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Living and working in Austria - What do you need to consider?

Residence of EU/EEA citizens and Swiss nationals

EU/EEA citizens and Swiss nationals do not need a residence permit to stay in Austria. They are exempt from the visa requirement and have permission to reside in Austria for a period of three months. If they decide to reside in Austria for a longer period of time, they only have to apply for a registration certificate.

EU/EEA citizens and Swiss nationals have the right to permanent residence in Austria after five years of legal and uninterrupted residence in the territory of the Federal Republic of Austria. In this case, a "document certifying permanent residence" is issued for them.

Self-employment for EU/EEA citizens in Austria

Whoever wants to emigrate as an EU/EEA citizen has unrestricted access to the Austrian labour market. These individuals have the right to move around freely in Austria within the context of the freedom of movement for workers and the freedom of establishment. For this reason, they are principally allowed to work on a self-employed basis provided they are in possession of a valid travel document (passport or the like).

Accordingly, foreign citizens are permitted to establish a company in Austria, assume the position of managing director and also acquire companies. Here you can find more information about foreigners starting a business in Austria.

Residence of third-country nationals

Third-country nationals (citizens of countries who are neither citizens of EU member states or who belong to the European Economic Area EEA) who want to reside in Austria for more than six months within a one-year period require a residence permit This residence permit is possible in the following forms:

  • Red-White-Red Card
  • Red-White-Red Card plus
  • Residence permit
  • "Residence permit for family members"

Third-country nationals do not have to possess a residence permit for stays of up to a maximum of six months but must apply for a visa. Stays of up to 90 days within a 180-day period are also possible for certain third-country nationals without a visa.

Self-employment for third-country nationals in Austria

With the Red-White-Red Card (RWR Card), Austria has introduced a transparent and flexible immigration system. The objective is to enable the targeted and permanent immigration of qualified employees from third countries and their family members to Austria in accordance with personal and labour market policy criteria.

The Red-White-Red Card is exclusively designed for citizens of non-EU member states. If you would like to pursue self-employment in Austria and belong to one of the following groups of people, you can receive the Red-White-Red Card:

  • Startup founders

The startup scene in Austria has been in the midst of a strong and continuously intensifying boom which has lasted for years. If you are a third-country national, you can apply for a Red-White-Red Card for startup founders if you:

  • establish a company in order to develop and launch on the market innovative products, services, processes or technologies,
  • submit a consistent business plan for this purpose in order to set up and operate the company,
  • personally exert a controlling influence on the management of the planned company,
  • provide evidence of the capital for the company to be founded amounting to a minimum of € 50,000, of which an equity share equals at least 50 percent and
  • you can score at least 50 points according to specified acceptance criteria.
  • Self-employed key workers

As a third-country national you can apply for a Red-White-Red Card for Self-employed Key Workers, if your self-employed occupation in Austria creates macroeconomic benefits going above and beyond its own operational benefit.
This is particularly the case if:

  • your intended occupation involves a sustained transfer of investment capital to Austria amounting to a minimum of € 100,000 or
  • your intended occupation creates new jobs or secures existing jobs in Austria or
  • your establishment involves the transfer of know-how or the introduction of new technologies or
  • your business is of considerable significance for the entire region

If you would like to be self-employed in Austria, we are available to you for a free, personal consultation.

Contact us

> Tip: Read our blog to find out how Vienna, the most liveable city in the world, attracts high potentials.

Employment and salaried employment of EU/EEA citizens and third-country nationals in Austria

More information on the topic of "Working in Austria" can be found at

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