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Applying for equivalence:
Secondary education diploma obtained abroad

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What does this equivalence mean and who can apply for it?

A decree of equivalence is an official confirmation of the equivalence of a foreign qualification to a Flemish diploma of secondary education. Individuals who have gained a final diploma abroad can apply for equivalence. However, some conditions apply:

  • You live in Flanders or Brussels or have a demonstrable connection with Flanders.
  • You are not enrolled in an education institution of the French Community.
  • You do not have the intention to enrol in Flemish higher education. If you wish to enrol in Flemish higher education, please contact a Flemish higher education institution directly. In this case, the equivalence of your foreign diploma is not necessary.

There are two possibilities:

  1. Level equivalence
    If you apply for the ‘secondary education’ procedure, a decision is delivered on the degree and the type of education (aso, kso, tso, bso) but not on the specific course of study. Equivalence will for instance be granted to a 'final diploma of general secondary education', but not to a final diploma of general secondary education, 'social science' course of study. An examination into the specific specialisation can only be carried out in exceptional cases.
  2. Full equivalence
    The specific specialisation is only examined when this is necessary to exercise a specific profession (e.g. ‘carer’). Please mention this explicitly on your application form.

 

Procedure

During the equivalence examination, the foreign diploma is assessed against a certain number of criteria. These criteria are prescribed by law in articles 2 and 3 of the Government of Flanders Decree on the conditions and the procedure for recognising the equivalence of foreign certificates to Flemish certificates awarded in primary and secondary education, and some Flemish certificates awarded in adult education.

A foreign certificate is equivalent to a corresponding Flemish certificate unless there is a substantial difference in the application of one or several of the following criteria:

Content or learning outcomes:

The content of the study and education programmes undertaken or the course components or courses undertaken leading to the certificate or the competences which have been acquired according to the certificate.

Level:

The level of the educational qualification(s) to which the course programme leads within the qualifications system or the course structure.

Student workload:

The duration of studies of the course, possibly expressed in years or hours during which the educational activities have taken place.

Quality:

The quality of the course, including the assessment method, the quality of the awarding institution, possibly guaranteed by an external quality assurance body.

If no substantial difference is found, equivalence is awarded by ministerial decree of equivalence. On this basis, the holder of a foreign diploma has the same rights as the holder of the similar Flemish diploma that is mentioned in the decree.

If a substantial difference is found, your diploma is not equivalent to a final diploma of secondary education or to a diploma in a specific course of study

However, a ministerial decree of equivalence may be issued to you, but in that case your foreign diploma is made equal to a corresponding Flemish certificate at a lower level of the Flemish qualifications system (for instance a certificate of the second stage of secondary education instead of the final diploma of secondary education).

Do you want to obtain the Flemish diploma after all? Please contact:

 

How much does this procedure cost?

The cost price depends on the procedure chosen:

  • Equivalence of level: 90 EUR.
  • Full equivalence: 180 EUR.

The examination into equivalence is free for those who:

  • Are asylum seekers, recognized refugees or subsidiary protected.
  • Have the federal OMNIO status or are entitled to additional health insurance reimbursement.
  • Receive income support from a public centre for social welfare (OCMW) or social help equal to income support.
  • Are integrating and have signed an integration contract within the period of three years prior to the application for recognition.
  • Are seeking a job and have signed an individualised guidance contract with the VDAB within the period of two years prior to the application for recognition.
  • Are seeking a job and have an action plan or are participating in a career coaching plan provided by ACTIRIS or one of its Dutch-language partners, with whom they concluded an agreement within the period of two years prior to the application for recognition.

You must be able to prove that you belong to one of these categories.

 

Composition of the application file

A file will only be processed when it is complete. If there are documents missing in your file, you still have six months to submit them. If you fail to submit the missing documents to NARIC-Vlaanderen within six months' time, your file is closed.

Please note: Never send original documents! Nevertheless, you must be able to present them if your case officer requires this. In the context of the investigation, we may ask you to provide other documents at all times.

If your original supporting documents are drawn up in Dutch, English, French or German:

  • a fully completed and signed application form;
  • a copy of your diploma or certificate.
  • a copy of your identity card;
  • a mark sheet of the final exam or the report of the final year of secondary education.

If your original supporting documents are not drawn up in Dutch, English, French or German, please also enclose:


What if the name of my ID card does not match the name on my study certificate?

In this case your application must be accompanied by an official explanation for that derogation.


Where do I find a Belgian court of first instance?

Below you will find a list providing an overview: overzichtslijstraadplegen:


Flemish diploma of vocational secondary education in home and elderly care/care provider

If you apply for the equivalence of a foreign diploma to a Flemish diploma of vocational secondary education in home and elderly care/care provider, you must append the following documents to the application form:

  • a detailed programme of study;
  • possible certificates of work placements including a clear job description and evaluation;
  • and possible certificates to prove your professional experience, signed by the employer, including a clear job description.

 

Admission to secondary education

From September 2011 onwards, the admissions committees of secondary schools themselves have been competent to admit pupils to a certain year of a certain course of study on the basis of a foreign certificate. So it is not necessary to submit an application to NARIC-Vlaanderen for this.

 

Admission to adult education

Individuals who completed secondary education abroad and want to enrol in a college of higher education or university, do not have to apply for equivalence of their diploma. They can directly contact the college of higher education or university, which can admit their enrolment on the basis of this foreign diploma.

 

Admission to higher education

Individuals who completed secondary education abroad and want to enrol in a college of higher education or university, do not have to apply for equivalence of their diploma. They can directly contact the college of higher education or university, which can admit their enrolment on the basis of this foreign diploma.

 

Where do I submit my application?

The application file can be sent by post or submitted by hand at the entrance desk of the Hendrik Conscience Building.

Mailing costs are not paid back by NARIC-Flanders.

Even when you are staying abroad, you can send an application file by mail to NARIC-Vlaanderen. Customs duties may not be charged on sending applications from abroad. Please note that postage charges are not refundable by NARIC-Vlaanderen under any circumstances."

Adress

Agentschap voor Kwaliteitszorg in Onderwijs en Vorming
Afdeling Dienstverlening EVC
NARIC- Vlaanderen

Hendrik Consciencegebouw - Toren C - 2de verdieping
Koning Albert II- laan 15
1210 Brussel

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