Recognition is a prerequisite for practicing the so-called regulated professions - such as medical professions and master craftsmen. In the case of non-regulated professions, such as most of approximately 330 professions pursued in the dual training system, formal recognition is not mandatory but is helpful for evaluating your candidates’ professional qualifications and identifying further training needs. In addition, professional recognition is mandatory for skilled workers willing to immigrate to Germany from non-EU countries (exceptions: IT professions and professional drivers; as of August 2021).
The equivalence reviews are carried out by the so-called competent bodies for professional recognition. These include, for example, the local chambers of crafts, the IHK FOSA (Foreign Skills Approval) and various state authorities.
With the recognition finder of the online portal "Recognition in Germany" you can quickly and easily find the competent bodies responsible for the professions in question with all contact information. It is very helpful to use the "Profi-Filter".
After an application and all relevant documents have been submitted, the competent body responsible reviews whether the foreign professional qualification is equivalent to the German reference qualification. This review is always based on the German training program as defined at the time of the review.
Once all required documents have been submitted, the qualifications assessment process will usually be completed within three months but can be extended (once only) in complicated cases. The processing time is reduced to two months for fast-track procedures.
The recognition procedure is subject to a fee based on schedules established by the relevant competent bodies and different states. The fee varies greatly depending on the amount of work involved in completing the recognition process, the individual situation, and the reference profession. The section "Costs and Funding" provides you with further information.
Anyone who has obtained a professional qualification abroad can submit an application for assessment of the qualification. This specifically includes:
- individuals who already live in Germany
- citizens or residents of the EU, EEA or Switzerland
- individuals living in other countries who can demonstrate that they intend to work in Germany.
Applications can be submitted within Germany or from abroad regardless of nationality and residence status. Thus, German citizens who obtained their professional qualification abroad are also entitled to an equivalency review.
Note: Only individuals with a formal professional qualification can apply for recognition. Workers without a formal vocational qualification are not entitled to an equivalency review, since undocumented skills alone cannot be considered. However, for applicants who already have at least one formal vocational qualification, additional competences acquired by informal means may be taken into account. The minimum duration of vocational training must be one year.
“Equivalence” does not mean that the foreign qualification must be identical to its German counterpart. The key criterion for granting equivalence of qualification is that as a result of foreign vocational training the applicant has acquired the knowledge and skills necessary for practising that profession in Germany. In addition to formal learning outcomes, relevant work experience or other evidence of competence are taken into consideration.
Partial equivalence means that there are significant differences between the foreign and German professional qualifications. To work in a regulated profession, these differences must be compensated for by appropriate compensation measures, which are specified in the recognition notification. For non-regulated professions, it is possible to apply directly on the labor market even if there are significant differences. In this case you can decide whether the skills and knowledge are sufficient to carry out the job in your company or whether it makes sense to offer targeted measures to compensate the differences. In our section on adaptation qualification, you can find out what an adaptation qualification can look like. After an adaptation qualification, the applicant can submit a follow-up application and thus obtain full equivalence to the German reference qualification.
Tip: the website of the project “Professional recognition for business” (UBA) provides further questions and answers on professional recognition from the perspective of companies.