In Bavaria, it has been possible since 2013 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 types of exercise is directly or indirectly linked by legal or administrative regulations to the possession of certain professional qualifications; a type 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 office is responsible in the Recognition Finder of the Recognition 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 for Bavarian 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 advisable in most cases to seek advice from a recognition counseling center 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.
In Bavaria, you can find recognition counseling centers in
All of the aforementioned counseling centers offer counseling for both those seeking recognition and companies.
In addition, since March 1, 2021, the Coordination and Advisory Office for Vocational Recognition (KuBB for short) at the Government of Central Franconia in Nuremberg has been offering advisory services on the recognition of foreign vocational 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 (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.
For more information on KuBB and relevant contact details, please visit www.berufsanerkennung.bayern.de.
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.
We strongly recommend that you consult one of the above-mentioned advice centers 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 Worker Immigration Act
On March 1, 2020, the Skilled Worker Immigration Act came into force. The law provides significantly more opportunities for skilled workers from third countries to enter Germany. For example, it makes it easier for people with professional qualifications to enter Germany, which was 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 recognized.
The law 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 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 KuBB.
Answers to frequently asked questions
FAQs on the recognition of foreign professional qualifications can be found at www.stmas.bayern.de/berufsbildung/anerkennung-ausland.
A procedure for equivalence assessment can be applied for by any person who has
- has acquired an educational qualification or other professional qualification abroad and
- intends to pursue gainful employment in Bavaria.
Proof of training means that the applicant must provide evidence of a professional qualification completed abroad. Anyone who has not acquired a verifiable foreign professional qualification cannot submit an application. Professional experience can only be used to compensate for deficits in training if a qualification was obtained abroad in the first place. The prerequisite for entitlement to an equivalence determination procedure is thus proof of a so-called "primary qualification" that has been awarded by an authorized body.
Intention to work means that the applicant must have the intention to be gainfully employed in Bavaria, i.e. to work in dependent employment (blue-collar worker, white-collar worker, civil servant, etc.) or as a self-employed person (entrepreneur).
In general, this intention to work is presumed on the basis of the EU fundamental freedoms (freedom of establishment and free movement of workers) for applicants residing in Bavaria or within the EU/EEA or another contracting state as well as for nationals from member states of the EU, an EEA contracting state and another contracting state. The presumption can be rebutted in individual cases on the basis of special reasons (e.g. applicant declares that he/she is only seeking proceedings to clarify pension claims).
Otherwise, the intention must be proven by means of appropriate documentation. These can be:
- Applying for an entry visa for gainful employment,
- contacting potential employers (e.g. letter of application, rejection from employer),
- in the case of planned self-employment, a business concept or proven contact with the Trade Licensing Office, Tax Office, Employer's Liability Insurance Association or a provider of financing.
Applicants must always submit the application in person. Authorizations are possible. However, it is not possible for potential employers to submit an application.
An application can be submitted regardless of citizenship and residence status.
The recognition body checks whether there are significant differences in content or time between the professional qualification acquired abroad and the corresponding qualification in Bavaria (reference profession). If there are significant differences, these can be compensated for by other proof of qualification (e.g. further training, additional training) or by proven relevant professional experience.
The examination is always carried out on the basis of the documents submitted or requested. If there is insufficient evidence or required information for the equivalence assessment, so-called competence assessment procedures can be carried out. The analysis of the applicant's qualifications can be carried out, for example, by means of work samples, technical interviews or examinations.
If there are no significant differences, full equivalence is determined in a notice. With such a certificate of equivalence, the applicant is legally treated in the same way as a person with a corresponding German or Bavarian professional qualification.
In the case of significant differences and at the same time comparable qualification content, the recognition body describes the existing qualifications and the differences to the German qualification in the case of non-regulated professions (e.g. dual training professions). This differentiated description of the qualification status helps skilled workers in the labor market and enables targeted further qualification.
In the case of regulated occupations, formalized compensatory measures (examination, adaptation course) are provided for in the context of occupational licensing if significant differences are identified. Successfully completed compensatory measures provide evidence of equivalent skills and knowledge.