Application procedures simplified for Europeans

Official recognition of professional qualifications Application procedures simplified for Europeans

The German government has decided to simplify and speed up the recognition of professional qualifications of migrants from other EU member states and the European Economic Area. The German Bundestag has passed the amended Professional Qualifications Assessment Act.

Foreign specialists in a laboratory

A swift, simple system for the official recognition of professional qualifications will make for greater mobility of specialists within the EU

Photo: Burkhard Peter

The federal and state governments intend to further simplify the assessment procedures and thus help reduce the obstacles that stand in the way of potential applicants. Procedures are to be conducted more swiftly.

At the start of April, the Cabinet introduced an amendment to the Professional Qualifications Assessment Act (Berufsqualifikationsfeststellungsgesetz) and the Trade, Commerce and Industry Regulation Act (Gewerbeordnung). It applies only to a few specially regulated professions, including explosives experts and motor vehicle experts.

The pertinent amendment to legislation relating to regulated health care professions within the remit of the federal government was adopted by the Cabinet on 14 October. Amendments to the Crafts and Trades Code (Handwerksordnungen) are to follow. These changes to the law translate into German national law the 2013 amendment to the EU directive on the recognition of professional qualifications.

Enhancing the mobility of European specialists

Many businesses, crafts and trades enterprises, hospitals and nursing homes depend on foreign staff. Demographic trends mean that Germany will face an increasing shortage of skilled human resources. The changes to the law will help make specialists more mobile within Europe.

Three years ago the German government regulated by law the procedures for recognising non-German professional qualifications. The new law has proved to be a successful tool. Many foreign specialists would like to have their professional qualifications officially recognised.

Documents can be submitted online

As of January 2016, individuals coming to Germany to work from a member state of the European Union or the European Economic Area, will be able to submit an application online to have professional qualifications officially recognised. Applications can then also be sent to the "one-stop contact officer". These officers have been specially trained to deal with foreign companies and individuals interested in coming to Germany. They will operate as intermediaries between the applicant and the authorities responsible for recognising qualifications.

The authorities responsible for recognising professional qualifications are networked. Application documents and qualifications submitted online can be reviewed more easily thanks to the European Internal Market Information System.

Facilitating any additional training required

A six-month period will also be introduced, within which an applicant can undertake any additional training required. The German government is to ascertain whether or not a nationwide programme offering financial support for additional training measures for applicants with a registered place of abode in Germany can be launched in addition to the promotion programme "Integration through Training (IQ)". Individuals not already receiving assistance as a job-seeker or under employment promotion measures are often unable to finance the additional training themselves.

Recognition of professional qualifications of refugees

For refugees too, the official recognition of their professional qualifications can be vitally important when it comes to entering the German labour market. How can refugees have their qualifications recognised? Information and services can be found on the website (Recognition in Germany).

Since 2012, immigrants have been legally entitled to have professional qualifications acquired outside Germany assessed for comparability with German qualifications. The individual federal states have passed the relevant legislation. In many professions, qualifications must be officially recognised before the holder is entitled to exercise the profession or become self-employed. This applies in particular to regulated professions, including trades and crafts subject to authorisation, doctors, nurses and pharmacists.