Working and training in the European Union, European Economic Area (EEA) (Norway, Liechtenstein, Iceland) and Switzerland

European Union

The EU Directive 2005/36/EC regulates the mutual recognition of professional qualifications within the European Union for basic medical training and specialty medical training. The official designations for basic medical training and specialist physician qualifications in each of the 28 Member States are listed in  Annex V of the Directive 2005/36/EC.

If you would like to complete your basic medical training or specialty training in another EU or EEA country, you should enquire before going abroad whether the basic medical training or specialty training complies with the minimum requirements of Directive 2005/36/EC and whether EU conformity exists.

Physicians who have completed their basic medical training in Germany or another EU Member State may register with the relevant competent authority of the destination country within the European Union and apply for recognition of evidence of formal qualifications.

The recognition of degrees completed in another EU Member State, the EEA or Switzerland should not pose a problem (so-called automatic recognition as defined by Directive 2005/36/EC), provided the degree meets the minimum requirements of Article 24 (basic medical training) of the EU Directive 2005/36/EC on the recognition of professional qualifications and the specialty training qualification conforms with Articles 25 (specialty medical training and 28 (general medicine) of Directive 2005/36/EC. Where required, certificates of conformity can be obtained from the competent authority in the EU country of origin.

For questions regarding the recognition of qualifications, you can contact the national authorities for Directive 2005/36/EC, which are listed on the website of the European Commission. For questions regarding registration, the requirements for applying for recognition and the structure of the healthcare system, you can also contact the national medical association or the ministry of health in the respective destination country.

Systems of recognition of the EU Directive on the Recognition of Professional Qualifications

In the case of automatic recognition, the respective national designations for basic medical training and specialty training in the country of origin and the destination country are listed in  Annex V of the Directive 2005/36/EC. The automatic recognition system does not provide for a substantive assessment of the underlying basic medical training or specialty training.

The general system of recognition only applies in certain cases (e.g., if evidence of formal qualifications was issued before the effective date and the rights acquired cannot be verified; there is no notification of the relevant evidence of formal qualifications in the Annex; the relevant specialist category is not included in Annex V; a diploma from a third country has already been recognised in another EU Member State followed by three years of professional experience  in that Member State (see Art. 3.3 of Directive 2005/36/EC).

European Economic Area (EEA)

Increasingly close cooperation, including the signing of free trade agreements, between the European Community and EFTA from the early 1970s onwards laid the foundations for the European Economic Area (EEA). The signing of the agreement founding the EEA by the Member States of the European Community and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) in May 1992 created a new basis for this cooperation. It came into force on 1 January 1994 (1 May 1995 for Liechtenstein). The acceding countries adopted the regulations of the EEA.

In the meantime, almost all former EFTA states have become members of the EU, so that the EEA Agreement now extends only to Iceland, Liechtenstein und Norway.

There are currently 31 states within the European Economic Area, forming the largest connected, internal market in the world stretching from the Arctic to the Mediterranean and from Portugal to Poland. This extends the freedom of movement of goods, persons, services and capital across the EFTA countries (with the exception of Switzerland). The EFTA countries adopted the internal market regulations of the European Union and thus all relevant required legislation.

Liechtenstein, Norway and Iceland signed the new EEA agreement concerning Directive 2005/36/EC on 1 July 2009. Detailed information may be found on the website of the European Free Trade Association.

The population of Switzerland, a member of EFTA, voted in a referendum not to become a member of the EEA.

Member States of the European Union and the European Economic Area (EEA)

Czech RepublikLatviaSpain



Information on the Member States of the EU can be found on the website of the European Commission in its Europa portal.


Switzerland maintains close relations with the European Union (EU) at the political, economic and cultural level. These relations are governed by a set of bilateral treaties and agreements adopted in recent years between Switzerland and the EU and its predecessors (EEC, ECSC, Euratom).

The free movement of persons and the mutual recognition of professional qualifications in Switzerland are governed by the bilateral  Agreement between the European Community and its Member States, of the one part, and the Swiss Confederation, of the other, on the free movement of persons of 21 June 1999 which entered into force on 1 June 2002. Annex III of this agreement was replaced through the application and adoption of Directive 2005/36/EC on 1 November 2011.

In the agreement from 21 June 1999 (as of 1 January 2017), you will also find Annex V of Directive 2005/36/EC for Switzerland.  

Decision No 2/2011 [PDF] of the EU-Swiss Joint Committee from 30 September 2011 replacing Annex III (mutual recognition of professional qualifications) was published in the official journal of the European Union (L 277/20) on 22 October 2011.