Information by EU states

General Information

Recognition of Qualifications

1. Introduction

In many countries within the EU, it is not only your actual qualifications but also your formal education that is of major importance. Your diploma may be decisive to your success in obtaining a position, no matter whether a regulated or non-regulated profession is involved. The holding of a particular degree, or evidence of a comparable education may influence the employment contract that you obtain and/or your wage rate.

Your formal education may be relevant to your employer with a view to his ability to demonstrate that he acted prudently in entrusting certain tasks to you. If you are unable to submit evidence of having attained the required educational level, the employer may in certain countries be subject to liability, should your work cause injury.

Your qualification level, including all university degrees or equivalent, may be relevant in deciding which trade union you may join, which in turn may influence your employment contract and wage rates. In some countries the membership rules of the trade unions certify, for all practical purposes, a person’s education and qualifications.

Consequently, you should always bring with you a detailed description of your educational attainments, together with the originals of your examination certificates. You should also be in touch with your national contact point regarding the recognition of your degrees in the foreign country in question (see section 3 below).

2. The EU legislation

Article 57 of the EU Treaty provides the legal basis for EU legislation covering the mutual recognition of diplomas. Recognition of professional qualifications is one of the supporting measures which makes possible the free movement of workers.

Employees who are seconded (or posted) abroad by their employers seldom have difficulties with the recognition of their qualifications. However, many have spouses or partners who will accompany them, and who will seek employment whilst abroad. These family members, like other job-seekers, may need a formal recognition of their qualifications in order to get a job. Formal recognition can also be important for setting salaries at company level.

The first question is whether the profession is regulated or non-regulated in the host country. If it is regulated either the sectoral or general EU directives will apply to the expatriate.

Regulated professions are restricted to persons holding given qualifications such as lawyers, accountants, teachers, physiotherapists and electricians. The number of regulated professions varies in different Member States. Some professions are regulated in one country, but not in another.

a. Regulated Professions covered by Sectorial directives

Medical professions and architects

If you are a medical doctor, general nurse, dentist, midwife, veterinary surgeon, pharmacist or architect, your professional qualifications are covered by a sectoral directive and the training has to a certain extent been harmonised at the EU level. Therefore national qualifications will, in principle, be recognised automatically. This will allow a professional to practise as a self-employed or employed person in any other EU-country.

You need to make a formal application for recognition to the competent authority in the host Member State. The authority has three months in which to process the application. Decisions not to grant recognition must be reasoned, and it must be possible to appeal against them in national courts.

How to proceed

Information and documents should be submitted to the competent authorities. An administration fee is normally payable.
In all EU countries there are contact points that can put you in touch with the appropriate authority. You will find the contact point through

Documents you will need to produce:

  • An application letter to the relevant authority
  • A relevant registration form
  • An identity document showing that you are an EU or EEA national
  • An official copy of your diploma

b. Regulated Professions not covered by sectorial directives – the general system

For regulated professions not covered by the transitional or sectoral directives, the general directive will normally be applicable if the profession is regulated.

The main purpose of the general directives is to recognise - not to harmonise. Those who are qualified to practise a regulated profession in one Member State should be qualified to practise the same profession within the whole European Union. Since there is no co-ordination of the minimum training requirement, the general systems do not permit automatic recognition of qualifications. You must apply for it.

The general system applies to a person who:

  • Is a national of a Member State
  • Is fully qualified to practise a regulated profession in Member State A
  • Wishes to practise the same profession in Member State B and the profession is regulated in Member State B
  • Is not covered by another system of recognition

How to find out whether the profession in question is regulated

Through the contact point in the home country or in the host country, which you can identify through
You can also look up information on specific regulated professions on

How to gain official recognition of professional qualifications in the host Member State

What is recognised is the "final product" - i.e. the degree, the professional part of it and your professional experience.
The applicant must send an application for recognition to the competent authority in the host Member State, which will consider every application individually. This authority has four months in which to reply.

  1. The competent authority may recognise the professional qualifications as they stand. In that case you can start practising your profession subject to the same conditions as nationals of the host Member State. In some countries, such as, the UK, you have to register with the relevant professional body.
  2. If the authorities consider that the applicant's training is significantly different in terms of duration from training in the same field given in the host country, he/she may be asked to provide proof of experience. If there are significant differences in terms of content he/she may be asked to undergo an adaptation period, or to take an aptitude test in the host Member State.
  3. If the application is rejected, the reasons for the decision must be clearly stated. You can appeal to a court or a tribunal in the host Member State. Community institutions are not empowered to revoke an administrative decision issued by the national authorities on your case. Only a competent national body can revoke a decision to reject your application for recognition.

You can find the competent authority through the contact point mentioned above: see also the country specific chapters in this handbook.

Contact the competent authority in the host Member State for a full list of the documents required before leaving your home country. You should expect to need the following:

Documents you may need

  • Proof of nationality (a copy of your identity card or passport)
  • A certified copy of your diploma or other formal proof of qualification
  • A document describing the duration and content of the studies (e.g. diploma supplement for higher education or certificate supplement for vocational qualifications)
  • A document describing the professional competence
  • A certificate concerning the practical vocational training
  • Documents concerning your professional experience (e.g. certificates from employers in the Member State of origin)

In some cases certificates of medical fitness, solvency and/or good conduct may also be required (if these requirements also apply to nationals).

If any of the basic documents need to be translated into the official language/s of the host country, this will have to be done at the applicant's own expense by a sworn translator.

You may also have to pay administrative fees and the costs of organising a possible aptitude test, but these charges must not exceed the real costs of the service provided.

There are many national rules which vary from one profession to another (such as registration with a professional body, or the rights and duties of the profession). You should contact the competent authority for the rules governing your profession.

c. Non-regulated professions

If the profession is not regulated in the host Member State, it is not subject to any formal EU restrictions. This means that no authority at the European level is responsible for issues concerning non-regulated professions not covered by Community Directives. In theory you are free to practise the profession in the host Member State with the same rights and obligations as its nationals.

However, even if the recognition directives are not applicable, you still have certain rights as regards the recognition of diplomas. The authorities of the host country are in any event obliged, under the Articles of freedom of movement of the EC Treaty, to take account of professional diplomas and qualifications acquired in another Member State. The European Court of Justice has arbitrated in many cases of this kind.

Many reports state that in reality there are problems in this area, because insufficient familiarity with qualifications in other countries is a barrier to free movement. This can lead to problems when applying for a job or in the drafting of salary scales.

You should provide yourself with documentation on your qualifications and professional experience before moving abroad.

In some countries the national information centre for academic recognition of diplomas NARIC evaluates international credential for professional purposes, even if the profession in question is not regulated. They can, on request, issue advisory statements on qualifications taken abroad by comparing them to the nearest qualifications in their own country.

The national reference points for vocational qualifications can be contacted for questions relating to vocational training.

Diploma Supplement

A model for a Diploma Supplement was developed by the European Commission, The Council of Europe and UNESCO/CEPES in order to facilitate transparency and recognition of qualifications for academic and professional purposes.The model includes a description of the higher education system in each country, which provides a context for the qualifications. It is recommended especially for young graduates to ask for a diploma supplement from their university. Further information may be found on

Certificate Supplement

The certificate supplement for vocational qualifications has been developed in parallel to the Diploma supplement. It contains a detailed description of the qualification acquired by the holder of a vocational certification and is issued by the awarding authorities. Further information may be found on

Additional information


Bd. du Roi Albert II, 5, B-1210, Bruxelles, Belgique
Tel: +32 2 2240731 -- E-mail: