AFL starfsgreinafélag

Assessment of vocational qualifications

NRP Assessment and recognition of vocational qualifications     
National Reference Point

What do I have to do?
If you are a foreign citizen, or if you have studied abroad, you can apply for recognition of your foreign qualifications.

  • The recognition is only relevant for professions that are regulated in Iceland
  • If you are qualified in an area that is not regulated in Iceland it is up to the company that you seek employment with whether it considers your qualifications of value for its purposes. See regulated professions
  • It depends on profession where you send your application for recognition, see more under Assessment procedures – processing of applications.

What documentation do I need?
In order to enable Icelandic authorities to recognize your foreign credentials you have to present complete documentation on your studies. This includes a copy of your school leaving certificate along with a translation by authorized translators or other qualified people that the authorities can recognize. The translation may be in English or in a Scandinavian language. The following must be included in the documentation:

  • content of the studies (subjects), its length (in years, months or weeks)
  • in-company training if it forms a part of the study course
  • any working experience
  • rights that the study course grants in the home country

Assessment procedures – processing of applications
It depends on the profession where you send your application for recognition of foreign qualifications, and it also depends on whether you come from inside the European Economic Area (EEA) or from outside it. See here which countries belong to the EEA -

The Ministry of Education, Science and Culture does not process all applications for recognition. The Ministry is responsible for coordination of recognition procedures in Iceland on the basis of Law on recognition of education and qualifications nr. 83/1993.

Individual ministries handle the recognition for their respective spheres, the Ministry of Health is responsible for recognition for medical and health professions.

More on the processing of applications
The Ministry of Education, Science and Culture can render an opinion on education in different fields if another ministry asks for its opinion. The Ministry can also ask specialists for their opinion when the degree of specialization is beyond the competences of Ministry personnel. Applications for recognition can be divided in two places: a) applications from individuals who come from countries within the European Economic Area, b) applications from individuals who come from countries outside the European Economic Area.

Recognition of qualifications in the European Economic Area
a) Recognition of qualifications that come under the former group is based on the EEA Agreement and relevant EU legislation, mainly EU Directives. The directives applicable in this instance are mainly:

1. Council Directive 89/48/EEC on a general system for the recognition of higher-education diplomas awarded on completion of professional education and training of at least three years´ duration.

2. Council Directive 92/51/EEC on a second general system for the recognition of professional education and training to supplement Directive 89/48/EEC.

3. Directive 1999/42/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing a mechanism for the recognition of qualifications in respect of the professional activities covered by the Directives on liberalisation and transitional measures and supplementing the general system for the recognition of qualifications.

In addition to these Directives there are so called sectoral Directives dealing with particular professions, like nurses, doctors, architects, etc. The EU Directives contain general requirements that individuals must comply with in order to be eligible for recognition of their formal, vocational qualifications and work experience in order to work within a regulated profession in a host EEA country. Links to the three aforementioned Directives can be found on this website. Individuals who wish to apply for recognition of their vocational qualifications should present a copy of their school leaving certificate and any other documentation that is required to the relevant authority, unless otherwise stated. The authority in question reviews the documentation and presents its conclusions to the applicant. If the decision is not entirely favorable to the applicant he can contest the decision and ask for a new assessment. The authority then makes its final conclusion, having taken note of any further information or viewpoints put forth by the applicant. Individuals also have recourse to the Solvit-network in their home country if they think they are not being treated fairly, or to courts in a host country or to the European Court of Justice if  all else is of no avail.

Recognition of qualifications from countries outside the EEA
b) recognition of qualifications that come under the latter group, as explained above, does not follow any particular rules, but the abovementioned Directives give some basic guidelines that can be followed during the assessment of this type of qualifications.

Assessment and recognition of education and training within regulated industrial professions.
The Ministry of Industry is the responsible authority when it comes to recognition of vocational qualifications within industry in Iceland, but it has instructed local sheriffs´ departments to handle individual cases. If the education and training which recognition is being sought for complies with the conditions set out in Directive 1999/42/EC, the sheriff in the relevant area completes the procedure of recognition. If the conditions of the Directive are irrelevant or if the applicant does not meet the conditions, the Ministry of Industry can ask the Ministry of Education to make an assessment of the qualification which is being processed. The Ministry of Education then has to decide whether it is possible any way to recognize the qualifications in question and makes a judgement based on comparison between the foreign education and the relevant Icelandic curricular guidelines, as stipulated in art. 14 of Regulation on Journeymen´s Tests no. 525/2000. If the applicant is considered to meet the conditions required by Icelandic authorities to work within his profession he receives notification from the Ministry of Education to this end. He is then not required to study further in order to be allowed to work in the profession he is qualified for. On the other hand, he needs to apply for a work permit from the Institute of Labour Affairs if he comes from a country outside the European Economic Area.

The Ministry of Industry has the responsibility in Iceland to make decisions on persons´ rights to work within regulated industrial professions. If an individual wants to get an Icelandic Journeyman´s certificate he needs to undergo and pass a journeyman´s test in this country. If a person, according to the Ministry of Education, does not fulfil formal requirements to work within a regulated, industrial profession in this country, there are two possibilities for solution:

1. if the education in question is very different from the relevant study programme in Iceland, the individual can attend a school in this country, complete his education and in-company training and then undergo a journeyman´s test here;

2. if the applicant meets the national requirements to a certain degree, but lacks training in some aspects, he has the choice of acquiring further practical training as an assistant before undergoing a journeyman´s test.
The Ministry of Education is responsible for journeymens´ tests in Iceland, but has conferred the actual testing to private technical centres which are owned by the social partners in this country.