Career opportunities for doctors in Germany

Unterstützung für internationale Bewerber:innen

Sie sind eine Fachkraft, die derzeit in einem anderen Land lebt, und möchten sich in unserer Stiftung Bethanien Moers bewerben? Gerne unterstützen wir Sie bei der Beantwortung aller damit verbundenen Fragen. Etwa zum deutschen Arbeitsrecht, den benötigten Unterlagen oder zu Ihren ausländischen Zertifikaten.

Germany local

Are you a qualified professional and want to live and work in Germany? Do you want to study in Germany? Use this world map to get an overview of contacts and offers of German institutions in your country.
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Citizens of the European Union, Liechtenstein, Norway, Iceland and Switzerland

You come from another European country and wish to live in Germany on a longer term basis? This section will provide you with information on the conditions that apply.

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Citizens from other countries (third countries)

Are you planning to move to Germany and work here? The regulations which apply to residence and taking up employment in your case will depend on the country from which you come and on which qualifications which you have.

This section provides the most important informationmore

  • You may apply for a licence to practise medicine in Germany if you have completed medical training.
  • The responsible authorities decide on whether to recognize the qualifications that you have gained abroad within the framework of the Approbation procedure.
  • You may apply for an Approbation irrespective of your nationality, the origin of your qualifications and your residence status.
  • As a rule, the procedure is subject to a charge. The responsible authorities can provide information on the costs involved.

Procedure for qualifications gained in the EU/EEA/Switzerland

  • A procedure of automatic recognition in accordance with EU Directive 2005/36/EC will normally apply. Your qualification will be recognised without an individual equivalence assessment.
  • Qualifications obtained prior to accession to the European Union of the state in which training took place will be automatically recognised if you submit certification from the relevant health authorities in the country in which training was completed that the training is in compliance with the minimum standards set out in EU Directive 2005/36/EC.

Procedure for qualifications from non-EU/EEA states and for EU qualifications which are not automatically recognised

  • The responsible authorities assess whether the qualifications in medicine which you have gained abroad are equivalent to the corresponding German qualifications.
  • Your qualifications are recognized as equivalent if there are no substantial differences between your foreign qualifications and the corresponding German qualifications.
  • Apart from your training, the responsible authorities also consider the professional experience that you have gained at home or abroad. Significant differences in qualifications can only be offset by relevant professional experience.
  • You will be granted an Approbation if the authorities establish the equivalence of your qualifications and you satisfy the other requirements for gaining an Approbation (among other things: adequate command of German).
  • Should there be substantial differences between your qualifications and the corresponding German qualifications, you have the opportunity to take a test to prove the equivalence of your professional knowledge.
  • You will be granted an Approbation if you pass this test.

Further information can be obtained from the responsible authorities.

  • If a previous procedure to grant or extend a work permit has already determined the equivalence of your professional qualifications, these findings are also to be taken into account when applying for an Approbation.
  • You do not have to repeat a test which you have already passed. Applicants who have failed a test within the framework of a previous procedure to grant a permit to work as a doctor may nevertheless apply for an Approbation. Applicants may also resit the test.
  • Proof of identity (identity card or passport)
  • Brief CV
  • Certified copy of qualifications and if necessary further certificates of competence
  • Tabular overview of training courses and if appropriate of prior work experience
  • Certificates regarding relevant professional experience
  • Certificate stating entitlement to work as a doctor in your country of origin and documents proving that you intend to practice the profession in Germany (does not apply to qualifications gained in the EU/EEA/Switzerland).
  • Medical certificate confirming fitness to practice the profession (issued within the last month)
  • Official certificate of good conduct (issued within the last month)
  • Statement of whether criminal proceedings are pending.

Should these documents not be in German, they must be accompanied by certified translations. You may present simple copies of your documents in cases where certified copies are not specifically required.
The responsible authorities will provide details.

Information and counselling services are provided whose objective is to shed light on the regulatory framework, the recognition procedure and who the responsible authorities are.

The "Recognition in Germany" portal helps its users quickly identify the responsible authority for their case. It also provides information on legal foundations, the recognition procedure and the contact information of counselling offices.
The Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) set up a telephone hotline on 1 April 2012 to provide information about the Recognition Act and the recognition process. You can reach the hotline on: +49 (0) 30 1815-1111.
The Integration through Qualification (IQ) programme has set up a network of contact offices throughout Germany which provide information about the recognition procedure and the regulatory framework. They also refer applicants to the appropriate responsible authority.

You can find the contact information of the counselling centres here.


Should the authority determine there are substantial between the foreign qualification and the corresponding German qualification, the applicant for recognition can pursue appropriate further training.

The law has rulings governing compensation measures (adaptation period or aptitude tests) for the regulated professions since equivalence in these professions is mandatory to practice the profession in Germany. The Länder are responsible for providing training courses and examinations. As a rule, the costs of the compensation measure have to be borne by the applicant. Under certain conditions financial support can be provided by the employment offices or the providers of basic income support.

There is no obligation to gain further qualification in the non-regulated professions (especially training occupations). One can work in these professions without certification of equivalence. Notification from the responsible authority will list the acquired qualifications and determine if there are any substantial differences to the comparable profession in Germany. This will prove of help to skilled staff with foreign qualifications and employers alike. Qualified job seekers will be able to take up further training as indicated in the notification to improve their chances on the labour market and, if necessary, achieve full equivalence of their professional qualifications. Employers can rely on a transparent description of the job seeker's qualifications. Under certain conditions financial support for continuing vocational training can be granted by the employment offices or the providers of basic income support

Completion of a professional qualification abroad is a basic requirement for recognition. Unskilled workers are not entitled to an equivalency review. The qualification obtained abroad must be comparable to the corresponding German qualification. Gaining recognition for a different profession is not possible. Only in cases where substantial differences exist although occupational profiles are comparable can an additional assessment be done to determine whether these differences are offset by proven work experience.

The process is subject to a fee. The amount is based on fee schedules established by the Länder or Chambers and will vary depending on the cost and effort involved in completing the recognition process.

As a general rule the applicant for recognition must bear the costs for items such as fees, translations and certification.

Unemployed applicants and job seekers should check in advance with their responsible employment offices or job centres whether public employment services can absorb these costs. In this process, it must be examined whether statutory conditions are met and whether the recognition of foreign professional qualifications is necessary for an individual applicant's integration into the labour market. This is also relevant as concerns the funding of any adaptation measures in follow-up to the recognition process which may be necessary to compensate for lacking qualification.

If other assessment procedures – carried out as per the Federal Expellees Act, the Professional Qualifications Assessment Act or occasioned by other regulations such as those pertaining to the equivalence of Austrian or French examination certificates – already produced positive results, a renewed application may be submitted. However, the responsible authority should decline processing such an application.

If another recognition procedure could not establish equivalence, renewed application under the Professional Qualifications Assessment Act (BQFG) is allowed.

In the event that circumstances change for an applicant's benefit following a recognition procedure completed earlier (as a result of gaining additional qualifications, for instance), the process can be initiated again (cf. Article 51 Administrative Procedure Act and corresponding Länder laws).

Recognition of any vocational qualification obtained abroad does not lead to issuance of a residence permit. However, there are certain cases in which recognition of a foreign vocational qualification is required for an entry visa or a residence permit.

Should the process establish there are no significant differences between the foreign and the corresponding German qualification, a certificate of full equivalence will be issued. This is not the same as a German examination certificate, however; it is certification of equivalence. The holder of a certificate of equivalence is subject by law to the same treatment as anyone with a corresponding German vocational qualification.

If significant differences exist despite similarities in the substance of the qualification, the responsible authority will, for training occupations, describe the acquired skills and the differences to a German qualification. This detailed description of the status of their qualifications will help skilled staff on the labour market and to pursue further individually appropriate training.

For the regulated professions: if significant differences are determined, there are formalized compensation measures such as examinations or adaptation periods that can be taken to gain authorization to pursue the profession. These compensatory measures establish equivalence of skills and abilities.

The responsible authority will review whether there are differences in terms of substance and duration between the qualification obtained abroad and German vocational training (reference qualification).

If substantial differences between vocational qualifications exist, the responsible authority determines whether they can be offset by any other qualifications (continuing education, additional training) or by proven professional experience which may have been gained either in Germany or abroad.

Should the responsible authority not receive sufficient proof or otherwise lack information necessary to carry out the process, the scope of application of the BQFG allows for a qualifications analysis to determine how a foreign qualification compares with the German profile of the occupation in terms of professional skills, knowledge and abilities. An analysis of qualifications occurs through use of different instruments, which may include analysis of work samples or interviews.

  • Tabular overview of training and prior work experience (in German language)
  • Proof of identity (identity card or passport)
  • Proof of qualification obtained abroad
  • Proof of relevant work experience
  • Other proof of skills (such as continuing vocational education and training)
  • Declaration that no previous application for equivalence assessment under BQFG has been made
  • Applicant's statement of intention to work in Germany (not applicable to citizens of, or residents of EU/EEA/Switzerland)

Specialist law for certain regulated professions may vary on the above.

The responsible authority may require certified copies or originals of documents. For the sake of simplicity the responsible authority may allow submission of plain copies.

As a rule, documents must be submitted in German translation. Translations must be made by interpreters or translators who are publicly appointed and sworn in Germany or abroad. The responsible authority may choose to do without translations.

Equivalency reviews for the training occupations under the dual system are mainly the responsibility of the Chambers. Responsibility for the regulated professions depends on the profession and the Länder regulations governing them (e.g. regulatory authorities at Länder level governing licensing of medical doctors).

The responsible authorities for each occupation will be identified in the Federal Government's 'Recognition in Germany' portal The question and answer format of the Recognition Finder will take applicants for recognition directly to the authority responsible for their case.

The recognition procedure involves comparison of the foreign qualification with a German reference qualification.
The latter must be based on federal law. As such, a procedure to establish equivalence occurs for all

  • training and advanced qualifications under the dual system (BQFG) and
  • all professions regulated at federal level (specialist laws)

The German reference qualification must be identified in the application for an equivalency review. It is determined in mutual agreement between the applicant and the responsible authority. The equivalency review is based on a comparison with the currently valid homologous German qualification.

Certain examination certificates from Austria or France associated with training occupations under the dual system are automatically considered equivalent to the German qualification, in accordance with the scope of regulations that govern them.

The Recognition Act does not refer to recognition of foreign qualifications for the purpose of higher education entrance or transfer of credits from studies and examination results gained abroad. As a rule, responsibility for this task lies with universities.

Language skills may be required in so far as they are necessary to practice the profession. This is especially true for some regulated professions such as medical doctors, teachers or for people in the health care professions. Applicants for recognition will only be issued a licence to practice these professions if they possess sufficient German language skills.

There are no formal requirements as concerns German language skills to work in any of the training occupations under the dual system (skilled trades, industry or trade professions). An assessment of language skills is not part of the equivalency review. Should the responsible authority deem an assessment of language skills useful or even imperative in respect of future employment, they may choose to evaluate language skills in a process separate from the equivalency review. The principle of proportionality must be observed and extraordinary demands may not be imposed on the applicant.

In practical terms, someone's opportunities on the labour market will largely depend on whether or not he/she has a command of the German language – regardless of professional or vocational qualification.

No, citizenship is no longer relevant. Moreover, persons from countries that are not in the European Union are also entitled to a review of the equivalence of their professional qualifications. The main criteria now are the substance and quality of professional qualifications , not the applicant's citizenship or country of origin. One's citizenship is now dissociated with the right to practice nearly every profession and trade. There may be some differences in how the regulations governing individual regulated professions and the Länder specialist laws establish access to the recognition process. In some cases, there are no procedures in place to evaluate third-country qualifications.

The BQFG grants everyone the right to apply for a review of the equivalence of qualifications. There may be some differences in how the specialist laws that govern regulated professions establish access to the recognition process.

The BQFG stipulates than anyone who

  • has foreign professional qualifications and
  • can demonstrate intention to work in Germany may submit an application. The requirement to demonstrate intention to work in Germany does not apply to citizens or residents of the EU/EEA/Switzerland.

Applications are accepted independent of one's citizenship or residence status.

There is no entitlement to the procedure for unskilled or semi-skilled workers who do not have any vocational qualification from another country.

For Ethnic German resettlers Section 10 of the Federal Expellees Act may establish different procedure. Please contact the responsible authority for more information.

There is a distinction between regulated professions (such as doctors, nurses, teachers) and non-regulated professions (such as training occupations in the dual system). The equivalency review serves a different purpose for regulated professions and non-regulated professions and thus has different legal implications.

  • Foreign professional qualifications equivalence must be proven and is mandatory to practice a regulated profession.
  • For the non-regulated professions, job seekers can apply for and accept work on the labour market without any formal certification of equivalence. However, possession of such certification makes one's foreign qualifications transparent for employers. A certificate of equivalence entitles its holder to the same legal rights as someone who has corresponding German vocational qualifications.