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The French Commission nationale de la certification professionnelle (CNCP – national committee for professional certification)

Set up under the French social modernization law n°2002-73 dated 17 January 2002, the national committee for professional certification is placed under the authority of the French minister in charge of vocational training. The committee is made up of 43 members: representatives of ministers, representatives of the regions, social partners, representatives of the consular chambers, and qualified persons. Its mission is to:

  • List the offer of vocational certifications (national register of vocational certifications),
  • Inform people and companies about the certifications listed in the national register and the certifications recognized in the member states of the European Union,
  • Check the coherence, complementarity and renewal of diplomas and qualification documents, together with their adaptation to evolution in qualifications and work organization,
  • Issue a public notice prior to setting up and creating professional certifications entitled to be listed in the national register,
  • Make public evaluations of the certificates covering professional qualifications,
  • Issue recommendations for the attention of the institutions awarding diplomas, qualification documents for professional purposes or professional qualification certificates,
  • Point out any full or partial correspondences between certifications listed in the national register, or between the latter and other certifications, mainly European certifications,
  • Draw up a new nomenclature covering levels of certification in relation to jobs held.

Under the authority of its chairperson, the CNCP relies on the work carried out by a specialized committee, a permanent secretariat and a network of regional correspondents.

It contributes to work at an international level on transparency of qualifications.

To find out more:

  • Application order appointing the members of the committee. French Official Journal dated 2 May 2009 Read (in French)...
  • Application order appointing the members of the committee. French Official Journal dated 8 November 2007 Read (in French)...
  • French Code of Education, legislative section as modified by French law N° 2009-1437 dated 24 November 2009 (article L 335-6) Read (in French)...

The Répertoire national des certifications professionnelles (RNCP – national register of professional certifications)

The purpose of the national register of vocational certifications is to provide people and companies with up-to-date information about diplomas and qualification documents for professional purposes, together with the qualification certificates shown in the lists drawn up by the national joint employment committees in the various professional branches. It helps to facilitate job access, management of human resources and professional mobility. The certifications listed in the register are recognized throughout France. The entries in the national register concern only the certification as such.

In practice, the RNCP can be used to consult descriptions of certifications: activities targeted, sectors of activities, elements of competence acquired, modalities of access, levels, etc.

An up-to-date quantitative analysis of the register (number of data sheets that can be consulted online, number of data sheets undergoing validation, list per certifying authority, etc.) is placed at the users’ disposal at regular intervals. You can consult it in the "News" (read in French) section of the site.

To find out more:

Access to certification through Validation des Acquis de l’Expérience (VAE – validation of non formal learning)

VAE enables those concerned to obtain all or part of a certification for professional purposes on the basis of professional experience as a salaried employee, a self-employed person (tradespeople, tradespeople’s assistants, members of professions, farmers, artisans, etc.) and/or a volunteer worker (in unions, associations, etc.) and/or a volunteer elsewhere, and/or an elected official, provided that the certification sought has a direct link with the experience.

VAE can be financed by vocational training funds, provided that the professional certification sought is listed in the national register of professional certifications (RNCP).

You are looking for certification that can be acquired via VAE ?

Consult the RNCP (in French)

You are seeking advice or information about VAE ?

Go to VAE.GOUV.FR (in French)

Useful links:

Transparency and recognition of qualifications in Europe

Since the first treaty setting up the European Community was signed, the principle of "abolition, between the member states, of obstacles to free circulation of persons" (article 3) has been established. Its implementation has given rise to many directives and recommendations. The principle is based on personal qualification. The question of recognition of qualification usually involves possession of diplomas, documents or certificates (or certifications), but it can also take into account attestations covering convincing personal or professional experience.

You are planning to work in another country and you are looking for :

Supports ensuring legibility of your certification and experience acquired, and which can be used in Europe:


Contact the "agence Europe-Education-Formation France", which is the national Europass Centre and the national Europass-Mobility contact point:

International mobility

You are planning to work in another country and you are looking for :

Apart from a few exceptions, there is no regulatory equivalence between French diplomas and diplomas awarded in other countries, even within the European Union.

The ENIC-NARIC France centre is the French centre of information concerning academic and professional recognition of diplomas.

  • It draws up attestations covering recognition of levels for diplomas awarded in other countries.
  • It provides information about the procedure for recognition of French diplomas in other countries.
  • It gives details of the procedures to be followed in order to exercise a regulated profession.

To find out more :

The "ECTS" credits systems and the reform covering organization of studies for higher education (LMD)

Transparency and Qualifications

Detailed information

  1. Professional recognition of diplomas
  2. Academic recognition of diplomas
  3. Supports ensuring legibility of your certification and experience acquired, and which can be used in Europe

1 - Professional recognition of diplomas

The system for recognition of diplomas

The first systems for recognition of diplomas were set up in 1975. Since then, many directives have been published. A new directive includes all the principles applicable for all the existing regulations covering professions and activities: directive 2005/36 of 7 September 2005 on the recognition of professional qualifications.

The situation as regards recognition is different, depending on whether the profession whose exercise is envisaged, is regulated as to acceptance, i.e. conditional on possession of one or more training qualification documents issued in the State in question, or not covered by any national regulations.

The European Union legislation provides for automatic recognition of diplomas through application of sectoral directives for a few professions, mainly in the medical or paramedical fields. For the other regulated professions, the European Commission adopted two directives, 89/48 EEC and 92/51 EEC, implementing a general system for recognition of diplomas. These directives enable any fully qualified persons to obtain recognition of their professional qualifications as acquired in their country of origin, in order to exercise that regulated profession in another member State. As these two directives do not set up a system covering automatic recognition of diplomas, migrants may be subjected to "compensatory measures" if substantial differences are noted between the training they have been given and that required to be able to exercise that profession in the host country. There are a small number of regulated professions in each Member State.

If the profession is not covered by regulations in the host country, it is up to the employer to assess the diploma and the professional level. Nonetheless, workers may find it difficult to obtain recognition of their professional qualifications at their fair value and to get a job at a corresponding level. In this case, they can contact the information centres in the host country. In each of the European countries, there are national information centres associated within the framework of the NARIC (National Academic Recognition Information Centres) network, or, in some countries, specific centres that are the sole entities empowered to provide information about professional recognition of the diplomas, are entitled to answer questions and issue level certificates.

Consult a list of the regulated professions within the meaning of the directive

2 - Academic recognition of diplomas

Apart from a few exceptions, there is no regulatory equivalence between French diplomas and diplomas awarded in other countries, even within the European Union. However, diplomas awarded in other countries can be recognized. If the purpose of such recognition is to continue education, it is known as academic recognition. If the purpose is that of exercising a profession, it is known as professional recognition.

It is possible to obtain general information about recognition of diplomas by contacting the national centres of resources and the European relay information and orientation centres (CIO in French). However, the services whose contact details are shown below are the only services officially empowered to provide official information about recognition concerning their field of responsibility and issue certificates where applicable.

Attention !

Whether you are seeking a certificate or information, the services mentioned in the text are preferably to be contacted by letter. It is necessary to enclose the following documents :

  • A certified photocopy of the diploma awarded by another country
  • A certified photocopy of the diploma as translated by a sworn translator
  • A description of the course followed

Never send any original copies of any documents.

This procedure enables young people or students to start or continue studies in another Member State within the framework of individual or organized mobility (SOCRATES or LEONARDO European Union programmes, bilateral exchange programmes, etc.). In the last case, recognition of diplomas is generally included in the exchange agreements, or in application of the European credits transfer system (ECTS).

To find out more about the recognition procedures in the countries concerned :

Consult the list of the European information centres on the ENIC-NARIC network site.

3 - Supports ensuring legibility of your certification and experience acquired, and which can be used in Europe

A. The EUROPASS supports
  • The Europass CV See...
  • Supplement to a diploma See...
  • Descriptive supplement to a certificate See...
  • The Mobility Europass See...
  • The languages portfolio See...

For further information, see the national Europass Centre :


B. The European certification framework: a new way of understanding diplomas and qualifications in Europe

The European Commission adopted the recommendation made by the European Parliament and the Council, aimed at establishing a European qualification framework for learning at any time of life. The EQF creates common references that will help the Member States, companies and citizens to compare the certifications issued under the various European education and training systems.

This proposal was drawn up after wide-ranging consultation with the Member States, the social partners and other stakeholders. The CNCP had been discussing it since May 2004 and its conclusions contributed to expressing the French position as forwarded to the European Commission in January 2006.

The core of the EQF is made up of a set of eight reference levels setting out what the learners know, what they understand and what they are able to do (the "acquired learning"), independently of the system in which a given certification has been issued. This reference level system thus differs from the traditional approach, which highlights the means implemented to acquire knowledge (learning period, type of institution). The fact of basing assessments mainly on the results of the learning period :

  • Ensures enhanced adequacy of the education and training offer with the job market requirements (in terms of knowledge, aptitude and competencies) ;
  • Facilitates validation of non-formal and informal learning periods corresponding in France to Validation of experience acquired (VAE) ;
  • Facilitates transfer and use of certifications in different countries and in different education and training systems.

The eight levels cover the full range of the certifications issued, from the end of compulsory education up to the highest levels of university education and vocational training.

The proposal was adopted by the European Council and Parliament on 15 November 2007.

To find out more :

C. A reference construction model for common diplomas at the European level

This pilot project is in line with the European Union initiatives (launched by the Commission or Member States) in favour of a European area of knowledge and mobility, and it puts forward a method for joint construction of professional diplomas ; this is likely to open up a new area of European Union coordination in which the Member States undertake to set up a sort of "common standard" for their professional qualification systems. This orientation enables each Member State, if it so wishes, to preserve the specific aspects of its educational system.

The project thus meets the ambition, expressed by all the Member States, the social partners and the European Commission, of strengthening European cooperation in teaching and vocational training (Cf. "Copenhagen declaration" of 29/30 November 2002).

The initial aim of the project was to set out a joint construction method for professional diplomas and apply it to two diplomas in concrete terms.

The first stage was implemented in 2001 (first working seminar on 25 and 26 September 2001). Fourteen other working seminars were held (13 in Paris and the last one in Budapest). For the work, each country mobilized teams including professional specialists in the sectors concerned, heads of institutions and researchers.

The work to determine a joint method for setting up professional diplomas has been completed. The working group has defined the common tools and the stages in which a description of the professional activity can lead to certification and training.

Professional teaching and training-Project 2

Links to :

Useful links (Europe)

Detailed information

  1. Are there any European diplomas ?
  2. What does the European credits system consist of ?
  3. What does LMD system mean ?
  4. Where can I find information about the equivalence of diplomas awarded in other countries ?

1 – Are there any European diplomas ?

Answer :

For diplomas, a principle was established from the start: that of subsidiarity of the countries. This means that at present, no European authority is entitled to issue a diploma, certificate or qualification document on behalf of Europe. Nonetheless, certain organizations are tending increasingly towards construction of references at the level of all or some of the European Union countries. On the other hand, everything possible is being done to encourage recognition of national certifications from one country to another, and we can say that this concern is still valid forty years after the European Community was set up.

2 - What does the European credits system consist of ?

Answer :

In conformity with the Maastricht Treaty, each Member State is responsible for the content of its teaching and organization of its own educational system. At present, there are no European provisions requiring mutual recognition of diplomas. Steps have been taken to set up procedures to establish equivalence between countries under bilateral relations, and a search for correspondence was also undertaken in the late 1980s to facilitate reading of courses and diplomas for professional purposes. Finally, it was thanks to the ERASMUS programme that the greatest progress was made. This is the framework that is currently being used as a basis to implement a European system of units that can be capitalized and transferred throughout the European Union (ECTS).

The ECTS system of European university credits introduces enhanced fluidity in overall training courses and encourages recognition of study periods in other countries. In this, it facilitates student mobility. It also integrates in a global approach the requirements stemming from diversification in demand for training and the diversity of the teaching methods and tools that are now available. Finally, it provides a common framework of reference that stimulates cooperation between European establishments and teaching teams.

Each teaching unit has a value defined in European credits, at the level of studies concerned. To ensure concordance at a European level, it has been agreed that a semester is equivalent to 30 credits; 180 credits are thus required to obtain a bachelor's degree (called License in French) and 300 for a master’s degree (120 credits after the bachelor's degree). The credits system enables students to move outside a logic of annual educational periods, to the extent that it enables them to go through individualized educational courses that take into account their rates of learning and progress.

The system was adopted by schools of engineering a while ago, and it is likely to be progressively generalized to all the courses, on the basis of the modalities set out in articles 5 and 6 of the French application order n° 2002-482 of 8 April 2002 applying the construction of the European higher education area to the French higher education system.

The European credits system or http:/

3 - What does the LMD system correspond to in France ?

Answer :

The term LMD (Licence - Master - Doctorat) corresponds to the application in France of the principles for implementation of the European higher education area as defined by the Bologna process.

The LMD reform is aimed mainly at university diplomas issued under the responsibility of the Universities, which in turn come under the French Ministry of Education.

The term Licence, Master or Doctorat refers to the following :

  • The names of national university diplomas
  • Grades, which the French ministry of Education is the sole entity able to award. The Baccalauréat is the initial university grade. These grades can be allocated to other certifications such as Engineering diplomas or state-approved diplomas. This type of allocation is announced by publication in the Official Bulletin of the French Education authority once the CNESER has given its opinion after examining applications.

The CNCP does not allocate any grades in terms of Licence, Master or Doctorat. On the other hand, all the certifications given a grade are entitled to be registered in the RNCP.

Following the Sorbonne Conference, a common architecture emerged, initially popularized under the name "3-5-8", and it was first translated into creating the grade of master and the implementation of a professional bachelor’s degree. Since 1999, the grade of master has automatically been conferred on holders of a DEA, DESS or an engineering diploma, and since 2002, on holders of a master’s diploma. It can also be conferred on holders of other diplomas, at the same level, featuring in a list drawn up by the French minister of higher education.

At the bachelor’s degree level, and in application of the professionalization of the first level as planned on a European scale, the main measure concerns creation of a new diploma: the professional bachelor’s degree. The bachelor’s diploma corresponds to 180 European credits.

The master’s diploma created under the application order of 25 April 2002 is aimed at enabling the universities to organize studies between the bachelor’s grade and the master’s grade within the framework of a course leading to a new French national diploma: the master, whose level corresponds to 120 European credits after the bachelor’s degree.

The master is also open to the grandes écoles (schools of higher education). Without modifying their major courses, (engineering diplomas, business diplomas, etc.), they will be able to set up new courses giving added value to their competencies at the master level and likely to be especially attractive for students from other countries.

Doctoral schools, which were generalized as from the 2000-2001 academic year, are called on to form part of the new set-up. The initial phase of doctoral studies now leads to a renovated DEA diploma and integrates creation of the master’s degree as sought. The accreditation of these schools within the framework of the contractual procedure has also been confirmed.

The application order of 25 April 2002 represents a considerable step forward to the extent that it confers on the notion of doctoral schools a wider dimension than that of mere juxtaposition of diplomas of further studies in a single discipline. Article 16 indeed states that doctoral schools bring together research teams, most of them multidisciplinary, around an educational and training project that ties in with the establishment’s scientific policy. This orientation is backed up by a global approach to the periods of supervised training throughout the course as a whole.

4 - Where can I find information about the equivalence of diplomas awarded in other countries ?

Answer :

In the NARIC network of national information centres concerning recognition of diplomas in the Member States of the European Union, the countries of the European economic area and the associated countries in central and eastern Europe. These centres provide information about the national procedures for academic recognition.

If you are looking for an equivalence, consult :

If you are seeking to follow further studies in a specific establishment, consult :

Procedure for registration on demand in the national register of professional certifications

Article L335-6 of the French Code of Education stipulates that diplomas and qualification documents for professional purposes can be registered, at the request of the authorities or organizations that have created them, subject to approval from the national committee of professional certification. The certificates of vocational qualification drawn up by one or more national joint employment committees can also be listed in the national register of vocational certifications, at the request of the organizations or bodies that have created them and subject to approval from the national committee of professional certification. The organization issuing the certification and seeking its registration forwards documentary backing for its application in the form of all the elements of information concerning the qualification sought and the access paths to obtain it. The organization also provides the elements at its disposal as to the specific characteristics of the certification issued and its complementarity with existing certifications. It also has to provide full guarantees as to the impartiality of the panel. Any failure to comply with this condition leads to immediate withdrawal of the registration.

The procedure for registration on demand

  • Typology of the application: "general case" or "CQP" (certificate of qualification created by the sectors)

Note :

Before drawing up an application file, the certifying organization can contact the CNCP secretariat, at a national or regional level, to obtain further information about the registration procedure.

Procedure for organizations entitled to registration in the national register of professional certifications

Article L335-6 of the French Code of Education stipulates that diplomas and qualification documents for professional purposes issued in the name of the French State and created with the approval of consultative bodies in which organizations representative of employers and employees take part, are entitled to be listed in the national register of vocational certifications. Moreover, prior to their elaboration, the opportuneness of their creation is subject to public approval by the committee within three months. At the end of that period, approval is considered as granted.

The procedure for organizations entitled to registration

The ministries issuing certifications entitled to registration have direct access enabling them to feed the database of the register on a continuous basis. The descriptive summaries known as "register data sheets" are supplied by these ministries, as creation, modification or deletion of certifications is carried out. Since the register was implemented, these data sheets have been examined beforehand by the consultative bodies [Commission Professionnelle Consultative (CPC – Consultative Professional Committee), Conseil national de l’enseignement supérieur et de la recherche (CNESER – National council of higher education and research), Commission du Titre d’Ingenieur (CTI – Engineering diploma committee), etc.] in charge of evaluation or creation of diplomas.

In this context, the CNCP provides the tool for online entry of the data sheets, and carries out, within an inter-ministerial framework, a mission to ensure coherence of the data sheets and legibility of the content for the information forwarded.

General case

For a diploma or a qualification document coming under the "general case", the application file for listing in the national register of vocational certifications must include the following :

  • A description of the activities covered by an existing, identified trade, function or job, drawn up with the participation of the professional specialists concerned ;
  • A description, for all candidates, of the corresponding competencies, aptitudes and knowledge attesting to a qualification, and necessary to carry out the trade, function or job in question ;
  • A detailed description of the procedure for validating the experience acquired, as set up in compliance with the regulations in force ;
  • The composition of the certification panel ;
  • As the procedure for registration on request is an a posteriori evaluation procedure, all registration applications coming under the "general case" must include an account of the jobs held, and their levels, by at least three promotions of holders of the certification ;
  • The organization must undertake to set up a system for following up on the holders of the qualification document or the diploma to check the relation between the jobs held and the job description.

CNCP contact :

  • The assistant general Rapporteur in charge of the procedure for dealing with applications for RNCP registration.
  • For a certification issued by a single certifying organization located in a single administrative region, the contact is the CNCP correspondent for the region concerned (see Contacts section)
  • For a certification issued by a several certifying organizations located in different administrative regions, the contact is the CNCP representative at the French national level, depending on the professional sector covered by the certification (see Contacts section).

Useful links :

See also :


For a certificat de qualification professionnelle (CQP – vocational qualification certificate), the application file for listing in the national register of professional certifications must include the following :

  • The decision and the date of creation by the national joint employment committee issuing it ;
  • A description of the job concerned and the contents of the certification ;
  • The reference of the qualification conferred by the qualification certificate in the collective bargaining agreements mentioning it, or of the level adopted in the classification by the said agreements ;
  • How it is obtained ;
  • The correspondences recognized or desired by the national joint employment committee with other certifications listed in the register.

CNCP contact :

  • The assistant general Rapporteur in charge of the procedure for dealing with applications for RNCP registration.
  • The CNCP representative at the French national level, depending on the professional sector covered by the certification (see Contacts section)

See also :

  • General case
  • French Labour Code, legislative section modified and created by French law N° 2009-1437 dated 24 November 2009 (articles L 6314-1 and L6314-2) Read (in French)...
  • French Code of Education, regulatory section (articles R 335-12 to 21) Read (in French)...
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