The EU Directive 2005/36/EC on the recognition of professional qualifications also applies to Switzerland by virtue of Annex III of the AFMP. Switzerland thus takes part in the EU's mutual recognition system for regulated professional activities. Different rules apply depending on whether the qualification holder wishes to move abroad for an extended period of time or carry out regulated professional activities temporarily or occasionally for a maximum of 90 working days per calendar year.
Professional Qualifications Directive (2005/36/EC)
EU Directive 2005/36/EC on the recognition of professional qualifications was adopted in 2005. It requires EU Member States to recognise the respective professional qualifications as equivalent in principle and grant free access to the labour market to professionals. This Directive was amended in 2016 by Directive 2013/55/EU. However, the amendments do not yet apply to Switzerland.
Recognition of professional qualifications for those wishing to establish themselves in Switzerland
If EU/EFTA nationals wish to establish themselves in Switzerland for an extended period of time, different recognition systems apply depending on the regulated profession:
- Automatic recognition of seven sectoral professions
- Recognition of work experience in crafts, trade and industry
- General system
For seven sectoral professions (doctor, pharmacist, dentist, veterinarian, nurse, midwife and architect), the EU provides for recognition of the professional qualifications listed in the Annex to the Directive. For these professions, there are uniform training standards within the European Union.
For some professional activities in crafts, trade and industry, the recognition system is based on professional experience. In all other cases, the general system applies: the host member state has the right to compare training and professional experience with its domestic requirements and to grant recognition or require compensatory measures in the event of substantial differences. Compensatory measures take the form of an adaptation course or an aptitude test. Full recognition can be achieved by successfully completing the examination or adaptation course.
Recognition of professional qualifications for those wishing to provide services on a temporary basis in Switzerland
The Professional Qualifications Directive provides for a simplified procedure for service providers who only wish to offer their services in a regulated profession on an occasional and temporary basis. In the case of professions with public health or safety implications, professional qualifications are reviewed. If there is a substantial difference between the professional qualifications presented and the training required in the host Member State, the qualification holder will be required to take an aptitude test before carrying out the professional activity. This gives service providers the opportunity to prove that they have acquired the knowledge that had been deemed missing.
The declaration procedure for EU/EFTA service providers wishing to carry out regulated activities for no more than 90 working days per calendar year was implemented in Switzerland with enactment of the Federal Act and Ordinance on the Declaration Requirement and the Verification of Service Provider Qualifications in Regulated Professions (DRPA and DRPO).
Swiss nationals also benefit from the accelerated declaration procedure in EU/EFTA states: access to the EU/EFTA labour market for the provision of services is simplified for them. The timeframes required for the competent authorities to verify foreign qualifications of Swiss nationals are shorter than those laid down in the standard recognition procedure.