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BREXIT

What Britons in Austria need to know about exchanging UK driving licences

One of the many knock on effects of Brexit is that Britons who are resident around Europe will have to exchange their UK driving licences and it's the same in Austria.

What Britons in Austria need to know about exchanging UK driving licences
AFP

As well as having to apply for a new post-Brexit residency permit, Britons in Austria are also required to exchange their UK driving licence for one issued in Austria.

This requirement is the same for Brits living around the EU although the process is obviously different and the deadlines vary depending on which EU country they are in. 

June 2021?

The first thing to note is that you should have time to make the exchange.

Initially the deadline set for exchanging licences was December 31st 2020 to coincide with the end of the Brexit transition period.

But a draft law being pushed through by the Austrian government, which should come into effect in mid-December, will extend the deadline for applications to June 30th 2021.

In a recent Facebook Q&A the British embassy in Austria confirmed: “If you are resident in Austria, according to a draft update to Austrian law, you will have 6 months from 1st January to swap your driving licence.”

After this date the embassy warns the UK licences “will cease to be valid”. For anyone wishing to get an Austrian licence after this date, things get more complicated and they may have to take a driving test as is the case for some third-country nationals who fail to exchange their licence within 6 months.

But do I really need to exchange it?

This is a question mainly being asked by Brits who are not full time residents in Austria. Many spend part of the year in the country and the rest of the time in the UK.

Brexit is now forcing them to make a choice where they wish to be resident. From January onwards Brits will be treated like third-country nationals in EU states which mean they are subject to the 90-day rule. That means they can only spend 90 days out of every 180 in the Schengen zone.

So second home owners or those who usually spend a long period of time in Austria will have to decide whether or not to become resident and this has an impact on whether they need to exchange their UK driving licence for an Austrian one.

The British embassy says: “If you are legally resident in Austria it is important that you swap your UK licence for an Austrian one, or, according to a draft update to Austria's law, it will cease to be valid from 30th June 2021. Please be aware that if you spend more than six months in the year outside of Austria, this may affect your right to residence.”

In a response to a similar question the embassy said: “We recommend that, if you live in Austria you should swap your UK license for an Austrian one. Based on a draft update to Austrian law: if you live in Austria, your UK license will cease to be valid here from 30th June 2021 and you would have issues exchanging it after that point.”

And if you have another EU licence?

For those who have already exchanged their British licence for one from another EU country such as Germany the British embassy says: “If you have an licence from another EU country, you are not required to exchange your licence when you move within the EU. However, if you are, or intend to be, a long-term resident, it may be advisable to exchange your licence for an Austrian one.”

What about for those moving after December 31st?

The rules for Britons moving to Austria in the future, who won't be covered by the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement, have not been laid out.

But the Austrian government's rules for other non-EU nationals demand that anyone who has become a resident in Austria has six months from the moment they become resident in which to exchange their licence.

What do we know about the process?

Well it's likely the process is slightly different depending on the local authority you apply to (see below).

But according to the government these are documents you will need:

The Austrian government says that most driving licence authorities require the original documents plus copies.

If you are converting your British licence you'll need the following documents, but also be aware the local authority may also ask you to provide more.

  • Your passport
  • UK driving licence
  • Passport size photo (35 mm x 45 mm) of the owner 
  • Possibly a translation of driving licence 
  • Possibly Residence Registration Form [Bestätigung der Meldung] 

Who do you apply to?

The government says you must apply to your local driving licence authority.

That means:

  • In cities with Federal Police Headquarters it's the Federal Police Headquarters [Landespolizeidirektion]. 
  • In Vienna you should apply to the Motor Vehicle Department [Verkehrsamt].
  • In cities without Federal Police Headquarters or in Municipalities it's the district administrative authority [Bezirkshauptmannschaft]
  • In the statutory cities of Krems and Waidhofen/Ybbs: the Municipal Authority [Magistrat]
  • For the statutory city of Rust: the Federal Police Headquarters Burgenland[Landespolizeidirektion Burgenland]

The Austrian government says: “No matter what the reason for the conversion of an EEA or a European Union driving licence is, the authority must always send a request to the state which issued the driving licence in order to ensure that there are no reasons against the issuance of an Austrian driving licence. This request can take several weeks.”

How much does it cost?

According to the government the fee for exchanging the licence is €60.50 and for an “express production” you will pay an additional €18,94.

For more information on driving licence exchanges and other Brexit related questions you can visit the British in Austria website.

And for more details on the process you can visit the Austrian government's website.

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VIENNA

What makes Vienna the ‘most liveable city’ and where can it improve?

Vienna is once again at the top of the global liveability index, but what does it mean and where can Austria's capital still improve?

What makes Vienna the 'most liveable city' and where can it improve?

The Austrian capital city of Vienna made a comeback as the world’s most liveable city after it tumbled down to 34th place due to coronavirus pandemic restrictions.

Now, Vienna tops a ranking dominated by Western European cities, and it scores highly in nearly all criteria, including stability, healthcare, education, and infrastructure, according to a report by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).

READ ALSO: Vienna returns to top ranking as world’s ‘most liveable city

What does each of these points mean and in which areas is the city still not the best?

The liveability score is reached through category weights, each divided into subcategories. The indicators are then scored based on either judgement of “in-house expert geography analysts and a field correspondent based in each city” for qualitative variables.

In the case of quantitative variables, the rating is calculated based on the relative performance of a location using external data, such as information from the World Bank or Transparency International, for example.

Karlskirche, or St. Charles Church, in Vienna (Copyright: © WienTourismus/Christian Stemper)

Stability

Vienna got a 100 percent score in this category, which is measured based on several indicators. The EIU rating evaluated the prevalence of petty crime and of violent crime. It also looked into the threat of terrorism, military conflict, and civil unrest threats.

Healthcare

This was another category Austria’s capital aced – and an improvement from the pandemic years, when it lost points on healthcare.

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

The rating considers the availability and quality of both private and public healthcare. It also looks into the availability of over-the-counter drugs and general healthcare indicators provided by the World Bank.

Education

Vienna got a total of 100 points for this category, which considered the availability and quality of private education and looked into World Bank data on public education indicators.

Infrastructure

Another 100 percent for Austria’s capital which was found to have a good quality of road network, public transport, international links, energy provision, water provision and telecommunications. The ranking also considered the availability of good-quality housing.

Theater in Vienna (© WienTourismus/Paul Bauer)

Culture & Environment

This was the only category where Vienna did not get 100 points. Instead, it scored 96.3, which was still higher than many of the top ten cities. Vancouver, Canada, was the only city at the top of the ranking that got a 100. Melbourne and Amsterdam also fared slightly better than Vienna.

READ ALSO: ​​The downsides of Vienna you should be aware of before moving there

The category looks into humidity and temperature rating, the discomfort of climate for travellers, level of corruption, social or religious restrictions, level of censorship, sporting availability, cultural availability, food and drink, and consumer goods and services.

Among all of these indicators, only the humidity/temperature rating, which is adapted from average weather conditions, didn’t receive the highest grade.

What can Vienna do to get better?

Even in the indicators where the Austrian capital did well, there are always things to improve, especially concerning the risks to the quality of living that rising inflation and the Ukrainian war bring.

When it comes to weather, though the city cannot control when it rains or shines, there are many things it can do to improve living conditions on those scorching summer days or freezing winter evenings.

READ ALSO: ‘Cool streets’: How Vienna is preparing for climate change and heatwaves

As summer and heatwaves arrive, it is already looking to bring more green areas and avoid “heat islands” building up in the city centre. It also has built fog showers, drinking fountains and increased offers of “cool” areas where people can escape the extreme heat.

Also, looking to reduce the use of cars and make life better for residents, Vienna is betting on the “15-minute city” concept. This means that Austria’s capital is trying to make the essential everyday routes and destinations, including metro stations, reachable by a 15-minute walk.

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