Recognition of foreign certificates

Update 02.04.2021

Are my qualifications recognised in Germany?

If you have obtained your school or vocational qualification outside Germany, you can have it recognised here. Unlike vocational qualifications, your university/school qualifications may already be recognised: you can check the official portal Anabin to see whether your school, university, and degree are listed as recognised. You can read more about this in ‘How can I find out whether my qualification is categorically recognised?‘ 

In the recognition process, your degree is compared with a similar German degree. When your qualification is verified as an equivalent to the corresponding German degree, your diploma is "recognised", and you will have better chances in the job market.

All people with foreign qualifications have the right to this recognition process- it does not matter what residence status or nationality you have. 

Please note: People who are still abroad sometimes have to provide relevant documents (e.g., training place, job offer) to prove that they intend to pursue vocational training or employment in Germany. If that is the case, you can also have your professional qualifications recognised in Germany. 

*This information page has been updated with the support of the IQ Network NRW.

The recognition process

Do I have to have my foreign degree recognised?

For some professions, you need a recognised vocational qualification or university degree, as well as a so-called professional licence. If you have obtained a school or professional qualification abroad, you will always need these qualifications to be recognised. Also, additional recognition is required for some professions, such as doctors, lawyers, nurses, or teachers.  These professions are called "regulated professions" ("reglementierte Berufe"). If you would like to work in a regulated profession, you must have your qualification recognised and also apply for a licence to practise from the competent institution in your (future) federal state of residence. You can find out how in the section ‘Where can I have my qualification recognised?’. For a list of regulated professions in Germany, visit BERUFENET.

Furthermore, you need to have your professional qualifications recognised if you want to become self-employed in a so-called "licensed trade" ("zulassungspflichtigten Handwerk"). Trade Guild Codes (attachment A) contains a list of all licensed trades that require recognition.

If your job is not regulated, you do not need to have your degree recognised. Going through recognition, however, improves your chances of finding a footing in the German job market.

You can check whether your degree is one of the regulated professions in Germany on the Employment Agency's website (in German) and (in English).

Please note: If you would like to come to Germany with a job-hunting or employment visa, you need to have your qualification recognised in advance.

Where can I seek advice regarding the recognition procedure?

It is worth to seek advice concerning the recognition process in advance. Staff at counselling centres can tell you exactly which body is responsible for the recognition of your degrees, what the next steps are, and how you can finance the recognition process.

The best place to seek help is the counselling centres of the IQ Netzwerk. The staff there can help you through all the steps of the recognition process. You can find one of the counselling centres of IQ Netzwerk in your area on (sorted by federal state) at the top left under the turquoise menu button. You can also contact IQ Netzwerk by phone or e-mail via the helpline "Working and Living in Germany". The helpline is also responsible for those who are still abroad. The staff speak German and English and can be reached by phone (+49 30 1815 1111). The consultation is free, but you have to pay regular telephone charges for the call. You can also write a message using the hotline contact form.

If you are abroad, you can seek advice in English or German from the Central Service Centre for Professional Recognition (ZSBA) after an initial consultation via the hotline. The ZSBA will help you with your application and guide you through the recognition procedure until you arrive in Germany.

How can I find out whether my qualification is categorically recognised?

Depending on whether it is a school, academic or vocational qualification, you can check different databases to see whether the type of qualification you hold is generally recognised.

  • In the Anabin database, you can check your school certificates to see whether you qualify for university entrance. In the details, you will find the ratings of the school-leaving certificates and the year in which they were issued.
  • You can also check your academic qualifications in the Anabin database. It is important that the university degree and the institution (university) itself are recognised; when that is the case, it will be noted as the status H+. Important: Make sure that the title of your higher education qualification matches the title of your degree certificate.
  • A vocational qualification must always be individually compared with a German vocational training programme required for the job  (due to its school-related and practical aspects). You can find out how you can have your vocational qualification recognised under the section ‘Where can I have my qualification recognised? '
Where can I have my degree recognised?

Depending on whether it is a school diploma, an academic degree or a professional certificate, different bodies are responsible for the recognition procedure.

  • School Diplomas are recognised by the Certificate Recognition Offices ("Zeugnisanerkennungsstelle") of each federal state. You can find the responsible office in the anabin database. If you want to go through vocational training, your school certificates do not necessarily have to be recognised. You can find out which requirements you need to fulfil in our chapter ‘Dual Vocational Training’.
  • Academic degrees can be recognised by the Central Office for Foreign Education ("Zenteralstelle für auländisches Bildungswesen" or ZAB). The ZAB maintains the database (Anabin) where you can see whether your degree is already categorically recognised in Germany. You can directly apply for the recognition of your certificates at ZAB. For more information, check out Zeugnisbewertung. You can also read more on in GermanEnglishFrench and Spanish
  • For professional qualifications, you can use the "Anerkennungs-Finder" to find out which body is responsible. There you can either enter your job title directly or choose the category "Wählen Sie Ihren Beruf aus der A-Z list" and find your job on the list. The second step is to enter the name of your city. Then the office responsible for your recognition process will be displayed.

If you are not sure what your profession is called in German, you can search BERUFENET’s website for the exact name. The website is currently only available in German.

Please note: The same offices are in charge of your application for recognition even if you are still abroad. If you are outside Germany, apply to an office in the place where you would like to live in Germany later.

How can I apply for the recognition of my qualifications?

If you have found the proper recognition office, you can apply for the recognition of your degrees directly. But first:

  1. clarify how you want to fund the recognition process. You can read more in this regard in the section "Where can I obtain financial aid to pay for the recognition process?
  2. Gather all the relevant certificates and documents in advance. Certified copies and translations are not always required. You can have the documents required for recognition translated by a state-recognised translator. Check out the website for a list of state-recognised translators. If you do not have any documents that prove the qualifications you have obtained, seek advice from a counselling centre.

After your degree has been checked, you will be notified whether or not your degrees have been recognised. 

Once your degree is recognised, you will receive a so-called "certificate of recognition" ("Anerkennungsbescheid"). That means your professional skills are equal to a person with a degree obtained in Germany.

Important: It is recommended that you do not submit originals, but only copies. The documents that you submitted with your application will not be returned.

What can I do if my degree is not (or is only partially) recognised?

If your qualification was not recognised or is only partially recognised, you can still work in your profession, given your profession is not regulated. It is, however, still worth applying for full recognition and completing the missing qualifications listed in the rejection notice. You can then submit a so-called “follow-up application” (“Folgeantrag”) at a later date and receive full professional recognition. 

If you want to practise a regulated profession, you need full recognition of your qualifications. Therefore, if your qualifications do not correspond fully, you must complete a compensatory measure to be allowed to practise the regulated profession in question. 

If you are still abroad and have a job offer, contact your future workplace and submit an application for “Gleichwertigkeit” (equivalence assessment) to the Immigration Office in your future place of residence in Germany. Your future employer can then draw up a so-called “Anpassungsplan”. An “Anpassungsplan” (roughly: ‘adaptation plan’) helps you to complete the necessary further training to catch up on the missing knowledge in the workplace. Once the “Anpassungsplan” has been completed, a new application for equivalence assessment can be submitted; and your qualification will then be fully recognised.

If you are in Germany as a person with protection status, EU freedom of movement agreement or as part of a family reunion and your qualification has not been recognised, your application will be rejected. But it is worth checking whether another reference profession or another recognition body might be more suitable for your case. 

You can also take a test on or NEWPLAN to find out which profession fits your skills and knowledge. You can ask the staff at the Jobcentre or Employment Agency for more information about myskills and NEWPLAN. Your test results can help you find a suitable job offer and may translate to further qualifications for you. You can take an initial test at home in advance under The tests are available in different languages.

The counselling centres of the IQ Netzwerk can provide you with advice on these qualifying measures. You can find a counselling centre in your area on (sorted by federal state) at the top left under the turquoise menu button.

 Good to know: A “certificate of equivalence” ("Gleichwertigkeitsbescheid") is an official document that gives you and anyone who holds a foreign professional qualification easier access to the German labour market. This document determines whether your professional qualification is fully or partially equivalent to a similar German professional qualification (the so-called “reference occupation”). If only partial equivalence is determined, you will find out which additional qualifications you need to obtain full equivalence.

How long does the recognition procedure take?
  • applications at ZAB and applications made by those entitled to occupational health benefits, in principle, take 1 month 
  • Applications for recognition from skilled workers with a university degree can take up to 6 months, depending on the country of graduation. The same applies to applications for recognition from people without a concrete job offer.
  • The processing time for the recognition of professional qualifications takes between 1 and 3 months.

The recognition procedure begins as soon as the competent body has all the necessary documents. For more complex recognition procedures, such a period may be extended once.

Important: Unfortunately, the recognition procedure can take longer in practice. It is best to contact one of the counselling centres mentioned above if the waiting time is unusually long. 

How much does the recognition procedure cost?

The costs of the recognition procedure may vary depending on your case. In addition to the recognition procedure fees (€0 to €600), you may have to pay for the translation and certification of the document. You may also have to pay for course(s) and examination fees. The initial application for recognition of academic qualifications costs €200.  

Where can I seek financial aid for the recognition procedure?

If you are registered at the Jobcentre or the Employment Agency, you can ask the staff member responsible for financial support for the recognition procedure. The jobcentre and Employment Agency can cover the costs of the recognition procedure as well as further training. If the Jobcentre or the Employment Agency rejects your application, make sure they send you the rejection notice in writing.

If Jobcentre or the Employment Agency does not support you, you can apply for a so-called "recognition grant" ("Anerkennungszuschuss"). Those with low income are entitled to recognition grants. You can apply for such a grant at one of the counselling centres of the IQ Netzwork. Before applying, you can seek advice in advance via phone or e-mail. You can reach the staff (who mainly speak German) on the phone at +49 371 4 33 11 222 or per mail via recognition-energies@f-bb.dePlease note, however, that applications will only be accepted until 30 June 2024. It is not yet known whether the programme will be extended further

Those who live in Berlin or Hamburg also have an alternative way to support the recognition process financially. To learn about the Hardship Fund for Professional Recognition in Berlin visit If you live in Hamburg, visit for more information about the scholarship programs you can use to finance your recognition procedure.

Unfortunately, people who are not yet in Germany cannot receive financial support for their recognition procedure. 

Please note: To benefit from the above-mentioned financial aid, you must apply for them before submitting your application for recognition. Otherwise, you will not be able to receive any financial support for your recognition procedure.


For regulated professions, you have to have a work permit and therefore need to apply for recognition of your qualifications. No one can work in these professions without a work permit.

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