How do you obtain an Equivalency Certificate in the UAE?

equivalency certificate

What is an Equivalency Certificate?

If you are currently working in a role in the education sector in the UAE, your award will need to go though a process known as equivalency. This ensures that your qualification is of an appropriate level to the role you are undertaking within the UAE. The Ministry of Education will also use this process to verify that the awarding institution is fully accredited by the government of the issuing country.

Not all those who have completed post-secondary studies outside the UAE need an Equivalency Certificate – attesting your degree is usually enough for most roles in the UAE.

An Equivalency document is most often required by those in Higher Education teaching positions such as university professors, doctors and other professionals in scientific fields. All teaching and admin staff may also require this certificate, though you will need to check if your role qualifies for this process. If you are unsure about whether this applies to you, it is best to contact your HR Department.

For those in the professions mentioned above who are thinking about coming to work in the UAE, you will want to investigate whether there is a requirement for equivalency as early on in your relocation process as possible. Getting the certificate issued can take a long time, as can collating all the required supporting documents needed for the application. Some institutes and employers even place a deadline on the job offer based on you getting your equivalency certificate.

What documents do I need to present to get this certificate?

As there are variations dependant on where the education award was issued, as well as the level of the award, we strongly advise you enquire which documents you will need before you start the equivalency process. If you present your highest award at the Happiness Centre, you will be given a list of documents to source for your application.

Some countries require additional documentation to support their education awards, such as a letter from the embassy of the issuing country verifying the award’s authenticity with the awarding institution. There are some states which are exempt from this requirement, such as the UK, the USA, Ireland and Australia. There is an official list of countries who are exempt on the government website, but this should not be directly relied on without checking your personal requirements first.

An example of the document requirements list for a degree is:

  • A legalised copy of the qualification to be equalized
  • An original transcript of results
  • If applicable, a copy of the transcript record of transferred hours for each institution
  • An original Embassy letter verifying the authenticity of the award if required
  • A legal translation of the certificate if the original is not in either English or Arabic
  • An attested copy of the high school certificate, unless the graduation date exceeds 20 years
  • Proof of attendance in the country of study if enrolment was after 2000 (passport and proof of residence)

If you completed high/secondary school over 20 years ago, the Ministry of Education will accept a letter from the Embassy of the country you studied in stating that you have completed high school.

Some of these documents will have to be fully attested for use in the UAE – you can find some information on what is involved in the attestation process here.

How do I apply to get the degree equivalency certificate?

Only the person who holds the qualification can apply for an Equivalency Certificate although you can receive assistance in preparing the supporting documents. They must also be submitted in person, you can not do this via courier or have someone else do this on your behalf.

To apply for the Equivalency Certificate, you need to:

  1. Go to the MoE website.
  2. Create an account through their e-services page.
  3. Print out the application form.
  4. Visit the Customer Happiness Centre with your documents.
  5. Pay the equivalency application fees.
  6. Submit your application which can take between 2-30 days.

What do I need to be aware of when applying?

The processing time for the Equivalency Certificate is anywhere between 2 and 30 business days from date of submission. However, the Ministry of Education also reserve the right to request more and/or different documents on a case by case basis so ensure you factor in plenty of time in case their are delays.

When you attend the Happiness Centre to confirm your list of required documents, take your original certificate with you. This will help the staff in determining what you need. As this is a relatively new service, there can still be inconsistencies in some of the guidance given on document requirements. We highly recommend you ask the member of staff who deals with your query to write the list down for you, and take their name before you leave. This can help if you are later advised that something is missing or incorrect.

How can I get support with these processes?

Although we are not able to complete this specific service on your behalf, we are able to provide information and assist you with the legalisation of your supporting documents. This will need to be completed as the first stage before you can apply for equivalency.

If you have any questions or require further information you can give us a call on +971 (0)4 556 7338 or chat to our friendly team of specialists on our website here.

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