Mutual recognition of professional qualifications in the EU
EU citizens can have their professional qualifications obtained in one EU country recognised in other EU countries. Provisions for this are made under EU Directive 2005/36/EC,
as amended by EU Directive 2013/55/EU
for Mutual Recognition of Professional Qualifications.
European Directive 2005/36/EC is designed to allow EU citizens to transfer their qualifications and skills between member states. It works on the principle that a qualified professional in one member state is qualified to exercise the same profession in another member state.
To be eligible for recognition under the directive, you must be:
an EU, EEA or Swiss national (27 EU member states, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland)
a fully-qualified professional
recognised in your home member state
A regulated profession is one where access to, or practise of, a profession is restricted by national law to those holding specific qualifications. Each EU member state decides its own national system of education and training, leading to its own professional qualifications.
There is automatic recognition of professional qualifications in the EU for 7 professions, known as sectoral professions. These professions are:
These professions are based on the qualifications listed in Annex V of Directive 2005/36/EC.
If the qualifications for these professions are not listed in Annex V, you can still apply through the general system of recognition.
European Professional Card (EPC)
The European Professional Card (EPC) is an electronic procedure you can use to have your professional EU qualifications recognised in other EU countries. The EPC is not a physical card, but electronic proof that you have passed administrative checks.
You can use the EPC procedure if you are a:
nurse responsible for general care
real estate agent
Apply for an EPC
To apply for an EPC, you will first need to sign in to Your Europe,
the European Commission authentication service.
You will need to create an account if you do not have one already. It will take a few minutes to complete your EPC profile with your personal information and contact details.
Once your profile information is complete, you can:
create an application
upload electronically-scanned copies of the relevant documents
submit them to your home country authority
After you get the EPC, you must still register with the relevant competent authority. If the host country authority finds that your education, training and professional experience don’t meet their standards, they could ask you to do an aptitude test or an adaptation traineeship.
Please see the video below for more information.
For each application, home country and host country authorities could charge you fees to examine your file. If they do, you will receive a separate invoice from each authority.
Your home country authority has up to 1 month to check your application and forward it to the host country. The host country will make a final decision within 2 months.
If the host country authorities don’t make a decision within these timeframes, your qualifications are tacitly recognised and you can generate an EPC certificate from your online account.
If the authorities reject your application, they have to explain why and how you can appeal.
The EPC is valid:
indefinitely, if you are seeking long-term establishment
for 18 months in most cases where you are providing temporary services
12 months for professions which have an impact on public health or safety
The documents may be required in some or all cases:
proof of nationality or identity
proof of legal establishment
evidence of formal qualifications or professional competences
proof of good character, reputation or non-bankruptcy
proof of absence of a suspension or prohibition from practice
proof of good health
proof of financial standing
proof of insurance coverage
additional information about training duration and contents
other relevant training
information on equal treatment of qualification
Translations are not needed for passports and identity cards, but authorities may ask you for translations of other documents.
Your information is private. Your employers, professional organisations or other interested parties can verify the validity of your EPC online, by using the reference number on your certificate.
To check your EPC, they will also need the personal identification data number (ID or passport number) you provided when you submitted your application.
If your profession is not regulated in the host country, you do not need to apply for recognition of your professional qualifications. You can practise in that country, subject to the same conditions as host country nationals.
Qualifications from outside the EU
If you got your qualification outside the EU, you can apply for recognition if:
your qualification has already been recognised in one EU country
you have exercised your profession there for at least 3 years after its recognition
This EU country can then be classed as your home country.
Compare your qualification to the Irish equivalent