign qualification does not correspond to the relevant German reference occupation OR if your foreign qualification does not meet German standards of the relevant reference occupation, OR if you do not meet other necessary criteria such as German language skills. However, you can compensate for significant differences with additional training or courses and receive recognition after successfully completing the measures.

In most cases, you can compensate for significant differences in regulated professions. Compensation measures can be additional training or specific tests to check skills and knowledge that are not documented by the degrees. They also include general knowledge tests that correspond to German state exams. After you have successfully completed the compensatory measure and fulfilled other possible requirements, you will receive permission to work in your regulated profession in Germany.

After your foreign degree has been fully recognized, you will be treated on an equal footing with your German work colleagues. Employers will be able to assess your foreign qualifications, which gives you more opportunities to find a job.

The information on this website is intended to give you an orientation about the possibilities for the recognition of foreign degrees in Germany and does not constitute legal advice. Therefore, always inform yourself from official German authorities about the regulations that apply to your specific case.

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