What are the property purchase rules in Austria?
The property purchase laws in Austria vary by Province (e.g. the rules in Vienna may be different to the rules in Salzburg or Tyrol). Some areas in Austria have stricter restrictions on foreign ownership than others, especially on second homes and business investments.
In terms of British Citizens, there are two sets of rules; one for those with an Article 50 residency permit and one for those without (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 vs EU-UK Trade & Co-operation Agreement). In general Austrian and other EU/EEAEEA The European Economic Area (EEA) consists of the 27 EU Member States as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. The United Kingdom is not part of the EEA. nationals have greater rights to purchase property and/or a more clearly defined process.
With Article 50 Residency
Vienna, Styria, Burgenland, Tyrol, Carinthia, Upper Austria, Vorarlberg and Lower Austria have confirmed to the British Embassy in Vienna (and others) that British Citizens who are in scope of the Withdrawal Agreement are to be treated like Austrian/EU citizens in terms of property purchase rights. The position in Salzburg Land remains unclear although some purchases for Hauptwohnitz do appear to have been successful.
The exact process that people need to follow is still being clarified in some of the provinces (especially true in Lower Austria) and currently may deviate from the process that Austrian/EU nationals follow (e.g. sometimes a Negativbestätigung is required in Vienna).
Notaries may not be completely familiar with the rights of Article 50 holders and so anyone experiencing difficulty may need to contact the British Embassy Consulate team for assistance. Vienna and Tyrol have documented the rights of Article 50 holders.
Without Article 50 Residency
Third Country Nationals (which now includes British Citizens) need to seek approval prior to buying a property in Austria. This approval process takes longer, costs more AND refusal is possible. It may involve multiple layers of authorisation including the Grundverkehrskommission (Foreigners Land Commission) and checking with the local Gemeinde (Community) whether they are happy for the transaction to proceed. The granting of authorisation is contingent on being in the public (in particular economic, social and cultural) interest.
Different rules may apply if married or in a Registered Partnership with an Austrian, EU/EEA national. Different rules may also apply to employees of “international” organisations.
Those planning to retire to Austria and buy property or a second home should seek professional advice from a local notary.
- General Process for Foreign nationals to buy property in Austria
- Living in Austria – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
- EU Notaries
- Tyrol Property Buying Law
Last Update: 21st January 2023