Information for physicians who completed their basic medical training in the EU, EEA or Switzerland who wish to work or train in Germany

The Directive 2005/36/EC [PDF] of the European Parliament and the European Council of 7 September 2005 on the recognition of professional qualifications regulates professional recognition in the regulated professions. It applies to all nationals of a Member State of the European Union (EU), other states within the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland who have obtained their qualification in a Member State and provides them with access to the same profession under the same conditions as nationals.

Directive 2005/36/EC sets out two systems for the recognition of qualifications: the principle of automatic recognition and the general system of recognition. In Germany, specialist diplomas which cannot be automatically recognised are assessed on a case-by-case basis according to the general recognition system by the relevant State Chamber of Physicians. In such instances, the content and duration of the speciality training will be compared on the basis of the specialty training regulations of the relevant State Chamber and with regard to Directive 2005/36/EC.

Citizens of a Member State of the European Union (EU), other states within the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland, who have completed their medical training in one of these states, are permitted to practise medicine in Germany once they have obtained a full licence to practise from the relevant state health authority [PDF]  in the federal state in which they live or seek to work. According to § 3 of the Federal Medical Regulation (Bundesärzteordnung), physicians holding a full licence to practise have full, unrestricted professional rights in Germany and are entitled to work at hospitals, medical institutions or in independent practice.

A list of documents which must be submitted when applying for a licence to practise medicine can be found on the websites of the competent authorities (Approbationsbehörden).

According to section § 39 (“application for a licence to practise”) of the Licensing Regulations for Physicians (Approbationsordnung [PDF]), applications must be accompanied by the following documents:

1.) An abbreviated curriculum vitae
2.) A birth certificate and a marriage certificate, if appropriate
3.) Proof of identity
4.) An official certificate of good conduct issued no more than a month before the date of application
5.) A certificate of good standing declaring that there are no pending or ongoing legal proceedings against the applicant
6.) A medical certificate issued no more than a month before the date of application showing that the applicant is fit to practise
7.) A certificate of completion of medical training

If certificates have not been issued in German, then a certified German translation must also be submitted. The competent authority in the federal state may request the submission of further supporting documents, e.g. relating to previous employment.

Having successfully applied for a licence to practise, doctors are register with the responsible State Chamber of Physicians, before becoming professionally active in Germany.

The State Chambers of Physicians are the responsible authorities for the recognition of specialist diplomas and periods of speciality training carried out abroad. The department responsible for speciality training at the relevant State Chamber of Physicians assesses the equivalence of qualifications and training gained abroad, and determines whether permission may be granted to work under a specialist designation in Germany.

Professional activity within the framework of statutory health insurance provisions is bound with certain conditions. Doctors must be registered to treat outpatients insured under the statutory health insurance scheme outside the context of a hospital. This registration is the central component for participation in statutory outpatient care, which may take many forms. Outpatient care may be carried out by independent, practise-based physicians (niedergelassene Ärzte) working alone, in a partnership, or at a medical centre. Alternatively, doctors may be employed by a physician registered under the statutory health insurance scheme (zugelassener Vertragsarzt). In addition to working in a practise, statutory health insurance contracted physicians are also permitted to work in hospitals (Belegärzte). Doctors employed by hospitals (Krankenhausärzte ) may take part in outpatient care only with special permission from the appropriate registering body (Zulassungsausschuss).

Applications for registration under the statutory health insurance scheme must be submitted to the relevant Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians (Kassenärztlichen Vereinigungen).

A prerequisite for this, alongside obtaining a licence to practise and possession of a qualification in a speciality field, is entry into the physicians’ register. Further information in this respect may be found on the website of the relevant Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians.