Apply for recognition as a nurse with professional qualification from the EU/EEA/Switzerland
The profession of nurse is regulated in Germany. This means that in order to work as a nurse in Germany, you need a state permit. With the permit, you are allowed to use the professional title "nursing specialist" or "nursing specialist" and work in the profession.
Even if you have a professional qualification from the European Union (EU), the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland, you can obtain a state permit from the competent authority in Germany. In order to obtain the permit, you must have your foreign professional qualification recognised. In the recognition procedure, the competent authority compares your professional qualification from abroad with the German professional qualification and checks its equivalence. The equivalence of the professional qualification is an important prerequisite for the issuance of the state permit.
A professional qualification from the EU, EEA or Switzerland is usually automatically recognised when you apply for recognition. This means that no equivalence test is carried out. It is assumed that the training is equivalent. However, there may be exceptions to this rule. It depends on which state they completed their education in and when. If you started your vocational training after the EU/EEA accession of your country of training, your professional qualification will usually be automatically recognised.
If your professional qualification does not originate from the EU, EEA or Switzerland, different regulations apply.
In addition to the equivalence of the professional qualification, you must also meet other requirements for the issuance of the permit. Other requirements are, for example, sufficient German language skills and health suitability.
You can also apply for the procedure from abroad.
You submit an application to the competent authority for permission to use the professional title "nursing specialist" or "nursing specialist".
You can submit the application with the documents to the competent authority or send it by post. Do not ship originals. Sometimes you can also send the application electronically. The competent authority will inform you.
Examination of the application by the authority
The competent authority will check whether you meet all the requirements for the issuance of permission to use the professional title "nursing specialist". A prerequisite is that your professional qualification is recognized.
As a rule, the automatic recognition procedure applies if you started your vocational training after the EU/EEA accession of your country of training. There are other cases in which your professional qualification can be automatically recognised. The competent authority will inform you.
In the case of automatic recognition, the equivalence of your professional qualification is not checked individually. This means that if you meet all the other requirements, you will be granted permission to use the professional title "nursing specialist". The other requirements include your health suitability, reliability and German language skills.
Certificate of conformity for professional qualifications acquired before the EU/EEA accession of the country of training
Vocational training can also be automatically recognised if it was started before the EU/EEA accession of your country of training (or does not correspond to the legal designations). To do this, you must submit a certificate from the competent authority of your country of training that your professional qualification meets the minimum standards of the EU ("certificate of conformity"). If your professional qualification does not meet the minimum standards, you will need to provide proof of your professional experience. You must have worked continuously in the country of origin for 3 years in the last 5 years prior to the application as a nurse responsible for general care. This must be confirmed by the authority of your country of origin.
If your professional qualification is not automatically recognised, the competent authority will check the equivalence of your professional qualification. The competent authority compares your professional qualification with the German professional qualification as a nursing specialist. The professional qualification is equivalent if there are no significant differences between your professional qualification and the German professional qualification.
Possible results of the equivalence assessment
If your professional qualification is equivalent, your foreign professional qualification will be recognised. The competent authority can confirm the result in writing. You still have to meet the other requirements. Then you will receive permission to use the professional title "nursing specialist" or "nursing specialist".
Are there any significant differences between your professional qualification and the German professional qualification? You may be able to make up for the differences through your work experience, other knowledge, skills or competences (lifelong learning). Knowledge, skills and competences must be certified by an authority of the state in which you acquired the knowledge, skills or competences.
However, it may not be possible to compensate for the significant differences in your professional experience, knowledge, skills or competences. In this case, the competent authority will tell you the main differences between your professional qualification and the German professional qualification and why you cannot compensate for these significant differences.
The competent authority will also tell you about compensatory measures that you can take to compensate for the significant differences.
If you decide not to take compensatory measures, your professional qualification will not be recognised and you will not be allowed to work as a nurse in Germany.
There are various compensatory measures:
- Adaptation period: The adaptation period lasts a maximum of 3 years.
- Aptitude test: The aptitude test examines only those areas where significant differences have been identified. The aptitude test consists of a practical exam that is combined with an exam interview.
As a rule, you can choose between an adaptation period or an aptitude test.
If you successfully complete the compensatory measure and meet all other requirements, you will be granted permission to use the professional title "nursing specialist".
Who should I contact?
Seek personal advice from an IQ counselling centre on this procedure and your qualifications. The advisors will also help you with your documents before submitting your application. The consultation is free of charge.
If you are abroad: You can also use the hotline to reach the Central Service Centre for Professional Recognition (ZSBA). This offers you in-depth advice and support in the recognition process and carries out a location consultation.
Nied. State Office for Social Affairs, Youth and Family - Lüneburg Branch Office
- You have a comparable professional qualification as a nurse from the EU, the EEA or Switzerland.
- You want to work as a nurse in Germany.
- Personal suitability: You are reliable to work as a nurse and have no criminal record.
- Health suitability: You can work mentally and physically as a nurse.
- You have German language skills at the required level. This is usually language level B2 according to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR).
Which documents are required?
The competent authority will tell you which documents you need to submit. Important documents are in general:
- Proof of identity (ID card or passport)
- Marriage certificate (if your name has changed as a result of marriage)
- Curriculum vitae
- Proof of your professional qualification (e.g. certificates, professional certificate)
- Proof of education
- Proof of your relevant professional experience in a profession that is comparable to the profession of a nurse
- Proof of other relevant knowledge for working as a nursing specialist
- Do you still live or work in a third country, i.e. not in the EU, the EEA or Switzerland? Then you may need to prove that you have been accepted by a health and care facility to work as a nurse in Germany.
You only need to submit the following documents if your professional qualification was completed before a certain date (cut-off date). The competent authority will inform you:
If there is no certificate of conformity: proof of the content and duration of your training (e.g. list of subjects and grades, study book, diploma supplement, transcript of records)
- Certificate: You must have worked continuously and lawfully in the profession for at least 3 years during the last 5 years prior to the issuance of the certificate.
You will usually submit these documents later. The competent authority will inform you when you should hand in the documents:
- Proof of your personal suitability: extract from the criminal record or certificate of good conduct from your country of origin. The proof must be no more than 3 months old at the time of application.
- Proof of your health suitability: Medical certificate. The proof must be no more than 3 months old at the time of application.
- Proof of your German language skills: Language certificate
The competent authority will inform you which documents you need to submit as a simple copy, as a certified copy or in the original.
What are the fees?
The competent authority will inform you about the costs. The costs generally depend on the amount of work involved.
In addition, there may be additional costs (e.g. for translations, certifications or compensatory measures such as an adaptation period or an aptitude test). These costs vary from person to person.
What deadlines do I have to pay attention to?
There is no deadline.
Sometimes documents are still missing from the procedure. The competent authority will then inform you by when you have to submit the documents.
Processing Time: 3 MonthsThe competent authority will inform you if any documents are missing. If the documents are complete, the procedure will take a maximum of 3 months.
Applications / forms
- Forms: Forms can be obtained from the competent authority.
- Online procedure possible: Ask the competent authority whether you can submit the application online.
- Personal appearance required: No
You can take legal action against the decision of the competent authority within a certain period of time (e.g. lodge an appeal). The decision will then be reviewed. Details on this can be found in the information on legal remedies at the end of your decision. We recommend that you first talk to the competent authority before taking legal action against the decision.
What else should I know?
Freedom to provide services
Do you only want to offer services in Germany sometimes and for a short time? In this case, you usually do not need the state permit. You must meet these requirements:
- You must be established in another country of the EU, the EEA or Switzerland.
- You will need to prove your professional qualification.
- You must report your activity in writing to the competent authority.
The competent authority will inform you whether you are allowed to provide services or whether you have to take an aptitude test.
European Professional Card
You can apply for a European Professional Card (EBA). You can submit your application online on the website of the European Commission. The European Professional Card is an electronic procedure for the recognition of professional qualifications. It only applies to EU countries and certain professions.
Certificateof Equal Value
In the licensing procedure, equivalence is also checked (recognition procedure). You can apply for a separate decision for the result of the examination.
Procedure for ethnic German repatriates
As a late repatriate, you can either go through the recognition procedure in accordance with the laws mentioned here or in accordance with the Federal Expellees Act. This is up to you. The competent authority will advise you on which procedure is right for you.
Technically approved by
Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training
Federal Ministry of Health
Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth
Professionally released on
The text was automatically translated based on the German content.