If you intend to work as a veterinarian in Germany after successfully graduating from a veterinary school abroad, you need a professional license in accordance to the latest version of the German Federal Regulations for Veterinarians (Bundestierärzteordnung, BTÄO). According to these regulations a general recognition of a foreign veterinary qualification is not provided.
A) TEMPORARY PERMISSION TO WORK AS A VETERINARIAN IN GERMANY
If you are planning on working in Germany for only a limited period of time, you can apply for a temporary permission of work, which allows you to practice your profession for a limited time, place and field of work. It only grants you a permit for a specific, non self-employed place of work and can only be extended in specific cases. In order for permission to be granted, you are required to prove the completion of a veterinary degree. The permission to work does not include the recognition of your foreign professional qualification. This means that it is not required to verify the equivalence of your educational qualifications. Nevertheless, when applying for the permission to work, you must include the same documents as for the application for the license to practice veterinary medicine (see below).
If you graduated from a veterinary school in a member state of the European Union (EU), the European Economic Area (EEA) or in Switzerland, the temporary permission to work is granted only in exceptional cases. Generally holders of these degrees obtain the license to practice veterinary medicine.
B) PERMANENT PRACTICE OF THE VETERINARY PROFESSION IN GERMANY
If you want to permanently live in Germany and work as a veterinarian without restrictions, you need an official license to practice veterinary medicine, the so called “approbation”.
You can apply for this license even if you graduated from a foreign veterinary school. Within the licensing process the responsible authority verifies the equivalence of your degree to the relevant German degree. The application for the license can be filed regardless of your citizenship, the origin of your degree and your residence status. In some cases it is necessary to prove the equivalence of your standard of education through tests at a veterinary school in Germany (Giessen, Berlin, Hanover, Leipzig or Munich).
PROCEDURE OF THE RECOGNITION PROCESS
The responsible authority decides about the recognition of your foreign degree in veterinary medicine as part of the licensing process. A fee of approximately € 250 is charged – depending on the federal state in which the license is granted. On receipt of all the required documents, the processing time is usually to be expected between two and three weeks, but not more than three to four months.
1. Process for degrees that were earned in the EU/EEA or in Switzerland
If you earned your veterinary degree in a member or contractual state, it will be recognized without an individual equivalence assessment. What applies in this regard is the procedure of the automatic recognition of work qualifications referred to the guideline 2005/36/EG. This is possible because the member and contractual states agreed on certain minimum requirements regarding the training.
Nevertheless you have to apply for the recognition and the equivalence of the training has to be proved. Moreover you are liable to compulsory registration according to the regulations of the BTÄO. For this purpose you have to submit the following documents (which must not be older than 12 months at the time of submission):
- Proof of citizenship
- A certificate stating that the practice of the applicant’s profession is not – also not temporarily – prohibited at the time of submission of the certificate
- Proof of the professional qualification/training
Additionally, other requirements must be fulfilled (personal integrity, health aptitude, sufficient knowledge of the German language) in order to grant the license to practice veterinary medicine.
Degrees that were earned before the entrance of the state of education to the EU, usually will be automatically recognized. You only have to submit a certificate from the responsible administration, that the training is adequate to the minimum standards of the guideline 36/2005/EG (certificate of conformity). The university where you studied can give you more information.
2. Process for degrees that were earned in Non-EU/-EEA-states and for EU-degrees that cannot be automatically recognized
The responsible authority verifies if your foreign degree is equivalent to the corresponding German degree. Your degree will be recognized as equal if there are no significant differences. In addition to your training, the responsible authority also considers your work experience in Germany and abroad. Further requirements exist in order to obtain the license (see below).
3. Required documents for the application
The license to practice veterinary medicine is only granted upon a written request (the application form is available at the responsible authority) and not until all of the correctly completed documents have been submitted:
- Proof of identity (valid identity card or passport)
- Birth certificate, possibly marriage certificate
- Short curriculum vitae (focus on professional education)
- Certified copies of academic records of the completed veterinary examinations and the acquired diploma or further qualification certificates
- The certification of the license to practice veterinary medicine in the home country and documents that indicate that the applicant wants to work as a veterinarian in Germany (not applicable for degrees from the EU/EEA/Switzerland)
- An overview of the past and present professional activity (after taking the veterinary exam)
- Certificates / references of relevant work experience
- A medical certificate of the appropriate health status in order to properly practice the veterinary profession (not older than a month)
- Proof of personal reliability: criminal record (if you are residing in Germany, can be applied for at every registration office, not older than a month) respectively a certificate from the home country that proves the personal reliability (if you are residing abroad)
- A statement that the applicant isn´t pending a judicial procedure or criminal investigation proceedings
- Sufficient knowledge of the German language in speech and writing to practice the veterinary profession (i.e. certificate of an authorized language school, sometimes it is enough to prove your language skills in a personal conversation)
4. What to do if your degree is not equivalent?
If significant differences between your and the corresponding German degree are determined, you get the opportunity to take exams in order to prove your level of knowledge. These exams can be taken at a German veterinary school and refer to the content requirements of the veterinary final exam. In preparation for the exams you can participate in preparatory courses and apply for a temporary permission to work. It may be the case that you only have to take a qualifying examination that narrows down to the determined differences. Alternatively the responsible authority provides adaptation measures (for example courses or internships) in order to compensate the deficits by conveyance of specialist skills.
After passing the exams respectively after successfully participating in courses you gain the full recognition, the license to practice veterinary medicine. If you don´t pass the exam, you can retry and apply again for the license.
If you don´t succeed in gaining the recognition and if you have to study again, ask if it is possible to recognize credits.
For further information about concrete requirements in order to gain the recognition of your license to practice veterinary medicine respectively to apply for a temporary permission of work, contact the authority that is responsible for you (usually the Ministry for Consumer Protection) in the German federal state of your choice.
If you intend to work as a veterinary specialist with a foreign qualification, you must apply to the responsible German State Chamber of Veterinarians (Landestierärztekammer) for the recognition of the qualification after the license to practice veterinary medicine is granted.
- German Federal Regulations for Veterinarians (Bundestierärzteordnung, BTÄO): www.gesetze-im-internet.de/bt_o/BJNR004160965.html (in German)
- Veterinary Medical Licensure act (Approbationsordnung für Tierärzte, TappV): www.gesetze-im-internet.de/bundesrecht/tappv/gesamt.pdf (in German)
http://www.germany-visa.org/working-germany-getting-german-work-permit/ – which contains detailed information about getting a German work permit.
(thanks to Johanna for this input..)
Über die Autorin:
Tonia Olson hat 2005 ihr Veterinärmedizin-Studium in München abgeschlossen. Bei ihrem anschließenden mehrjährigen Aufenthalt in Skandinavien war sie u.a. in einer städtischen Gemischtpraxis tätig. Nach der Elternzeit arbeitet sie nun in einer Kleintierpraxis in der Nähe von München. Sie ist verheiratet, hat zwei Kinder, eine Katze und einen Hund.