Moving from the UK to Austria

Question

What do I need to consider when moving my main residence from the UK to Austria?

Answer

What follows is an overview of the things that you need to consider when moving your main residence from the UK to Austria. The information has been put together from personal experience and feedback in our Facebook groups.

Residence Permit

Unless you are Austrian you will need a residence permit to live in Austria. If you have a second nationality from an EU Member State, you may wish to consider using that nationality for establishing residence in Austria.

If you only have British Citizenship, then in the majority of cases you will first need an Austrian employer. For those looking to retire here, there are now strict annual quotas.

Tell UK Authorities & Government Bodies

When moving abroad you need to inform the relevant UK authorities. This includes:

  • Local Council
  • HMRC
  • Benefits
  • Pensions
  • Student Loans
  • Child Benefit Office

After arrival, don’t forget to register on the Overseas Voters Register too!

Note: It is a lot easier to sign up to HMRC Online Services whilst you are in the UK.

Customs Formalities

As the UK is no longer in the EU (Brexit), customs formalities will need to be followed when bringing items into Austria. There is a 12-month exemption on duty and tax on personal belongings when moving your main residence, but after that date, no such exemption applies! Paperwork still needs to be completed though (see link below).

Note: Different rules may apply for those coming from Northern Ireland.

Legal Considerations

ACRO Police Certificate

In some cases, an ACRO Police Certificate  may be required for a Visa/residence permit; in addition some employers may also require it. It proves you are a good upstanding citizen! Be aware that this certificate only has a limited validity.

Lasting Power of Attorney

It may be worth setting up a lasting power of attorney in the UK before you leave. This is especially important if you have elderly relatives as setting it up from Austria is likely to be more difficult. Scotland does appear to recognise a foreign Lasting Power of Attorney however England and Wales and Northern Ireland do not.

Legalising Documents

It may be worth legalising a number of documents before you leave. This is sometimes called getting an apostille certificate. This is useful for such things as birth certificates, marriage certificates etc. It is also worth getting certified copies of these documents. The UK Government offers a legalisation service.

Rechtsschutzversicherung

We have produced a seperate article covering Legal Support and Advice. Newcomers to Austria are recommended to take out Legal Protection Insurance (Rechtsschutzversicherung) as you never know when you will need it and once an issue happens it is too late to take it out afterwards!

Healthcare

Healthcare in Austria is insurance based, if you are not working you will need to take out 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 insurance (OeGK Self Insurance in 2024 is EUR 495,58 per month).

The NHS in the UK is residence based, so please remember that if you are no longer resident in the UK, you are no longer entitled to NHS care in the UK. Your UK EHIC/GHIC card may also no longer be valid and it will take you 12 months to get an Austrian one.

Before you depart, you would be advised to contact your UK GP practice to inform them you are leaving. You should get a Summary Record from them of all your prescription medicines and ideally your vaccination record (especially COVID vaccinations). Your medical record is increasingly being made online by the NHS and you should investigate gaining access to this. Any detailed consultant notes should also be requested.

There’s further advice below from the NHS about moving abroad.

As Austrian healthcare is insurance based, you may also be advised to make sure your UK national insurance record is up to date (check national insurance record). If you are not working, OeGK (state healthcare provider)  may want proof of UK NI contributions (CA3916) and a letter to say the NHS is no longer responsible for your care (Legislation Letter). Be advised that it may take many months to get CA3916, sometimes OeGK accept the abbreviated online summary. It is also probably worthwhile ticking the box for U1 at the same time when requesting CA3916.

Registering with an Austrian GP is a good idea (you will need insurance first) especially if you are on prescription medicines. You should also take the opportunity to get your Covid vaccinations recorded on the Austrian Impfpass system (you will need an e-card for this).

When in Austria it is also advisable to book a “Vorsorgeuntersuchung” (preventative check-up) with your GP which you can get annually. It is a lot more thorough than the usual UK one which is offered to over 50s.

There’s more information on this link about what health insurance policies are approved for residency purposes.

Dentist

Austrian dentists are expensive, if you need dental treatment consider getting it done in the UK before you leave. Some Austrian residents seek treatment in the neighbouring EU countries.

Opticians & Glasses

Opticians and glasses are expensive in Austria so you would be advised to see a UK optician and get some spare pairs of glasses before leaving.

Either way a copy of your prescription would be useful.

Over the counter medicines

Some medicines which are readily available in supermarkets in the UK such as paracetamol, ibuprofen and antihistamine are only available in pharmacists in Austria and are considerably more expensive. It is worth stocking up before you leave. Special care does need to be taken when bringing prescriptions medicines into Austria.

Learning the language

The official language of Austria is German and while some parts of the public administration may provide information in English as a courtesy, it cannot be assumed that all civil servants will have a firm grasp of English, or may choose not to speak English for official appointments. Many official communications will only be available in German, although there might be English information on oesterreich.gv.at – the Austrian equivalent of gov.uk.

Particularly in rural communities, speaking some German will be distinctly advantageous – although some neighbours may prefer to practice their English with you! If you don’t speak or understand German, machine translation may be helpful to obtain a gist of the meaning. (Further information about the issue of translation can be found here).

Check out courses and language learning apps for obtaining some basic survival German when you start considering moving to Austria.

Post

Don’t forget to set up Royal Mail re-direct on your post. You will need this for both personal and business purposes. Royal Mail will re-direct to a UK address or an Austrian address (extra cost). International Business mail re-direction is expensive!

In addition advise your UK relatives of the new rules regarding posting gifts and care packages to Austria.

Schools

It is unlikely you will be given a school place until you are resident with a MeldezettelMeldezettel Austria requires everyone living in Austria (both Austrians and foreigners) to register their place(s) of residence with the local authorities. The confirmation of this registration is called a Meldebestätigung (EN: confirmation of registration), although it is still affectionately known to many by its former name (the Meldezettel). This is done at your Meldeamt in the Gemeinde or Bezirk you live in. You are required to do your registration within three days of arrival. It is important to do this also because your qualification for permanent residence starts to run from the point of your registration..

This Guide from the English Speakers in Austria team might be useful.

TV in Austria

TV in Austria is predominantly in German. It would be advisable to buy an Amazon Firestick, Chromecast with Google TV or a similar device in the UK and download all the appropriate apps before departing (e.g. iPlayer, ITV X, All 4, NOWTV, etc). A suitable VPN may be required in Austria. UK to EU Power converters will be required in Austria.

From 1st January 2024 the GIS licence fee has now been replaced by the ORF Beitrag (ORF Contribution). Every main residence now needs to pay, regardless of whether they have a TV or not . Costs are province specific, are a lot more expensive than the UK TV licence fee and it is strictly enforced.

Note: Some services such as Sky/Sky-X, Amazon Prime DE do have dual language on some programmes but they do not have the full UK selection; this is especially true on Sport.

UK Banks & Other Financial Institutions

If you want to maintain a UK bank account, please check with them that they are happy to support you in Austria.  Some UK banks have been closing accounts of customers based in Austria and you will also find it very difficult to open a new UK bank account when resident in Austria.

The Banks that seem OK are (Lloyds, Nationwide, HSBC, Santander, RBS, Clydesdale/Virgin). Wise and Revolut are also OK, but they are not currently registered as UK banks (no FSCS compensation) but they do offer competitive rates on currency conversion.

Banks that are known to have issues are Barclays, Natwest, Starling, Chase. Some other financial institutions such as Barclays stockbrokers have also been closing accounts. Please allow lots of time and check with all your financial institutions BEFORE you leave.

Note: At some point your UK Financial institutions will also want your Austrian tax identification number. This is available from Finanzonline (you need to register) and is your Steuernummer (TIN) and is likely to be of the format NN NNN/NNN.

UK Foodstuff

Some items are easier to get in the UK than in Austria. This could include British tea brands (especially decaf), certain spices, flavoured crisps. It is good to bring some home comforts with you, but importing meat and/or dairy products is illegal.

UK Mobile & Roaming

If you plan to use a UK mobile for a long period in Austria, check that EU roaming is included in your tariff. Virgin Mobile/O2 customers should be OK as well as Giffgaff/Tesco Mobile but you may be subject to fair usage caps. However, some of the others may be problematic and you may want to look at switching beforehand.

Tip: A mobile in Austria is called a Handy!

Qualifications from the UK

Do not assume that your UK degree and UK professional qualifications will be automatically recognised in Austria. Following Brexit, things are now a lot more complex as the EU Directive on the recognition of professional qualifications, no longer applies and you may need to get your qualifications validated as equivalent. More details on the Competency Assessment are on the Working in Austria site.

In addition, there is currently no obligation on EU countries to admit British Nationals to mandatory training courses required for certain professions. In 2023 there was an issue with the mandatory CTT (Common Training Test) required for Ski Instructors in Austria. This is primarily only available for those with an Article 50 card, Long Term Resident card or EU nationals.

Self Employment

Self Employment in Austria is a LOT more highly regulated than the UK with different categories, (Neue Selbständige, Freie/ Reglementierte Gewerbe, Freiberufle, Freie Dienstnehmer) with different requirements and potentially different licensing requirements. Just because you have a business licence to carry out one activity, doesn’t mean you can carry out another type of activity. There is more detail on the Self Employed in Austria site

Residency permits specifically for Self Employed Activities can also be highly restrictive with conditions see here for more details.

In addition please check before carrying out any form of “freelance” activity.

Unemployment Benefits

You will not be able to claim unemployment benefits in Austria unless you can prove you have previously paid Insurance contributions for a minimum period. You can use UK NI contributions to help you qualify and you will need form U1 from the UK to do that.

The advice from the HMRC Community forum is that:

You can get a statement of your National Insurance contributions here:

Get a statement of your National Insurance contributions (CA3916)

When you complete the CA3916 form, you should tick the box to say you want a U1 Statement. You should also answer ‘yes’ to the question ‘Are you applying for a statement of NI contributions to claim unemployment benefit abroad?’”

EU Nationals

For EU nationals moving from the UK you need to be aware of the absence rules related to the UK’s EU Settlement SchemeEUSS The EU Settlement Scheme is the scheme under which citizens of EU Member States as well as citizens of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland are able to apply to continue living in the UK following the UK's leaving the European Union. (UK implementation of Withdrawal AgreementWithdrawal Agreement The Withdrawal Agreement sets out the terms of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU and provides for a deal on citizens’ rights. It sets out a transition period which lasts until 31 December 2020. During this time you can continue to live, work and study in the EU broadly as you did before 31 January 2020.   If you are resident in Austria at the end of the transition period, you will be covered by the Withdrawal Agreement, and your rights will be protected for as long as you remain resident in Austria.   Any rights that are not covered by the Withdrawal Agreement will be the subject of future negotiations.   https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/new-withdrawal-agreement-and-political-declaration  ); especially those with pre-settled status. The 3Million is a useful source of information. In addition, please ensure the UK Home Office always has your up to date passport information.

In addition, please remember that if you have an EU national spouse and they lose their UK Settled Status they will be subject to the Minimum Income Requirements if they want to return to the UK for good. From 11th April 2024 the figure is £29,000 and is due to rise to £38,700 by early 2025.

Children

Just be aware that most of the family re-unification rules only apply to minors (children under 18). In most cases, once a child reaches 18, they will come under the adult rules and need to apply independently of the parents (e.g. Student Residence Permit, Sponsored Employment).

Pets

It is important to note that the rules around pet ownership in Austria may differ from the UK. In particular, a lot of the laws are provincial. Some provinces (e.g. Lower Austria) actually require the dog owners to attend mandatory courses and dog muzzles are mandatory public transport (exception assistance dogs). There is a good overview on this guide.

When you arrive in Austria…

When in Austria you must register with your Meldezettel within 3 days of your formal arrival. Be careful booking touristic accommodation such as Airbnb as not every property allows you to register for a Meldezettel and this may cause you issues (e.g. delays with residence permits)

Warning: Avoid a very, very expensive error by familiarising yourself with the Austrian Church Tax BEFORE registering any religious affiliations.

  • A UK vehicle needs to be registered within 1 month of arrival.
  • UK driving licences must be exchanged within 6 months of arrival and you will need a medical. You may need additional tests for certain categories (eg.. HGV, PSV).

You DO NOT need to register with the UK Embassy in Vienna.


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