See also

Find out more about the European Patent Office.

European Patent Office

See the full list of the EPO member and extension states.

EPO member and extension states


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) on jobs at the EPO


The application process

Formalities and documentation

Applying online

Required applicant profiles


Where can I find out about job opportunities at the EPO?

Vacancies are published in the Jobs section of this website, which also contains information about internships.

Vacancy notices include the opening and closing dates of the competition, the main duties involved, a list of requirements, and a link to the online application form.


The application process

I have applied before and was rejected. Should I try again?

The EPO recruits on a post-by-post basis, so unless our rejection letter said otherwise it will only have been for the particular post you applied for. This means you are free to try again.

Can I apply for more than one vacancy at a time?

Yes, you can. You should submit a separate online application for each vacancy, and indicate your other applications in it.

Is there a closing date for patent examiner posts?

No, we are recruiting examiners on a permanent basis. The list of fields with vacancies is updated regularly.

Who or what is the selection board?

The selection board is an EPO panel set up to consider the applications for a given vacancy and to recommend the most suitable candidate(s). Its composition depends on the job in question and the stage reached in the recruitment procedure. Usually its members are from the department with the vacancy, HR department and the staff side.

I have been placed on a reserve list. What does this mean?

It means you were recommended as suitable for a particular post but not the selection board's first choice. This often happens when a lot of very good candidates apply for a limited number of posts (with examiner recruitment, it may also be that a post is not yet available). Rather than "lose" them, we place them on a reserve list – usually valid for one or two years – in case a similar vacancy arises. Being on the reserve list doesn't guarantee an eventual job offer, but your name will always appear at the top of our lists when we are looking to fill new vacancies in your field. No action is required on your part unless we contact you.

Formalities and documentation

What kind of information should I include in my CV?

Many job applications are unsuccessful because candidates do not write their CVs in a way that is useful for potential employers. Any CV submitted to us at the EPO should at least indicate your

  • name, date of birth, and up-to-date contact details
  • nationality/nationalities
  • educational qualifications
  • language skills in English, French and German. (if they're not mentioned, we assume you don't have them).
  • previous work experience.

This list is not exhaustive, but if the above points are not included it is unlikely that you will make it past the first phase.

What do the language tests consist of?

For some posts, you are required to sit a computer-based language test prior to the interview. This written test is followed by an assessment of your language skills in the actual interview. For other posts, the language tests may be confined to the interview. And if the selection board feels that you need to improve one of the official languages before you can be appointed, you may be asked to take language tests some time after the interview.

I failed my language test. Can I re-apply?

Yes. But please work on your language skills first! If you receive a letter asking you to re-sit a language test, this means we are still interested in your application, but cannot offer you a position unless you have improved.

What is a work certificate?

This is a document showing that you worked for a particular employer for a certain period.?

I do not want to ask my current employers for a work certificate yet. Can I still apply?

Yes, you can. But you will have to provide one if we offer you a position, because it will be needed as evidence of your previous experience.

What is meant by "References" in section 6 "Additional Information"?

A reference is someone who can give us information about you as a potential employee. It might be a previous employer or someone who taught you at school or university.

How many references should I give?

That is entirely up to you.

Do I need to translate my certificates into one of the EPO's three official languages?


Applying online

How should my browser be configured?

You need to set your browser preferences to allow

  • JavaScript
  • SSL (secure connections)
  • caching (saving temporary internet files).

If you are using a computer (e.g. some company laptops) that does not allow writing to the hard drive, you will not be able to send your application from it.

Important: Some browser configurations (for example, in a company network) do not allow changes. In such cases, please try a different browser.

The online application form is quite detailed. Do I have to answer all the questions?

Please fill in all six sections of the form carefully, making sure you at least provide information in all the fields marked with an asterisk (*). But it is best if you complete the entire form - especially if this is your first EPO online job application.

I don't have a password. How can I save the application form?

You can save your application using a password of your choice, and will then be able to access the form again to complete or modify your draft before submitting it. But please remember that drafts are only saved for 30 days. NB: passwords must not contain blank spaces.

How can I select more than one specialisation field?

Hold the Ctrl key down while you select the different fields. If this doesn't work there may be a problem with your browser, so please try using a different one.

How can I delete a document I have uploaded?

Use the "wastepaper basket" symbol shown to the left of the name of the uploaded document.

The application form says the EPO has the right to check that the information I give is correct. Can I be sure that you will not contact my current employer until I have had a chance to inform them myself?

Yes, we can assure you of that.

I have filled in all the fields as carefully as I can. How do I send the form?

When you are ready to send in your application, click on the "Send to EPO" button on the last page. You will then no longer be able to access it online.

I have applied online and would now like to change or add information in my application. How do I do that?

You cannot change your application after submitting it. This is to ensure data integrity for the selection board.

Required applicant profiles

Do nationality quotas apply at the EPO?

The EPO does not apply strict nationality quotas for recruitment. It does however try to ensure a good balance of nationalities at its different sites and within organisational units. This can be a factor in the selection board's recommendation.

My country is not yet an EPO member state, but I think it is going to become one soon. Can I apply?

Perhaps. We can consider applications from nationals of countries which our Administrative Council has agreed can join soon. Information about this is usually available on our website.

I learned French at school for three years, but that was ten years ago. Will this be enough?

Probably not. The EPO works in three official languages - English, French and German. Most of us don't have one of those languages as our mother tongue, so we often find ourselves communicating in a foreign language. Standards therefore have to be quite high. The required level also depends on the post in question.

I am only proficient in two of the three languages and wish to apply for a patent examiner's job. Am I wasting my time?

No, you can still apply. Under certain circumstances, the EPO will consider you for an examiner post if you have a good working knowledge of two official languages and are willing to learn the third before you join. You would then have to pass the tests in your third language before the EPO could offer you a job.

I wish to apply for an administrative job but have only one of your official languages. Should I bother?

Realistically, there will be a large number of other candidates who do meet the requirements, so your application would be unlikely to get very far.

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