Service Occupations

Service Occupations

Recognition of Foreign Professional Qualifications

One of the most important questions to answer before working or doing business in Germany is: ''Are the professional qualifications that I acquired recognized?'' The answer depends on a number of factors including whether the acquired professional qualifications relate to a so-called liberal profession (freier Beruf), a regulated skilled trade (Handwerk), or some other kind of commercial business. The amount of training and the professional experience the provider possesses are also factors that will be considered. If you work in a regulated occupation, you must apply for the recognition of your qualifications at the competent authority in the federal state where you want to practice. Regulated professions are the sixty occupations whose practice is governed by law in order to guarantee the achievement of the required qualification skills.

The EU Directive on the Recognition of Professional Qualifications (2005/36/EC) stipulates the right of recognition for citizens of the European Union, if the level of their professional qualification equals the German standard. Otherwise, applicants can compensate for the missing expertise by taking an aptitude test or by gaining further experience during an adaptation period. More information on the mutual recognition within the EU is available on the website of the European Commission.

Professional qualifications of non-EU citizens can be recognized if they are equivalent to the required German standards. However, some occupations, e.g. academic degrees in the legal professions, are excluded from recognition. The only exception is if the qualifications of non-EU citizens have already been recognized in another Member State of the European Union and the non-EU professionals have practiced their occupation at least three years in that country.

Non-regulated occupationsin Germany do not require any formal recognition procedure. Nevertheless, in many cases it is possible to obtain an official certificate that proves the equivalence of the achieved training or education to a certain German qualification. Within the European Union, the Europass documents facilitate the comparison of the achieved skills and qualifications