Recognition of your diploma in Germany

Bas

Updated on Oct 09 • 4 minute read

An important part of finding a job in Germany is making sure your degree is recognised in Germany. In fact, most employers will ask you this, especially if you’re in a specialised position requiring expert knowledge. It will even play a role in actually obtaining your residence permit for Germany! So let’s take a look at how you can get your diploma recognised by the German government.

Why do I need to get my diploma recognised?

Germany sees people migrate to the country from all over the world! There are so many universities, schools and other institutions that provide degrees that you can’t possibly know them all. So, in order to make sure people don’t submit fake degrees as well as making sure that a degree meets the same standards that German institutions set for a similar or equivalent degree, you need to get your diploma recognised. In some cases, this isn’t necessary, for example, if you’ve studied at a major European University. But, for some people, their degrees are in an uncommon foreign language or their degrees were awarded by institutions that or states (e.g. the Soviet Union) that no longer exist. For that reason, everyone with university education outside the EU, EEA and Switzerland needs to get their diploma recognised.

So, not everyone needs recognition of their diplomas, but it might still come in handy! If you get your diploma recognised, prospective employers will immediately know what level of skill you’ve been acknowledged for, helping you negotiate a better salary or gain an advantage over other applicants.

Diplomas for regulated professions

Getting your diploma recognised is even more important if it’s a degree related to a regulated profession. Technically, anyone can be a baker. But a doctor? You can’t work as a medical doctor if your degree doesn’t meet the high standard that German physicians train for many years. The same goes for lawyers and other professions that have a specific license or registered title, known as reglementierte Berufe.

Protected professions in Germany include:

  • Medical doctors;
  • Dentists;
  • Veterinarians;
  • Pharmacists;
  • Nurses;
  • Midwives;
  • Architects;
  • Lawyers; etc.

How much does diploma recognition cost?

The recognition procedure itself can cost up to €600, as well as additional personal expenses depending on your situation. For example, you might need to pay for translations, certifications, or supplementary training. You also need to present your original documentation, so you might need to collect your documents in person from your home country. This is all quite expensive, but you can get some financial help from the German Federal Employment Agency in order to help pay for it.

How can I get my diploma recognised?

Overall, there are 3 major parts in the recognition process. Let’s take a look.

  • Preparation
  • The application
  • The result

Preparation

The first thing you need to do is to visit the German government’s recognition finder. This will tell you if your profession needs recognition or not and, if it does, it’s a regulated profession. You’ll also find the contact details of the authority responsible for recognising your diploma as well as the counselling centre for diploma recognition.

Before you apply, it’s recommended that you make an appointment with the counselling centre. In this meeting your can ask all your questions, find out about all the documentation you will need to make your application. This is also the moment to talk about any financial help you may need to complete your application. Make sure you come prepared with all questions you may have, because beyond this point you might be dealing with people who mostly speak German.

Application

When you’re ready, you submit your application to the authority assigned to you (found in the recognition finder). The following documents are always required:

  • Your application form
  • Valid proof of identity
  • Evidence of your professional qualification, preferably your original diploma.
  • Evidence and documentation of the actual content and length of your degree.

It’s likely that you have additional documentation to present. You’ll probably find out about this during your consultation. If some documentation is missing and/or irrecoverable, you might be able to compensate by submitting a work sample, having a discussion about the professional subject matter or run a trial period in a company.

Within 4 weeks after submitting your application, you’ll receive confirmation or a request for any missing documentation. Generally, processing your application takes a maximum of 3 months, but can take longer if documents were missing.

Results

You will receive the outcome in the form of a notice. This notice has 3 possible outcomes. Recognition, equivalence or no recognition. With recognition you meet all the standards and you’re ready to practise your (regulated) profession. It may also be determined that the degree is equivalent, but you’re missing the language skills or personal aptitude to practise your license. In the last case, no recognition, it’s determined that your professional qualification is too different from the German requirements.

What if my diploma is not recognised?

If your diploma is not recognised, it most likely means that the standards you’ve met for your degree do not meet the equivalent requirements for that profession in Germany. For most professions, this doesn’t have to be an issue, as you can use your work experience abroad to prove that you’ve got the skills required to perform your job. Or, if you don’t you can invest in further training to brush up your knowledge and skills to meet the requirements set by the German authorities.

In order to work in a regulated profession, the recognition of your diploma is essential. Without it, you will simply not be allowed to practise your profession. In this case, the relevant authority will determine if and what programmes are necessary to make up the fundamental differences between your degree and the German equivalent. If you manage to complete these requirements, your diploma will still be recognised! Of course, the length and cost of supplementary education all depend on the profession and differences determined by the professional authority.

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