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Recognition of professional qualifications in practice

The recognition of professional qualifications laid down in Directive 2005/36/EC enables the free movement of professionals such as doctors or architects within the EU. Other professions such as sailors or aircraft controllers do not fall under Directive 2005/36/EC and are governed by specific legislation. Special laws also exist for lawyers and commercial agents.

Professions falling under Directive 2005/36/EC

The professions falling under the Directive are nurses, midwifes, doctors (general practitioners and specialists), dental practitioners, pharmacists, architects and veterinary surgeons.

Directive 2005/36/EC applies in general to regulated professions unless otherwise stated. A non-exhaustive list of professions covered by Directive 2005/36/EC is available in the database of regulated professions.

Professions falling under specific legislation 

Directive 2005/36/EC does not apply to professions for which the recognition of professional qualifications is governed by specific legal provisions.

These professions are sailors, statutory auditors, insurance intermediaries and aircraft controllers, as well as some other professions in transport or those linked to activities involving toxic products.

The specific directives for lawyers and commercial agents are also presented in this section.

Other legislation

Directive 2006/123/EC on services and Directive 2005/36/EC on professional qualifications are complementary instruments dealing with different matters. Consequently, for matters not relating to professional qualifications, the "Services Directive" applies to those regulated professions that fall within its scope.

Directive 2005/36/EC sets the rules for:

  • temporary mobility – this scheme allows professionals to work in another EU country on the basis of a declaration made in advance;
  • establishment in another EU country – the directive lays down rules for professionals who want to establish themselves as:
    • an employed or self-employed person;
    • on a permanent basis;
    • in a country where they didn’t obtain their professional qualification;
  • systems of recognition of qualifications – there are three systems of recognition:
    • automatic recognition – for professions with harmonised minimum training conditions (i.e. nurses, midwifes, doctors (general practitioners and specialists), dental practitioners, pharmacists, architects and veterinary surgeons);
    • general system – for other regulated professions such as teachers, translators and real estate agents;
    • recognition on the basis of professional experience - for certain professional activities such as carpenters, upholsterers, beauticians etc.;
  • knowledge of languages and professional academic titles.