SHARE
COPY LINK

INTEGRATION

Why do so few foreigners become Austrian?

Austria - particularly the capital Vienna - has a high proportion of foreign residents. Why do so few become citizens?

Why do so few foreigners become Austrian?
AFP

With one in five people living in Austria foreign-born, the central European country has one of the highest percentages of foreign residents. 

Foreign population in Austria

Austria has one of the highest proportions of foreign residents in the EU. 

Approximately 19 percent of the total population are foreign-born

In the cosmopolitan capital of Vienna, almost a third of 1.9 million residents are non-Austrian nationals, estimates the Vienna city council. Around 250,000 of these came from the EU and 312,000 from non-EU countries. 

In total, approximately 40 percent of Vienna residents are foreign-born – but only a quarter of those have procured Austrian citizenship. 

How difficult is it to become an Austrian citizen?

Becoming a citizen in Austria is difficult. According to German news site Deutsche Welle “in the EU, Austria has the toughest route to citizenship”. 

The conditions for becoming an Austrian citizen have turned into a veritable obstacle course in recent decades, particularly under governments containing the anti-immigration far-right Freedom Party (FPOe), reports AFP. 

The income requirements alone would disqualify 60 percent of blue-collar female Austrian workers if they had to apply, reports AFP.

The fees to have one's application considered run to thousands of euros. A good level of German is required as well as at least ten years' residence.

In many cases, foreigners would be required to renounce their existing citizenship. 

Additionally, in some cases foreigners will have to engage in volunteer work to gain citizenship. 

Naturalisation takes a minimum of ten years in most cases.

And once living in Austria, foreigners hoping to become Austrian citizens will also be restricted for how long they will be allowed to leave the country during that first ten-year period – unless they want the clock to start over again. 

Pursuant to naturalisation rules, foreigners will need to keep 'uninterrupted legal residence' in Austria for ten years. 

Unlike the United States, Canada and a host of Central and South American countries, birth does not confer citizenship, because being born in Austria makes no difference at all, no matter how long one's family may have been settled in the country.

Will things change in the future? 

The SPOe, along with the Greens and the liberal NEOS party, have said they would be in favour of loosening the requirements. 

But the conservative People's Party (OeVP), the senior partner in the current governing coalition, is against this.

“Austrian citizenship is a precious asset,” OeVP Interior Minister Karl Nehammer said in a statement last year.

He said the current system promotes integration.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members

LIVING IN AUSTRIA

COMPARE: Which is the best mobile phone provider in Austria?

When moving to a new country, one of the first tasks is getting a new mobile phone contract to take advantage of local tariffs and avoid roaming charges. Here is what you need to know about the main companies in Austria.

COMPARE: Which is the best mobile phone provider in Austria?

If you are relocating to Austria, especially if coming from outside the European Union, one of the first steps is to get a local phone number (and data plan). In Austria, getting a new SIM card is relatively easy; there are almost no requirements (but you do need to show an ID, as there are no anonymous phone lines in Austria), and it could be very cheap to get a prepaid one, for example. 

For those looking for a contract, companies will ask you for a picture ID, proof of address (the Meldezettel in Austria) and your bank account details. 

In some cases, they might also ask for proof that you live legally in Austria, such as the Anmeldebescheiningung. And, even though every EU company should theoretically accept euro accounts in any country, reports that Austrian mobile operators sometimes refuse to accept accounts such as N26 (which does not have an Austrian IBAN) are common. 

READ ALSO: Reader question: Do I need to open a local bank account when moving to Austria?

Austria’s mobile communications market is extremely concentrated, which has been criticised for years. The leading providers are A1, Drei and Magenta (owned by Deutsche Telekom). Besides them, dozens of smaller operators rent out the “big three”‘s network – or are in fact low-cost brands owned by them.

The traditional ones

Research by OpenSignal pointed out that A1 has the fastest average download and upload speeds in Austria. However, Drei and Magenta have recently ” shortened the lead” of A1. As the three companies operate with 5G, the speeds are overall very fast and fluctuate depending on location and type. For example, Drei had the highest average 5G download speed in 2022, followed by Magenta. 

OpenSignal suggested that A1 users experienced the “most consistent quality of service”. The picture below shows the winner in each category evaluated by the researcher, including overall experience, 5G experience, coverage (Magenta wins in Availability and is a joint winner with A1 in the 5G and 5G range) and consistency. 

© Opensignal Limited

The companies also have coverage maps, which could be decisive for those looking for the highest internet speeds.

When it comes to money, the providers offer several packages. In Austria, they commonly divide tariffs between “Handys mit Vertrag”, meaning you buy the mobile phone and get the sim card with a contract or “Tarife ohne Handy”, which is a contract without a mobile phone attached to it.

There are also several different promotions and packages you can get when you are a young student or if you also sign up for their home internet service, for example. 

For a better comparison, we’ve chosen standard packages of tariffs without a cellphone – as many immigrants already arrive with their phones or may have other expenses in mind other than buying a new phone. 

READ ALSO: Tenant or landlord: Who pays which costs in Austria?

Price comparison

For A1, a plan with unlimited data adds up to €39.90/month for people who are not customers of the A1 Internet service. The plan offers speeds of up to 150Mbit/s download and 50Mbit/s upload and uses the 5G network. In comparison, for €14.90/month, people can get 12GB per month with download speeds of 40 Mbit/s and upload of 10 Mbit/s – without a 5G connection.

Currently, A1 has a special promotion and is giving anyone over the age of 26 double the amount of data. They are also waiving the €49.90 activation fee. 

You can find more information about tariffs without phone or minimum time on the Tarife ohne Handy page.

READ ALSO: REVEALED: Where to find free wifi in Austria

On Drei, there are also many options depending on promos or whether or not you are already a Drei client. For non-binding and no-phone sim cards, there are a few options. The only one that offers 5G network coverage is the Ideal SIM Unlimited, with unlimited data and speeds of  300Mbit/s (download) and 100Mbit/s (upload).

It costs €39.90/month and has an activation fee of €69.90 (which is currently and often reduced to €9.90). The plan also gives users 1GB to use in Switzerland, Turkey, the US and the UK.

However, for €11.90/month, you can get 8G of data with download speeds of 150 Mbit/s and upload speeds of 50 Mbit/s. You can find more information about tariffs without phones or minimum period contracts on the SIM Only Tarife page.

READ ALSO: Ten essential apps to download for living in Vienna

Finally, with Magenta, there are many offers (including promos for young people, seniors, and people who are already Magenta customers). An unlimited data package on the 5G network with speeds of 350Mbit/s (download) and 100 Mbit/s (upload) costs €35/month. The tariff includes 500MB of data in Switzerland, Serbia, Bosnia, Turkey, the US and Canada.

For €15/month, there is the Mobile Sim Only S option, which gives you 10GB of data and download speeds of 150 Mbit/s (upload at 50 Mbit/s). You also get 100mg of data in the countries mentioned above.

There is also an activation fee of €69.99 and a yearly fee of €33. 

Which provider works best for you? Photo by Jae Park on Unsplash

The low-cost options

There are several other options for those looking for cheaper alternatives. These mobile operators rent out the existing grid offered by the “big three”, so you can check what grid they use and see if the coverage is good in your area. 

The local supermarkets offer the most famous “cheap” plans, like Hofer (which has HOT), the Spar group with the S-Budget, Billa and Penny, which sell Yesss! And Lidl Connect. However, there are other options, including Spusu, which sells an easy and quick e-SIM prepaid option.

READ ALSO: 29 ways to save money in Austria (but still have fun)

For example, the “bestseller” HoT package includes 1,000 minutes or SMS and 30GB of data (of which 8.3GB you can use in other EU countries outside of Austria) for €9.90. In addition, you can add several “refills” and “boosters” according to your needs. HoT uses the network of both Magenta and Drei, depending on usage type.

You can find more information and the detailed coverage map for HoT HERE.

Spusu has several packages and some of the cheapest offers starting at €3.90/month (you get 1GB, 100 minutes and 100 SMS with this). For people who never use their phones to call anymore. There are also data-only tariffs. For example, you can pay € 4.90/month and get 7 GB of data. You can still use your phone, but there is a 4cent/minute charge.

You can find more information (but not a detailed coverage map) for Spusu HERE.

This is intended to be a general guide and reference – detailed prices, offers and even coverage change constantly. Check the current and specific details with the provider before making a final decision.

This article was updated on November 4th to clarify the relationship between A1, Drei, and Magenta and other companies in Austria.

SHOW COMMENTS