In Germany, anyone wishing to work in nursing requires a licence. In order for your professional qualifications to be recognised, you often need to take an adaptation course to bring your language and professional skills in line with the requirements. Applications for the recognition of professional qualifications need to be submitted to the competent authority of the German Land in which you intend to work. If your application is granted, you are entitled to work across the whole country, irrespective of the Land in which your application has been granted. In order for your application to be successful, the following requirements need to be met:

  • You need to have your qualifications recognised in Germany: If you have obtained your nursing qualifications abroad, you need to have these recognised in Germany. The competent authority will verify whether or not the professional qualifications which you have acquired abroad are fully equivalent to the corresponding qualification issued in Germany. If this is not the case, you can sign up for an adaptation course.
  • You need to speak German well enough: Depending on the German Land in which you intend to work, you need to prove you have a B1 or B2 German proficiency level under the European Framework of Reference.
  • You need to be in good health: You need to present a certificate issued by a German doctor stating that you are physically and mentally fit and able to work in nursing care.
  • You need to be trustworthy: In order to prove that you are trustworthy, you need to provide a police-clearance certificate. Depending on your situation, either a police-clearance certificate  issued in Germany or issued in your home country will be necessary.

Who can participate in the recognition procedure?

  • You can apply for a state licence if you have a corresponding vocational qualification.
  • The competent authorities decide on whether to recognize the qualifications that you have gained abroad in the procedure to issue a permit.
  • Applications can be made independent of citizenship, place of training, and residence status.
  • As a rule, the procedure is subject to a fee. The competent authorities can provide information on the costs involved.

How does the recognition procedure work?

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 if the qualification certificate was issued after the EU accession of the state in which training took place.
  • Qualifications obtained prior to this cut-off date will be automatically recognised if the applicant submits certification from the relevant health authorities in the country in which training was completed that the training completed prior to accession 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 competent authority assesses whether the qualifications 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.
  • In addition to training, the competent authorities also consider the professional experience that you have gained at home or abroad. Significant differences in qualifications can be offset by relevant professional experience.

What results are possible?

  • You will be granted a licence if the authorities establish the equivalence of your qualifications and you satisfy the other requirements (personal integrity, fitness, adequate command of German).
  • Should there be substantial differences between your qualifications and the corresponding German qualifications, you will have the opportunity to undergo an adaptation period (examination or additional training) to prove the equivalence of your knowledge.
    Qualifications gained in EU/EEA/Switzerland
    You can choose whether to take an examination or to take part in a compensation measure that lasts up to three years. The examination focuses on the deficits determined in the recognition procedure. The licence is granted upon completion of the adaptation period or passing the examination.
    Qualifications from non-EU/EEA states
    You can choose whether to take an examination or to take part in a compensation measure that lasts up to three years. The examination tests for knowledge of the substance of the state final examination. The adaptation period concludes with a final examination to prove knowledge of course content. The licence is granted upon passing the examination and successful completion of the adaptation period.

What documents do I need when submitting an application?

  • CV in tabular form
  • Copy of qualifications and, if necessary, further certificates of competence
  • Certificates regarding relevant professional experience
  • Medical certificate confirming fitness to practice the profession
  • 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.