The Article 50 card is available to British citizens who were legally resident in Austria before December 31st, 2021.
Some Brits may have EU citizenship, either in Austria or another country in the bloc.
What do you get with EU citizenship?
The main advantage of EU citizenship is freedom of movement throughout the bloc, something that is not possible with the Article 50 Card.
For example, if you or your partner got a job offer in another EU country or wanted to move for other reasons, you can move under EU freedom of movement rather than needing to go through the process for third country nationals which is now necessary for Brits, including those with the Article 50 card.
EU citizenship is also permanent — you keep it unless you decide to actively renounce it, unlike the rights granted with the Article 50 card which you lose if you are away from Austria for a certain number of years.
And EU citizenship gives you the right to vote in EU and local elections (as well as Austrian elections, if you have Austrian citizenship).
Becki Enright, a freelance journalist and travel writer from Berkshire in the UK, has been living in Vienna for five years and recently became an Irish citizen through ancestry. She has changed her residency status in Austria to an Irish passport holder instead of applying for an Article 50 Card.
Becki told The Local: “I didn’t want to go through the process of applying for the Article 50 Card, even though you can leave the country for a greater length of time with the ten-year card.”
British-EU citizens who do not want to get the Article 50 card will need to change the nationality they are registered with Austrian authorities under. If you originally registered as a British citizen, you will need to contact your local Magistrat or MA 35 in Vienna to change your documentation to show your EU nationality.
Becki said this was “not a pleasant experience” due to having to show extensive proof of income and savings.
What do you get with the Article 50 Card?
As part of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement, British people that were living in Austria before the end of the transition period on 31st December 2020 can apply for the Article 50 Card to retain their residency rights.
In most cases, the application process is quick and simple, although some people in Vienna are experiencing long delays, as reported by The Local.
There are also two types of Article 50 Card – a five-year and a ten-year card.
People that have lived in Austria for less than five years are granted a five-year card, but those that have been in the country for more than five years are given the ten-year card. If you are granted the five-year card initially, you can upgrade to the ten-year card once you have lived in Austria for five continuous years.
A big difference between the two is the length of time that a card holder can leave Austria without losing residency.
With the five-year card, a resident can leave Austria for up to six months each year without jeopardising their status. However, the ten-year allows people to leave the country for up to five years and retain permanent residency.
For example, EU citizens that live in Austria are only allowed two years of absence from the country under current freedom of movement rules. It would be relatively simple to return as an EU citizen due to freedom of movement, but you would need to meet the requirements of either studying, working, or having sufficient income to support yourself in order to move back to live long-term.