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BANKING

What you need to know about opening a bank account in Austria

Opening a bank account is an essential task when moving to a new country. Here's how to open a bank account in Austria.

What you need to know about opening a bank account in Austria
Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

After all, you need to be able to get paid and access your money without paying international bank charges.

Thankfully, in Austria, it’s relatively easy and there are many options available, from long-standing traditional financial institutions to new digital banks.

Some banks even have accounts in English. This makes the process much easier for people that have recently moved to Austria and might not have strong German skills yet.

What documents are needed to open a bank account?

To open a bank account in Austria applicants need to show proof of identity – just like in most countries around the world. This is usually done with a passport. 

Next, banks want to see proof of residency, like a residency registration form or utility bills, and proof of employment, self-employment or student status.

Once the documents have been provided, the process of setting up an account is quick and new bank cards are usually received within a few days.

A less secure but probably cuter version of a bank account in Austria. Photo by Paweł Czerwiński on Unsplash

Traditional vs digital banks

Digital banking has been gaining in popularity in recent years, and it’s no different in Austria. Although some of the more traditional banks have been slower to adopt digital banking tools.

As a foreign resident, opening a bank account with a digital bank is usually the easier option. Especially for people with limited German language skills.

This is because the application form and identity verification can be completed online or via the bank’s app. Plus, in most cases, it can be done in English (or another language).

N26 Bank is a prime example of this. The bank has branches in several EU countries, which means their services can be accessed in English, German, French, Spanish and Italian.

For international customers, N26 also has a partnership with Wise (formerly TransferWise). This makes sending money overseas, or back home, even easier and cheaper.

Erste bank is another bank that is regularly recommended by international residents in Austria because accounts can be opened online and in English.

However, opening an account online is not for everyone. 

For people that prefer to visit a bank in person to open an account, a more traditional bank is probably the best option. And in most cases an appointment will have to be made in advance.

If you want to go down this route, it’s important to remember that Austria is a German-speaking country.

This means it can’t be guaranteed that people working at the bank will speak English – particularly in more rural areas. 

If you’re still learning German, or not feeling confident about opening an account in another language, it could be worth taking someone you trust with good German skills with you to the appointment. 

Having someone to translate can make the process much easier. And it means there is less chance of missing some important information that could impact your finances.

Just make sure to take all of the required identity documents with you to the appointment.

Opening a bank account as a non-resident in Austria

For non-residents in Austria, opening a bank account can be a bit more complicated. But it’s not impossible, and mostly depends on the bank you approach.

For example, Bank Austria offers a service for non-residents, with services for private customers, diplomats and those working for an international organisation in Austria.

Extra information about Austrian bank accounts

Many banks in Austria charge a monthly or annual fee to use their services.

There are some exceptions though, like N26 and DKB – a German bank that is also available for Austrian residents. Both banks offer free accounts regardless of how much (or how little) is deposited into an account each month.

Cash withdrawals at ATMs are mostly free in Austria. But if travelling overseas check with your bank to find out more about international withdrawal fees.

And finally, Austrian banks are covered by EU law, which means deposits up to €100,000 are protected.

Essential bank-related terms in German

  • Kostenlos/ Gratis – free
  • Gratiskonto – free account
  • Girokonto – current account
  • Weltweit – worldwide
  • Bankomatkarte – ATM card
  • Bargeld – cash
  • Bargeldabhebug – cash withdrawal

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For members

LIVING IN AUSTRIA

EXPLAINED: Everything you need to know about camping in Austria

Camping in Austria can be a lot of fun, but what are the rules? Here’s everything you need to know about setting up camp in the Alpine republic.

EXPLAINED: Everything you need to know about camping in Austria

Waking up beside a lake or surrounded by mountains is a dream Austrian holiday for many, but it’s important to know the rules about camping before heading off with a tent or campervan.

As the summer season approaches, here’s everything you need to know about camping in Austria.

Is wild camping legal in Austria?

Wild camping – setting up camp outside of a designated campsite – is generally illegal in Austria. This applies to both camping in a tent or sleeping in a van on the side of the road.

Exceptions to this rule do exist but usually only if the municipal authority grants a temporary exception, for example for a school trip or a youth club activity.

A bivouac (temporary camp without cover) is allowed in the event of bad weather or injury, but planned wild camping in the mountains is illegal. 

FOR MEMBERS: What are the rules for wild camping in Austria?

There are some regional differences though.

In the states of Salzburg, Vorarlberg and Styria there are no laws strictly forbidding camping outside of campsites, but local authorities can prohibit it and take action if necessary.

The strictest rules apply in national parks, nature reserves and special protection areas across Austria, so check before you plan your camping trip that your spot is not located in one of these areas.  

In most cases, if someone is caught camping illegally in Austria it is considered as an administrative offence and a fine can be issued, ranging from €5 to €500, depending on the location.

Camping in the forest

Camping in the forest is prohibited everywhere in Austria by law (specifically Section 33 of the Forest Act). The only exception is when you have the consent of the landowner.

Camping above the tree line

In Upper Austria and Styria you are allowed to camp in the mountains above the tree line, as long as you are outside of pasture areas.

In Vorarlberg this is also permitted, although the mayor of a municipality can prohibit the setting up of tents outside approved campsites if the interests of safety, health, agriculture or the protection of the natural balance as well as the landscape and townscape are “grossly violated”.

In Salzburg, camping above the tree line is in theory permitted, but the Alpine Association recommends groups wishing to camp should contact the nature conservation department of the responsible district administration before setting up. 

READ ALSO: How to explore the Austrian mountains in the summer like a local

Camping in a tent

Camping in a tent is the most common way of camping in the summer and most people pitch up on a dedicated campsite.

Many campgrounds have water and electricity facilities, as well as showers, cooking areas, recreation spaces and even kids clubs. Others have luxury elements like year-round heated pools, saunas, beach volleyball and restaurants.

Campsites are also often located near a lake or at the base of mountains, which means you can wake up to beautiful scenery every morning .

Some of Austria’s top camping associations include Camping Wien, Camping Steiermark and Top Camping Austria.

Camping in a van

Camping in a motorhome is only allowed at campsites in Austria and if someone is caught sleeping in a van in a prohibited area they can be fined.

The only exception is if a driver has to stop and recuperate before continuing driving.

Top camping tips

Austria is packed with stunning natural landscapes, so camping during the summer months is a popular activity – both for Austrian residents and tourists.

For this reason, it’s recommended to book ahead during the peak summer holiday months of July and August, whether planning to camp in a motorhome or tent.

Camping in motorhomes is also becoming more popular at some winter campsites during the ski season, so it’s always a good idea to book in advance.

Additionally, it’s advised to take bug spray when camping in Austria in the summer as insects like mosquitoes and ticks are common in countryside areas.

In fact, tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) – a viral infection transmitted by the bite of infected ticks – is endemic in Austria and it’s recommended to get vaccinated before going on a hiking or camping trip in the country.

The main affected areas for TBE are Tyrol and Upper Austria.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: What is Austria’s ‘tick vaccine’ and should you take it

Useful vocabulary

Campsite – Campingplätze

Tent – Zelt

Campervan – Reisemobil

Electricity – Strom

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