In Bavaria, it is possible to have professional qualifications acquired abroad recognized 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 practicing an occupation in Bavaria depends on whether the corresponding reference occupation is regulated. A regulated profession is a professional activity or a group of professional activities for which the taking up or exercise or one of the modes of exercise is directly or indirectly linked by legal or administrative regulations to the possession of certain 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 certain 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 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 profession is not regulated, it is not mandatory to go through a recognition procedure to take up or practice the corresponding profession. With a foreign qualification in a non-regulated profession, it is also possible to apply and be hired directly on the labor market. Professional qualifications that are not regulated are, for example, all dual training professions, especially 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 is useful 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 evaluate the academic qualification.
The diversity of vocational education qualifications means that different recognition bodies are responsible for recognition. Which recognition office is responsible depends on the corresponding reference occupation and the planned place of work. You can find out which recognition body is responsible for you by using the Recognition Finder on the "Recognition in Germany" portal.
Examples of recognition bodies in Bavaria:
- Academic health professions (e.g., physician, pharmacist): Government of Upper Bavaria
- Health care professions (e.g., nurse or nursing specialist): Governments
- Craft professions: Chambers of Crafts
- Industrial-technical professions: IHK FOSA (Foreign Skills Approval)
- Social and childhood educators: Center Bavaria Family and Social Affairs (ZBFS), Lower Franconia Region
Advice centers for the recognition of foreign professional qualifications
In order to be optimally prepared for a recognition procedure at a recognition office, it is strongly recommended that you seek advice from a recognition counseling office beforehand. With the help of the recognition consultants, 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, financing options can be found, and opportunities for qualification can be identified at the recognition counseling centers.
Recognition counseling centers can be found in Bavaria in
- Munich, Nuremberg, Augsburg and Passau: counseling centers of the project Integration through Qualification (IQ) of the Federal Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs as well as
- in Landshut, Ingolstadt, Regensburg, Bamberg and Würzburg: counseling centers of the Berufliche Fortbildungszentren der Bayerischen Wirtschaft - bfz, which are funded by the Bavarian State Ministry for Family Affairs, Labor and Social Affairs.
All of the aforementioned counseling centers offer counseling for those seeking recognition as well as for companies.
In addition, the Coordination and Counseling Center for Vocational Recognition (KuBB for short) at the Government of Middle Franconia in Nuremberg offers counseling services for the recognition of foreign vocational qualifications. KuBB addresses the following target groups:
- Companies that want to recruit skilled workers from third countries within the framework of an accelerated skilled worker procedure (for more information, see "Skilled Worker Immigration Act" below).
- Recognition seekers who work in Bavaria and want to have their professional qualifications in the field of healthcare professions recognized.
Further information on the KuBB and corresponding contact details can be found on its website (see "Further links").
In addition to recognition counseling, it is also possible to obtain advice on qualification and adaptation measures from the aforementioned counseling centers. All counseling centers are free of charge and can answer all questions about occupational recognition electronically, (video) by telephone or in person.
Accelerated procedure for skilled workers (§ 81 a Residence Act)
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 skilled worker procedure (in the recognition procedure, for example, from three to two months).
If you as a company are interested in implementing an accelerated skilled worker procedure and would like to find out more about the procedure, you can contact the Central Office for the Immigration of Skilled Workers (ZSEF for short). If the questions relate specifically to the area of recognition of foreign professional qualifications, you can contact the KuBB.