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EXPLAINED: What is Austria’s Handy-Signatur and how does it work?

EXPLAINED: What is Austria's Handy-Signatur and how does it work?
What is Austria's Handy-Signatur and what does it allow you to do? Photo by freestocks on Unsplash
With the recent roll-out of the Green Pass, the Handy-Signatur has become an essential digital tool. But what is it and how does it work?

Before the pandemic, many people in Austria didn’t know what the Handy-Signatur (mobile phone signature) was.

But with the introduction of the Covid-19 Green Pass, which requires the Handy-Signatur, and the ongoing roll-out of digital services in Austria, it’s quickly becoming useful.

Here’s what you need to know about the Handy-Signatur and how to get it.

What is a Handy-Signatur?

Austria might have been slow to embrace digital technology, but the gap is now closing with the Handy-Signatur which turns your phone into a virtual ID card. 

The Handy-Signatur is connected to your mobile phone number and allows you to legally sign official documents without having to print them out and sign them by hand.

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It operates through the Handy-Signatur app and can be used for accessing and signing digital documents issued by authorities, such as at FinanzOnline.

How to get a Handy-Signatur in Austria

A prerequisite for the Handy-Signatur is an Austrian or German mobile phone number.

The Austrian government website states there are exceptions to this rule, but there are no further details about it. 

This means, in most cases, mobile phone numbers without the +43 or +49 international dialling codes currently can’t access and use the Handy-Signatur.

For those with an accepted phone number, there are three ways to register and activate the Handy-Signatur.

First, registration can take place at a registration authority or tax office anywhere in Austria. A full list of locations can be found here.

Or you can register at FinanzOnline by selecting ‘Bürgerkarte/Handy-Signatur aktivieren’ from the menu. You will need FinanzOnline login details for this.

After registration, a letter with an activation code will be sent out by post, which typically takes a few working days.

Finally, a Handy-Signatur can also be activated at Österreichische Post, but you will have to register for an account first.

For more information, visit handy-signatur.at – although the website is only available in German.

What can I do with a Handy-Signatur?

According to the Federal Ministry Republic of Austria for European and International Affairs (BMEIA), with a Handy-Signatur users can sign official documents and conduct transactions with public authorities. 

Examples of transactions include being added to the voter’s register, applying for an absentee voting ballot, filing a tax return or applying for a pension.

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It’s a sign of the digital transformation sweeping through Austrian bureaucracy right now, which is expected to continue in the coming years.

Authorities that are connected to the Handy-Signatur include the Bundesministerium Finanzen (Tax Office) and the electronic health record (ELGA) for the e-medication list used by doctors and pharmacies.

What if I can’t get a Handy-Signatur?

For many people right now, the primary reason for getting a Handy-Signatur is to use the Green Pass.

The Green Pass is Austria’s Covid-19 health pass, similar to the EU-wide digital scheme, and allows access to places like bars and restaurants in accordance with the 3Gs (tested, vaccinated or recovered).

However, for people without an Austrian or German mobile phone number, like some international residents and cross-border workers, getting a Handy-Signatur is tricky.

But there is a solution in Vienna for the Green Pass.

In Vienna, people can now use the city’s Homecare app instead of the Green Pass to show proof of 3G.

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If you have been tested, vaccinated or received documentary evidence of your recovery in Vienna, you will be able to access the app with your 12-digit pin. 

Recovered and vaccinated persons should be automatically notified by SMS once their vaccination certificate is available.

You can then use the link from the SMS and your 12-digit PIN to call up the vaccination certificate. In selected testing centres, proof of recovery and proof of vaccination can be picked up as printouts.

More information is available at the following link


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