Getting your foreign qualification recognised in Ireland
If you want to work or study in Ireland and your qualification is from another country, you may need to get recognition for that qualification in Ireland.
Professional qualifications are specific qualification requirements that you must have to work in a regulated profession, such as teaching or accountancy. If you are looking for information on professional qualifications, see our document Recognition of professional qualifications in Ireland.
The process of getting your qualification recognised can be complex and may take some time. You should get your foreign qualification recognised before you apply for jobs or courses, to give yourself the best chance of success.
This document outlines the services and online tools available to get recognition for your foreign qualification in Ireland. It also explains how the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ) can help you compare and contrast the level and standard of different qualifications.
Foreign qualifications recognition with NARIC Ireland
NARIC (National Academic Recognition Information Centre) Ireland gives free advice on the recognition of foreign qualifications in Ireland. You can find details of over 1,200 qualifications from over 140 countries on the NARIC Ireland foreign qualifications database. This information can help registrars, admissions officers and employers understand and assess academic qualifications from other countries.
You can download a Comparability Statement, which compares your qualification to an Irish qualification of a similar type and level on the Irish National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ). The NFQ is a framework of 10 levels which allows you to compare different types and levels of qualifications available in Ireland (read more about the NFQ below).
Can I apply to college in Ireland if I have a non-Irish qualification?
Most students in Ireland apply for a third-level college place using the results from their Irish Leaving Certificate. In general, you do not apply to the college directly for your place. Instead, you apply to the CAO - the Central Applications Office. The CAO manages a centralised application system for most full-time undergraduate courses in Ireland.
However if you have been resident outside the EU you may have to apply directly to some Higher Education Institutions (HEIs). You need to contact the admissions office of HEIs to enquire whether you should apply directly to the HEI or through the CAO.
It is very important to check the application procedure for your course, as it can be difficult or even impossible to make changes after you submit your application.
You should make your enquiries well before the CAO closing date of 1 February, preferably not later than the previous 15 December.
You can read more in our document on college application procedures and entrance requirements.
Specific academic entry requirements – including English proficiency
A student must also have the particular academic entry requirements (also called matriculation requirements) for the course he or she wants to take. You can find detailed information about entry requirements on the websites of the universities, institutes of technology and colleges of education.
If English is not your first language you must also have proof of your English proficiency, either through your school leaving examination or a recognised English language test. You can find a list of recognised English language tests on page 5 of this document Agreed entry requirements criteria for EU/EFTA Applicants (other than Irish Leaving Certificate) (pdf).
Qualifications agreements between Ireland and the UK
The Irish and UK qualifications authorities jointly published a guide Qualifications can cross boundaries. This guide helps you compare qualifications between Ireland, Northern Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales.
Qualifications obtained in the UK will continue to be recognised in Ireland during the transition period (from 1 February to 31 December 2020).
After the transition period, there may be implications for people who obtained qualifications in the UK and want to have them recognised in Ireland.
For more information, see our document on Recognition of professional qualifications in Ireland.
The Irish National Framework of Qualifications
The National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ) is a system of 10 levels which allows you to compare different types and levels of qualifications available in Ireland. Qualifications on the framework include:
- Junior Certificate (NFQ Level 3)
- Leaving Certificate (NFQ Levels 4 and 5)
- Advanced Certificate – Craft / Higher Certificate(NFQ Level 6)
- Ordinary Bachelor Degree (NFQ Level 7)
- Honours Bachelor Degree / Higher Diploma (NFQ Level 8)
- Masters Degree (NFQ Level 9)
- Doctoral Degree (NFQ Level 10)
The NFQ helps you to make informed decisions about your qualification choices and to consider what options might be available for your further studies. The NFQ also makes it easier for you to explain to others what qualifications you hold, or are studying for. This may be important when you are considering further learning or when you are applying for a job - at home or abroad.
For example, a Bachelor Honours Degree from Australia is comparable to an Honours Bachelor Degree in Ireland at NFQ Level 8. A Master Craftsman’s Diploma (Meisterbrief pre-December 2012) from Germany is comparable to an Advanced Certificate in Ireland at NFQ Level 6.
You can find out more about the National Framework of Qualifications on nfq.ie.
The National Learners Database has information on entry requirements to all third-level courses in Ireland on Qualifax.ie.
The European Commission has an online tool that allows you to compare and contrast qualifications within Europe.
Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI) has a guide to Comparing qualifications in Ireland and Hong Kong (pdf) and Comparing qualifications between Ireland and New Zealand.
If you have a professional qualification you need recognition for in Ireland you can also read our document on Recognition of professional qualifications in Ireland.