When planning a move to Germany and finding a job, people who have been educated in their home country will need to deal with the recognition of their diploma. Where to start, what documents are needed for this, where to apply – these and a number of other questions arise for everyone who wants to work in one of the German cities in their specialty. In this article we will explain the intricacies of the process and provide you with detailed information about professional qualifications recognition in accordance with the new German law.

Vocational qualifications in Germany: recognition and assessment of academic certificates

In order to be able to work in Germany in a profession that you have already obtained in your home country, you must have a special document recognizing your professional qualifications. This, in turn, will give a German employer the assurance that the profession you have acquired is equivalent to a similar profession in Germany. Therefore, your qualification confers the right to take up employment in your chosen profession in your home country. All regulated professions, such as teachers, nurses, doctors and some others, are legally required to undergo this procedure. A professional qualification is understood to be a document obtained in the profession in one’s own country, i.e. a certificate of training (diploma). The profession, however, must belong to a clearly defined profession. Recognition could also be taken if you have:
  • a certificate of professional advancement;
  • a work permit;
  • an approbation.
As a result, you will receive a decision with one of the following options:
  • Full recognition – if the qualification obtained in your country matches the German one.
  • Partial recognition – if it differs from the German qualification in terms of content and length of training. You can compensate for the difference with additional training or further training. Depending on the profession, this can be in the form of aptitude tests, training courses or theory knowledge tests.
  • Lack of recognition – this is granted in case the difference between the corresponding German profession and your qualification is too great.
It is worth noting that not all professions must go through the recognition procedure. So, for example, for mathematicians, geologists and some others, who do not imply a vocational qualification, the evaluation of educational documents is used. Once you have applied for and reviewed your university degree, the Central Office for Foreign Education (ZAB) will issue a description and specify how you can use your qualifications. Getting recognition can be an important criterion for immigration to Germany for non-EU citizens.

Recognition of professional qualifications: step-by-step instructions

You can start the process of obtaining recognition before you travel to Germany. When remaining in your country, it is worth finding out right away under what conditions you can get a work and residence permit. BSA agency managers can help you with this: they will do a quick check of your documents and make a plan for further action. This will be especially convenient for those whose German level is not too high. For others, working with managers from the agency will greatly reduce the time to search for information, gather documents, and sort out the nuances of the process, of which there are a lot. Let’s take it one step at a time: Step 1: Find out whether your profession requires recognition at all – an assessment of your educational documents might be sufficient. To do this, you have to determine which of the German professions corresponds to the profession you have acquired. Step 2: Find the competent authority in the land and city where you plan to live and work. This can be an office or institution which will carry out the recognition procedure according to the administrative and legal provisions. There are about 1,500 such offices throughout the country. Step 3. Determine the list of documents that you will need in order to apply according to specifically your profession. Step 4. Professional qualifications can be confirmed through records, or course completion certificates, or other documents confirming your experience in the profession, which should be attached to the application. You can submit it before you travel to Germany. Remember, however, that all employees at government institutions speak only German. And if you have any language difficulties or cannot find a competent authority to submit your application and documents, you can seek the assistance of our agency managers. Step 5: Wait for the results of the verification of your documents. It will take about three months, provided that you have collected all the necessary document set. This period may vary for a number of professions and in complicated cases may be extended by the institution to which you have applied, but only once and always on reasonable grounds. The process may also be longer in case of missing documents and in case of a qualification analysis (applies to persons with dual educational training and persons with the title of master). Step 6: Receive the decision in the form of a letter from the institution where the application was submitted with the result. If the recognition is full, you have the right to work within your specialty or to have an official state admission to the profession.

Partial recognition of professional qualifications in regulated and non-regulated occupations

If you receive a partial recognition decision and would like to work in one of the regulated professions, you need to make up for the substantial differences indicated in the letter. To do this, you must successfully complete training or pass an exam. This may be:
  • An Academic Bridging Program, which provides practice in the profession under the supervision of a skilled professional. The duration of the training depends on the significant differences indicated, but not more than 3 years.
  • Aptitude test, which takes into account your professional qualifications in your home country. The content of the examination material therefore relates solely to the work in the relevant specialty.
  • The theoretical knowledge test, which is conducted by the institution that gave you the decision letter. It is equivalent to the state final exam and may contain questions on all of the material or only part of it.
If you have found work in a non-regulated profession, then recognition is not required. However, you do have the right to take the recognition process, which will be an advantage when looking for a job. In addition, your future employer can help you get a refresher course by paying for it, provided that the decision of the competent authority is partial recognition.

Recognition of qualifications without documents

If you received your education in your home country and do not have all package of documents, you can also apply for recognition of qualifications. Then you will have to undergo a qualifications analysis – get an expert assessment of your professional skills. This option is suitable for those who have received vocational training or plan to become a master. To do this, you need to do trial work or answer the questions of the expert committee. The obligatory condition in this situation is that the lack of documents in your hands is not your fault. Be prepared even for the fact that you may be required to declare it under oath. In the case of professions that require recognition of qualifications, it is likely that you will be offered a theoretical knowledge test if you are undocumented. However, you will need to clarify the details of the process with the institution where you are applying to, as well as the land and the city where you plan to work. Note that the application in this situation can be submitted even without documentation.


The process of collecting documents, applying, reviewing and issuing a decision, and possibly completing additional courses or taking an exam is not quick and it costs money. In addition to the recognition process, there may be fees for:
  • translation of documents;
  • examination;
  • qualifications analysis (experts, materials or workshop rental might be paid).
The costs are paid by the applicant, but if you participate in some government programs, check with your employment center to see if they can financially support you in such a situation. Our agency will be able to help you at all stages: from finding a suitable profession in Germany to taking an advanced training exam or executing trial tests. The complexity of the process is that all government institutions that provide this service and the application itself to be submitted are in German. In addition, if you do not know all the details, you can delay the process for many months. Blue Card Agency managers are available to answer any questions and make the best plan of action to reduce waiting times and help make your move to Germany comfortable and fast.