Which Nurses Can Work in Germany? – DE

Restrictions of foreign nurse recruitment: who can work as a nurse in Germany? 


From a candidate perspective, making the bold decision to find work in another country is never easy and you should be as well informed as possible. From an employer perspective, it is crucial to understand which regions you may legally recruit from. So the first question to ask is: who can apply to work as a nurse in Germany? The answer to this question is closely tied to the World Health Organization (WHO) best-practices for the global recruitment of healthcare staff. 


Coming to Germany to work is the ultimate dream for many professionals around the world, including nurses, which are in high demand with over 50.000 open job vacancies. Any German healthcare institutions – hospitals, elderly care homes and other medical facilities – are eager to recruit foreign nurses.


Who can apply for a nursing job in Germany?

It depends on where candidates live, not so much where they come from. We have broken down the answer into two geographic categories: 

  • EU citizens and non-EU citizens already living within EU borders: All nurses who are either EU nationals or are already living within EU borders face no limitation to apply for a job in Germany. In these cases, Care With Care can help candidates with their Qualification Recognition process. 


  • Candidates living outside of the EU: If candidates live outside of the EU, you need to double check whether your country faces restrictions when it comes to the recruitment of nurses. Care With Care – as well as all other recruiting agencies – is able to recruit nurses from around the world, except those living in 55 countries. These 55 regions were identified in 2023 by the World Health Organization (WHO) as having a severe scarcity of healthcare professionals and the German government has therefore prohibited the recruitment of nurses. Only Government-to-Government recruitment programs as well as direct applications from nurses to German employers are acceptable in these cases. However, if candidates were born in one of the 55 countries listed by the WHO but currently live in a region that is not restricted, you do not face any recruitment restrictions to come to Germany to work as a nurse. 


The progression and re-evaluation of the WHO shortlist:

The WHO-shortage list is determined by two main factors: 

  1. The sum of employed doctors, nurses and midwives is greater than 2.28 per 1.000 population;
  2. Over 80% of births are assisted by a skilled health professional.


This list was only recently updated: while the current list from 2023 reports 55 regions with healthcare staffing shortage, the previous lists from 2020 and 2006 included 47 and 57 countries respectively. We want to congratulate Cambodia, Bhutan, India, Indonesia, Myanmar, Morocco, Iraq, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Peru, and Kenya for having addressed and strengthened their local healthcare staffing ecosystem over the past 14 years.


Care With Care´s philosophy of recruitment


Care With Care appreciates the notion of protecting countries in need of their own healthcare professionals and is therefore committed to only recruit from regions outside of the WHO shortlist of countries. We also believe in forming partnerships with nursing schools and universities around the world in order to attract more talent into the healthcare professions.


Care With Care´s mission is to provide under- and unemployed nurses the opportunity to come to Germany and work as a registered nurse. If you currently live in a region outside of the WHO shortlist and are interested in working in Germany as a nurse, or you are an employer interested in recruiting foreign staff, we invite you to visit our page Work in Germany and contact us. 

Care With Care was launched in 2012 by Laura Esnaola and Dr. Steffen Zoller to offer a transparent and honest recruitment service for German healthcare institutions and nurse professionals around the world. Read more about our values and how we got started in our Harvard Business Manager article.

Article last updated: 31st March 2023

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