Remote Working & Digital Nomads

Can I work remotely for a UK Company, either on holiday, on a business trip or being resident in Austria?
As a British Citizen can I work remotely for a UK Company, either on holiday, on a business trip or being resident in Austria?

Last Update: 7th January 2023 

Introduction

During the Covid Pandemic it has been proven that lots of people can technically work remotely. Some are keen to move abroad, enjoy this nomadic lifestyle and avoid the long daily commute to the office. Some even look at doing this in Austria, which usually comes high on the quality-of-life surveys.

Sometimes this is referred to as being a Digital Nomad.

The sections below provide an overview of what you can and cannot do, based on our current understanding (usual disclaimers apply).

Tourists

There are lots of countries around the World that have a dedicated Digital Nomad Visa (see below) but Austria is NOT one of them. The advice we have received is that it would be illegal for you to work here on a tourist Visa or Schengen Visa exemption. We have received confirmation from the Austrian Embassy in London on this aspect and received advice from Your Europe Advice.

Admittedly it would appear that there is a light touch on enforcement regarding this issue, however it has been enforced in other countries around the world and that does not make it OK. Disrepecting a country and it’s laws could cause issues.

Business Travel

Due to provisions within the EU-UK Trade and Co-operation Agreement it should be possible to carry out certain business-related activities in Austria without the need for a visa. Activities include negotiating business deals including sales, purchasing and commercial transactions; exploring business leads; attending training seminars etc. Please note that there are some specific restrictions on this and it would be aimed at Austrian/EU clients; not supporting clients all over the world. The usual 90/180 day Schengen rules apply.

Special Note: Austria requires a work permit for Market Research!

Residents

For residents this topic is quite complex and whether you can continue working directly for a UK Company is debatable! Some exemptions exist for Diplomats etc!

Employee secondments are possible to an Austrian entity, but typically only for a limited period (max 24 months) and typically these require a dedicated seconded employee residency permit.

The standard residency permits such as the Red-White-Red-Card or EU-Blue Card require an Austrian sponsor and so working remotely for a UK Company would NOT be permitted.

In order to work remotely in Austria for a UK based Company, you would need to have unrestricted access to the Austrian labour market and/or the right to work self-employed here; typically, this would also involve working through an Austrian entity. Examples of residency permits that might allow this are the EU Family member (Aufenthaltskarte)Red-White-Red-Card PlusSelf Employed Key Workers (which has a very strict criteria) and of course an Artikel 50Aufenthaltstitel "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. residency permit.

If you are resident in Austria, you CANNOT just work remotely for a UK company; you need to have an Austrian approved 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 policy, pay taxes and social security payments in Austria.  It is strongly recommended that you seek professional advice from someone who specialises in legal matters and tax matters (some links below).  There is also a Facebook Group for Self Employed in Austria, which is a useful source of information.

Most schemes involve working through an intermediary (employer of record) or a local branch office. Typically, you are employed or self-employed in Austria and not directly by the UK employer. These schemes come with an associated cost; there are no cheap solutions!

It is not impossible for Companies to base employees in Austria working remotely, but they should not underestimate the cost and the complexities involved to do this legally.

The following information may be useful:

Austria, in many legal situations applies the principle of responsibility by territory: If an activity happens on Austrian soil (e.g., somebody physically working in Austria) then that activity is subject to Austrian laws. It does not matter whether it is happening from an office, a ski apartment, across a conference table or via the internet and it doesn’t matter where the clients are based.

Special thanks to the Vienna Business Agency, Business Immigration Office

Other Considerations

There are several considerations around working remotely, this is not an exhaustive list.

  • Immigration law: do you have a right to work in the overseas country under their immigration laws, and do you need a visa to do so?
  • Employment law: Are you or your employer in scope of Austrian labour laws because of your working overseas?
  • Social Security law: Which set of social security laws prevail and what are the implications?
  • Data protection: Do you handle client data, and if you propose to do this in Austria, are you covered under your employer’s data privacy policy (e.g. do EU GDPR rules apply or UK GDPR or something else)?
  • Trade Licenses: For the self-employed and freelancers are there potential trade license issues / “Gewerberecht”, or limitations on the right to offer your services here in general?
  • Employer liability: Are you covered for the work carried out overseas under any public liability insurance your employer may have? Same applies to any Professional Indemnity Insurance.
  • Health and safety: Your employer has certain legal responsibilities regarding your health and safety. If you are working remotely in Austria, which Health and Safety legislation applies? 
  • Travel Insurance: Does this cover you and your equipment for carrying out Business activities overseas?
  • Residency Permits: The conditions of your residency permit need to be maintained and that includes maintaining approved Health Insurance in Austria. If you are resident here, you need to pay taxes here. 

Summary

Do not assume you can just work remotely in Austria, seek professional advice and do it early! Always respect the laws of the country that you are in.

Note: We do not recommend any specific tax consultant, advisor or service. The companies listed have been referenced in Austrian Facebook groups or have been provided by trusted Third Parties.

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