Driving Licence

Do you still have a British driving licence but live in Austria?

The advice from the British Embassy and British in Austria is that you are required to swap your British licence for an Austrian one by 30 June 2021. If you hold a licence from another EU Member State, there is no need to exchange your licence. Since 1 January 2021, Austrian authorities have also been able to request that UK citizens, in line with other 3rd country nationals3rd country nationals Third country nationals are citizens of non-EU/EEA countries. Residency and naturalisation procedures for third country nationals are more complicated than for citizens of EU Member States or EEA signatory states. are required to have a medical when exchanging their licence. Foreigners resident in Austria have always been required to exchange their licence within six months of arrival in Austria. Further information can be found on the oesterreich.gv.at page about driving licences (licence must be swapped within 6 months of arriving in Austria; driving test required from many countries).

The medical (which costs around € 35) must be conducted by a doctor listed by the local police authorities, who are responsible for exchanging driving licences. Please note that the medical cannot be performed by your Hausarzt. It is a relatively rudimentary medical.

FAQs about motoring issues:

Why do I need to change my UK Driving Licence to an Austrian one?

If you are resident in Austria, you will need to exchange your UK driving licence for an Austrian one by 30 June 2021. Validity of licences with additional categories (e.g. for driving certain types of vehicle or pulling large trailers) that are issued in another EEA state will expire at the time stated on the driver’s licence, but no later than five years after transferring of residence.

Holders of British driving licences as at the end of the transition periodTransition Period The transition period (also referred to as the implementation period) is the period following the UK's departure from the European Union (on 31.01.2020) until the end of 2020. An option to extend this period has not been taken up by the UK government. (31.12.2020) had until 30 June 2021 to exchange their British driving licence for an Austrian one, if resident in Austria. Continuing to drive on a British licence under this circumstance is illegal and incurs heavy fines and may render insurance ineffective.
See also: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/living-in-austria#driving-in-austria

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Will British Citizens be able to use their UK driving licence in Austria?

The answer depends on whether you are resident in Austria or not (and of for employment in Austria you are likely to be required to be resident). Under Austrian law relating to driving licences, British citizens resident in Austria will need to exchange their licences by 30 June 2021. Family members joining you in Austria will have 6 months to exchange their licences after arrival.

British citizens residing in the UK, on the other hand, will be able to use their UK licence for trips to Austria (i.e. as tourists), but will be limited in terms of amount of time that can be spent in Austria to 90 days out of 180 days. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/visit-europe-1-january-2021)

Holders of British driving licences as at the end of the transition periodTransition Period The transition period (also referred to as the implementation period) is the period following the UK's departure from the European Union (on 31.01.2020) until the end of 2020. An option to extend this period has not been taken up by the UK government. (31.12.2020) had until 30 June 2021 to exchange their British driving licence for an Austrian one, if resident in Austria. Continuing to drive on a British licence under this circumstance is illegal and incurs heavy fines and may render insurance ineffective.
See also: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/living-in-austria#driving-in-austria

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Do UK driving licences exchanged in another EU Member State, need to be exchanged again?

UK driving licences, irrespective of the citizenship you hold, are required to be exchanged for an Austrian licence by 30.06.2021. In some cases people may have already exchanged their licence in another EU country, and subsequently moved to Austria with that (non-Austrian) EU licence.

Austria does not always permit exchange of EU licences that were themselves obtained by exchange from third country licences (for example, if your original driving licence was obtained in a country not accepted by Austria, but then converted to a Spanish licence, your Spanish licence may well not be accepted and you will have to take an Austrian driving test). In the case of holding a licence issued elsewhere, it is necessary to abide my the Austrian regulations for that country. Not all countries’ driving licences are listed as equivalent. (List of countries classed as equivalent can be found here (in German))

UK driving licences are required to be exchanged for an Austrian one within 6 months of arriving in Austria. Holders of licences issued in other jurisdictions must abide by Austrian regulations for that jurisdiction. Licences from other EU countries do not need to be exchanged when you move within the EU. However, if you are, or intend to be, a long-term resident, it may be advisable to exchange your licence for an Austrian one.

Holders of British driving licences as at the end of the transition periodTransition Period The transition period (also referred to as the implementation period) is the period following the UK's departure from the European Union (on 31.01.2020) until the end of 2020. An option to extend this period has not been taken up by the UK government. (31.12.2020) had until 30 June 2021 to exchange their British driving licence for an Austrian one, if resident in Austria. Continuing to drive on a British licence under this circumstance is illegal and incurs heavy fines and may render insurance ineffective.
See also: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/living-in-austria#driving-in-austria

Updates:

13.05.2021 – new deadline for exchanging driving licences (30.06.2021)

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Am I required to officially import a UK registered car if I bring it to Austria?

The short answer is “yes”, you have 1 month grace.

The ÖAMTC website has basically all the information you need about how to go about it.

A quick summary:

If your main residence is in Austria (and if you are on this site, it probably is), that is, you are not here on holiday or a business trip, you have one month from the date of the vehicle’s first entry into Austria to import and register the vehicle. Short trips abroad will not reset the clock. After that first month you must either import it or remove it from the country. This applies to any vehicle with foreign plates – even ones from another EU country. The authorities will assume (legally) that you car is here permanently, and the onus is on you to prove that it has been here less than a month.

To import your car you are required to register your car, pay a one-off fuel consumption tax called NoVANormverbrauchsabgabe The Normverbrauchsabgabe (NoVA) is a one-off fuel consumption tax to be paid at your local tax office when importing a car previously on foreign number plates. (NormverbrauchsabgabeNormverbrauchsabgabe The Normverbrauchsabgabe (NoVA) is a one-off fuel consumption tax to be paid at your local tax office when importing a car previously on foreign number plates.) at your local tax office and exchange your UK number plates for Austrian plates at your nearest vehicle registration office (Kfz-Zulassungsstelle). You are required to have valid motoring insurance in order to be able to exchange your number plates.

Potential consequences

  • A “VerwaltungsstrafeVerwaltungsstrafe A Verwaltungsstrafe is a fine issued by an administrative authority rather than a court in relation of (minor) breaches of legal provisions. Examples of offences include fail to register an imported vehicle within the required timeframe, failure to have the necessary residence documents etc.” (administrative fine) for not importing in time.
  • Your UK insurance coverage may be invalid, and you could be liable for a huge amount if you have an accident.
  • Fines and court process due to tax evasion (road tax, NoVA and VAT)

Legal basis (in German):

Kraftfahrgesetz 1967

Holders of British driving licences as at the end of the transition periodTransition Period The transition period (also referred to as the implementation period) is the period following the UK's departure from the European Union (on 31.01.2020) until the end of 2020. An option to extend this period has not been taken up by the UK government. (31.12.2020) had until 30 June 2021 to exchange their British driving licence for an Austrian one, if resident in Austria. Continuing to drive on a British licence under this circumstance is illegal and incurs heavy fines and may render insurance ineffective.
See also: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/living-in-austria#driving-in-austria

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I exchanged my British driving licence for an Austrian one. Do I need to get my British licence back to drive in the UK?

Just as you can drive on a British licence in Austria if visiting for a short visit (e.g. a holiday), you can also drive in the UK on your Austrian licence if visiting (Source: gov.uk Living in Austria).

If you move back to the UK, you can continue to drive on your EU Member State driving licence until the age of 70, but if you move back to the UK you will have to exchange licences when you turn 70. (Source: gov.uk Exchange a Foreign Driving Licence)

Holders of British driving licences as at the end of the transition periodTransition Period The transition period (also referred to as the implementation period) is the period following the UK's departure from the European Union (on 31.01.2020) until the end of 2020. An option to extend this period has not been taken up by the UK government. (31.12.2020) had until 30 June 2021 to exchange their British driving licence for an Austrian one, if resident in Austria. Continuing to drive on a British licence under this circumstance is illegal and incurs heavy fines and may render insurance ineffective.
See also: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/living-in-austria#driving-in-austria

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UK Driving Licences must be renewed when you turn 70, is this the case in Austria?

UK licences are required to be renewed when the holder turns 70, whereas an Austrian licence does not have a fixed expiry date. However, standard healthSozialministerium The Austrian Ministry of Social Affairs, Health, Care and Consumer Protection is responsible for the following fields: The health care system Initiatives for people with disabilities Consumer protection Public health and medical issues Care and support The rights of consumers and the protection of their health Senior citizens’ policy Social policy Social insurance checks apply to all ages when applying as a 3rd country national3rd country nationals Third country nationals are citizens of non-EU/EEA countries. Residency and naturalisation procedures for third country nationals are more complicated than for citizens of EU Member States or EEA signatory states. for an Austrian licence (since 1 January 2021, this has also applied to British citizens exchanging UK licences for an Austrian one).

Further information can be found about exchanging a UK licence for an Austrian one on the oesterreich.gv.at website at: –https://www.oesterreich.gv.at/en/themen/dokumente_und_recht/fuehrerschein/3/Seite.040500.html

Note: If your UK licence has expired or needs renewing you will require a certificate of entitlement from the UK DVLA in order to apply for an Austrian licence.

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Can I go to my own doctor for my medical for exchanging my driving licence?

No. You need to go to a Doctor who is on the list for where you are exchanging your licence other than your normal doctor. This is done on purpose to ensure that doctors are not placed under duress to sign someone off as fit to drive.

Lists of doctors can be found for the following regions:

Doctors on this list are officially mentioned as:

sachverständige Ärzte gem.§ 34 Abs.1 Z 2 Führerscheingesetz 1997

H/t to Hendrik Bower for these links.

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What legal consequences are there if you don’t exchange your UK driving licence?

What legal consequences exist if you don’t exchange your UK driving licence?

Anyone resident in Austria has six months from establishing residence to exchange their UK driving licences for Austrian ones. This applies to citizens of all nationalities.

This means that all UK citizens qualifying for the Art 50 EUVAufenthaltstitel "Artikel 50 EUV" The Aufenthaltstitel "Art 50 EUV" is a residency title to be issued to British citizens from the end of the transition period. Its name is derived from Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union. The "Titel" refers to the document or card itself, and not the right, or permission that it confirms. card must have exchanged their driving licence by 30 June 2021.

The ÖAMTC specifically states in its information:

If a vehicle is driven without a valid driving licence, liability insurance may in the event of a traffic accident reclaim any payments made to the victim up to € 11.000 from the driver and the owner of the vehicle. A non-EEA licence is invalid if the holder fails to exchange it for an Austrian licence within 6 months of becoming a resident. If the vehicle is lent to another person, the owner must make sure that the driver is in possession of a valid driving licence.

Source: ÖAMTC on NON-EEA DRIVING LICENCES IN AUSTRIA

The penal provisions of the Austrian Driving Licence Act stipulate a minimum fine of EUR 363 for driving with an invalid licence. This fine is comparable to that for driving when your licence has been taken away. (§37 para. 3 no. 1 FSG). Subsequent offences incur higher fines, or up to six weeks imprisonment, although such imprisonment is only used as a last resort to stop reoffending in the case of serial offending.

Further Information

ÖAMTC Information in English

Austrian Driving Licence Act (FSG; Führerscheingesetz) – in German

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If I buy a car and register a car in Austria, can I drive it in Britain without having to import it there?

You can usually use a vehicle with foreign number plates without registering or taxing it in the UK provided that all of the following conditions apply:

  • you’re visiting the UK and do not plan to live in the UK
  • the vehicle is registered and taxed/insured in Austria
  • the vehicle is only used for a total of up to 6 months in a 12 month period (i.e. as a single extended visit or several shorter visits over the course of 12 months)

Beware: You will need to register the vehicle if you want to move it between England, Scotland and Wales (the mainland) and Northern Ireland.

Information about importing a vehicle (GOV.UK)

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I have lost my Austrian driving licence. Is there a replacement fee for issuing a new card?

The standard charge for a replacement Austrian driving licence is EUR 49.50. There is an additional “express fee” of EUR 11.25 if you require a new card urgently.

Source: https://www.oesterreich.gv.at/themen/dokumente_und_recht/fuehrerschein/3/Seite.040200.html

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