Degree in Pharmacy Earned Outside Europe

If you have completed your pharmacy education in a non-member country, meaning a country that is not a member of the European Union (EU), the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland, you will go through the individual recognition process. The process evaluates whether your education is equivalent to German degree. Anyone who has completed a program of study in another country has the right to have this equivalency assessment performed. Eased conditions will apply if your degree has already been recognized in another EU-member country. Equivalency is checked in accordance with § 4 Para. 2 Federal Pharmacists Regulation (BApO) as is done for EU educational qualifications.

Individual Recognition

During the equivalency assessment, the competent authorities compare your education or degree with German standards and programs to determine that there are no considerable differences in terms of content or duration. If no considerable differences are determined, the authorities will certify equivalency. You do not receive a German diploma but, rather, a formal assessment. This assessment grants you the same legal rights as a person who has completed the educational program and earned their pharmacy degree in Germany. Should you also meet the additional requirements applying to approbation, such as those for German language skills, this permit and the right to practice pharmacy in Germany without restriction, may also be issued.

If considerable differences between your education and the German standard are determined, you will be required to prove that you possess the occupational knowledge and skills necessary to practice the pharmacist profession. This is done by taking the assessment exam (see § 4 Para. 3 Federal Pharmacists Regulation).

The assessment exam tests pharmaceutical practices, legal issues related to pharmacy as well as a subject which the competent authorities have determined contains considerable differences (see § 22d License Ordinance for Pharmacists). The content of this exam is comparable to that of the final state exams for German pharmacists.

We recommend that you attend the classes offered to intern pharmacists (PhiP) as part of their education in order to prepare for this exam. These classes are offered by the pharmacists' chambers and help German pharmacists-in-training to prepare for their final state exams. Further information is available from the Chamber of Pharmacists in the state in which you would like to work.

Recognition Procedure

The competent authorities of the individual German states take decisions regarding the recognition of pharmacy degrees as well as the granting of approbation or the permit to temporarily practice the pharmacist profession. Which agency or authorities are responsible depends on where you intend to work within Germany. Accordingly, please refer to the authorities in the state in which you would like to work.

The Service Center for Professional Recognition / Zentrale Servicestelle für Berufsanerkennung (ZSBA) at the Federal Employment Agency also offers a specialist advisory service for skilled professionals living abroad who wish to apply for recognition of their qualifications.The ZSBA will support you throughout the entire recognition procedure including advice on employment opportunities and visa requirements until you receive your licence to practice pharmacy. The services of the ZSBA are free of charge and without obligation.

Here you can find more information about the ZSBA.

When applying for approbation, please begin by filling out the application form. This can normally be downloaded from the internet website of the competent authorities. Before approbation can be granted, additional documents and certification will be required to show that you fulfil all requirements (see § 4 Para. 6 Federal Pharmacists Regulation, § 20 License Ordinance for Pharmacists).

The following documents and supporting items must be provided:

  • official proof of identity,
  • tabular summary of completed training, education and work experience,
  • educational certificates as well as any other certification of professional qualifications,
  • evidence of meaningful work experience and further education (if required),
  • evidence of the right to practice in your country of origin (if required),
  • current doctor's certificate attesting good health,
  • current official certificate of good conduct (Führungszeugnis),
  • declaration stating whether any legal criminal proceedings are open or pending,
  • proof of German language skills.

The competent authorities will inform you of which documents you require and which of these must be translated into German and/or notarized. Processing of your application can begin only after all necessary documents have been submitted.

Varying costs apply during the recognition process, such as:

  • costs for the acquisition of the necessary documents, copies, notarizations and translations,
  • fees charged by the competent authorities during the recognition process,
  • possible expenses for the preparation and/or taking of exams e.g. occupational language exams.

We recommended that you inform yourself concerning expected costs before you begin the actual application process. If you are already living in Germany, you may, in some circumstances, be eligible for financial support from the state. The Federal Employment Agency (Bundesagentur für Arbeit) or “Jobcenter” are generally the best contacts in this matter.

You may also initially apply for a permit to practice the pharmacist profession for a period of up to two years (see §§ 11 Federal Pharmacists Regulation, §§ 22a, § 22b License Ordinance for Pharmacists). This permit is granted to persons able to prove completion of pharmacy studies outside of the EU, EEA or Switzerland and may be limited to specific activities and types of occupational positions. This can, for instance, mean that you may limited to working in a specific pharmacy and/or only under the supervision of another pharmacist. The permit does not represent recognition of the degree or qualifications obtained in a foreign country but it also does not prevent you from receiving approbation. During the, generally speaking, two-year period in which you are allowed to practice limited pharmacy duties, you can gain first-hand practical experience while preparing for the language or other assessment exams required of you.

The following links contains general information regarding the recognition process as well as living and working in Germany:

German language skills

To receive approbation as a pharmacist, your general and occupational German language skills must be good enough to allow you to practice the pharmacist profession. This means that you can express yourself spontaneously and fluently, that you are able to inform and consult patients, colleagues and other types of medical practitioners and that potential miscommunication is eliminated. You must also be able to understand and process prescriptions without error.

Your occupational German skills can be shown, generally speaking, by completing examinations testing specific language terminology (so-called Fachsprachenprüfung). Prior to taking this test, you will normally need to show general knowledge of B2 level German and provide the corresponding certificate – see Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR or GER). Professional language skills are tested at the GER-C1 level in the occupational language exam which is to be taken in Germany.

This occupational German exam consists of three parts, including:

  • a simulated pharmacist-patient conversation (20 minutes),
  • creation of a typically-occurring, written document related to performance of pharmacy related duties (20 minutes) and
  • a simulated conversation with another pharmacist or a physician, dentist or veterinarian  (20 minutes).

You are not required to prove language skills when initially submitting the application for approbation. It is sufficient to prove these during the process. The occupational language exam has no effect on the process of having your degree and education recognized and pharmaceutical knowledge is not tested as part of this examination.

Further information concerning the occupational language exams can be obtained from the competent authorities, usually the regional chamber of pharmacists (Landesapothekerkammern) at the state level.

A community pharmacy is a good place to prepare for the occupational language exam. Observational work-shadowing is one possible way to improve your occupational German skills. This involves observing a pharmacy team at work, but not actively carrying out pharmaceutical activities. You can observe colleagues consulting patients, become familiar with pharmaceutical packaging, information for medicinal products and literature as well as the general processes and routines involved in working in a German pharmacy. As an observer, you do not belong to the pharmaceutical staff and are therefore not allowed to perform pharmaceutical activities but can use this opportunity to improve your German language skills and learn with colleagues.

Working in Germany

If your pharmacy education has been recognised in Germany and you have received the approbation as a pharmacist, you may work in various areas of activity. In addition to community pharmacies and hospital pharmacies, you can also work, for example, in the pharmaceutical industry, in testing institutes and in public health administration, as well as at universities and non-university research institutions.

The following job and recruitment portals are available and contain information about jobs and positions available to pharmacists. This list is not complete and contains, primarily, positions available in community pharmacies.

Even if you have not yet been recognised as a pharmacist, you have opportunities to work in a community pharmacy. As part of a job shadowing programme, you can observe the pharmacy team at work without actively performing pharmaceutical activities. You can observe colleagues consulting patients, become familiar with pharmaceutical packaging, information for medicinal products and literature as well as the general processes and routines involved in working in a German community pharmacy. As an observer, you do not belong to the pharmaceutical staff and are therefore not allowed to perform pharmaceutical activities, for example, dispensing, testing or produce medicines.

In addition to a job shadowing programme, you have also the opportunity to work in the non-pharmaceutical sector of a community pharmacy, e.g. in goods logistics, as an employee and earn money.

Both options give a good opportunity to improve your German language skills and to learn with colleagues. The regional chamber of pharmacists can help you finding a suitable community pharmacy.

Entry into germany

As a citizen of a so-called non-member state, meaning that you are not a citizen of an EU or EEA member-state or Switzerland, you will generally need to apply for a visa before entering Germany. Further information is available from the Federal Foreign Office and from the German consular representation in the country where you now reside. If you would like to work as a pharmacist in Germany, you should apply for a residence permit for the purpose of employment or the EU Blue Card.