How Long To Become A Licensed MEDICAL Doctor in Germany In 2023? a few essential factors to success!

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Written by Mila Alperson

Dr. Alperson is a medical resident doctor in Germany, and Co-Founder of (DiG). Her goal is to assist foreign colleagues to reach their full potential in the medical field in Germany. She has vast knowledge and experience in the medical licensing process in Germany.

November 18, 2021

Today we’ll be shedding some light on one of the most important FAQs being asked by many colleagues throughout the world – How long does it take to become a licensed medical doctor in Germany? Like in most cases in life the short answer would be – it depends!

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Have you asked yourself any of the following questions recently?

  • I want to become a medical doctor in Germany but how long does it take to get my Approbation (medical license)?
  • Where should I start in order to learn about becoming a medical doctor in Germany?
  • What factors should I take into consideration before moving to Germany to work as a doctor?
  • When should I start learning the German language?

If these questions have crossed your mind, then we’ve got some useful information for you in this article!

My Personal Story of Becoming a Licensed MEDICAL Doctor in Germany

A woman looks overwhelmed as she is learning medical german and prepares for the Fachsprachprüfung in the hope of becoming a doctor in Germany.
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I will start by sharing with you my own journey to the German license to practice medicine, the so-called Approbation. It took me around 15 months from the moment I arrived until I was allowed to practice medicine and officially start my residency in Germany. For some it takes less time, for others, it takes longer, this depends on several factors.

Factors to Consider Before Applying to Become a medical Doctor in Germany

  • In order for you to stay on the safe side, the general recommendation is to plan around one year to a year and a half to get your approbation. However, this can of course take less time and even much more time in certain situations. For example, if you manage to learn the German language before you start the process (e.g. during your last year of medical school), then you’ll be able to save plenty of time! On the other hand, medical degrees from some countries also require a medical knowledge exam, which may prolong your process by several months. So, at the end of the day, it really depends on your particular circumstances. 

  • The licensing process is conducted on the state level and not on the federal level. It means that each state (Land in Germany) has its own requirements and waiting periods. The great news is that after you get your German medical license (the so-called Approbation) in one German state, it becomes valid in all 16 states of Germany.

  • One can apply for a temporary work permit, the so-called “Berufserlaubnis” while waiting for the finalized license. This temporary work permit is granted for 2 years and within this period of time you can work in a German hospital, but you must get your permanent license to practice medicine as a doctor within these 2 years. 

Receiving this permit has its pros and cons. The upside is that you can start working and earning money, as simple as that. The downside is that this period of time is not recognized as a part of your residency (in some exceptions it can be, but this topic will be further discussed in another post), and having this permit could delay the receipt of the finalized license. 

After weighing my options, I personally decided not to apply for this permit and just waited for the finalized license. 

Your Medical Curriculum – The Most Important Factor to Determine How Long to Become a medical Doctor in Germany

Several medical books laying on a bookshelf that are needed to be read in order to become a doctor in Germany
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The most crucial factor that will determine how long the process of licensing will take is the documentation of the medical curriculum (or lack of it). Let me explain what I mean by that:

-Those of you who will be able to prove to the German authorities that your medical curriculum is equivalent, in other words, has equal value, in German: “Gleichwertigkeit”, to the German medical curriculum, will only need to pass the Medical German exam, or the so-called “Fachsprachprüfung”. This is a basic test that is required from all the applicants who graduated outside of Germany, including all EU applicants. This exam deserves most certainly its own chapter, which we will be posting soon enough. 

 – Those of you who will not have sufficient documentation will be obligated to undertake another test (in addition to the Medical German exam) which will showcase your general knowledge in medicine. This Test is known as the “Kenntnisprüfung”. 

So, to sum up, I would say that if you are planning on coming to Germany and becoming a licensed physician, you should certainly do your homework and go over the small details before starting the process.


Written by Dr. Mila Alperson.

The author is a medical resident in Germany and the co-founder of 

Need help with becoming a medical doctor in Germany? First of all – subscribe to our YouTube channel Doctor In Germany, we will be uploading valuable content on a regular basis to help future and current doctors in Germany maximize their potential. Secondly, if you’d like us to go over your particular situation with you and find your best route for becoming a medical doctor in Germany, and of course answer any of your questions you can book a one-on-one private counseling session. We would love to assist you!

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  1. Chijioke Adim

    Thank you, DiG for all you do, this site is really an eye opener.

    I want to know if there’s a way I can get any textbook on FSP so I can start practicing alongside learning German language. Danke

    Best Regards

  2. Dr. Oziga Vincent

    Nice write up .
    My question is what is the retirement age in Germany?


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