Recognition of Diplomas in Germany

Highly qualified specialists are crucial in a country with a modern economy. European countries have long recognized this fact and have been creating various programs to attract experts.

Having a higher education for citizens of non-EU countries does not automatically mean obtaining preferential opportunities for relocation to Europe, including Germany. However, if you plan to move, it is important to understand that diploma recognition is a necessary procedure for immigrants seeking qualified employment.

In this article, we will discuss the options for recognizing the level of education and professional qualifications for foreigners in Germany. Previously, we wrote about finding employment here.


On August 18, 2023, amendments to the Law on Further Development of the Immigration of Qualified Workers (Gesetz zur Weiterentwicklung der Fachkräfteeinwanderung) were adopted in Germany. The new norms were gradually introduced to allow state and municipal authorities to prepare for them.

Thus, since November 2023, the opportunities for specialists with higher education to immigrate to Germany from third countries (not EU members) under the Blue Card have been expanded:

  • The salary thresholds that such an employee can receive have been significantly reduced.
  • The list of available professions has been expanded.
  • Short-term and long-term relocations are provided for.
  • Rules for family reunification have been simplified.
IT specialists have a real chance of obtaining an EU Blue Card even without diploma recognition if they have the necessary professional experience.

Specialists with intermediate vocational or academic education, provided they meet all requirements, can now apply for a German residence permit.

They are also allowed to perform any qualified work in the unregulated sector. Training and employment no longer have to be directly related.

Starting from March 2024, foreigners will be able to enter Germany and stay for a maximum of 3 years to search for employment, provided they participate in adaptation programs (Anpassungsqualifizierung oder Ausgleichsmaßnahme). In addition, the relocating individual can engage in part-time work for up to 20 hours per week.

Thanks to the new rules, immigrants from third countries will be able to enter Germany and undergo the entire process of diploma and qualification recognition here. For this purpose, the potential employee and their employer must submit an application for diploma recognition after entry and actively continue this process, including retraining. Initially, the stay is approved for one year with the possibility of extension up to 3 years.

Foreigners with work experience can find employment in unregulated professions (those not included in the list of occupations requiring mandatory qualification recognition, such as doctors). The mandatory conditions are higher education and at least 2 years of work experience in the profession.

Starting from June 2024, immigrants from third countries will be able to enter Germany with the so-called Opportunities Card for job hunting.

The Opportunities Card (chancen karte) is designed to facilitate foreigners' job search in Germany. This means that applicants can work in the country without undergoing the lengthy process of diploma recognition. The mandatory requirements include a minimum of two years of professional training or higher education, as well as basic proficiency in German (A1) or English (B2) language.

The Opportunities Card also entitles holders to a two-week trial work period or part-time employment (up to 20 hours per week). Foreigners with the Opportunities Card are allowed to stay in Germany for one year and actively seek employment.

Extension of the card for an additional two years is possible under certain conditions. The application for extension is submitted to the immigration office at the place of residence in Germany.

To obtain the chancen karte, the applicant must score a minimum of 6 points.

Key requirements: sufficient knowledge of German at the A1 level or English at the B2 level, as well as at least two years of professional training in accordance with the rules of the country of origin. Additionally, applicants must have means to support themselves in Germany. Confirmation of this can be, for example, an employment contract for part-time work (up to 20 hours per week).

4 points can be awarded for partial recognition of foreign professional qualifications or permission to practice a regulated profession (teacher, nurse, or engineer). However, very few applicants meet these criteria.

3 points are awarded for five years of work experience (within the last seven years) in the relevant field, as well as previous two years of professional training in accordance with the rules of the country of origin. Additionally, 3 points can be obtained for good knowledge of German at the B2 level.

2 points are awarded for two years of work experience with previous professional education (within the last five years). Applicants under 35 years old also receive 2 points. Additionally, proficiency in German at the B1 level is valued at 2 points.

1 point is awarded to applicants under 40 years old and for previous residence in Germany (for at least six months). This must be proven with documentation. Previous tourist stays are not considered.

Additionally, 1 point can be awarded for very good knowledge of English (C1), sufficient knowledge of German (A2), training in in-demand professions, or if the application for the Opportunities Card is submitted together with a spouse.

Furthermore, as part of legislative innovations, individuals seeking asylum in Germany will be able to switch queues (Spurwechsel) to obtain a residence permit not as refugees but as qualified specialists if there are grounds for this.

Despite the simplification of many employment procedures in German companies, basic requirements remain in place. This means that while the recognition of education may be postponed, there is no talk of abolishing this requirement.

The most straightforward way to verify your diploma’s compliance with the German education system is to use the Anabin service. is an information database of the German Ministry of Education containing data on foreign universities and specialties. If the educational institution is marked H+ in the database, and the specified specialty matches what is stated on your diploma, then the education document is considered recognized in Germany.

To confirm your credentials through Anabin, follow these steps:

1. Click on “Institutions” (Institutionen) in the left menu.

2. Then, from the two tabs in the central part of the page, select “Search” (Suchen).

3. In the opened form, select the country from the list (Länderauswahl öffnen).

4. Then specify the locality (Alle orte).

5. Next, in the field below, select your university or go directly to the table and search for the university manually. Sometimes this is preferable, as universities may have changed their names or the German transliteration may not accurately reproduce the institution’s name.

6. If the university has the H+ status, then everything is in order, and you can print the certificate directly from the website (see point 8).

7. If the educational institution is not found or has the H+/- status, then you will need to request diploma confirmation through ZAB.

ZAB: Zentralstelle für ausländisches Bildungswesen — Central Office for Foreign Education. It verifies the equivalence of the courses, including the number of hours, etc., completed at the university with what is required for a professional in a similar field in Germany. It updates the information in the Anabin database.

8. In the university card (click on the plus button on the left), find the “Degrees” (Abschlüsse) section and check the diploma’s name and specialty for compliance with what is indicated on the website. It should match exactly.

9. Click on the line with the name, and in the “Rating” (Bewertung) section, check the status. If it says “Equivalent” (Entspricht/Gleichwertig), then your education is recognized in Germany. Print the certificate and attach it to the documents for the visa application.


How to Confirm Your Specialty in Germany if Your University Isn’t Listed in Anabin

It may happen that a specific university is not listed in the Anabin database, but the specialty stated on your diploma is quite common and present in many other universities in the country. In this case, you can try to recognize your education through the following method:

  • On the homepage of the Anabin website, click on “University Degrees” (Hochschulabschlüsse) in the left menu.
  • Then, select the tab “Search for Degrees” (Suchen nach Abschlüssen).
  • In the opened form, choose the country from the list (Länderauswahl öffnen).
  • Next, proceed to the field “All Study Programs” (Alle Studienrichtungen).
  • Find the specialty stated on your diploma, and then search for universities in the table below that offer the exact same specialty.
  • Open the relevant card (click on the plus sign on the left) and find the educational institution with the H+ status that offers the same education.
  • If everything is found, this is sufficient to submit documents for a work visa. Print out the information about the specialty and the selected university (H+).

If both recognition options do not yield positive results, you will have to go through the lengthy process of applying for a diploma evaluation at a specialized institution.

During the education quality assessment procedure, ZAB verifies whether your professional qualification is equivalent to that of a German professional. After the documents are submitted, it may take up to 2 months. The review period will be shortened to 2 weeks if the applicant already has an employment contract and is applying for the EU Blue Card.

How to Submit Your Diploma for Evaluation at ZAB

Go to the ZAB page on the German Ministry of Education website (the same site as Anabin) and fill out the application.

Prepare the following documents:

  • Notarized copy of the diploma,
  • Notarized copy of the transcript with grades,
  • Copy of the high school diploma,
  • Copy of the passport.

Original documents are not required to be sent. Translating the diploma, transcript, and high school diploma is also not required unless specified otherwise. Check their current requirements before sending the documents.

It is better to send the documents by regular mail. However, if there are concerns that the documents may not be delivered this way, the most suitable option is to find acquaintances in Germany, send the documents to them via a courier service, and then have them forwarded to ZAB by internal German mail. Using courier services to send directly to ZAB is not recommended, as they hand over parcels directly, and government agencies are not adapted to this.

After some time, you will receive a response from this agency, as well as all copies of the documents. If everything is in order, you can apply to the embassy for a visa.

IMPORTANT! Payment for diploma recognition services must be made only by bank transfer to the ZAB account. This may be problematic for some countries. In such cases, you can also go through acquaintances or agencies that provide legalization services in Germany. The cost of diploma evaluation/recognition is 200 euros for the first document, and then 100 euros each for additional documents.

Covering the Expenses for Diploma Recognition with the Help of JobCenter

For those already living in Germany, there is the possibility to cover the expenses for diploma recognition through the JobCenter. Additionally, support can be obtained for further education programs that were not recognized by ZAB, as well as for language courses and finding employment. All details are available on the center’s website.

As mentioned earlier, recognition of foreign education is mandatory in some fields if the applicant plans to continue working in their specialty in Germany. The list of regulated professions includes:

  • Pharmacists
  • Medical practitioners (including dentists and psychotherapists)
  • Veterinarians
  • Lawyers and judges
  • Engineers
  • Architects
  • Teachers
  • Workers in the food chemistry industry
  • Navigators and cartographers

Information about regulated professions in EU countries can be found here. In Germany, all information regarding employment for such specialists, including diploma recognition, is available on the government portal for the recognition of foreign professional qualifications, Anerkennung in Deutschland. For user convenience, the resource is translated into 11 languages, including Russian.

As part of the diploma recognition procedure through ZAB, an academic degree may be downgraded if the volume of courses taken does not correspond to similar education in Germany. For example, a master’s degree in architecture obtained in the country of origin may be recognized as a bachelor’s degree, and so on.

Upgrading qualifications to the desired level can be done in various ways depending on the profession. For an architect, options include additional education or working in a specialized agency under the guidance of an experienced mentor for 2 years.

Diploma Recognition for Unregulated Professions

There are no specific requirements in legislation for unregulated professions. If you wish to work in one of these professions, recognition may not be necessary. However, recognition may still be required as it is one of the conditions for obtaining a residence permit in Germany.

Going through the entire procedure of diploma recognition, obtaining a work visa, and so forth, speaks to the seriousness of the applicant’s intention to move to Germany. We are confident that this can be achieved by anyone who genuinely addresses this issue.

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In our blog, we write extensively about moving to European countries. If you want to learn more, feel free to explore our article catalog.