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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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CRIME

EXPLAINED: What to do if you experience online abuse in Austria

Following the suicide of an Austrian doctor who received threats from Covid-19 anti-vaccination activists, the government has now launched a new campaign to help victims of online abuse.

EXPLAINED: What to do if you experience online abuse in Austria

The Austrian medical community was left in shock in July when Lisa-Maria Kellermayr, a local doctor in Seewalchen am Attersee in Upper Austria, took her own life following months of online abuse.

Kellermayr, 36, had been targeted by anti-vaccination activists and Covid-19 conspiracy theorists for her out-spoken support of vaccines, and the abuse even included death threats. 

Her death prompted candlelight vigils and demonstrations in Vienna and the tragic story was picked up by news outlets around the world.

READ MORE: How Austria’s attempt to make vaccines mandatory changed the country

This led to calls for tighter laws against online bullying and the ability for perpetrators to be prosecuted in other EU countries – particularly as at least two of the people who are believed to have targeted Kellermayr are based in Germany, according to the Guardian.

The Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP) has even called for the creation of a special public prosecutor’s office to deal with “hate-on-the-net”, but this has been rejected by prosecutors and other political parties, as reported by ORF.

Instead, the Federal Justice Department has launched a new information campaign, website and hotline to help people dealing with online abuse.

FOR MEMBERS: What happens if you get arrested in Austria?

What is in the new campaign?

Austria’s Justice Minister Alma Zadic (Greens) said they have launched the campaign to raise awareness about the issue and to inform victims about the support available.

Zadic said: “It is important to me that those affected know that they are not alone in this situation and that the judiciary supports them with free psychological and legal process support.”

“You don’t have to cope alone with the extraordinary burdens that criminal proceedings can entail, for example through confrontation with the perpetrators.”

READ ALSO: Austria in shock over doctor’s suicide following anti-vax abuse

Part of the support package is the new website Hilfe bei Gewalt (Help with Violence), which details how to access help from the authorities, as well as secure free legal advice and representation from a lawyer.

The website states the service is for victims of bullying and/or hate online, defamation, stalking, terrorism, incitement, sexual violence and robbery.

The service is designed to be anonymous with options to contact the Justice Department by phone or via a chat box. The website also lists contact details for regional support services in all provinces across Austria. 

The free (kostenlos) hotline for Hilfe bei Gewalt is 0800 112 112.

Useful links

Hilfe bei Gewalt

Austrian Federal Justice Department

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