Recognition (equivalence) of foreign qualifications

Each country has its own specific vocational education and training system and has different requirements for the pursuit of regulated and non-regulated professional activities. For many professional activities, recognition of foreign qualifications is therefore necessary. Recognition is formally granted if a foreign training programme/qualification is deemed equivalent to a Swiss one both in terms of form - e.g. duration of training - and content. Successful applicants will receive a written confirmation that their qualification is comparable with the corresponding Swiss one. As a result of the Swiss-EU/EFTA Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons (AFMP), the conditions for recognition of foreign qualifications have been simplified.

In Switzerland, there are various authorities responsible for recognising foreign qualifications. The one to contact depends on the professional title. Under the terms of the Vocational and Professional Education and Training Act (VPETA), SERI or a third party commissioned by SERI acts as the competent authority for the recognition (equivalence) of foreign qualifications when the foreign qualification may be comparable with a Swiss vocational or professional qualification. At upper-secondary level, the vocational qualifications in question are the Federal VET Diploma (awarded after successful completion of three or four years of training) and the Federal VET Certificate (awarded upon completion of two years of training). At tertiary-level, the professional qualifications in question are awarded either by passing a federal examination or by completing a federally recognised study programme at a professional education institution (PEI). In the case of professional activities that are regulated in Switzerland. SERI would also be the competent authority for the recognition of foreign qualifications that may be comparable to those awarded by a Swiss university of applied sciences, a Swiss cantonal university or a federal institute of technology. If, however, the professional activity is not regulated in Switzerland, then swissuniversities/Swiss ENIC acts as the competent authority for recognition of foreign qualifications that may be comparable to a Swiss higher education qualification. Certain professional activities remain reserved in Switzerland and are therefore considered exceptions to this general rule. In such case, other recognition bodies act as the competent authority for recognition of foreign qualifications (e.g. MEBEKO for university medical professions, PsyKo for psychology professions, GS EDK for teaching and special needs education, Swiss Red Cross (SRC) for non-university health professions, etc.).

In the case of a foreign qualification relating to a professional activity that is not regulated in Switzerland, SERI can issue a level certificate indicating what level the given foreign qualification corresponds to within the Swiss education system on the basis of Art. 69 b VPETO.

Information on the various recognition bodies and the procedure can be found on the SERI website.