German immigration language testing systems compared

Moving to Germany usually requires some form of the German proficiency test. Whether migrating for work, higher studies, research, or other reasons, applicants are asked to prove their ability to speak German. Here is a list of German language tests available in India, along with their applicability.

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Goethe Zertifikat (A1-C2)

The Goethe-Institut is a non-profit German cultural association that promotes the German language abroad. With a presence in many countries, the Goethe-Institut conducts language teaching as well as testing. The Federal government approves the Goethe Zertifikat of Germany. It follows the Common European Framework of Languages (CEFR) guidelines. There are 5 separate tests for different levels of applicants. The test levels correspond to CEFR levels, which are from A1 to C2.

  • The A1and A2 level tests are required to apply for spouse visas
  • B1 and B2 are for citizenship and university applications
  • C1 and C2 are recognized by all German higher institutions and most employers
  • Goethe PRO is a professional exam for job applicants and researchers

Candidates must register for the exam online. The exam was available physically and online. This has changed since COVID-19. The test consists of 4 modules – writing, speaking, listening, and reading. The cost of a Goethe Zertifikat varies with the level and applicant type. A student enrolled for a Goethe Institute or Max Meuller Bhavan New Delhi course is treated as an ‘internal candidate.’ Everyone else is an ‘external candidate.’ The costs range from INR 1,300 for A1 for an internal candidate to INR 12,500 per module for C2 for an external candidate. Exam results are shared online.

telc (The European Language Certificate)

Telc offers training and tests in 10 languages, including German. Job seekers, university applicants, and other aspirants can take telc tests. These tests allow applicants to choose which area they want to be tested in. The exam designed specifically for university applicants is called ‘telc C1 Hochschule’. The modules are reading, writing, listening, and speaking. The test focuses on everyday topics. It follows the CEFR guidelines. Telc tests are recognized by the German Rectors and Cultural Ministers Conference. This conference is responsible for education and schooling, institutes of higher education, research, and cultural affairs—the only place to take a telco test in India in Bangalore. Applicants can register online. The test costs EUR 125-165 or roughly INR 11,000-14,000.


DAF stands for Deutsch als Fremdsprache (German as a foreign language). This internationally recognized test is for aspirants who want to study, conduct research, or work in Germany. Based on CEFR guidelines and administered by TestDaF-Institut in Germany, the test is available in almost a hundred countries, including India. The test is only available for levels B2 to C1, so it’s not for beginners. This test is recognized by nearly all German universities, research institutions, and employers. The certificate is valid indefinitely—the test grades 4 skills over 5 points and costs EUR 100 (roughly INR 8,500). There are 6 fixed dates in a year to take the test. Results are available after 3 weeks. Max Meuller Bhavan New Delhi is among the few test centers in India.

DSH Exam

DSH stands for Deutsche Sprachprüfung für den Hochschuluzugang (German language test for university admission). As the name suggests, it is almost exclusively for higher studies. Most German universities (except Stuttgart) recognize it. It is not a standardized test like the Test DAF. It varies from university to university. The level of difficulty can also vary. The testing pattern is similar to DAF. DSH follows the CEFR guidelines. It costs EUR 40-170, which is equivalent to INR 3,500-15,000. Results are valid for 2 years.

In summary

Germany is an attractive destination for migrants. The higher earnings enable migrants to send remittances back to their families via the Ria Money Transfer App and similar channels. Taking a German proficiency test is an important initial step toward migration. Identify the most applicable test for you and take the plunge.

About the author:

Hemant G is a contributing writer at Sparkwebs LLC, a Digital and Content Marketing Agency. When he’s not writing, he loves to travel, scuba dive, and watch documentaries.

Jaclyn H. Dempsey
Beer geek. Tv scholar. Passionate music maven. Freelance travel buff. Zombie fanatic. Professional pop cultureaholic.Spent a year exporting carnival rides for fun and profit. Spent a year analyzing human hair in Salisbury, MD. Spent childhood licensing Elvis Presley in Jacksonville, FL. Spent the better part of the 90's licensing g.i. joes in Suffolk, NY. Spent 2001-2007 researching chess sets for farmers. Spent a year developing jump ropes in Orlando, FL.

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