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EXPLAINED: How to get Austrian citizenship or stay permanently in Austria

Austrian citizenship is known to be among the most difficult in the world to get, while residency involves lots of paperwork. Here’s what you need to know.

EXPLAINED: How to get Austrian citizenship or stay permanently in Austria
An Austrian passport. Photo: Wikicommons

The Local Austria has prepared this guide with all relevant information about getting Austrian citizenship and residency. 

Each of the following sections includes links to articles with more detailed information on Austrian citizenship. 

Moving to Austria 

Moving to Austria can be difficult or it can be easy – and it will largely depend on where you’re from. 

If you come from the Schengen area, your move to Austria will be much easier than someone from outside the bloc. 

The main challenge you will face in moving from a Schengen country to Austria – other than finding a job, meeting friends and understanding the nuances of Austrian dialect – will be registering your address. 

Obtaining a Meldezettel – loosely translated as an address registration certificate – is compulsory for anyone living in Austria.

More information on getting a Meldezettel is available at the following link. 

Meldezettel: Everything you need to know about Austria’s compulsory address registration

If you come from outside the Schengen zone, then things will be a little more difficult but not impossible. 

Known as ‘third country’ citizens, people from outside the EU will need certain permits to live and work in Austria. 

More information is available at the following link. 

EXPLAINED: How to live and work in Austria as a non-EU national

An Austria flag. Photo: Creative Commons/Mikekilo74

Naturalisation and citizenship

So, you’ve tackled the moving to Austria part, but now you want to get a little more cosy. 

Foreign nationals living in Austria long-term may face the choice between becoming a permanent resident or actually opting to become a citizen.

But what differences are there?

READ MORE: What’s the difference between permanent residency and citizenship in Austria?

Every year thousands of people apply to become an Austrian citizen.

Even though it is notoriously difficult to get and requires applicants to renounce their original citizenship.

Below is a guide to the pros and cons of obtaining Austrian citizenship. 

READ MORE: The pros and cons of obtaining Austrian citizenship

But if you’re interested – or at least curious – there is definitely a way of doing so. 

The following article lays out how you can apply – and who is therefore eligible. 

EXPLAINED: How to apply for Austrian citizenship

In order to become an Austrian citizen, you’ll need to take the citizenship test. 

The link below shows you what you can expect on an Austrian citizenship test. 

READ MORE: Would you pass an Austrian citizenship test?

Then of course there’s the cost factor, with Austrian citizenship known as one of the more expensive in Europe. 

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

At ten years’ continuous residence, Austria has one of the longest naturalisation processes of any European country, making it a slightly less attractive option for anyone looking for a shortcut to EU citizenship. 

This is a major reason why so few foreigners become Austrian, despite a high proportion of foreign residents. 

But what makes getting Austrian citizenship so strict? The following article gives an indication. 

READ MORE: What makes Austrian citizenship so hard to get?

Who is applying for Austrian citizenship?

In 2019, the number of people becoming an Austrian citizen increased by 12.2 per cent from 2018. But who is applying for Austrian citizenship? And where do they originally come from?

Figures from Statistics Austria show that former citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina make up the largest group of people, with 1,183 naturalisations last year. This was closely followed by former citizens of Serbia and Turkey.

Other figures show there is a gender difference in the number of EU citizens becoming Austrian. Data from 2014 to 2018 shows almost two thirds of EU naturalisations were by female applicants. But for third-country nationals, the gender division is almost equal.

The number of British people becoming Austrian has increased in recent years, particularly following the 2016 referendum vote for the UK to leave the EU.

In 2018, 44 former British citizens became Austrian and in 2019, the figure rose to 96.

This figure is minimal compared to neighbouring Germany though, where 14,600 Britons naturalised in 2019. 

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AUSTRIAN CITIZENSHIP

EXPLAINED: Who is entitled to Austrian citizenship by descent and how to apply for it?

Austria's nationality law is based on the principle of "jus sanguinis", with citizenship is given to sons and daughters of Austrian parents, but this can get tricky.

EXPLAINED: Who is entitled to Austrian citizenship by descent and how to apply for it?

As in many other European countries, Austria’s citizenship rules are based on blood (jus sanguinis). A child is considered Austrian if at least one of their parents is Austrian, irrespective of place of birth.

In theory, this should be a simple concept. But, in Austria, it can get tricky depending on the year a child was born, whether the mother or the father is an Austrian citizen and whether or not they were married at the time of birth.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How to get Austrian citizenship or stay permanently in Austria

Here is a simple guide to understanding how Austrian citizenship by descent works, who is entitled to it and how to apply.

Children born to married parents

A child that was born in wedlock, meaning that their parents were married at the time of birth, is entitled to Austrian citizenship by descent if at least one of the parents is an Austrian citizen at the time of the child’s birth.

However, children born before September 1983 are only entitled to Austrian citizenship if the father is Austrian. This is because, before a change in the law, the country considered that the woman would automatically “take” the citizenship of her married partner.

Things are the opposite for unmarried partners.

Children born to unmarried parents

A child that was born out of wedlock can obtain Austrian citizenship by descent if the mother is Austrian at the time of the birth.

Since August 2013, children born to unmarried parents can obtain Austrian citizenship if the father is Austrian, and an acknowledgement of paternity is made within eight weeks of the child’s birth.

In all cases where recognition of fatherhood or the determination by the court is done after his timeframe, children may be awarded Austrian citizenship by award in a simplified procedure. However, this means that the child will still have to go through specific requirements for naturalisation.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How to apply for Austrian citizenship

Adopted children

Children of adoptive parents can obtain citizenship through a simplified and accelerated award process up to 14.

When things get tricky(er)

Things get a little bit more complicated if a person is trying to acquire Austrian citizenship by descent from a distant ancestor.

This is because they will need to prove that every person in the “bloodline” is entitled to Austrian citizenship, following the rules and considering the year.

For very distant relatives, with many family members born before 1983, each person must have been born either to married parents with an Austrian father or unmarried parents with an Austrian mother.

A birth, marriage, and death certificate (when available) will have to be shown for each relative in the Austrian bloodline. Additionally, the State will require proof that none of the persons has renounced Austrian citizenship before the birth of a son or daughter.

READ ALSO: How foreigners can get fast-track citizenship in Austria

Finally, there is an issue of whether the ancestor really was Austrian at all.

Between 1867 and 1918, Vienna was one of the capitals of an immense empire, the Dual Monarchy of the Austro-Hungarian empire.

The territory extended through what is now Austria and Hungary but also Slovenia, the Czech Republic, parts of Italy, Croatia, Serbia, parts of Poland, Romania, Ukraine, and Montenegro.

After the First World War, the Austro-Hungarian empire was dissolved. But, then, not all people who first considered themselves Austrians still kept Austrian citizenship. Thus, it is not uncommon for families that believe a grandfather came from Austria to find out they actually were Romanian or Polish, for example.

austria flag austrian flag austria

Austrian flag: who is entitled to citizenship by descent? (Photo by Sandra Grünewald on Unsplash)

How to apply for it?

If you are entitled to Austrian citizenship by descent, there are several ways to apply for it, depending on your residency. For people who live outside of Austria, the Embassy or consulate is the place to go.

For those who live in Austria, the provincial government’s office is where you can get more information and submit the documents.

Exceptions and different rules

In 2020, the Austrian federal government introduced an amendment to the Austrian Citizenship Act also to allow descendants of victims to apply for dual citizenship and become citizens in a simplified process.

All former Austrian citizens who were forced to leave before 15th May 1955 can apply for dual citizenship. This includes citizens of successor states of the former Austro-Hungarian Monarchy who were residents in Austria.

READ ALSO: How descendants of victims of Nazism can apply for Austrian citizenship

The law extends to their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, including those that were adopted as a child.

Dual citizenship

In general, Austria does not allow for dual citizenship. Therefore, when people naturalise Austrian, one requirement is to renounce other citizenships.

READ ALSO: Austrian citizenship: Do you really have to renounce your original nationality?

However, people who acquire citizenship by descent do not have to renounce other citizenship. If, in the case of parents of different nationalities, the country of citizenship of the non-Austrian parent also foresees a jus sanguinis (citizenship “by blood” like Austria), the child will have dual citizenship.

According to Austrian law, the child does not have to decide between Austrian and the other nationality upon becoming an adult – the other State might require such a decision.

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