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Working As A Vet In Germany

Working as a vet in Germany

You are considering to carry on your career as a veterinarian in Germany?

Working as a clinical veterinarian in Germany can be very rewarding. Animal health and welfare are highly valued goods within our society.

A broad variety fields of work and advanced medical standards provide the perfect environment for veterinary talents from all over the world to pursue their career!

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What you need to know up front: We have captured the most important information in this article – check it out!

The profession of Veterinary surgeon (m/f) is regulated in Germany. Therefore if you want to work as an independent clinician you need to have a professional license in accordance to the latest version of the German Federal Regulations (Bundestierärzteordnung, BTÄO). 

There is a difference between the process depending wether you earned your degree in the EU/EEA, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland or in another country.

A professional license can be either a


    If you are planning on working in Germany for only a limited period of time, you can apply for a temporary permission of work. It 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 want to permanently work as a veterinarian without restrictions, you need a permanent license to practice veterinary medicine. This type allows you to practice without any restrictions and it is called Approbation. At the start of the authorisation process stands the recognition of you veterinary degree. In this case recognition means that your professional qualification is legally equivalent to a German professional qualification.

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How to get a professional license

Getting your professional license is mainly a burocreatic process varying very much from your individual starting position. Sometimes you need to prove stamina but in the most cases you will be rewarded with success.

Crucial question: Sprechen Sie Deutsch?

If there is this one criteria that should be thrown into account when deciding to start the process and totally unrelated to citizenship, training university or type of license applying it is German language skills.

You can start you application for recogniton of your foreign degree without proofing German knowledge but you will only be granted a license when verifiying a minimum language certificate level B2 according to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages(CEFR).

Moreover English is not common as working language in our veterinary practices and clinics, even university hospitals. Besides you need a good level of German to successfully enter job interviews and further on to communicate with clients and colleagues. 

Are you ready to study German?  Even from abroad you can easily start a course with Goethe Institut .

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In the following paragraph we will go into detail of the recogntion process of the two main degree groups:

University degree earned in EU/EEA country, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or 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. Degrees that were earned before the entrance of the state of education to the EU, usually will be automatically recognized as well. You have to submit a certificate of conformity (conforming that training is adequate to the minimum standards of the guideline 2005/36/EG). You will receive this document from the competent authority of your home member state.

Once your degree is confirmed eligable for automatic recognition you will always be issued with the permanent license called Approbation.

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 Bundestierärzteordnung, BTÄO . Which competent authority is responsible for your recognition procedure depends on your place of work and profession. Even if you are still living abroad you  have to do decide which federal state you file the application. Most offer already an option to start the procedure via online form.

Do you need help?

 We have started a special service to assist international vets in finding a permanent contract in Germany. click here to get in contact with us!

University degree earned in Non-EU/-EEA-states and for EU-degrees that cannot be automatically recognized

If you have earned your degree in a third party country you will equally have to apply for the recogniton process at the competent authorities depending on the federal state.  The official website Anerkennung in Deutschland provides a very detailed overview and lists all responsible authorities by federal state.

Equivalence of your professional qualification

In the first step  the authority verifies the equivalence of your professional qualification

Your degree will be recognized as equal if there are no significant differences and you gain the full recognition. In addition to your training, the responsible authority also considers your work experience in Germany and abroad.

If your degree is stated as non equivalent you will get the opportunity to complete an aptitude test in order to prove your level of knowledge. These exams can be taken at one of the German veterinary schools (Berlin, Giessen, Hannover, Leipzig or Munich) and refer to the content requirements of the veterinary final exam.

In preparation for the exams you can use specialised E-learning courses and get guidance from Support4Vetmed. This website is free of charge and provides material for the legally relevant exams, using instructional videos, handouts and self-tests to check your knowledge. 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 and you can also apply for a temporary permission to work (see below).

Full recognition and application for the permanent license

After passing the exams, respectively after successfully participating in courses you gain the full recognition and subsequent the license to practice veterinary medicine. If you do not pass the exam, you can retry and apply again.

Other Options

Application for a temporary license

This license is a temporary recognition and entitles you to practise the profession for a limited period of time. The permission to practise does not include the full recognition of your foreign professional qualification. In reverse it is not required to verify the equivalence of your educational qualifications to full extent.

If you have already a working contract or a written offer of employment you can apply for a temporary working license. Application process needs to be filed at the competent authorities depending on the federal state.  The official website Anerkennung in Deutschland provides a very detailed overview and lists all responsible authorities by federal state.

Note:  Additionally, once you have already started your recognition process, you have the option to work for a limited period of time without Approbation as „Tierarzt in Anerkennung“. This authorisation permits you to work only under the supervision of a person owning an Approbation and limits you to carry out only activities in a specific area of work. You are bound on a specific employer. You can also use this time for practical training, to prepare for your language certificate test and as preparation time for your measure for recognition exams/aptitute tests.

Online German course for veterinarians from abroad

To be able to work as a veterinarian in Germany, you need to have a good command of veterinary language in order to communicate clearly with animal owners and colleagues.

The „German course for veterinarians“ from offers a special online learning programme with the relevant vocabulary.

Interactive exercises, dialogues and vocabulary lists set to music, as well as a variety of sample videos from practice, provide the necessary relevance and plenty of variety and are ideal for learning the German skills needed for everyday life in a veterinary practice. Grammar also plays an important role. The modules cover, among other things, all common diseases in small animal practice. You can find the course here.




Dominique Possmann Dias

Seit 2018 betreut Dr. Dominique Possmann Dias als Tierärztin die VetStage Personalverwaltungssoftware „Tempus“.
Neben langjähriger praktischer Tätigkeit als angestellte und selbständige Tierärztin hat sie ihr Interesse an Praxismanagement durch ein Zusatzstudium zum Certificate of Veterinary Business Management (CertVBM) vertieft.

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