Recognition of professional qualifications
The procedure for the formal recognition of professional qualifications (“Berufsanerkennung”) involves recognising qualifications (e.g., university degrees, school-leaving qualifications, apprenticeship diplomas) acquired abroad in order to be able to work in Austria.
There are different procedures you can or must go through depending upon the area for which you want to have your qualifications recognised and where you acquired these qualifications. In many cases, you must go through such procedures before you are allowed to work in Austria.
Professional recognition (“Berufliche Anerkennung”) / Professional accreditation (“Berufszulassung“)
This procedure is relevant if you have acquired your qualifications in the EU, EEA or Switzerland. Qualifications are automatically recognised in some professions in which case the focus is on checking the authenticity of the certificate which is presented. In contrast, for some professions, the authorities concentrate on evaluations if these qualifications are equivalent to Austrian degrees.
Nostrification (“Nostrifizierung”) of university degrees for regulated professions (“reglementierte Berufe”)
If your foreign higher education qualifications were not acquired in the EU and there is no bilateral agreement with Austria, your degree must be evaluated as to whether or not it is equivalent to an Austrian degree.
In general, a profession is regulated if you have a certain foreign higher education certificate, have passed special examinations (for example state examinations) or you have to be registered with a professional organisation before you are allowed to pursue this profession. Typical examples: doctors, civil servants, teachers, certified public accountants, civil engineers, and pursuing regulated trades such as electrical, gas or sanitary engineering (also in a self-employed manner).
Evaluation of foreign higher education degrees
If your profession is not regulated in Austria, you can (voluntarily) have your degree evaluated. You will then be given an expert report (“Gutachten”) which you can then present either to the Austrian Public Employment Service (“Arbeitsmarktservice” - AMS) or your future employer.
Equivalence (“Gleichhaltung”) of apprenticeship certificates
Professional qualifications acquired abroad can be considered as equivalent to an Austrian apprenticeship certificate (“Lehrabschluss”) – if necessary, by means of supplementary tests (“Ergänzungsprüfungen”) taken in Austria.
When must I have my qualifications recognised?
If your profession/qualifications are not regulated in Austria, then, in principle, no formal recognition is necessary.
Nevertheless, an evaluation – voluntary recognition – can still make sense, for example when it involves the classification of qualifications in collective agreements, the classification of an employee within a company’s salary scheme or employment in the public sector.
If you have completed your qualifications in an EU or EEA member state, it is generally assumed that your education/training is equivalent to the one provided in Austria. This procedure in connection with an EU education is called professional recognition or professional accreditation.
- One possibility is that your education is automatically recognised (only in the case of doctors, nurses, midwives, dentists, pharmacists, architects and veterinarians.
- Otherwise, your education will also be reviewed with respect to its equivalence to a corresponding Austrian education on a case-by-case basis and, if necessary, this equivalence is then established by supplementary exams.
If you have not completed your education in an EU or EEA member state, it is generally not assumed that your education is equivalent to an Austrian one. This procedure in connection with education acquired in third countries is called nostrification (“Nostrifizierung”) or validation in the case of school diplomas.
- Nevertheless, it is possible that your education is considered to be equivalent to an Austrian one based on the principle of equivalence stipulated within the context of bilateral agreements (e.g., with Bosnia and Herzegovina, China, Kosovo, Mongolia, Montenegro, Serbia and Switzerland). Additional requirements for recognition may be specified depending on the contents of the agreement.
- Otherwise, your education will also be reviewed with respect to its equivalence to a corresponding Austrian education on a case-by-case basis and, if necessary, this equivalence is then established by supplementary exams.
If you completed your education outside of the EU or EEA, every application is reviewed on a case-by-case basis. For example, key criteria could include the duration and contents of education, field of work, professional experience, completion of the education, etc. If your education comprises less than 50 percent of the scope of the Austrian education, this cannot be compensated by supplementary exams.
In healthcare professions, German language skills (at least at a B2 level of the Common European Framework of Reference) represent an additional requirement for being hired. However, you first have to show this if you want to work in these professions and not for the purpose of getting formal recognition of your education.
If you want to practice a regulated profession in Austria and the equivalence of your qualifications exists (e.g., by completing your studies in an EU member state), you still have to submit an application to the responsible public authority, which must confirm the equivalence of your education. The public authority which is responsible depends on the specific profession you intend to exercise.
Professional recognition or professional accreditation in the EU
Additional steps are usually necessary if you have acquired the right to exercise your desired profession in your country of origin and now want to practice this profession in Austria, and this is also a “regulated profession”. For example, depending upon which profession you want to pursue, you must have completed your studies or have an apprenticeship certificate. There are many regulated professions in Austria, for which different public authorities are responsible. These authorities are also responsible for the particular recognition proceedings.
The following forms of recognition exist depending on the type of regulated professions:
Recognition or equivalence of professional qualifications through comparison with Austrian qualification requirements
The recognition of professional qualifications (especially for practicing trades) within the EU can take place on the basis of an equivalence evaluation (“Gleichartigkeitsprüfung”). This is reviewed by the competent public authority within the context of a nostrification when the profession in question is not one which is automatically recognised.
Automatic recognition on the basis of a corresponding training experience
For several professions, the qualifications acquired by EU, EEA and Swiss nationals are “automatically” recognised inasmuch as the right to exercise this profession was acquired in their country of origin and they are allowed to exercise the profession in their country of origin as a self-employed person. In this case, it does not matter if you intend to exercise this profession as a self-employed person or as a salaried employee in Austria.
The qualifications of the following people are “automatically” recognised:
- Architects and
This means that you can submit evidence of your qualifications (notarised copy and certified translation) and must wait for the formal approval of Austrian authorities. In this case, the responsible authority does not review the contents of the education itself but only the authenticity of the documents. You will only be allowed to exercise your chosen profession after being granted formal approval.
Depending on the profession, the requirement involves completing university studies, completing further professional training (e.g., the induction phase for teachers or the training of doctors after they have received their PhDs) and the existence of a direct law governing the right to pursue this profession.
Please take into account that the responsible public authority can also demand other documents from you in addition to such certificates of professional aptitude (“Berufsbefähigungszeugnissen”).
As a nurse for general care or a pharmacist, you can make use of the European Professional Card (EPC) (“Europäischer Berufsausweis”) – a quick and simplified electronic process – to submit your documents, track the status of your online applications and reuse documents that have already been uploaded.
You are a French citizen and concluded your studies as a midwife at a university in Paris (e.g., University of Paris South - XI). The education you received corresponds to the EU Professional Qualifications Directive. If you want to work in Austria as a midwife (regardless of whether you are a salaried employee or self-employed), your studies are, in principle, automatically recognised. This means that you have to submit an application for recognition to the responsible Austrian authority (National Board of Austrian Midwives - Austrian Registry of Midwives (“Österreichisches Hebammengremium Bundesgeschäftsstelle – Hebammenregister”) and attach your education degree. The body will not carry out any review of the contents but will only confirm the authenticity of the documents you presented. You are permitted to work as a midwife in Austria as soon as you have the authority’s confirmation.
Notification of the provision of cross-border services
The notification of providing cross-border services (“Anzeige grenzüberschreitender Dienstleistungen”) in the form of an advertisement is only one possibility if the work is temporary and exercised occasionally and you do not want to settle down in Austria.
With respect to regulated trades in Austria (bakers, floorers, beauticians, etc.), the notification of providing cross-border services and its confirmation by the Federal Ministry for Digital and Economic Affairs (“Bundesministerium für Digitalisierung und Wirtschaftsstandort“) is required.
You are considered to provide cross-border services if you temporarily (on a self-employed basis) engage in this activity in another EU member state. If you as a service provider send employees to another EU member state, the rules for the posting of workers also apply (link).
The notification must be renewed once a year if you, as a company, intend to provide these services during the year in question. The annual renewal of the notification is entered into the Service Provider Registry (“Dienstleisterregister”).
You are only not required to have your qualifications formally recognised or subject to nostrification if:
- the commercial activity is regulated both in Austria and your country of origin
- you have undergone regulated training
- you engaged in this commercial activity for at least one year out of the last ten years in your country of origin
If you have consistently worked as a master builder in the Czech Republic during the last ten years and want to work in Austria temporarily to fulfil a contract, you have to advertise your activity in Austria with the Federal Ministry for Digital and Economic Affairs. Your education/training as a master builder does not need to be formally recognised and is not subject to nostrification. However, you must wait until your advertisement is confirmed before you are permitted to begin working in Austria. The Federal Ministry for Digital and Economic Affairs has one month to review your advertisement.
As a rule, only citizens of an EU and EEA member state can carry out this activity in accordance with these rules because the procedure is based on the EU Professional Qualifications Directive.
In contrast to an evaluation, nostrification represents a formal act of recognition with direct legal consequences. Nostrification means that foreign higher education degrees are considered to be completely equivalent to an Austrian bachelor, master or doctoral studies. This procedure gives you the legal right to exercise the profession which is related to the completion of these studies and to use the corresponding Austrian academic title.
Nostrification of university degrees and foreign academic titles
- In order to be able to apply for nostrification (recognition), you must bring evidence in Austria to demonstrate the necessity of nostrification.
- Nostrification is based on a comparison of courses of studies. If nostrification is not possible or necessary, you can have your degree evaluated or have the equivalence of the studies determined.
- Responsibility lies in the hands of the respective university, university of applied sciences or teacher training college with whose degree a foreign academic degree is supposed to be equated. An application for nostrification may only be submitted once to a single Austrian higher education institution. You can find out more about this procedure at www.nostrifizierung.at.
As a rule, nostrification is not required in the following cases:
- For university degrees acquired within the EU. For example, this is the case if you intend to work in the public sector or legally regulated areas (e.g., as a civil engineer, lawyer, teacher or in certain trades) or if you acquired your diploma in an EU or EEA member state or Switzerland and already have a similar right to exercise your profession there.
- If you studied in a country which has concluded a bilateral agreement guaranteeing the equivalence of academic degrees (e.g., Bosnia and Herzegovina, China, Kosovo, Mongolia, Montenegro, Serbia, Switzerland). In this case, it is usually only necessary to determine the equivalence of the foreign academic degree. The equivalence itself no longer needs to be reviewed but is only subject to administrative confirmation. The responsible body is ENIC NARIC AUSTRIA located in the Austrian Federal Ministry for Education, Science and Research (“Bundesministerium für Bildung, Wissenschaft und Forschung”).
- If your qualifications/profession in Austria are not regulated. However, you can undergo a (voluntary) evaluation of your qualifications.
- If you do not intend to exercise a regulated trade as a self-employed person but as a salaried employee.
Independent professions (e.g., working as a doctor, lawyer or musician) are not considered to be trades (“Gewerbe”) pursuant to the Trade Regulation Act (“Gewerbeordnung”)!
There are several legal regulations governing a number of independent professions both with respect to self-employed people and in many cases also salaried employees (Austrian Medical Practitioners Act - “Ärztegesetz”, Austrian Lawyers’ Act - “Rechtsanwaltsordnung”, Austrian Civil Technicians Act - “Ziviltechnikergesetz”, etc.). Beginning professional work must be reported to some interest groups (e.g., chambers) which often stipulate being entered into a list (e.g., the Austrian Doctors Directory). In this case, it is necessary to fulfil certain requirements, usually the nostrification of academic degrees acquired in third countries. There are no special legal regulations and reporting obligations for other independent professions such as artists, writers and journalists.
You are a Brazilian citizen and studied medicine at the University of Sao Paolo. You now want to work in a hospital in Vienna. In order to be able to work as a doctor in Austria, you must have your university degree nostrified. The Medical Practitioners Act stipulates an Austrian degree in medicine or an equivalent degree in medicine acquired abroad and validated in Austria – regardless of whether you work as a doctor on a self-employed or employed basis. Exception: studies in medicine within the EU are automatically recognised. Furthermore, you must be able to demonstrate a sufficient level of competence in German.
If you want to study in Austria, you can also apply for the nostrification of your foreign school report or school-leaving certificate. The nostrification of school reports and school-leaving certificates aims to ensure the greatest possible conformity of the contents of the certificates presented with the Austrian curriculum. Any major deviations must be compensated by supplementary exams. Bilateral agreements also exist with which certain school-leaving certificates are considered to be equivalent to the Austrian education. The contents no longer need to be reviewed as the basis for equivalence but only need to be confirmed within the context of an administrative procedure. The administrative verification is carried out directly by the university, university of applied sciences or teacher training college where you want to study.
The responsible government body is the Federal Ministry for Education, Science and Research.
The evaluation does not represent an official decision nor is it a formal recognition. This means it is not binding. Nevertheless, the academic assessment of foreign degrees can be extremely helpful and supportive, for example in searching for a job and in application processes.
It is frequently a sensible step to apply for the evaluation of a foreign university diploma if nostrification is not necessary or possible. This service is done for a fee:
- €150 for the evaluation of up to two qualifications per application
- €200 for the evaluation of three of more qualifications per application
The evaluation report (“Bewertungsgutachten”) contains, for example, the following contents: information on the educational institution, basic classification (level, scope of education etc.) and comparison with Austrian diplomas.
The responsible body is ENIC NARIC AUSTRIA, which is the National Academic Recognition Information Centre located in the Austrian Federal Ministry for Education, Science and Research. Applications are submitted online at www.aais.at.
You are a Malaysian national, studied at the University of Kuala Lumpur and received a master’s degree in business management with a specialisation in marketing. You decide to move to Austria to live with your wife and would like to work as a consultant for a marketing agency in Austria. This profession is not regulated. You do not need to have your university degree nostrified. However, during the hiring process, your future employer is not certain about how to classify you with respect to the collective agreement. For this reason, you decide to voluntarily have your degree from the University of Kuala Lumpur evaluated.
Foreign school diplomas can also be evaluated. The evaluation of foreign school diplomas (school-leaving certificates) should facilitate an assessment of school qualifications acquired abroad as well as a fundamental assessment of the comparability with an Austrian school-leaving certificate. The evaluation does not replace the recognition process for qualifications enabling access to legally regulated professions or the nostrification of diplomas. The application can be submitted at no charge. The responsible body is the Austrian Federal Ministry for Education, Science and Research. Applications are submitted online at: www.asbb.at.
In all cases, it is important that you plan for sufficient processing time. Recognition procedures can take several weeks. Moreover, it could happen that your educational documents must be subject to specified verification procedures in order to be recognised. Please directly contact the responsible body or public authority for all relevant details.
Equivalence of apprenticeship certificates
For this purpose, you must show equivalent specialised knowledge in order to correspond to the Austrian job description or apprenticeship diploma. You must also show evidence of the practical part of your education which corresponds to the Austrian apprenticeship diploma. In this case, professional experience in Austria or abroad can be taken into consideration.
The application for equivalence can lead to recognition of complete equivalence (“volle Gleichhaltung”) or admission to a shortened final apprenticeship examination (practical examination and/or technical discussion) or involve supplementary examinations (if differences in the level of education exist).
Several apprenticeship trainings in Germany, Hungary and South Tyrol are considered to be fully equivalent due to vocational training agreements. Responsibility lies in the hands of the Federal Ministry for Digital and Economic Affairs.
More information can be found in the Recognition Guide (“Anerkennungs-Wegweiser”): https://www.berufsanerkennung.at/
Exception: If you completed your education in a healthcare or nursing profession in an EU or EEA member state or Switzerland, you can apply for recognition to the Austrian Federal Ministry for Social Affairs, Health, Nursing and Consumer Protection (“Bundeministerium für Soziales, Gesundheit, Pflege und Konsumentenschutz“).
Your diploma from abroad is only nostrified when you have passed all the examinations (and internships, if applicable) specified in the nostrification process.
You can apply for a Residence Permit – Student (“Aufenthaltsbewilligung Student”) (link) when your education at a university of applied sciences has been nostrified. If you are accepted into a nostrification course (e.g., if you study at the School for Healthcare and Nursing in Vienna (“AWZ, Schule für Gesundheits- und Krankenpflege”), you can, under certain circumstances, get a Residence Permit – Pupil (“Aufenthaltsbewilligung Schüler”) during this process.
During a nostrification or validation process, it is not possible to be employed in the field of nursing on a temporary basis. As a rule, you are not allowed to work in your chosen field as long as the nostrification process has not been concluded.
As a rule, a Residence Permit – Student or a Residence Permit – Pupil allows you to work for a maximum of 20 hours per week in another field of work (which is not regulated). For this purpose, your employer must apply to the Austrian Public Employment Service (AMS) on your behalf for a work permit (“Beschäftigungsbewilligung”).
With your entry into the Register of Healthcare Professionals (“Gesundheitsberuferegister”), you have the full authorisation to exercise your respective profession.
You can apply for a Red-White-Red – Card for Skilled Workers in Shortage Occupations (link) as soon as you have found an employer or apply for a change of purpose (“Zweckänderung”) of your previous Residence Permit – Student or Residence Permit – Pupil.