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MARRIAGE

Registered partnerships: What are the rules in Austria?

A registered partnership is an alternative option for couples that don’t want to get married but do want their union to be legally recognised. How does it work in Austria?

A couple pictured reading.
Registered partnerships are legal in Austria. Photo credit Alex Halada/AFP.

In many ways, Austria is a traditional country with a strong focus on marriage and raising a family.

But for committed couples that don’t want to get married, there is the alternative option of a civil partnership referred to as a “registered partnership” in Austria.

Here’s what you need to know about entering into a registered partnership in Austria and what it means for immigration.

What is a registered partnership?

A registered partnership is a legally recognised union between two people. 

It represents a permanent partnership with similar rights to marriage, including the obligation to live together, a duty to financially support each other and inheritance laws.

The only difference between the two types of relationship is a registered partnership can be dissolved after three years, whereas a marriage can only be dissolved after six years.

READ MORE: The pros and cons of obtaining Austrian citizenship

In Austria, registered partnerships (sometimes referred to as civil partnerships) were first introduced in 2010 for same-sex couples.

Then, in 2019, both same-sex and opposite-sex couples were granted the right to choose between marriage or a registered partnership.

Couples must notify a registry office in advance of their intention to enter into a registered partnership in Austria.

What does this mean for people wanting to join a partner in Austria?

Both registered partners and spouses of Austrian or EU citizens are considered as family members by Austrian immigration law and have the right to join a partner in Austria.

This applies to both EU and third-country nationals.

The main difference between the two groups is that third-country nationals have to go through immigration to obtain residency as a family member, which includes a commitment to learn German up to Level A2 within two years. 

FOR MEMBERS: Austria: Just how good does your German have to be to gain residency and citizenship?

EU citizens do not have to apply through immigration due to freedom of movement laws within the bloc and so German language skills are not a requirement of residency (although they are recommended). 

However, both EU citizens and third-country nationals have to submit a residence registration form (Meldezettel) within three days of moving into their new home. This is a legal requirement for everyone living in Austria as part of the 1991 Registration Act. 

Then, after five years of continuous residence in Austria, both EU citizens and third-country nationals can apply for permanent residence.

Is a civil partnership in Austria recognised in other EU countries?

In most EU countries, registered partnerships or civil unions are recognised, which means immigration to another EU country is possible as a couple.

The only places in the EU that don’t recognise registered partnerships are Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Slovakia.

However, within these countries a registered partnership is then considered as a “duly attested long-term relationship”, which means residence as a couple is still possible.

Useful websites

Your Europe

Austrian Federal Government

City of Vienna

Ministry for European and International Affairs

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LIVING IN AUSTRIA

What is Austria’s Mutter-Kind-Pass and how is it changing?

The Mutter-Kind-Pass is hitting the headlines as the Austrian Federal Government plans a reform of the scheme. Here's how it works now, why it is necessary and how it will change in the future.

What is Austria’s Mutter-Kind-Pass and how is it changing?

The Mutter-Kind-Pass (Mother-Child-Pass) was launched in Austria in 1974 to ensure the health and wellbeing of pregnant women and their babies.

It grants pregnant women free access to essential examinations and consultations, and serves as a record of healthcare.

But big changes are on the cards for the pass as a digitization reform is planned for the coming years, while disputes continue about the cost of the scheme.

Here’s what you need to know about how the Mutter-Kind-Pass works, why it’s necessary and how it will change. 

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What is the Mutter-Kind-Pass?

The Mutter-Kind-Pass is a small, yellow passport-style document to provide and track healthcare for pregnant women and young children in Austria.

It is issued to a woman when a pregnancy is confirmed by a doctor and contains records of medical examinations during pregnancy. As well as health check-ups for the child up to five years of age.

The Mutter-Kind-Pass exists to ensure pregnant women and children get the necessary medical care they need.

For example, women in Austria are entitled to five medical check-ups throughout their pregnancy including blood tests, internal examinations, ultrasound scans and consultations with a midwife.

READ ALSO: Reader question: Am I liable for ambulance costs in Austria?

Who can get the Mutter-Kind-Pass and how much does it cost?

Any pregnant woman living in Austria can get the Mutter-Kind-Pass (and subsequent health examinations) for free.

However, all examinations must take place with a doctor that is registered with a health insurance company in Austria.

Women without health insurance need a confirmation of entitlement from the Austrian health insurance fund that is responsible for the area where they live.

This is a required step before any examinations can take place free of charge.

Why is the pass necessary?

The Mutter-Kind-Pass and its mandatory examinations are primarily used to detect any illnesses or possible complications early. 

The expected date of delivery is also entered into the Mutter-Kind-Pass, so the document is needed to receive maternity pay in Austria.

Additionally, proof of examinations are required to receive the full entitlement to childcare allowance (Kinderbetreuungsgeld). This means the pass should be taken to every maternity-related appointment, as recommended by the Österreichische Gesundheitskasse.

How is the Mutter-Kind-Pass being reformed?

On Wednesday 16th November, Minister for Women and Family Affairs Susanne Raab (ÖVP) and Minister of Health Johannes Rauch (Greens) announced a reform of the Mutter-Kind-Pass.

The most notable change will be a transition from the paper booklet to a digital app in 2024, as well as new services and a name change to the Eltern-Kind-Pass (Parent-Child-Pass).

Raab said: “In addition to the services in the area of ​​health care, we will introduce parent advice, which should be a compass for the new phase of life for new parents.”

The new services will include counselling, an extra consultation with a midwife, an additional ultrasound, hearing screenings for newborns, nutritional and health advice, and multilingual information in digital form.

Photo by Juliane Liebermann on Unsplash

In the future, parents-to-be and new parents will also be offered parenting advice when they have their first child, for example on the compatibility of employment and childcare, on the division of parental leave or on the effects of part-time work on pensions.

“The mother-child pass has been an essential part of maternal and child health in Austria for decades. Now we have managed together to further develop this important instrument in a contemporary form”, said Rauch.

READ NEXT: EXPLAINED: What you need to know about parental leave in Austria

The implementation of the parent-child passport is a comprehensive, multi-year project and will begin with digitisation from next year.

The annual budget for the Mutter-Kind-Pass is currently €62 million and an additional €10 million from EU funds has been allocated to cover the cost of the reforms. 

However, there have been debates in recent months about the general cost of the pass. 

As a result there are ongoing negotiations between insurance companies and the Medical Association about the reimbursement of fees for providing healthcare and examinations.

READ ALSO: ‘Better and cheaper’: What foreigners really think about childcare in Austria

Der Standard reports that the Medical Association is threatening to discontinue the Mutter-Kind-Pass at the end of the year if an agreement on doctors fees cannot be reached. If that were to happen, expectant mothers would have to pay for examinations.

Currently, doctors receive €18.02 per examination and the Association is calling for an 80 percent increase.

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