Recognition of qualifications
On the subject of recognition of academic qualifications and vocational training, we must differentiate in two respects. Firstly, a distinction is made on the basis of the applicant’s country of origin, as different rules may apply to EU/EEA citizens and Swiss nationals with regard to the recognition of qualifications compared with third country nationals.
Secondly, different recognition procedures are to be carried out depending on the type of qualification involved:
Nostrification of foreign school qualifications
The Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research is responsible for recognising foreign school certificates ("nostrification", in German "Nostrifikation"), regardless of the type of school involved. The Ministry checks whether a school leaving certificate obtained abroad corresponds to the Austrian syllabus. Where major differences are found, recognition may be made conditionally on passing supplementary examinations.
Nostrification is not required for admission to a course of study; rather, the prerequisites must be clarified directly with the relevant university.
Tip: The Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research offers a free assessment of foreign school-leaving certificates, which is often sufficient. This evaluation is intended to facilitate the assessment of the value of school-leaving qualifications acquired abroad, as well as to enable a basic assessment of their comparability with an Austrian school-leaving certificate. The evaluation serves primarily to assist in the job search and can be applied for at www.asbb.at.
Nostrification of foreign university degrees
Nostrification (in German "Nostrifizierung") of a foreign university degree is the recognition of a foreign university degree as equivalent to an Austrian university degree. It also entitles the holder to use the academic title awarded by the Austrian university.
An important condition for nostrification of a foreign university degree is the actual necessity of formal equivalence of the foreign degree with the Austrian degree. This necessity may exist in particular if someone wants to pursue a professional activity in Austria that is regulated by law (regulated profession/in German "reglementierter Beruf") and (also) requires the respective degree and its recognition in this way.
The nostrification can only be sought from a university for whose degree programme the recognition of the equivalence of the degree acquired abroad is applied for. In some cases, more than one university in Austria may be considered for nostrification. As different universities may have different requirements and normally it is not possible to reapply to another university, it is advisable to compare the requirements in advance.
It should be noted, however, that nostrification is primarily relevant for third-country nationals, as very often no nostrification is necessary (or even possible) for higher education degrees from EU or EEA countries as well as Switzerland. This is due to the fact that there are separate guidelines for EU/EEA citizens and Swiss citizens that regulate access to a number of academic professions. For people from these countries, it is, for example, more often the "recognition for professional purposes" (in German "Anerkennung zu beruflichen Zwecken") that may be of interest. "Recognition for professional purposes" means the admission of a person to certain professional activities on the basis of qualifications acquired abroad and is primarily relevant for access to regulated professions (examples: doctors, teachers, civil engineers, various trades). The required qualifications, as well as the competence for the procedure, are determined by the respective profession and the legal regulations applicable to it. If no "recognition for professional purposes" is provided for a particular profession, another procedure may be applicable. In addition, Austria has concluded bilateral agreements with some countries - in these cases, too, nostrification is not necessary, but the procedure must comply with the respective agreement.
Nostrification is not required for admission to studies in Austria. Information on the requirements for admission to studies can be obtained at the university of interest.
Tip: If the official, formal recognition of your Higher Education qualification is not necessary for professional practice in Austria, you can consider applying for an assessment. This is offered by ENIC NARIC Austria, the contact point for all questions of international recognition in higher education. The service point ENIC NARIC Austria is located at the Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research and its evaluation of foreign qualifications is intended to facilitate the assessment of their value for third parties and to enable comparability with Austrian qualifications. Above all, it serves as support in finding a job. The evaluation is not a legal decision and is therefore not legally binding. Details, costs and the possibility to register can be found at https://www.aais.at/.
Recognition of professional qualifications and admission to the profession
In Austria there are no uniform rules for the recognition of professional qualifications acquired abroad.
Vocational training completed abroad can be treated as equivalent to an Austrian apprenticeship qualification upon application to the Federal Ministry for Digitalisation and Economic Location.
Certain professions in Austria are regulated (see also above), which means that it is (also) necessary to provide evidence of specific professional qualifications in order to be allowed to practice the profession. For some professions this applies to self-employment and employment, for others only to self-employment.
How concretely the recognition of professional qualifications has to take place and what all is required for practicing a profession in Austria depends on various criteria and must therefore always be examined individually.
Counselling Center for persons with qualifications obtained in other countries
The Counselling Center for persons with qualifications obtained in other countries ("AST - Anerkennungsstelle für im Ausland erworbene Qualifikationen") can help you with questions regarding the recognition and utilization of education, qualifications and professional experience from abroad. In addition to information and expert advice, this service point offers support in the recognition process. The counseling is free of charge, individual and multilingual and can also begin while you are still abroad.
Point of Single Contact - PSC Tyrol
The Point of Single Contact - PSC Tyrol was established as a service point (among others) for the recognition of professional qualifications acquired in EU/EEA member states or Switzerland. This service point contributes to administrative and procedural simplification, but is not an authority and does not make any legal decisions. The use of the service of the Point of Single Contact is free of charge.
Due to the complexity of the topic, this can only be a first introduction without any claim to completeness and a personal consultation is recommended in any case. Please feel free to contact us at any time, we will be happy to help you either ourselves or by establishing contacts!