As a headhunting agency, we are frequently approached by physicians who would like to work abroad - at least for a certain period of time. On the one hand, these are people of various nationalities who came to Germany to study and now want to go back to their home country or to other countries - here, Germany is recording an exodus to Greece, Hungary and the Czech Republic in particular.

On the other hand, more and more German physicians are tempted to go abroad - about 2,000 a year, most of them to Austria and Switzerland, the USA, Great Britain and France.

Language Skills as a Prerequisite

The most popular countries among German physicians already indicate a first prerequisite for recognition in another country - the language.

In order to be able to work as a physician in another country, one must be able to present proof of at least B2-level proficiency in the respective national language. In addition, a specialist language examination for the field of medicine is often a prerequisite for recognition.

European Countries, European Economic Area & Switzerland

The above-mentioned countries also suggest quite correctly that it is much easier to transfer within the EU, the EEA and Switzerland. This is because medical studies in these countries are standardised and the degree is automatically recognised in all member states. In most cases, this applies not only to basic training but also to specialist training.

Non-European Countries

If you would like to work as a physician in a country outside the EU, Switzerland or the European Economic Area, the recognition of your degree is always a case-by-case decision by the respective state authority. For the most part, the medical examination must be taken in the language of the country.

For detailed information, it makes sense to contact the authorities in the target country and also the respective federal medical association here in Germany. They can help you with detailed information. The following website also provides a basic overview of various countries: Als Arzt ins Ausland.

Further training abroad

Many German physicians are interested in further training abroad. However, this is not easy everywhere and different requirements apply. Here, too, it makes sense to find out more from the relevant authorities.

In addition, you should keep in mind whether the further training will be recognised at all when you return here in Germany. The federal medical associations can also help here, although it is not possible to make a binding promise in advance.

In any case, the training must last at least six months and take place in an institution that is authorised to provide further training and must be paid appropriately, in order to be recognised in Germany. In addition, the medical associations require a certificate with detailed information on the activities and the specific contents of the further training regulations.

General Documents Needed

In addition to proof of language proficiency, various other documents are required for licensure in another country. These usually include proof of identity, curriculum vitae, birth certificate, certificate of good conduct and character reference as well as all documents relating to your education. Outside the EU, EEA and Switzerland, in addition to the certificate, a detailed overview of hours and subjects as well as proof of practical experience is usually required. Normally, all these documents must be available in German and the respective national language.

In addition, you should submit references from previous employers. A visa with a work permit may also be required for working in a non-EU country.

The Health System in the Destination Country

It is also always a good idea to find out about the healthcare system in the destination country before going abroad, as it may differ from the German system. For example, there are countries that do not have physicians in private practice, or where physicians never work only in hospitals, but always in their own practice as well.

You are a physician from abroad and want to work here in Germany. Then read here about how to obtain your German licence to practise medicine.


To be approved as a physician abroad, you will need at least the following documents:

  • - Proof of identity
  • - Birth certificate
  • - Curriculum vitae
  • - Certificate of good conduct
  • - Certificate of good character
  • For third countries:
  • - Proof of hours and subjects
  • - Proof of practical experience
  • - If applicable, proof of successful examination in the national language
  • - If applicable, visa with work permit

All documents must be submitted in German and the respective national language. Depending on the destination country, further proof and documents may be required.

Development work abroad

In addition to regular work and further training abroad, physicians also have the opportunity to become involved in development aid. For example, the organisation German Doctors offers the option of going abroad for a short assignment of a few weeks or to help in one of their projects on a long-term basis.

On site, you work in the local health system with the local health staff. The prerequisites for this organisation are at least three years of professional experience and knowledge of English. The age limit is also 70 years and there should be a willingness to work for free.

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