Ask EP By / April 11, 2016

Recognition of diplomas and professional qualifications

When moving from one EU country to another or whilst studying abroad, citizens frequently write to the European Parliament to…

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When moving from one EU country to another or whilst studying abroad, citizens frequently write to the European Parliament to request information about the legislation in force with regard to the recognition of professional or academic qualifications. In particular, they enquire about the administrative procedures and documents needed to get a diploma recognised in another EU Member State.

Recognition of academic diplomas

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The EU has the competence to support, coordinate or supplement the national actions of the Member States in the field of education (Article 6 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union). However, EU countries remain responsible for their own education systems. There is therefore no automatic EU-wide recognition of academic diplomas and national rules on the recognition of academic qualifications obtained in another Member State may differ.

The network of national information centres ENIC/NARIC provides information on national academic recognition procedures and can issue a ‘statement of comparability’ of the university degree or transfer the request received to the national competent authority.

Further information is available on the Your Europe website at the ‘Recognition of academic diplomas‘ webpage.

Recognition of professional qualifications

In the context of the free movement of professionals, Directive 2005/36/EC sets up the legal framework for the recognition of professional qualifications.

This Professional Qualifications Directive, amended by Directive 2013/55/EC, applies to citizens wishing to pursue a regulated profession in a different country other than where they obtained their professional qualifications.

The database of regulated professions contains lists of regulated professions, covered by the directive, in the EU Member States, other European Economic Area (EEA) countries and Switzerland.

The directive makes a distinction between temporary mobility and freedom of permanent establishment in another country. It establishes three systems of recognition for permanent establishment: automatic recognition (for seven professions known as ‘sectoral’ professions: architects, dentists, doctors, midwives, nurses, pharmacists and veterinary surgeons), recognition on the basis of professional experience for certain occupations such as professionals in the craft, commerce or industry sectors and a general system to be applied to other professions such as teachers, translators and real estate agents.

Directive 2005/36/EC does not apply to professions ruled by specific legal provisions, such sailors, statutory auditors, insurance intermediaries, some transport operators, lawyers and commercial agents.

Further information can be found on the European Commission webpage regarding the legislation for the free movement of professionals, as well as on the ‘Recognition of professional qualifications webpage of the Your Europe website.

European professional card

The modernisation in 2013 of the Professional Qualifications Directive introduced a new European professional card (EPC), an electronic procedure which aims to manage easily and quickly the traditional qualification recognition procedures.

The EPC is available since 18 January 2016 for five professions: general care nurses, physiotherapists, pharmacists, real estate agents and mountain guides.

Further information

The fact sheet on mutual recognition of diplomas may also be of interest.

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