Encouraging the international recognition of Swiss qualifications is one of the objectives of the Federal Council's international strategy for education, research and innovation. The aim is to raise the international profile of Swiss educational institutions. This is achieved by extending agreements on the mutual recognition of vocational and professional qualifications with countries or territories with comparable education systems. The Canadian Province of Quebec was the first non-European region to sign an agreement with Switzerland on the recognition of vocational and professional qualifications.
For countries that are already signatories of the Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons (AFMP), bilateral recognition agreements facilitate recognition beyond the general rules set out in Annex III of the AFMP. Holders of qualifications covered by these agreements thus benefit from even simpler and faster recognition procedures. Currently, such bilateral agreements exist with Germany and the Principality of Liechtenstein.
Vocational and professional qualifications regulated by federal law in Switzerland and Germany can be recognised as equivalent in a simplified procedure if the following requirements are met:
- The qualifications apply to comparable professional activities. There are no significant differences in the competence profiles.
- The qualifications are on the same system level according to the annex to the agreement.
- At the time the application is made, the statutory basis for the qualification to be recognised is in force in the country of the examining authority.
These criteria must be met cumulatively for a German qualification to be recognised in the simplified procedure. Holders of qualifications covered by the agreement can apply for recognition under the standard procedure; the simplified procedure is automatically applied if the requirements are met.
Principality of Liechtenstein
Upper-secondary level vocational qualifications in Switzerland and the Principality of Liechtenstein are equivalent if the following requirements are met:
- the relevant documents pertaining to the qualifications are identical apart from the titles; and
- the training and the qualification procedure for obtaining the qualifications were conducted as stated in the relevant documents.
The qualifications mutually recognised as equivalent are listed in the annex to the agreement with Liechtenstein. This list is regularly reviewed and supplemented. Holders of an equivalent qualification do not have to submit an application to the competent authorities under this system of automatic recognition.
Agreement with the Principality of Liechtenstein (in German)
The possibilities of concluding further bilateral recognition agreements of this kind are considered on an ongoing basis.
Switzerland and the Canadian Province of Quebec signed a memorandum of understanding ('Entente' - document in german) on the mutual recognition of vocational and professional qualifications. For Switzerland, this was the first time that such an agreement had been reached with a non-European region.
Quebec is an ideal partner, as it shares a common language (French) with Switzerland, has a similar population size and similar economic structures.
The Entente signed on 14 June 2022 has already come into effect. It is accompanied by five specific mutual recognition agreements ('arrangement de reconnaissance mutuelle'), which will come into effect at the end of 2022. These five MRAs describe in detail the conditions that must be met by qualification holders in order to gain access to the labour market of the respective host country/region. The first package of MRAs covers the following five professional activities:
- social worker (in german)
- dental hygienist (in german)
- dental technician (in german)
- medico-technical radiologist (in german)
- midwife (in german)
Other professional activities may be added to this list at a later time.
For the five professional activities mentioned above, detailed information is already available – even prior to commencement of training – on how holders of the corresponding Swiss qualifications can obtain the legal right to work in Quebec after graduation.