Moving From the UK to Austria

A picture of Salzburg in Austria
Image source: Shutterstock

Full of culture and history, Austria is one of the most fascinating and beautiful countries in Europe. So, if relocating from the UK is on the cards for you it’s no wonder if you consider this small, rich country as your new home.

However, with Brexit having had a huge impact on the UK’s international travel landscape, it can be hard to know exactly where you stand. When it comes to moving from the UK to Austria, there are a number of things to consider, such as visas, residency permits, healthcare, etc. It’s important to research every aspect of relocation to ensure a stress-free experience. Our moving to Austria guide provides all the information you need to make your move as smooth as possible.

Capital City: Vienna
Population: 9,159,993 million (as of 1 January 2024; preliminary results)
Official language: German
Commonly spoken languages: Hungarian, Slovenian, Burgenland, Croatian
Currency: Euro

What to know before moving to Austria

Situated in the heart of Europe, Austria’s beautiful landscapes and charming cities have attracted immigrants and tourists from all over the world for many years. With a population of 9 million people, the country offers a high standard of living and a healthy economy. Sharing borders with Italy, Switzerland, Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia and Lichtenstein, Austria offers plenty of travel opportunities.

In 2019, Austria’s capital, Vienna, was ranked number 1 for the 10th year running in the Mercer quality of living city ranking. One of the most exciting and beautiful European cities, the capital is home to around 25% of the country’s population and is a major centre for international and European gatherings. The streets are lined with galleries and museums, and the city has a rich history of artists and intellectuals, such as Beethoven, Mozart and Sigmund Freud. However, the cost of living in Vienna is higher than in other Austrian cities, and UK expats may find it hard to purchase property due to high prices and limited real estate options.

Salzburg is another great Austrian city with a thriving job market and enticingly beautiful architecture. It is also home to the country’s current best football team, FC Red Bull Salzburg, so if you are a football fan, you can still enjoy the spirit of the game and some European competition action. And if you are a fan of warmer climates, Innsbruck is your city of choice. Situated between two mountain chains, the city offers spectacular views and opportunities to engage in various activities.

Visa and residence permits when moving from UK to Austria

To stay in Austria, all non-EU citizens must apply for a visa and a residence permit that corresponds to the purpose of their stay. Therefore, you need to start planning months in advance because each visa has its own set of criteria. For example, to apply for an Austrian student or work visa, you will need to submit proof of employment, self-employment or that you have adequate means of subsistence to support yourself and your dependents, as well as present sufficient health insurance coverage.

Alternatively, if you are moving to Austria to study at a recognised educational institution, you will need to provide proof of admission and sufficient finances (e.g. bank account, traveller’s cheques). However, within 3 days of moving into a house or a flat in Austria, you are required to register your residence with the competent registration authority, the Meldebehörde, if you intend to stay in the country for good.

Here are a few of the most common permits you need to move to Austria:

  • Red-white-red Card – it allows you to remain in Austria and work for an employer or as a self-employed person. It is valid during the term of your contract, for a period of up to 2 years and can be extended.
  • EU Blue Card – it enables highly qualified professionals to work and live in Austria for a particular employer. Applicants for it must have a university degree, pass a labour market test, have a job offer that is based in Austria and earn 1.5 times the average Austrian salary. The EU Blue Card allows you to move freely within the EU, as well as gives you the right to live permanently in Austria. The card is valid for a period of up to two years and can be extended.
  • Residence permit ICT – permits you to live in Austria and work for a specific company for up to three years as an intra-corporate transferee. However, for trainees, this period is 1 year.
  • Residence permit for students in Austria – it is valid for 12 months and can be renewed before its expiry date. Students who have graduated from Austrian universities can extend their student residence permit for up to 1 year to find work or start their own business. It is necessary to request an employment permit separately if you want to work during your studies. It allows you to work up to 20 hours per week.
  • EU Long-term Residence Permit – gives you the right to live and work in Austria for an unlimited period of time. The permit is valid for a period of 5 years and may be renewed.

Working in Austria

With highly developed industry sectors, such as food production, international tourism, vehicle manufacturing, engineering, service provision, and more, you’ll find many openings in the job market. Teaching English is always an option for Brits who have decided to relocate to Austria. As for the work-life balance, you get 5 weeks of paid leave per year (6 if you have 25 years of service), and there are also 13 paid public holidays. Traditionally, Austrians work 40 hours per week.

Currently, British citizens have the right to work in Austria if they have a work visa. To apply for a job, you might need:

Transport in Austria

If you want to be eco-friendly, then Austria, with its top-quality public transport network, might be the place for you. There are trains, buses, trams, underground, boats, and even cable cars to choose from.

Rail travel is delightful with its scenic routes and fast service. Travelling by train will get you almost everywhere, and where a train doesn’t go, the bus network has got your back.

In Vienna, there is an underground system, and you can purchase multi-trip or multi-day passes. However, the best and most convenient way to commute to the capital is by biking. If you don’t own a bike, you can rent one of the many available throughout the city.

Overall, public transport in Austria is reliable and safe.

Driving regulations

There is no better way to experience the stunning beauty of the Austrian landscape than driving. However, remember that many mountain roads are closed during the winter due to the heavy snowfall and from November to the middle of April, winter tires are mandatory. Main roads, of course, remain well-maintained all year round.

When using the motorways and ‘A’ roads, you must purchase Toll stickers, called Vignettes, which you can do upon entry at the border crossing and most petrol stations, post offices, and convenience stores.

After moving from the UK to Austria, you can use your UK driver’s licence for up to six months. After that, you will need to get an Austrian one. If you are importing a UK-registered vehicle, you may use it with foreign plate numbers for up to a month. You will have to register your car and pay a one-off fuel consumption tax. In Austria, third-party car insurance is mandatory, and this needs to be arranged with an insurance company before you can change your plates and car registration. Your insurer can advise you on the procedures and make the necessary arrangements.

You might be able to get your car registration tax refunded if your car is:

  • brought to Austria by the person, in whose name the vehicle is registered
  • brought to Austria by the hirer after the commercial hiring within the national territory had finished
  • brought or supplied by an authorised car trader

However, if you live in a city like Vienna, you can skip driving your own car and use public transport; it’s both more cost-effective and eco-friendly.

Education in Austria

Austria’s school system is free and public, and all children must go to school for at least nine years. Additionally, schools offer vocational-technical and university preparatory tracks that are one to four years long. 90% of the schools are publicly funded, while the rest are private and mainly run by the Roman Catholic Church. The latter has a reputation for a more disciplined and rigorous teaching approach. Also, there are private international schools where the lessons are taught in English, and the curriculum is similar to the one in the UK. Most of these schools are based in Vienna, and the tuition fees are higher. However, the facilities and standard of education are worth the cost.

After graduating from a high school or a vocational school by taking the Matura (matriculation exam), students are eligible to attend university, although some majors might require additional exams (e.g. medicine). In almost all cases, universities are state-funded. Currently, EU/EEA students are exempt from university tuition fees if they graduate in the minimum time for their respective degrees. In general, higher education is affordable and accessible to those who desire it.

Austria has a long and proud academic tradition. The University of Vienna was founded nearly 800 years ago, and some of its alumni are Sigmund Freud, Gregor Mendel, and Erwin Schrödinger.

As a student, you are allowed to work up to 20 hours per week to help cover living costs. Depending on the city you are in and the accommodation you rent, living expenses will vary. On average, however, you would need about 1,000 € per month.

Healthcare in Austria

Like any well-run country, Austria’s healthcare system operates smoothly and effectively. When registering for healthcare, you should pay contributions to a local social insurance organisation. Usually, your employer will automatically deduct health insurance contributions from your salary and make the payments on your behalf. You can also take out additional private health insurance. Then, you can enjoy flexible visiting hours, private hospital rooms, and the luxury of choosing your doctor.

Once you are insured, you will be issued an e-Card, which you must present when going to the doctor. If you are a pensioner or student insured in the UK, you can still use your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).

Final thoughts

If high-paying jobs, excellent quality of life, stunningly beautiful nature and good education are exactly what you are looking for, then moving to Austria from UK should be a no-brainer. Pack your bags and jump in!

As a professional moving company, we are here to assist you at every step of your relocation to Austria. Just contact us, and we will take care of all aspects of your move, ensuring a stress-free transition to your new home.

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