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Pharmacy: mutual recognition of diplomas in pharmacy

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Pharmacy: mutual recognition of diplomas in pharmacy

This directive aims to facilitate freedom of establishment for pharmacists in the Community.


Council Directive 85/433/EEC of 16 September 1985 concerning the mutual recognition of diplomas, certificates and other evidence of formal qualifications in pharmacy, including measures to facilitate the effective exercise of the right of establishment relating to certain activities in the field of pharmacy [See amending acts]

This directive will be repealed and replaced by Directive 2005/36/EC as of 20 October 2007.


The Directives apply to activities, the access to and pursuit of which are subject to the conditions of professional qualifications defined in Council Directive 85/432/EEC and which are open to holders of one of the diplomas, certificates or other formal qualifications in pharmacy referred to in the Directive.

Each Member State must recognise the diplomas, certificates and other formal qualifications listed in the Directive and awarded by other Member States. They must give to such qualifications the same effect in their territory with regard to access to and the pursuit of the activities in question as the diplomas, certificates and other formal qualifications which they themselves award. Examples of qualifications include:

  • Belgium: "diplôme légal de pharmacien";
  • Ireland: Certificate of Registered Pharmaceutical Chemist;
  • Spain: "titulo de licenciado en farmacia".

Furthermore, when access to or the pursuit of the activity in a Member State requires additional professional experience, that Member State is obliged to accept as sufficient evidence a certificate issued by the competent authorities of the applicant's Member State attesting that he has pursued the said activities for an equivalent period.

Greece is authorised to give effect to the diplomas, certificates and other formal qualifications awarded by the other Member States only in cases of pursuit of the activities concerned as an employed person. The other Member States are required to give effect to diplomas, certificates and other formal qualifications awarded in Greece only in cases of pursuit of the activities concerned as an employed person.

Directive 90/658/EEC introduces a special arrangement for the recognition of diplomas, certificates and other evidence of formal qualifications awarded by the former German Democratic Republic: German nationals who are pursuing their professional activities in that territory on the basis of training which began before unification and does not conform to Community rules on training are to be granted recognition under the same conditions as other nationals of Member States at the time of the adoption of this Directive, i.e. if they produce a certificate showing that they had at least three consecutive years' professional practice during the five years prior to the date of issue of the certificate.

Host Member States must ensure that nationals of Member States who fulfil the conditions laid down have the right to use their lawful academic title in the language of the Member State from which they come.

Procedure for the recognition of pharmacists. A host Member State which requires of its nationals proof of good character or good repute or a certificate of physical or mental health when they take up the activities specified must accept as sufficient evidence, in respect of nationals of other Member States, a certificate issued by a competent authority in the Member State from which the foreign national comes.

In particular, Directive 2001/19/EC aims to:

  • incorporate into Directive 89/48/EEC the concept of "regulated education and training", already enshrined in Directive 92/51/EEC. The goal is to require the host Member State to take into account the education received by the applicant, including education received in a Member State in which the profession in question is not regulated. Under this new rule host Member States will not be permitted to require two years' professional experience;
  • ensure that the host Member State, when examining an application for recognition of a diploma, takes into consideration the experience acquired by the applicant after obtaining the diploma. The host Member State may no longer systematically require the applicant to take compensation steps, such as aptitude tests or an adaptation period, but must simplify and if possible eliminate these measures;
  • ensure legal certainty with regard to the recognition of diplomas obtained by Community nationals in third countries; the envisaged system gives each Member State the right to recognise or reject these diplomas except when a first host Member State has already recognised the applicant's professional experience. In this case a second host Member State may not directly reject the application for recognition but must justify its rejection;
  • extend the automatic recognition procedure, already applicable to general practitioners, to other physicians and to nurses responsible for general care, dental practitioners, veterinary surgeons, midwives and pharmacists. The main simplification lies in the updating of the lists of diplomas recognised at European level, since the Commission will from now on be able to publish lists of diplomas notified by the Member States on a regular basis (annexed to this document).



Entry into force - Date of expiry

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Directive 85/433/EEC [adoption: 1981/1001/CNS]



OJ L 253 of 24.9.1985

Amending act(s)

Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Directive 85/584/EEC



OJ L 372 of 31.12.1985

Directive 90/658/EEC



OJ L 353 of 17.12.1990

Directive 2001/19/EC



OJ L 206 of 31.7.2001

Act concerning the conditions of accession of the Czech Republic, the Republic of Estonia, the Republic of Cyprus, the Republic of Latvia, the Republic of Lithuania, the Republic of Hungary, the Republic of Malta, the Republic of Poland, the Republic of Slovenia and the Slovak Republic



OJ L 236 of 23.9.2003

Directive 2006/100/EC



OJ L 363 of 20.12.2006

Last updated: 05.12.2007