Skip to main content
European Commission logo


EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Validation of non-formal and informal learning


8.Adult education and training

8.5Validation of non-formal and informal learning

Last update: 25 May 2023

The recognition, validation and certification of competences process (RVCC)

The RVCC process is part of the National Qualifications System (Sistema Nacional de Qualificações - SNQ). This is based on a set of methodological assumptions (competences audit, autobiographical approach) that allow the identification, recognition, validation and certification of previously acquired competences by adults throughout life in formal, informal and non-formal contexts. The process involves a set of assessment tools and activities, in order to build a portfolio (containing evidence and/or proof of competences adults possess in relation to a particular framework).

The RVCC process is based on competences frameworks that are part of the National Qualifications Catalogue (Catálogo Nacional de Qualificações - CNQ) (basic level key competence framework, upper secondary key competence framework and the professional competence framework), with the academic RVCC divided by areas of key competences and the professional RVCC by competences.

Admission requirements

To gain access to RVCC processes, candidates must be aged 18 or over, with a QNQ qualification below level 5 and have the relevant skills (professional, social, personal, etc.) associated with the respective reference framework (key competence and professional competence).

Candidates of 23 and under must submit proof of a minimum of three years professional experience except in situations authorised by ANQEP, such as when specific populations are involved or are socially vulnerable.

Teaching methods and approaches

The duration of RVCC processes varies according to the competences demonstrated by the candidates and the proposed qualification level. They can begin at any time of the year and are not governed by the academic calendar. The timetable is adjustable and flexible, as well as agreed between the adult and the Qualifica Centre, in order to facilitate attendance by employed adults.

Information, guidance and referral is provided by professionals working in the area of guidance, recognition and validation of competencies (TORVC). The recognition and validation process is provided by a group of teachers/trainers qualified to teach specific recruitment groups, according to the key competence areas that are part of the respective key competences reference framework for adult education and training. The TORVC monitors the adult during the process.

The candidate, whose knowledge and competences profile, professional experiences and social and personal characteristics are appropriate for a RVCC process, is asked to build a reflective and documented skills portfolio, based on formal, non-formal and informal learning acquired throughout their life.

Learner assessment/progression

RVCC processes include: (i) competence recognition; (ii) competence validation and (iii) competence certification. Adults can undertake an academic or professional RVCC process, as well as dual certification.

The recognition stage involves the identification of competences that the adult has, using the methodology of a skills audit and the history of adult life, as well as a specific set of assessment activities and tools (in the case of the professional RVCC, there are four different assessment tools: the portfolio analysis form, the technical interview guidelines, the performance in the workplace observation grid and the practical exercises assessment grid (within the context of simulated practice). This stage involves recognition sessions (both individual and group), which are led either by TORVC or different trainers/teachers.

Candidates should attend a minimum of 50 hours of complementary training (internal or external) as part of the recognition, validation and certification of academic and/or professional competences process by trainers/teachers from the Qualifica centre or other training bodies (Article 13 of Ordinance No 61/2022, 31 january).

The validation of competencies includes the results of hetero-assessment undertaken by the trainers/teachers of different key competence areas for the academic RVCC processes, and different career opportunities for the professional RVCC, which involves producing a minuted validation session document.

Hetero-evaluation is scored by competence units in academic or professional RVCC processes on a scale of 1 to 5.

In the case of the basic education academic RVCC, adults obtain recognition and validation in competence units whose scores are at levels 3, 4 and 5, according to the validation grid scale. However, so that the competence units (CU) of a yey competence area (KCA), validated as part of the validation session, can progress to the competence certification stage, at least one of the four compulsory CU that are part of each KCA must have a grade of five on the scale.

In the upper secondary education academic RVCC, recognition and validation are obtained in the reference domains, whose scores are at levels 3, 4 and 5 according to the validation grid scale. However, for the generating core of a key competence area to advance to the competence certification stage, at least one of the four reference domains must score at level 5 of the validation grid, plus one validated reference domain with a score of at least three.

In the professional RVCC, adults obtain recognition and validation in competence units whose scores are at levels 3, 4 and 5, according to the validation grid scale. 


Full certification of competences implies that the adult’s skills test is assessed by a panel, based on the candidate’s performance of the said test, alongside the portfolio analysis and the assessment tools used during the recognition and validation of competences stage.

The certification of academic competences involves a demonstration before a certification panel that can be an oral presentation, or a practical presentation of competences within the scope of the portfolio, knowledge and skills of the key competence area being assessed. The certification test must be closely connected with the work carried out by the candidate and the information from the assessment tools used during the process.

The certification of professional competences (professional RVCC) involves a test, preferably practical, which demonstrates a broad set of skills considered essential for the profession/activity concerned. The emphasis is on fundamentally practical tests, which can be combined with an oral or written component demonstrating the competences being assessed. The intention is to assess the candidate’s technical ability to perform tasks/activities, as well as their theoretical knowledge and social and relational capabilities, as found in the professional RVCC reference framework.

The panel and its chair are nominated by the body running the Qualifica Centre. For an academic certification session to occur, all those members with a right to vote must be present, which means a guidance, recognition and validation of competences professional  and a trainer/teacher from each of the key-skill areas. For a professional certification session to take place, all those members with a right to vote must be present, which means two trainers with appropriate qualifications in the education and training area of the respective reference framework (with at least five years of professional experience), a trainer who was involved with the candidate’s process, a representative of the business associations or employers' bodies, and a trade union representative from the economic sector. 

Certification is proven via the issue of a qualifications certificate and a diploma issued by the body that operates the Qualifica Centre via the information and management system of the education and training provision (Sistema Integrado de Gestão da Oferta Formativa S- SIGO), in accordance with the models approved.

In the case of regulated professions, and whenever the practice of a profession depends on fulfilling specific requirements, the development of RVCC processes depend on coordination with the respective authority responsible and the fulfilment of of the specific requirements defined within the applicable framework. 

The conclusion of an academic RVCC process (with the validation of all the competences corresponding to a level of qualification) confers basic level certification (certificate of qualifications corresponding to the 1st, 2nd or 3rd cycle and a diploma, if concluding compulsory education - levels 1 and 2 of the National Qualifications Framework (Quadro Nacional de Qualificações - QNQ) or the upper secondary level (qualification certificate corresponding to the QNQ level 3) is completed.

The conclusion of a professional RVCC process generates one of the following situations:

  • if the candidate is able to certify all competence units deemed necessary to obtain a level 4 qualification (associated with dual certification), a qualification certificate with a record of all competences units certified, as well as a diploma (fulfilling these two requirements, the certification of academic and professional qualifications can be the result of the  RVCC process or the conclusion of the professional element when the candidate already has the corresponding academic qualifications) are issued;
  • if the candidate is able to certify all competences units deemed necessary to obtain professional certification but does not have the appropriate level of education only a certificate of qualifications (which identifies the units of competency certified) is issued.

If the recognition, validation and certification of academic and professional competences does not lead to the issue of a certificate or diploma, (because not all the competences corresponding to a qualification level have been validated), a qualifications certificate is always issued, with the identification of competences units already validated and a personal qualification plan is issued according to the competences lacking, which is used to refer the candidates for a path that that allows them to acquire the competences they require. It is worth remembering that the qualification certificates and diplomas issued by the Qualifica Centre without certification capacity must be approved by the bodies with that responsibility.