The recognition of foreign professional qualifications is becoming increasingly important in view of the high demand for skilled workers among German and Bavarian companies. The Federal Republic of Germany and the Free State of Bavaria are dependent on foreign skilled workers to maintain prosperity in the medium to long term.
In Bavaria, it has been possible since 2013 to have professional qualifications acquired abroad recognised in an official procedure. The recognition procedure is based on defined formal criteria, such as the content and duration of the training. In a recognition procedure, the recognition body carries out an equivalence test. In this process, the foreign vocational qualification is compared with the corresponding German or Bavarian qualification (reference occupation). An application for professional recognition can only be submitted if a professional qualification acquired abroad is available. Unskilled or semi-skilled persons without a formal vocational qualification cannot apply for recognition.
Regulated and non-regulated professions
Whether a recognition procedure is mandatory for taking up or practising a profession in Bavaria depends on whether the corresponding reference profession is regulated. A regulated profession is
a professional activity or a group of professional activities for which the taking up or the exercise or one of the modes of exercise is directly or indirectly linked by legal or administrative regulations to the possession of specific professional qualifications; a mode of exercise is in particular the use of a professional title which is restricted by legal or administrative regulations to persons who possess a specific professional qualification.
Thus, if the reference profession is a regulated profession according to the above definition, the recognition of the foreign qualification is mandatory in order to be able to work in the corresponding profession in Bavaria. Regulated professions exist both in the area of professional qualifications (e.g. nursing specialist) and in the area of academic qualifications (e.g. doctor, architect, social pedagogue, engineer).
If the reference occupation is not regulated, it is not mandatory to undergo a recognition procedure in order to take up or exercise the corresponding occupation. With a foreign qualification in a non-regulated occupation, it is also possible to apply and be hired directly on the labour market. Professional qualifications which are not regulated are, for example, all dual training professions, in particular professions in the area of the Chambers of Industry and Commerce (IHK) (e.g. bank clerk, industrial clerk) and in the area of the Chambers of Crafts (HwK) (e.g. baker, hairdresser). In this case, however, the recognition procedure makes sense in order to make the foreign qualification transparent and easier to assess for the employer. In some cases, the employer also explicitly requests recognition of the qualification.
For academic qualifications that are not regulated, a recognition procedure cannot be applied for. Instead, the Central Office for Foreign Education (ZAB) in Bonn can assess the academic qualification.
The diversity of vocational training qualifications means that different recognition bodies are responsible for recognition. Which recognition office is responsible depends on the relevant reference occupation and the planned place of work. You can find out which recognition body is responsible for you in the Recognition Finder of the Recognition Portal.
Examples of recognition bodies in Bavaria:
- Academic health professions (e.g. doctor, pharmacist): Government of Upper Bavaria
- Health care professions (e.g. nurse or nursing specialist): governments
- Handicraft professions: Chambers of Crafts
- Industrial-technical professions: IHK FOSA (Foreign Skills Approval)
- Social and childhood educators: Centre Bavaria Family and Social Affairs (ZBFS), region Lower Franconia
Advice centres for the recognition of foreign professional qualifications
In order to be optimally prepared for a recognition procedure at a recognition office, it is advisable in most cases to seek advice from a recognition counselling office beforehand. With the help of the recognition counsellors, the reference occupation can be determined, which is decisive for which recognition office is responsible. In addition, the necessary documents can already be checked for completeness at the recognition counselling centres, financing options can be found and opportunities for qualification can be identified.
In Bavaria you will find recognition counselling centres in
- Munich, Nuremberg, Augsburg and Passau: counselling centres of the project Integration through Qualification (IQ) of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs as well as
- in Landshut, Ingolstadt, Regensburg, Bamberg and Würzburg: counselling centres of the Berufliche Fortbildungszentren der Bayerischen Wirtschaft - bfz. The bfz counselling centres have been funded by the Bavarian State Ministry for Family, Labour and Social Affairs since 2016.
All of the aforementioned counselling centres offer counselling for those seeking recognition as well as for companies.
In addition, since 1 March 2021, the Coordination and Counselling Centre for Professional Recognition (KuBB for short) at the Government of Middle Franconia in Nuremberg has been offering counselling services on the recognition of foreign professional qualifications. KuBB is aimed at the following target groups:
- Companies that want to recruit skilled workers from third countries within the framework of an accelerated skilled worker procedure (further information on this below under "Skilled Worker Immigration Act").
- Recognition seekers who work in Bavaria and want to have their professional qualifications in the field of health care professions recognized.
Further information on the KuBB and corresponding contact details can be found at www.berufsanerkennung.bayern.de.
In addition to recognition counselling, it is also possible to obtain advice on qualification and adaptation measures from the above-mentioned counselling centres. All counselling centres are free of charge and can answer all questions on professional recognition electronically, (video) by telephone or in person.
We strongly recommend that you consult one of the above-mentioned advice centres before initiating a recognition procedure! A direct application without knowledge of the procedure and the documents to be submitted can lead to (considerable) delays.
Skilled Workers Immigration Act
The Skilled Workers Immigration Act came into force on 1 March 2020. The Act provides significantly more opportunities for skilled workers from third countries to enter Germany. For example, there are facilitations for people with professional qualifications, which were previously only open to people with academic degrees. This includes, for example, entry for the purpose of seeking employment (Section 20 of the Residence Act). The decisive prerequisite for a residence title is the status as a skilled worker (with vocational or academic training) whose foreign qualification is recognised.
The Act has also created a new entry procedure: the accelerated procedure for skilled workers (Section 81a of the Residence Act). With the help of this procedure, companies that already have contacts with skilled workers in third countries can bring them to Germany more easily and quickly in order to employ them in their company. Processing times for authorities are shortened in the accelerated procedure for skilled workers (in the recognition procedure, for example, from three to two months).
If you as a company are interested in an accelerated procedure for skilled workers and would like to find out more about the procedure, you can contact the Central Office for the Immigration of Skilled Work ers (ZSEF). If your questions relate specifically to the recognition of foreign professional qualifications, you can contact the KuBB.
Online recognition procedure for social and childhood pedagogy
In the course of the digitalisation of the Bavarian administration, the ZBFS Unterfranken offers the recognition procedures for social and childhood ped agogues fully digitally since January 2021. The submission of paper documents is no longer required. This applies to all countries of origin.
Answers to frequently asked questions
Here you can find the FAQs on the recognition of foreign professional qualifications: www.stmas.bayern.de/berufsbildung/anerkennung-ausland.