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Recognition for Certificates of Education from abroad

The equivalence of foreign and German school leaving qualifications is examined upon application. If the examination shows that the foreign school leaving qualification sufficiently complies with German requirements, the foreign qualification is recognized as equivalent and a confirmation is issued.

[For the recognition of foreign school-leaving qualifications the requirements for such a qualification in the country abroad and in Germany are compared. How long does a child need to attend a specific school? How many and which subjects must be studied? etc.]

In the sixteen German federal states there are different offices responsible. In principle recognition processes take place in the Federal Land in which you live. The competent authorities are listed in the  anabin database (opens in a new tab).

Competent authority in North Rhine-Westphalia is:

(Cologne Regional Authority) Department 48
Zeughausstraße 2-10
50606 Köln
Phone: 0221 1472048
Internet: (opens in a new tab)

Please contact this authority only if

  • your principle residence is in North Rhine Westphalia or
  • you can communicate in written form where you have applied (or plan to apply) for further education or an employment.

This authority is responsible for determining whether foreign qualifications (certificates) can be recognized as being equivalent to the following German qualifications:

  • „Hauptschulabschluss“: Lower Secondary School Leaving Certificate (at the end of grade 9)
  • „Hauptschulabschluss nach Klasse 10“: Lower Secondary School Leaving Certificate at the end of grade 10
  • „Mittlerer Schulabschluss - Fachoberschulreife“: Intermediate School Leaving Certificate.

Contact persons for School Leaving Certificates, issued by any country in the world: (opens in a new tab)

What documents do I need when submitting an application?

  1. Completed application form
    Forms can be obtained from the relevant authority. Or download from the Internet.
    You must also explain why you need the evaluation.
  2. Declaration that no previous application for equivalence evaluation has been made.
  3. CV (curriculum vitae)
    (tabular overview in German with signature) The CV should contain statements under the following headings:
    a) Personal data from your passport
    b) exact and gapless details of the previous school career
    and, where applicable,
    - the previous education and training,
    - the professional career,
    - further training,
    - special knowledge and skills.
  4. Certificates and Translations (please ONLY as certified copies)
    School-leaving qualifications/Diplomas from all schools with transcripts of subjects and grades. If you have not finished school, please send the reports of the last two school years with transcripts of subjects and grades. Attention: 

    Certificates from Syria, Iran and Afghanistan must always be submitted in the foreign language original. Officially certified copies of these certificates are not sufficient.

  5. Valid personal papers: (all documents as officially certified copies)
    - Passport (both sides): If you possess more than one nationality please indicate all and add photocopies of each of your passports.
    - Registration certificate of the residence registration office (not applicable if you are a German citizen)
    - Certification regarding change of name, if the name on the certificate is not the same as the name on your identification document (e.g. Certificate of Marriage, Divorce certifikate), in original language and certified translation
    and, for citizens of non-EU states
    - Residence permit (both sides), where applicable with the additional sheet
    - Foreign national passport/ID Card.


Please submit photocopies of all foreign certificates/documents in the language they were issued in. These photocopies have to be certified by an official of a local authority (residence registration office) in the Federal Republic of Germany or by a notary public.

If you have documents or certificates in a foreign language, you must submit official translations (certified copies). Official translations may only be prepared by sworn translators (see: (opens in a new tab)). Translations done abroad can only be accepted if legalized by the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in your home country.

Please send your documents to the aforementioned postal address or hand them in personally at the opening times.

Processing time 

The process time may take longer, even more  than a few weeks. 

It is not necessary to contact Bezirksregierung by telephone during this period, as this may lead to further delay.