The general aim of the recognition of foreign qualifications is to offer persons holding such qualifications better opportunities to access the educational system and labour market in Germany. In a recognition procedure, foreign training and qualifications are fundamentally assessed in terms of content, form and duration and aligned to a German qualification if recognition is granted. Formal recognition is a mandatory prerequisite for those wishing to work in a regulated profession. Although recognition is not a binding condition for applying for work in a non-regulated occupation, it creates greater transparency with regard to existing occupational competence, which can then be better evaluated by employers in Germany. This means that recognition can also improve opportunities on the labour market in a non-regulated occupation.
Statistics on the success of the recognition procedure in Baden-Württemberg (from the entry into force of the Federal Recognition Act in April 2012 until December 2012)
1,700 procedures for the assessment of equivalence of a foreign qualification
1,199 outcomes: full equivalence
27 outcomes: partial equivalence
57 outcomes: no equivalence
(The remaining 406 procedures were still being processed at the cut-off point.)
Source: Statistisches Landesamt Baden-Württemberg
• School recognition
School recognition focuses on equating foreign school certificates and qualifications with a German school qualification. Such recognition is necessary for continued attendance at a school in Germany or for the commencement of training or work. The relevant recognition body in Baden-Württemberg is Stuttgart District Council.
• Academic recognition
Academic recognition enables the commencement or continuation of a course of higher education study in Germany and confers the right to use an academic title. Recognition is accorded to school qualifications, higher education qualifications or periods of higher education learning completed abroad. The institutes of higher education themselves act as the recognition bodies.
• Recognition of professional and vocational qualifications
The primary goal of the recognition of professional and vocational qualifications is to exercise in Germany a profession or occupation in which training has taken place abroad. The relevant recognition bodies are usually the chambers and the district councils. In the recognition of professional and vocational qualifications, a differentiation is made between regulated professions and non-regulated occupations. Regulated means that the entry to or exercising of the respective professional is dependent on the possession of certain professional qualifications. In order to exercise a regulated profession, recognition of the relevant professional qualification is mandatory.
Most occupations in Germany are non-regulated. These include around 350 training occupations and 180 advanced training qualifications within the dual system. Recognition is not compulsory, i.e. direct job applications may be submitted on the labour market without needing to undergo a formal recognition procedure. Such a procedure may, however, be useful by dint of the fact that it creates greater transparency for employers with regard to the qualification held. There is no possibility of a recognition procedure for non-regulated occupations at academic level. In this case, the Central Office for Foreign Education (ZAB) offers an opportunity to have the foreign qualification evaluated. An evaluation process describes the foreign higher education qualification and certifies the areas in which it may be utilised professionally and academically. Such certificate evaluation is, however, a comparative categorisation rather than a formal recognition.
Following an opportunity to seek advice at one of the initial counselling agencies or competence centres specialising in professional recognition, an application must be submitted to the relevant recognition body. The following documents must be presented.
• Proof of identity (e.g. identity card or passport)
• Certified copies of the original certificates
• Certified copies of the original certificates in translation
• Tabular curriculum vitae in German including documents relating to relevant professional or occupational experience, work activities and advanced training
• Completed application form for the respective competent body
•Declaration of whether a prior application has been submitted (including in another federal state)
• In the case of regulated professions: certification of entitlement to exercise the profession in the country of origin
Note: documents to be submitted may vary depending on the recognition body/procedure (e.g. Federal Expellees Act, BVFG, Professional Qualifications Assessment Act, BQFG or specific legislation governing a regulated profession).
Following submission of the application, the competent body checks whether the person concerned is entitled to make an application. The applicant receives confirmation of receipt within one month. The competent body begins the equivalence assessment when all documentation is available in full. The assessment process takes a maximum of three months. If applicants cannot provide the necessary evidence for reasons which are not their fault or if they are only able to submit part of the documentation required, the competent body conducts the equivalence assessment in non-regulated occupations via other suitable procedures such as work samples, interviews, practical and theoretical examinations and expert opinions.
The equivalence assessment may produce the following results:
1. No substantial differences
• Full equivalence is certified (notice of equivalence). The applicant is accorded equal legal status with persons in possession of a corresponding German professional or vocational qualification.
2. Substantial differences
• If differences cannot be offset by occupational experience, a notice of partial equivalence is issued in the case of non-regulated occupations only. This notice presents existing qualifications and differences to the German qualification. The deficits may be offset by adaptation training, or applicants may also seek to access the labour market directly. The notice increases transparency for employers and facilitates targeted further training if appropriate.
• If deficits cannot be offset by professional experience in the case of the regulated professions, conditions are imposed for entry to the profession, i.e. participation in a compensation measure (an aptitude test, knowledge test or adaptation course depending on the law governing the profession in question) is required if the person wishes to work in their preferred profession.
3. No equivalence
• No positive qualifications can be presented if no equivalences can be ascertained between the two profession or vocational qualifications. The application is then rejected.
• In order for applicants to work in their preferred profession, subsequent further training is possible in the case of non-regulated occupations. In the case of the regulated professions, such further training is mandatory. More information here.
Guidance and information on the recognition procedure is available from initial counselling agencies and competence centres in all four administrative regions of Baden-Württemberg (Freiburg, Mannheim, Stuttgart and Ulm).
Provision of initial counselling agencies and competence centres in Baden-Württemberg
The initial counselling agencies and competence centres may be contacted by telephone, e-mail or post. You are welcome to make a personal appointment.
Contact addresses here.
The chambers are usually responsible for recognition in the case of training occupations within the dual system.
Dealt with centrally for the whole of Germany by the Foreign Skills Approval Competence Centre of the Chambers of Commerce and Industry (IHK FOSA) in Nuremberg
Chambers of crafts and trades of Mannheim-Rhein-Neckar-Odenwald, Heilbronn-Franconia, Karlsruhe, Stuttgart Region, Reutlingen, Freiburg, Ulm, Konstanz
In Baden-Württemberg, the District Councils are usually responsible for the regulated professions.
• Specialist healthcare professions (geriatric nurse, registered general nurse, midwife): Freiburg, Karlsruhe, Stuttgart, Tübingen District Councils
Orthoptist: Freiburg District Council
Paramedic: Karlsruhe District Council
• Healthcare occupations for which academic qualifications are required (doctor, dispensing chemist, psychotherapist): Stuttgart District Council
Medical specialists: District Medical Councils of North Baden (Karlsruhe), North Württemberg(Stuttgart), South Baden (Freiburg), South Württemberg (Reutlingen)
Dental specialists: Baden-Württemberg State Dental Council
Veterinary specialists: Baden-Württemberg State Veterinary Council
• Teachers: Tübingen District Council
• Engineers: Chamber of engineers Baden-Württemberg
• Nursery school teachers: Stuttgart District Council
• Social education workers: Stuttgart District Council
In principle, the applicants themselves are liable for the costs incurred within the recognition procedure and for any additional costs that may arise, such as for certified copies of qualifications and translations. The placement budget may meet the costs for the recognition of foreign professional and vocational qualifications for persons in receipt of Class I and Class II unemployment benefits. The prerequisite here is that such recognition is necessary for integration into the general labour market. Further information is contained within the “Recommendations and Instructions” (“HEGA”) document issued by the Federal Employment Agency.
The “Recognition Finder” tool on the “Recognition in Germany” site at www.anerkennung in Deutschland.de will enable you to identify the body responsible for your particular case via a few clicks of the mouse. You will also find all the key information relating to the procedure. The Recognition Finder is available here.
Guidance and information on the recognition process is available from the initial counselling agencies and competence centres. You can also contact the chambers of crafts and trades and chambers of commerce and industry Baden-Württemberg to receive advice and further details on recognition procedures for occupations in the craft trade and trade and industry sectors (chamber of commerce and industry qualifications and chamber of crafts and trade occupations). The initial counselling agencies and competence centres in Baden-Württemberg are key contact partners because they conduct staff training courses on the topic of “recognition of foreign qualifications” for bodies such as the labour administration organisations and employers’ associations. They are thus able to provide you with a comprehensive introduction to the subject. In Baden-Württemberg, you can also obtain information on the theme of recognition from the migration advisory centres run by Caritas, by the Social Welfare Organisation of the Protestant Churches in Germany, by the German Confederation of Workers’ Welfare Associations and by the youth migration services.
If an employee at your company would like to upgrade his or her foreign professional or vocational qualification via a recognition procedure, you can support the member of staff in question with the application process. As well as offering benefits to your employee, the recognition process will also enable you to arrive at a better evaluation of the professional or vocational qualification held and help you to suggest or implement precisely tailored continuing training or retraining as and when required.
Although employees are required to submit an application for recognition themselves, you can still provide support and guidance by passing on information.
This site contains detailed information about the procedure, the costs, the recognition bodies, the legal principles of the recognition of professional or vocational qualifications and the recognition guidance bodies. Additional information portals specialising in the topic of recognition to which you may wish to refer employees are the BQ Portal and Recognition in Germany.
As an employer, you have the opportunity to acquire and recruit skilled workers from abroad in a targeted manner. This site offers information on the recognition procedure. You can support foreign skilled staff with their recognition procedure by providing information. The Internet portal “www.make-it-in germany.de”, to which you can make reference, provides additional information for (potential) foreign skilled workers on topics such as recognition, applying for a visa, life in Germany and so forth.
Information relating to many aspects of the recognition procedure is available on this site. You can use it to find out about recognition for yourself and pass on the information to the customers you are advising. The Federal Employment Agency has summarised all the important information relating to recognition and the implications for labour market guidance in its Recommendations and Instructions "HEGA 03/2012-17".
The Internet portals berufliche-anerkennung.de and anerkennung-in-deutschland.de (Recognition in Germany) also provide further information on the recognition procedure. The latter also includes an “Advanced Filter”, which you can use to search for responsible recognition bodies and filter occupations in such a way so that they can be sorted according to occupational groups or their sort of regulation.
The initial counselling agencies and competence centres in Baden-Württemberg are important contact partners for you because they conduct staff training courses on the topic of “recognition of foreign qualifications” for bodies such as the labour administration organisations and employers‘ associations. They are thus able to provide you with a comprehensive introduction to the subject. You can also obtain information on the topic of recognition from adult migrant guidance centres (MBE's) and from youth migration services (JMD).
The recognition procedure is always conducted irrespective of the status of the applicant, i.e. without regard to aspects such as nationality or residency status. Everyone has a general legal right to a recognition procedure for professional or vocational qualifications acquired abroad. Nevertheless, the prerequisites for recognition of individual occupations and occupational groups may vary, and no recognition procedure exists in principle for a whole series of professions for which an academic qualification is required. The recognition of foreign professional and vocational qualifications is also governed by various laws.
EU Directive 2005/36/EC on the recognition of professional qualifications
The EU Recognition Directive serves the purpose of implementing freedom of establishment and free provision of services within the European Union (EU). It applies in member states of the EU and the European Economic Area (EEA) and in Switzerland. All of these states guarantee that the conditions governing the exercising of a regulated profession will be the same for holders of foreign qualifications as for those in possession of a domestic qualification. Pursuant to the EU Recognition Directive, the state parties also automatically recognise qualifications in seven professions (doctor, dentist, veterinary surgeon, dispensing chemist, midwife, registered general nurse and architect) since uniform training standards have been stipulated in these cases.
Federal Recognition Act
The “Law to improve the assessment and recognition of professional and vocational education and training qualifications acquired abroad”, referred to in abbreviated form as the “Recognition Act”, entered into force in Germany on 1 April 2012. The Recognition Act is the first law to give all persons who hold a foreign professional or vocational qualification a general legal entitlement to an individual equivalence assessment for professions and occupations governed by federal law, regardless of nationality or residency status. The Recognition Act encompasses a new federal law, the so-called Professional Qualifications Assessment Act (BQFG), and amendments to the Vocational Training Act, to the Crafts and Trades Regulation Code (HwO) and to further specific ordinances. It covers all regulated professions that are governed by federal law.
Recognition acts of the federal states
In December 2010, the Prime Ministers of the federal states indicated their support for the creation of “standardised and unbureaucratic regulations for the recognition procedures of the Federal Government and the federal states”. Thirteen federal states have now drawn up their own regulations and adapted these to the Federal Recognition Act. On 11 January 2014, the “Law on the recognition of foreign professional and vocational qualifications in Baden-Württemberg” (BQFG of the federal state) entered into force. It regulates the assessment of equivalence of qualifications acquired abroad in 260 professions and occupations not covered by the Federal Recognition Act. These include 160 non-regulated occupations and a number of regulated professions such as engineer, technician, teacher, nursery school teacher and registered general nurse.
Federal Expellees Act (BVFG) of 1953
Persons who have obtained a professional or vocational qualification in the countries of the former Soviet Union or in Bulgaria, Poland, Romania, the former Czechoslovakia and Hungary and who are in possession of certification that they are a “late resettler” or “expellee” (immigrant of German ethnic origin) may elect to apply for recognition or establishment of equivalence of their professional or vocational qualification pursuant to § 10 of the Federal Expellees Act. This means that late resettlers may choose between the new procedure in accordance with the BQFG and the previous procedure under the Federal Expellees Act. The benefit of a procedure pursuant to the BVFG as opposed to the process in accordance with the BQFG is that no costs are incurred for the application process in the case of the former. The disadvantage is that the factor of professional or occupational experience is only taken into account in the case of the BQFG.
The reform of the Immigration Act in July 2007 expanded the opportunities available to foreign workers with regard to entering work in Germany. Alongside EU citizens, the German Residency Act now makes it possible for qualified third country nationals to gain a residency permit that enables them to work in Germany. Amendments to the Employment Ordinance in June 2013 have also opened up the way for third country nationals not in possession of an academic qualification to enter work in Germany. Since the change to the Immigration Act, the only differentiation made in the case of long-term residency in the country is between the residence permit, which is issued for a limited term and for a specific purpose, and the settlement permit, which is for an unlimited period. Depending on country of origin and the professional or vocational qualification held, different prerequisites apply to foreign workers with regard to being able to enter employment in Germany.
Citizens of EU/EEA states
Citizens of the EU enjoy freedom of movement and may enter member states and commence work without any requirement for a visa or residence permit. They do not generally need a work permit. The same applies to citizens of Switzerland and of the European Economic Area (Liechtenstein, Norway or Iceland). Transitional regulations are in place for Croatian nationals only, who currently are only permitted to enter work if they have obtained a work permit from an employment agency. This special regulation does not, however, require seasonal workers, trainees and skilled graduates to apply for a work permit if they are in appropriate qualified employment. Further information is available here.
Citizens of third countries
Further information is available here.
Further information is available here.
From the point of view of training participants, the objective of professional or vocational training is to maintain or expand employability skills. This results in better access to the labour market and further career advancement opportunities. There are different types of training. These range, for example, from internal company measures which do not entail any form of test to retraining and second-chance training courses which culminate in a final examination (such as the “external examination”).
The key terminology used in this context includes the following.
Adaptation training courses are aimed at persons with formal qualifications (perhaps partially recognised) which have been acquired either abroad or in Germany and which do not (or do not any longer) fulfil the requirements on the German labour market. Differences in training contents can be offset by adaptation training. In the case of a recognition procedure in which partial recognition is accorded, adaptation measures may be completed in the form of a training course or a practical placement. This enables full recognition to be acquired and formalisation of the professional or vocational qualification to be achieved without any necessity to re-sit a final examination.
Second-chance training refers to training provision which prepares participants to complete a final examination, also called an “external examination” (pursuant to § 45 Paragraph 2 of the Vocational Training Act, BBiG or in accordance with § 37 Paragraph 2 of the Crafts and Trades Regulation Code, HwO). Participants include persons working in the relevant occupation without a formal qualification and semi-skilled and unskilled workers in possession of relevant previous experience within the respective occupational field.
Supplementary training /bridging measures
Supplementary training or bridging measures are understood to be training courses which focus on other requirements aspects rather than primarily aiming at formal recognition. They are qualifications courses which foster integration into the labour market in a way that is in line with a person’s skills.
The intended purpose of upgrading training is for persons to progress within their career by expanding their skills. Upgrading training normally requires completion of vocational education and training and relevant occupational experience, mostly of several years’ duration. It is frequently governed via regulations put in place by the federal states (e.g. trade and technical schools), the Federal Government or the chambers (e.g. the master craftsman examination). Typical qualifications are master craftsman, technician, specialist commercial clerk and certified senior clerk.
Retraining refers to measures which lead to a qualification in a recognised training occupation. Completion of vocational education and training or occupational experience is required. Retraining is mostly of relevance when the previous occupation can no longer be exercised (unemployment or job-related incapacity). Employment agency funding is possible in order to end existing unemployment or to prevent impending unemployment.
A series of financing instruments is in place to fund continuing professional and vocational training. A (non-exhaustive) selective of funding possibilities for various target groups is set out below.
Training vouchers enable the employment agency and Job Centres to assume the costs of initial and continuing training. The training involved must be aimed at reintegrating unemployed persons, preventing impending unemployment or compensating for the absence of a vocational qualification. Three years of occupational experience are a further prerequisite. The employment agency or the Job Centre will also pay the costs of accommodation, travel and childcare. The decision as to whether a training voucher can be used to finance a continuing training measure is at the discretion of the employment agency or Job Centre.
The website of the Federal Employment Agency contains more information on how to obtain and use a training voucher.
Upgrading Training Assistance Act – AFGB, the so-called “MeisterBAföG”
The MeisterBAfög supports persons who wish to undertake upgrading training or are seeking to start their own business. It provides financial assistance to persons who would like to acquire a master craftsman qualification in occupations in the craft trades sector or in technical occupations. Funding is provided for advanced training courses that comprise at least 400 hours of teaching. The state pays course and examination costs up to a maximum of €10,226. Grants to cover living costs are also given in the case of full-time measures. Persons who have acquired an academic qualification abroad and wish to apply for MeisterBAfög in Germany may only do so if the qualification has not been categorised as “equivalent” by the Central Office for Foreign Education (ZAB). If such equivalence has been accorded, persons are deemed to be in possession of an academic qualification, and funding is not then possible.
The Federal Ministry of Education and Research provides more information on how to obtain the MeisterBAfög.
The “WeGebAU” programme (a German acronym for Continuing Training of Low Skilled Workers and Employed Older Persons in Companies) provides (partial) reimbursement of costs of in-service continuing training for low-skilled workers and qualified workers employed at small and medium-sized enterprises (SME’S) with up to 250 staff. SME employers may apply for funding of continuing training measures for their employees. The employees receive a training voucher which enables them to be given time off to take part in the employer training whilst continuing to receive their salary. The measure must be for the purpose of acquiring a vocational qualification, such as retraining within the company or preparation for the external examination. The company is required to pay at least 50% of the courses costs for employers at SME’s who are aged under 45. Depending on the amount of employee downtime involved, employers receive grants to cover wage costs.
More information and details of contact partners are available on the homepage of the Federal Employment Agency.
The training grant is available for all employees and self-employed persons who work for at least 15 hours per week and whose annual taxable income does not exceed €20,000. 50% of continuing training costs are paid (up to a maximum of €500). Before the training grant is redeemed, recipients are required to attend one of almost 600 advisory agencies in Germany, which provide assistance with searching for appropriate continuing training provision and providers. The training grant can then be used to pay for continuing professional and vocational training (not including internal company measures), such as English or computer courses. The Federal Employment Agency has compiled a list of continuing training provision at: kursnet-finden.arbeitsagentur.de. This database also includes information on whether training grant vouchers may be redeemed for the various continuing training measures.
More information on the training grant and the advisory agencies is available on the homepage of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research.
“Making the most of training – looking for late entrants”
This initiative is aimed at persons aged between 25 and 35 who are low skilled and unemployed or who are employed with or without a professional or vocational qualification but have been performing semi-skilled or unskilled work for at least four years. Within the scope of the programme, funding is provided for partial training courses which offer occupational connectivity and for training courses which are intended to lead to a recognised vocational qualification. The latter also include internal company training courses. The employment agency or Job Centre will also provide funding for course costs, any assistance required during retraining, travel costs, subsistence and childcare.
More information is available on the homepage of the Federal Employment Agency.
Various institutions in Baden-Württemberg are able to assist you with obtaining information on training measures that are tailored to your needs. These include the employment agencies and Job Centres, the different chambers and professional associations (such as the Federal State Medical Council, the Chamber of Engineers, the Chamber of Architects, the German Nursing Council), local government bodies (e.g. the Business Development Agency) and training providers. The Employers’ Service of the employment agencies also offers support and guidance to employers seeking information on staff training.
The Baden-Württemberg IQ Network also provides advice on professional and vocational training. This provision is directed at persons in possession of a foreign professional or vocational qualification who have received a positive or negative notice from the recognition body and who are now seeking guidance and require further support.
Advice can be provided on the following issues.
IQ training guidance is available in all four administrative regions of Baden-Württemberg. Please feel free to contact our guidance agencies.
Contact adress here.
Certain issues need to be taken into account when trying to find appropriate continuing training provision. How will the continuing training be financed? Are there opportunities for securing funding of costs by the employment agency or Job Centre? Is provision available near to where you live? How long does the course last? How can the qualification be utilised?
In the light of the plethora of available provision on the continuing training market, such a search often constitutes a major challenge.
Initial orientation is offered by the continuing training portals and by the structured summaries drawn up by various continuing training providers.
“Kursnet”: The portal of the Federal Employment Agency contains over 700,000 training measures from across the country. Most of these are certified in accordance with the “Ordinance regarding the conditions and procedure for the accreditation of professional bodies and the admission of employment support providers” (AZAV) and therefore may be funded via the employment agency or Job Centre.
Continuing training provision offered by the chambers: The chambers offer branch-specific advanced and continuing training.
Chambers of commerce and industry: The website of the Association of Chambers of Commerce and Industry in Baden-Württemberg has a summary page containing links to the regional chambers of commerce and industry and to the provision they offer. http://www.bw.ihk.de/index.php?id=10
Chambers of crafts and trades: Information on training provision offered by the chambers of crafts and trades in Baden-Württemberg is available via the continuing training section on the website of the Baden-Württemberg Association of Chambers of Crafts and Trades (BWHT). This may be accessed here.
The Continuing Training Database of the State of Baden-Württemberg has information on the topic of continuing training and links to courses and providers. www.fortbildung-bw.de/ueber-fortbildung-bw.html
The meta-search engine of the German Eduserver for Continuing Training Courses, “InfoWeb Weiterbildung”, enables research to be undertaken into general, academic, professional and vocational advanced and continuing training provision (e.g. seminars and courses, distance learning, e-learning/CBT/WBT). http://www.iwwb.de/
Information on advanced and continuing training in other professions, occupations and professional and occupational groups is available on the relevant websites of the chambers or professional associations (such as the Baden-Württemberg Federal State Medical Council, https://www.aerztekammer-bw.de/, the Baden-Württemberg Chamber of Engineers http://www.ingbw.de/, the German Nursing Council www.dbfk.de/ and the Baden-Württemberg Association of Teachers and Nursery School Teachers http://www.vbe-bw.de/wDeutsch/index.php).
The adult education centres in Baden-Württemberg are also important stakeholders within the continuing training system. Research into available advanced training provision in the state may be conducted on the website of the Baden-Württemberg Association of Adult Education Centres. http://www.vhs-bw.de/fortbildung/kurse
In the field of the regulated professions, you require full recognition of your qualification in order to be able to exercise the profession in question in Germany. If only partial recognition of your professional qualification is identified in the recognition process, you will either need to complete a test (knowledge or aptitude test) in order to gain full recognition or else the missing skills may be acquired via adaptation training.
In the area of the non-regulated occupations, formal recognition of vocational qualifications is not mandatory in order to work in the occupation in which training has taken place. You may apply for jobs on the German labour market without obtaining recognition in your occupational field. Nevertheless, adaptation training may be useful to offset missing skills and competence and therefore increase the chances of career entry or career advancement. Further information on the differences between regulated professions and non-regulated occupations is available here.