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What does Austria’s citizenship test involve?

To become an Austrian citizen, it’s compulsory to pass the citizenship test. But what does it involve?

What does Austria's citizenship test involve?
Photo: Alexander Klein/AFP

For many people taking the naturalisation route to Austrian citizenship, the test can be a daunting part of the process with lots of studying involved to pass.

But how hard is it? And what does it entail?

The Local spoke to people preparing for it to find out.

What is the citizenship test?

The Austrian citizenship test is an exam designed to demonstrate an applicant’s knowledge of Austria. It was introduced in 2006.

It covers the democratic system, the national history and regional facts relating to where an applicant lives.

The questions on the democratic system and history of Austria are prepared by a central committee and the regional questions are prepared by the respective provincial governments.

If a person fails the test, they can retake it until they pass.

READ ALSO: How much does it cost to become an Austrian citizen?

What does the exam involve?

The exam is in German and involves answering a series of multiple choice questions within two hours.

Raquel Macho, 52, from Solihull in the UK, lives in Leonding, Upper Austria, and will take the citizenship test at the end of April. 

She told The Local: “I have found it really interesting to learn about the history of Austria and Upper Austria and the democratic order of the country. Even my husband and kids who are Austrian have found some facts very interesting.

“There are 18 multiple choice questions in the test – six on the history of Austria, six on the democratic order and six on the history of your region.  

“In order to pass you need to achieve at least 12 points in total and fifty per cent of the required points for each group.”

The time and date of the tests are set by the provincial governments.

READ ALSO: What you need to know about getting Austrian citizenship

How do people study for the test?

Raquel is preparing for the exam on the Einbürgerung website – a platform dedicated to studying for the citizenship test.

Using the website involves selecting the region where you live and answering 18 random questions, which is useful to find out if there are any gaps in your knowledge.

Raquel said: “You have to get all the answers you choose on a question correct but sometimes there are up to three correct answers. 

“If you choose one answer which is correct and the second or third is incorrect then you lose the mark completely for that question. 

“So only choose the answers that you are absolutely sure are correct.”

Shan Aly, 32, from Pakistan, lives in Vienna and is also studying for the citizenship test, although he hasn’t booked a date for the exam yet. 

He told The Local: “There are lots of common sense questions to prepare for, as well as cultural topics to study.

“There is a lot of Austrian history to learn and even some Austrians I talk to are not aware of everything I am studying.

“It’s interesting to learn the history because it’s very different from the subcontinent where I’m from. We’re not taught about Austrian history in school there.”

So, are there any strange questions or topics to watch out for?

Raquel, from Solihull, said: “Not really – they are all valid questions and the answers should be known as a citizen of the country with everything covered from the monarchy, politics, wartime, the republic to EU membership.

“But the most fun one for me was the region where the Kaiser liked to spend his summers. 

“I’m not sure if it will be included in the official test but I have to agree with him that Salzkammergut is one of the most beautiful places in Upper Austria.”

Test your knowledge

Want to make a head start on studying for the Austrian citizenship test? 

Here are some sample questions from (originally in German but translated to English below).

  • What was the name given to the meeting of monarchs in Vienna between 1814 and 1815?
  • The United Nations Organization (UNO) was founded on June 26, 1945. Where is the UN headquarters?
  • What was the name of Austria’s first own constitution?
  • After the founding of the Republic of Austria, several crises followed. Which ones?
  • Who was the Foreign Minister of Austria when the State Treaty was signed?
  • What human right is violated by a forced marriage?

Fortunately, the Austrian citizenship test has a high pass rate – over 90 per cent. But it does require some studying to prepare.

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For members


‘Bring everything you have’: Key tips for dealing with Vienna’s immigration office MA 35

International residents of Vienna need the city's infamous MA 35, an immigration office known for delays and mistakes. However, there are some tips to make your visit more productive (and they don't necessarily involve moving away).

'Bring everything you have': Key tips for dealing with Vienna's immigration office MA 35

Austria is a country with a large proportion of immigrants and foreigners in its population. In fact, it continues to grow despite low birth rates because of the people moving to the Alpine country. In Vienna, the situation is even more pronounced, as the city has the highest share of international residents in the country.

Figures from the City of Vienna show that at the beginning of 2021, there were 805,039 foreigners living in the capital, which is almost 42 percent of the city’s population.

The office for immigration and citizenship in Vienna, known just as MA 35, is, for many immigrants, their first encounter with Austrian bureaucracy. Sooner or later, every foreigner living in the capital will pay a visit to the infamous MA35.

READ ALSO: ‘Insensitive and inefficient’: Your verdict on Vienna’s immigration office MA 35

The office has received plenty of criticism for long delays, mistakes and even mistreatment of those seeking services. Most recently, the long waiting times for citizenship applications have caused a stir, as The Local reported.

The Local readers have also shared their experiences, with a majority saying it was either “very poor” or “poor” and citing stories of delays, mistakes and rudeness. One respondent from Croatia had only one tip: “Move to another country”.

For them, the experience had been “terrible, delayed, without enough information”.

However, other readers have also shared their advice on how to have a better (or at least not so bad) experience with the MA 35. For example, one reader who chose to be anonymous said people should “keep your answers short and precise, so you don’t give the more reasons to doubt you”.

“Document everything and try and anticipate their needs, so you don’t go back and forth”, they added.

Another reader from Slovakia had short but valuable advice: “Come super early, plus you need small change for the copy machine.”

READ ALSO: Why is cash so important to Austrians?

Get prepared in advance

Julio C. Rimada Herrara, a Cuban who has lived in Vienna for three years, also has straightforward and useful advice: “Read in detail all the instructions and look for advice if needed”.

For many readers, the main thing was to get prepared in advance. Amra Brkic, from Bosnia, said: “prepare all documents and read all that is needed from documents”.

Another person, from Brazil, agreed: “Get all your documents filled and ready beforehand.”

They added there were still people filling out forms outside “even though you can print those from the web”. So, it’s good to know what you may need and sort it out before heading to the office.

Olga M., from Russia, believes there is no such thing as being overly prepared. She said: “Bring all the possible documents you have with you, even if nobody asked for them in advance”.

German is key

If there is one piece of advice that was repeated over and over by respondents of our survey, that was: to speak German. If only a little, to have a polite introduction, but better if fluently. And, if you are just not there yet, bring someone with you who does speak the language.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How to get free vouchers to learn German in Vienna

Vineet Deshpande, from India, said: “If you don’t speak German, take someone who speaks German with you for the appointment.”.

Marta, from Poland, was more direct: “Learn German. No, it is not a joke.”

The Austrian capital Vienna is home to a large number of immigrants. (Photo by Dan V on Unsplash)

Aida, from Bosnia and Herzegovina, said: “If language skills are not yet on a conversation level, bring someone who can help you translate”. She also mentioned that it could be beneficial to hear other people’s experiences over social media and prepare in advance by talking to people going through similar situations.

However, Brenda Osorio disagrees: “Every case is different, don’t listen to the people who advise you”.

“If you have a question and they don’t reply to you, go directly to ask. It is also our responsibility as immigrants to have our documents organised and to inform ourselves”, Brenda, who is Mexican, added.

Get professional assistance

For many people, the best idea is to hire a professional attorney specialising in migration law. That way, you ensure things are done on time and all documents comply with Austrian rules.

“A professional lawyer will advise the applicants on preparing a completed document for the MA35. By having completed documents, you will ease the job of the offices and so you will get your permit or citizenship easily,” said Kim Koay, who came from Malaysia and has lived in Vienna for around ten years.

“They will look through your document and, if everything is okay, approve their permit on the same day. I have experienced this myself”, she said.

READ ALSO: Visas to qualifications: How foreign residents in Europe can get help with paperwork problems

A reader from the United States who recently moved to Austria said: “Sadly, we only had a response when we worked with a relocation agent. If you can afford one, save yourself time and heartache by working with a reputable company.”

Jack French, from the UK, said: “Engage a lawyer – it is worth the cost to avoid totally endless delays and unreasonable demands.”

Time and persistance

Many readers also acknowledged that the office simply needs more time, especially since the Austrian capital has so many immigrants (and continues to receive more each day).

“Apply well before the expiry of your cards and keep asking them about the status of your application on a regular basis”, said one reader who stated they were from Asia.

austria passport

Those looking to apply for the Austrian citizenship also need to go to the MA 35 (© Amanda Previdelli / The Local)

When it comes to the appointment, Maddi Latimer, from Canada, had some advice that could help you avoid long lines and wasted time outside of the office: “make your appointment early in the morning in order not to get caught waiting due to backed up appointments”.

Stefan de Paula, who has lived in Austria for seven years but moved from Brazil, had a bleak but honest tip: “Get used to the lack of motivation of those people. It’s nothing personal with you; they just can’t do better.”

READ MORE: What measures against foreigners is Austria’s far-right trying to take?

Still, keep being persistent. Nicole, from the United States, said: “Call and email regularly – as much as you can and in German.”

For a reader in Serbia, kindness was the best tip: “learn at least to say hello, thank you and similar in German.

“Treat employees in MA kindly and try to explain why this procedure is really important for you (you don’t want to be separated from your partner as you just got married, an employer is really needing you to start soon…).”

If nothing else works, though, don’t forget that Austria is still a country that puts great value on titles. Pallavi Chatterjee, from India, experienced this first hand: “Pro-tip: share your academic degrees after your name on your email signature. I hate to admit it, but my two postgraduate degree titles after my name kinda helped.”

And remember, it’s not uncommon for them to make mistakes.

So, the advice from Michael Crean, who comes from Ireland, is also essential: “Do not simply accept the information or demands they give you. Check out other sources and get professional advice”.