The recognition of professional qualifications under EU law has been modernised by Directive 2013/55/EU (the “Directive”) which amended Directive 2005/36/EC on the recognition of professional qualifications.

The European Union (Recognition of Professional Qualifications) Regulations 2017 (the Regulations) S.I No 8 2017, which consolidate and transpose into Irish law Directive 2005/36/EC as amended by Directive 2013/55/EU (the “Directive”) commenced on 17 January. We have set out below some of the main aspects of the Regulations.

European Professional Card (the “EPC”)

The EPC is an electronic certificate issued via the first EU-wide fully online procedure for the recognition of qualifications. This digital procedure is based on the Internal Market Information System.

The ECP is currently available for members of the following professions who can now pursue their professions more freely as the EPC simplifies the procedure for having professional qualifications recognised in another EU country:

  • general care nurses,
  • pharmacists,
  • physiotherapists,
  • mountain guides; and
  • real estate agents.

The list of professions to which the ECP applies may be expanded over time.

Applications for recognition of professional qualifications

The procedure for making an application for the recognition of professional qualifications, including automatic recognition, is set out in Regulation 67. There are different timelines set out for the consideration of applications for ECPs.

Under this Regulation the competent authority shall acknowledge receipt of an application within one month of receipt and inform the applicant of any missing documentation. The procedure for examining an application must be completed as quickly as possible and result in a duly substantiated decision by the competent authority within 3 months after the date of the submission of the completed application.

Recognition of professional traineeship

Regulation 71 provides that where access to a regulated profession requires completion of a professional traineeship, the competent authority shall recognise professional traineeships carried out in another Member State (provided that the traineeship is in accordance with published guidelines) when considering an application for recognition of a professional qualification.

Therefore, the Regulation places an obligation on competent authorities to publish guidelines on and recognition of professional traineeships carried out in another Member State, or in a State other than a Member State.

Reversal of decisions

Regulation 82 allows the competent authority to reverse a decision to recognise evidence of professional qualification under the Regulations where it is satisfied that information on which the competent authority relied on in order to make the decision was not correct.

Where the competent authority proposes to reverse a decision, it must provide the person concerned with notice in writing stating the intention to reverse the decision and the reason for this, identify the incorrect information pertaining to the decision and invite the person to make representations within a period of two weeks from the date of the notice. The competent authority will consider any representations made and if it remains of the view that the decision should be reversed, then the competent authority may provide the person concerned with notice in writing reversing the decision and provide the reasons for the reversal. The competent authority must also inform the individual of their right to appeal.


Regulation 83 sets out the decisions of the competent authority which may be appealed. The person concerned may appeal to the High Court not later than 42 days from the date of the notice of that decision or the expiry of the period within which the decision or acknowledgement should have been made. In this regard, the decision of the High Court is final and conclusive.

Note: This Regulation does not apply to the designated professions listed in Part 4 of the Health and Social Care Professionals Act 2005 (as amended) in respect of which a register has been established and the registration board has been designated as a competent authority.

Issuing Alerts via the Internal Market Information System (the “IMI”)

The Regulations also impose additional requirements on competent authorities in relation to the sending of alerts via the IMI where there has been a decision to restrict or prohibit a professional from engaging in a professional activity.

The obligation on a competent authority to issue alerts includes the professions of Doctors, Dentists, Midwives, Veterinary Surgeons, Pharmacists, those exercising an activity where there are patient safety implications and teachers.

Consequential Amendments

The following Acts are amended by the Regulations: Pharmacy Act 2007, Health and Social Care Professionals Act 2005, Nurses and Midwives Act 2011, Dentists Act 1985 and the Medical Practitioners Act 2007.

To view the Regulations click here.