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Automatic recognition

Automatic recognition

In the EU, there is a system of automatic recognition of professional qualifications for seven so-called sectoral professions: nurses, midwives, doctors, dentists, pharmacists, architects and veterinary surgeons.

How automatic recognition works

To work in another EU country, professionals must apply to the authority that oversees the profession in that country, providing proof of their qualifications.

The authority must:

  • acknowledge your application within 1 month of receiving it and ask you for missing but necessary documents to process the application
  • assess your qualifications, and decide whether to grant your application within 3 months (or 4 months for certain complicated cases in the area of non-automatic recognition)

In case of disagreement, professionals can appeal to the court in the respective country. For the type of documents authorities may ask for, please see the Code of conduct (3 MB).

Practical information on the seven sectoral professions

Nurses

General care nurses

Automatic recognition

Minimum training required for automatic recognition of professional qualifications for general care nurses is 3 years full-time study (4 600 hours) covering the subjects mentioned in Annex V. Point 5.2.1 of the Directive on recognition of professional qualifications.

For a list of all qualifications that meet these requirements, see the list of general care nurse qualifications in point 5.2.2 of Annex V of the Directive on recognition of professional qualifications.

If the qualification is not listed in Annex V, point 5.2.2 because it does not meet the basic criteria, it may still be recognised under an acquired rights regime. General care nurses must demonstrate at least 3 years of professional experience within the last 5 years (Art. 23).

Non-automatic recognition

Even if the qualification does not meet the criteria for automatic recognition and is not listed in Directive 2005/36/EC, it may still be recognised in other EU countries under the general system for recognition of qualifications.

However, if the authorities think the training is significantly different from the training required in the respective country, nurses may have to sit an aptitude test, or complete an adaptation period.

Specialist nurses

Automatic recognition

There is no automatic recognition for specialist nurses.

Non-automatic recognition

If there are major differences between the qualifications, nurses may be asked to:

  • sit an aptitude test to check that they have the skills required in the chosen country;
  • or complete an adaptation period.

Supporting information

Midwives

Automatic recognition

The authorities in all EU countries must recognise any of the midwives’ qualifications listed in:

  • Annexes V, point 5.2

provided they are issued after:

  • 3 years’ full-time midwife training + 2 years’ professional practice depending on the level of the diploma

or

  • successful completion of general-care nurses’ training + full-time midwife training of at least 2 years or 3 600 hours

or

  • successful completion of general-care nurse’s training + full-time midwife training of at least 18 months or 3,000 hours + 1 year’s professional practice as a midwife.

For more details on the training requirements for automatic recognition of midwives’ qualifications, see Articles 40–43 and Annex V, point 5 of the Directive on recognition of professional qualifications (2005/36/EC).

If the qualification is not listed in Annex V, point 5.2 because it does not meet the basic criteria, it may still be recognised under an acquired rights regime. Midwives need to demonstrate at least 3 years of professional experience within the last 5 years (Art. 23, but please see Art. 43 for other situations).

Non-automatic recognition

Even if a midwife’s qualification does not meet the criteria for automatic recognition and is not listed in Directive 2005/36/EC, it may still be recognised in other EU countries under the general system for recognition of qualifications.

However, if the authorities think the training is significantly different from the training required in the respective country, midwives may have to sit an aptitude test or complete an adaptation period.

For details of what qualifications may be recognised on this basis and what conditions may be attached, see Articles 10 to 15 of Directive 2005/36/EC.

Supporting information

Doctors

Automatic recognition

Basic medical training and general practitioner qualifications

Basic medical training and general practitioner training are automatically recognised throughout the EU. This entitles doctors to work in any EU country if their training is:

  • listed in Annex V, points 5.1.1 and 5.1.4 of the Directive 2005/36/EC, which conforms to Art. 24 or 28 of the Directive;
  • or benefits from acquired rights (Art. 23 and 30 of the Directive).

Specialist doctors’ qualifications

Some specialist doctors’ qualifications are automatically recognised in certain EU countries. These are listed in:

  • Annexes V, point 5.1 of the Directive on recognition of professional qualifications

Non-automatic recognition

Even if the qualification does not meet the automatic criteria for recognition, it may still be recognised in another EU country under the general system for recognition of qualifications. See Article 10 to 15 of the Directive.

If there are major differences between the qualifications, doctors may be asked to sit an aptitude test or complete an adaptation period.

Supporting information:

Dentists

Automatic recognition

Basic dentists’ qualifications

The authorities in any EU country must recognise any of the basic dentists’ qualifications listed in:

  • Annex V, point 5.3.2 of the Directive on recognition of professional qualifications

All these qualifications meet the basic criteria for automatic recognition, which are:

  • at least 5 years of full-time theoretical and practical study;
  • coverage of the knowledge and skills listed in Article 34 and Annex V, point 5.3.1 of the Directive on recognition of professional qualifications.

If the qualification is not listed in Annex V, point 5.3.2 because it does not meet the basic criteria, it may still be recognised under an acquired rights regime. Dentists must demonstrate at least 3 years of professional experience within the last 5 years (Art. 23).

Specialist dentists’ qualifications

Some specialist dentists' qualifications are automatically recognised in certain EU countries. These are listed in:

  • Annex V, point 5.3.3 of the Directive on recognition of professional qualifications

Non-automatic recognition

Even if a dentist's qualification does not meet the criteria for automatic recognition and is not listed in Directive 2005/36/EC, it may still be recognised in other EU countries under the general system for recognition of qualifications.

If the specialist qualification is not listed in the Annex, it may still be recognised in other EU countries.

However, if the authorities think the training for your qualification differs significantly from the training required in that country, dentists may have to sit an aptitude test or complete an adaptation period under the general system for recognition of qualifications.

For more details, see Articles 10 to 15 of the Directive (2005/36/EC).

Supporting information:

Pharmacists

Automatic recognition

The authorities in any EU country must recognise any of the pharmacists’ qualifications listed in:

  • Annexes V, point 6.2  of the Directive on recognition of professional qualifications

All these qualifications meet the basic criteria for automatic recognition, which are:

  • training of at least 5 years, including 4 years full-time theoretical and practical study and a 6-month traineeship in a pharmacy;
  • coverage of the knowledge and skills listed in Article 44 and Annex V, point 6.1 of the Directive on recognition of professional qualifications.

If the qualification is not listed in Annex V, point 6.2 because it does not meet the basic criteria, it may still be recognised under an acquired rights regime. Pharmacists must demonstrate at least 3 years of professional experience within the last 5 years (Art. 23).

The authorities in some EU countries may require pharmacists to have a certain amount of professional experience before allowing them to carry out certain functions.

Non-automatic recognition

Even if a pharmacist’s qualification does not meet the criteria for automatic recognition and is not listed in Directive 2005/36/EC, it may still be recognised in other EU countries under the general system for recognition of qualifications.

However, if the authorities think the training is significantly different from the training required in the respective country, pharmacists may have to sit an aptitude test or complete an adaptation period.

For details of what qualifications may be recognised on this basis and what conditions may be attached, see Articles 10 to 15 of Directive (2005/36/EC).

Supporting information:

Architects

Automatic recognition

The authorities in any EU country must recognise any of the architects' qualifications listed in:

  • Annex V, point 5.7.1 of the Directive on recognition of professional qualifications
    or
  • Annex VI of the Directive on recognition of professional qualifications provided your studies started no later than the academic year mentioned.

Professional qualifications are automatically recognised if they are from a university or equivalent-level institution and if the studies:

  • lasted at least 4 years full-time or 6 years study of which at least 3 years was full-time;
  • had architecture as the principal component;
  • had theoretical and practical components;
  • taught the basic knowledge and skills listed in Article 46 of Directive 2005/36/EC on recognition of professional qualifications.

NOTE: The qualifications listed in Annex V, point 5.7.1 of the Directive all meet these criteria. Those listed in Annex VI do not, but are still automatically recognised.

The authorities in some EU countries require architects to have a certain amount of experience before allowing them to carry the title of an architect. They may not apply the same requirement to you if this is not required under the rules of your own country.

Non-automatic recognition

Even if the architect’s qualification does not meet the criteria for automatic recognition and is not listed in Directive 2005/36/EC, it may still be recognised in other EU countries under the general system for recognition of qualifications.

However, if the authorities think the training is significantly different from the training required in the respective country, professionals may have to sit an aptitude test or to complete an adaptation period.

For detailed information on which qualifications may be recognised on this basis and what conditions may be attached, see Articles 10 to 15 of Directive (2005/36/EC).

Supporting information

Veterinary surgeons

Automatic recognition

The authorities in any EU country must recognise any of the veterinary qualifications listed in:

  • Annexes V, point 4.2 of the Directive on recognition of professional qualifications

All these qualifications meet the basic criteria for automatic recognition, which are:

  • at least 5 years’ full-time theoretical and practical study
  • coverage of the subjects listed in Annex V, point 4.1 of the Directive on recognition of professional qualifications

If the qualification is not listed in Annex V, point 4.2 because it does not meet the basic criteria, it may still be recognised under an acquired rights regime. Veterinary surgeons must demonstrate at least 3 years of professional experience within the last 5 years (Art. 23 but please see Art. 39 for other situations).

Non-automatic recognition

Even if the veterinary qualification does not meet the criteria for automatic recognition and is not listed in Directive 2005/36/EC, it may still be recognised in other EU countries under the general system for recognition of qualifications.

However, if the authorities think the training is significantly different from the training required in that country, veterinary surgeons may have to sit an aptitude test or complete an adaptation period.

For details of what qualifications may be recognised on this basis and what conditions may be attached, see Articles 10 to 15 of the Directive (2005/36/EC).

Supporting information:

  • Directive on recognition of professional qualifications (2005/36/EC)
  • Council Statements concerning the mutual recognition of diplomas, certificates and other evidence of formal qualifications in veterinary medicine, including measures to facilitate the effective exercise of the right of establishment and freedom to provide services - Council statement on prophylaxis and the inspection of animal foodstuffs and foodstuffs of animal origin
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