Relocating without stress – What you should keep in mind when moving to Austria

Ines Vodanovic
You have been offered a job, found a new apartment and organised a farewell party. What happens next?

Organisational skills are always need to move house, especially when you relocate abroad.

We will give you an overview what you must keep in mind when emigrating to Austria, and which bureaucratic stumbling blocks can be very easily avoided.  

What requirements do I have to fulfil in order to move to Austria?

Different rules apply for EU and non-EU nationals when moving to Austria.

If you come from an EU or EEA member state or from Switzerland, you can reside in Austria for three months without any restrictions. You do not require a visa for this purpose. A valid ID card is sufficient.

If you want to stay in Austria for longer than three months, you are required to register with the authorities. This means you have to apply for a registration certificate. In order to get this, you must notify the local or municipal authorities of your place of residence within three days.

Citizens of countries which do not belong to the EU or EEA have to apply for a visa to stay in Austria for up to six months. These documents you need to show for issuing visas

Passport photo criteria

The passport photo has to be 35 mm in width and 45 mm in height. The head/face must take up about two-thirds of the photo. The eye distance should equal at least 8 mm. The photo must not be older than six months and the individual must be unmistakably recognisable. With the exception of identity cards, the photo must be in colour. 

Only smooth and shiny paper without surface texture may be used for the passport photo. The photo may not have any damage, impurity or unnatural colour (red eyes, to give one example).  

The face must be evenly lit and be in sharp focus, high contrast and clear in all areas. It is important to avoid any shadows on the face as well as reflections. In the case of people who wear glasses, the eyes must be clearly visible and recognisable.

The background of the passport photo has to be one colour (light, ideally grey), have no pattern and sufficient contrast to the face and hair. The photo must only display the person to be photographed.

For longer stays you will require a residence permit. As a qualified employee, you are eligible to apply for the Red-White-Red Card. Here you can find out which prerequisites you will have to fulfil for the Red-White-Red Card.

In this case you are also required to notify authorities of your place of residence.

What must I organise before moving?

Provide timely notice of your plans to move from your current place of residence. In this way you will avoid having to pay double rent.  

Nobody wants to move into a cold apartment without electricity. Here you will a checklist of the services you will have to organise in advance:

  • Electricity
  • Internet
  • Telephone
  • TV/radio/cable TV
  • Household insurance
  • Waste disposal

Ask the property management office how the apartment is heated, and also which energy suppliers are available for this particular address. Frequently you will have to enter into individual contracts with these companies. Sometimes it pays to compare the rates of energy suppliers in order to reduce costs.

Are you taking a car with you when you move? Find out about the parking situation in the area where you will live. If your apartment rental does not include a parking space, many cities offer solutions for residents in the neighbourhood. You may also find a low-priced garage with a bit of luck.

Arrange to leave a day free for the handover of the apartment and the keys. When this takes place, take photos of the apartment to document the condition of the apartment. In this way you have suitable proof if damage is done.

Many removal companies will support you in relocating abroad. However, these services can also be very costly. Collect reports on experiences from acquaintances or on the Internet. In this way you can quickly find out which international movers are worth the money you will pay them.

Taking over an apartment

If you have agreed to pay key money to the previous tenant for furniture and fittings left in the apartment, make sure you have a written agreement as to which furniture will remain in the apartment and for which price. Here it is also recommended to take photos of the items involved.  

Check the apartment to ensure that there are no defects. Make sure that you have received all the apartment keys which are specified in the contract.

Write down the precise metre reading for gas, electricity, water, heating etc.  

Keep all the invoices for services relating to your new residence (brokers, transport costs, renovation costs etc.). In some cases, these costs may be tax deductible.

Which customs regulations must be considered when relocating to Austria?

In this case, special regulations apply to people moving from other EU member states. As an EU citizen, you do not have to pay any taxes for household effects.

If you move from a non-EU member state, the items you take with you are subject to certain customs regulations. Used goods for your own personal use are not subject to import duties. 

They include

  • Household goods (personal items, clothing, furniture, appliances)
  • Bicycles, motorcycles passenger car including a trailer, camping trailers, sports aircraft, water sports vehicles
  • Household supplies (in quantities usually kept by a family)
  • Pets and mounts
  • Portable instruments for free-lance activities or handicraft work which are needed to practice one’s profession

In order to be exempt from import duties, you have to fulfil the following prerequisites

  • You relocate your habitual place of residence to an EU member state.
  • The household effects belong to you.
  • You used these goods at your previous place of residence for a period of at least six months.
  • You will use the items at your new place of residence for the same purpose.  
  • Your place of residence abroad was for at least twelve successive months.
  • You report the household effects for customs clearance within twelve months after substantiating that you reside in Austria at this place of residence.
  • You are not permitted to give the household effects to anyone else for a period of twelve months after customs clearance.  

The following goods are not exempt from customs duties

  • Alcoholic products, tobacco, and tobacco products
  • Utility vehicles
  • Items used for commercial purposes (except for portable instruments)

If any items look as if they have not been used beforehand, customs authorities could demand proof (e.g. invoices, warranty card) that the goods already belonged to you and were used by you before your relocating to Austria.

In order to prove exemption from customs duties, you will need to fill out certain forms in advance before customs clearance. You can download the appropriate forms (in German and in English) here.

In particular, the following documents are suitable in order to prove your residence in Austria or in another country during the previous twelve-month period:  

  • Official registration of your address with public authorities, or the corresponding deregistration
  • Registration certificate of your residence in Austria
  • Work or employment contract
  • Rental agreement
  • School registration of your children

If you lack this proof or the filled-out forms when the goods are imported, you can hand them in at a later time. In this case you will have to deposit a certain amount of money as security which you will get back when you submit the required documents afterwards.

Relocating with your car

You will not have to pay any customs duties if you move your automobile from an EU member state to Austria. However, you will have to pay the standard consumption tax (NOVA) to the fiscal authorities before your motor vehicle is initially registered in Austria. This also applies to motorcycles. Please note that third-party liability insurance is required for your automobile in Austria.

When you move, please keep in mind that you will have to register your vehicle in Austria as quickly as possible (no later than one month after your arrival) and that it will need an Austrian license plate. Otherwise you will risk being fined. 

If you take your car with you from a non-EU member state, you will have to show proof of ownership and the previous use or registration of the vehicle abroad (e.g. purchase or leasing agreement, invoice, delivery note, motor vehicle registration, insurance documents).

In this case, you will also have to pay the standard consumption tax (NOVA) in Austria before the vehicle can be registered.

Prohibitions and restrictions on imports

Not all goods may be imported into Austria. You can read more about prohibitions and restrictions on imports here.

Change of address/mail forwarding

Arrange to have your mail forwarded to you at your new address in Austria so that you will not miss out on any important postal items. Just about every postal services provider offers this service.  

Also do not forget to notify important public authorities of your new address.  If you enjoy buying goods online and have already stored your profile, also change your delivery and billing address there.

Apply for vacation time

If you are already in an employment relationship with an Austrian company, you can apply for up to two days of special leave for the purpose of moving.

You will find precise information as to how many paid vacation days you are entitled to for the purpose of moving in the collective salary agreement (in German).

Moving with pets

If your pet accompanies you in this new phase of your life, you will have to show proof that your pet was given a rabies vaccination. Please keep in mind that dogs must be identified with a microchip. You will also need a pet passport for dogs, cats and ferrets. These steps are not necessary for smaller animals such as hamsters and guinea pigs.  

Here you can find precise information about the documents you will need when your pet is imported into the country.

Please keep in mind that dog owners in Austria have to pay a fee for having the dog. Every dog must be registered. Moreover, the various federal provinces have different regulations pertaining to requirements to keep dogs on leash or to ensure that they wear a muzzle. Find out which rules apply by contacting your local or municipal authority.

Ines Vodanovic
Director Bulgaria, Croatia

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