How to get your degree recognized in Germany

7 min read

If you are planning to work in Germany, your international academic credentials play a crucial role. Discover how to get your degrees officially recognized in Germany hassle-free.

Andrea Roth Last updated on May 16, 2023
Abstract illustration of a staircase in the form of a stack of books with a light bulb on top symbolizing authority processes

Recognition of degrees for working in Germany

Having your academic degrees and professional qualification is one thing, but only official recognition is accepted as proof of your skills. Increase the probability of getting a job in Germany with this whitepaper by Nioomi – your specialist for relocating to Germany.

As international education systems and legal requirements, especially for regulated professions like lawyers or doctors, vary worldwide, the scope and requirements of a professional qualification also vary.

According to the Skilled Immigration Act (Fachkräfte Einwanderungsgesetz) of March 2020, this recognition procedure is usually a prerequisite for the immigration of skilled migrant workers to Germany. This applies, in particular, to professionally qualified specialists and those who want to work in regulated professions (Reglementierte Berufe).

The Federal Recognition Act (Anerkennungsgesetz) enables international skilled migrant workers to have their existing professional qualifications (Berufsqualifikation) checked for equivalence in Germany.

Use Nioomi’s Eligibility Checker to determine whether your degree is recognized in Germany.

Non-regulated professions in Germany

As non-regulated professions are not legally protected in Germany, you could exercise such a profession without recognition of qualifications. However, if you immigrate to Germany from a third country, you will typically require the recognition of your qualifications to obtain a residence permit. In addition, prospective employers in Germany may request recognition of qualifications to assess the skills of a migrant worker better.

Simplified regulations for EU/EEA/Switzerland citizens

If you are a citizen from an EU/EEA country or Switzerland, simplified regulations apply in the recognition procedure for certain professional qualifications. The so-called automatic recognition applies to professions listed in the EU Directive on the Recognition of Professional Qualifications: (specialized) doctors, (specialized) dental practitioners, (specialized) veterinary surgeons, general care nurses, midwives, and architects. The European Professional Card (EPC) also simplifies the recognition procedure for specific professional qualifications within the EU and EEA.

Under the Skilled Immigration Act, companies may be able to apply for an accelerated procedure for the residence of skilled workers from third countries to shorten the recognition procedure to two months.

Citizens from an EU/EEA country or Switzerland who only occasionally practice their regulated occupation in Germany must register with the competent authority, but recognition is unnecessary.

High-demand professions

IT specialists are in urgent demand in Germany. As a skilled worker in IT, you may consider a residence permit for IT specialists to obtain qualified employment in Germany, regardless of your degree.

Recognition of qualifications for studying in Germany

Recognition of academic credentials is also required if you are planning to get an advanced degree in Germany.

Unlike professional certificates that fall under the Federal Recognition Act, academic qualifications are not regulated by law in Germany. The higher education institution you are applying to ensures that an applicant has the relevant qualifications. In practice, universities are strict in guaranteeing a high-quality education.

The DAAD has helpful further reading and information.

Regulated professions in Germany

In particular, regulated professions in Germany require official recognition of your professional certificates and postgraduate degrees to ensure that you are working competently and safely in your industry in Germany.

Legally regulated professions in Germany are typically in the area of health, medicine, nursing, legal work, safety, food, and social affairs and require a professional license (Berufsausübungserlaubnis) in Germany. This includes doctors, teachers, engineers, architects, and masters in craft trades.

Foreign professional qualifications are only recognized in Germany if they are equivalent to a German qualification. This will be assessed based on your application to the recognition procedure.

To obtain authorization to practice in a regulated profession, additional criteria may be assessed, e.g., knowledge of the German language.

Recognition procedure: How to get your degree recognized in 3 steps

So, do you want to have your academic credentials officially recognized in Germany? Follow these three simple steps to navigate this process hassle-free.

Keep in mind that you can already start the application before entering Germany. It is advisable to do so as the consideration of your application can take up to four months after you have submitted all the required documents and paid the applicable fee.


  • You are a migrant aspiring to work or study in Germany
  • You have completed recognized professional qualifications abroad and obtained an official certificate
  • German residence or citizenship is not required for the recognition procedure

1. Research if you must have your qualifications recognized

As a first step, check if you are required to have your academic degrees officially recognized in Germany in the first place. Questions to ask yourself:

  • Is the profession I plan to do in Germany regulated?
  • Has my prospective employer requested the recognition of my qualifications?
  • Does my application for the Blue Card, Work Visa, or Job Seeker require the recognition of my degrees?
  • Is a recognition of my degree required for my further university studies in Germany?
  • Do I have certification of my German language skills, e.g., A2, B2

Typically, vocational subjects won’t require recognition in Germany, while regulated professions and university applications will. The relocating experts at Nioomi are happy to help you.

2. Determine the local authority responsible for your industry

Unfortunately, Germany has no centralized authority to handle the recognition of qualifications. Depending on your profession and the type of qualification you would like to have officially recognized in Germany, you must fill out an application and submit it to the respective government body.

The Central Office for Foreign Education (ZAB - Zentralstelle für ausländisches Bildungswesen) is the official point of contact for this. The ZAB also issues statements of comparability (Aussagen zur Vergleichbarkeit) for foreign higher education qualifications in non-regulated professions.

Use ZAB’s tool called Anabin to determine which German authority is responsible for recognizing your qualifications in the German region you are planning to live in, work, or study.

The Anabin platform is also used to check university qualifications by admissions staff at higher education facilities in Germany. You can use it to pre-assess your existing qualification and learn more about your situation and recognition requirements.

3. Fill out and submit your application & pay the fee

Your application package includes the following:

  • The application form.
  • Proof of your identity.
  • The academic/professional degrees you wish to have recognized, including evidence of the scope and duration of the qualification.

Depending on your profession, you may also be required to include a short CV, evidence of your professional experience, evidence of your intention to work in Germany, proof of German language skills, medical fitness certification, proof of professional liability insurance cover, EU Certificate of Conformity (medical personnel), and/or certification of entitlement to practice the profession in the country of training.

As it is required to submit originals or certified copies, you must submit the application in person or via regular mail. Applications via email or online forms are not possible at this point. Keep in mind that you may have to have the documents translated into German by authorized translators.

Certificates and possibly supporting documents stating the scope and duration of the education are necessary for this assessment. Professional experience, as well as additional knowledge and skills, may also be taken into account.

The recognition procedure can cost up to 600 Euros (~630 USD). The authority responsible for your case can inform you about the individual costs of your recognition procedure. They will also email you the fee and payment details. Financial support may be available, for example, from the Federal Employment Agency (Bundesagentur für Arbeit).

Remember that your application is only processed after you have paid the fee!

Approval & notice of equivalence

A thorough examination of your application may take up to four months. The authority responsible for your case may request a skills analysis.

Once the authority has clarified everything and assessed your application, you – ideally – receive a letter with the notice of equivalence (Gleichwertigkeitsbescheid). This further differentiates between full recognition and partial recognition, which you typically can complete with additional studies to make it full recognition.

If you cannot determine an equivalent qualification in Germany during this official process, you may have to take additional studies to match the degree/qualification.

After this, congratulations are in order! You are ready to start your career in Germany or take up university studies.

Would you like to take a shortcut? Nioomi guides you through the recognition process based on your individual requirements. The Anabin database is fully integrated into our service. We’ve translated their German-only information for your convenience. Click here to get started.

Key takeaways

  • Various work visas for Germany, like the Blue Card and job seeker visa, require official recognition of your qualification (degree).
  • Start the recognition process early, as it can take up to four months to have your qualifications checked.
  • Recognition of qualifications and getting work or student visas for Germany are two separate procedures.

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