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DRIVING

Can I use my foreign driving licence in Austria?

The quick answer is usually yes, but for a limited time, depending on where your driving licence was issued. Here’s what you need to know about using a foreign driving licence in Austria.

Can I use my foreign driving licence in Austria?
Long term international residents in Austria might need to exchange their driving licence. Photo by Dimitry Anikin/Unsplash.

Most foreign driving licences can be used to drive on Austrian roads for at least six months – just like in most other European countries.

This is great for visitors or for people working in Austria for just a short period of time, but it means many long term international residents eventually have to get an Austrian driving licence.

Here’s an overview of how the system works and how long a foreign driving licence is valid in Austria.

Driving with a foreign licence in Austria

Visitors from most countries can drive on Austrian roads for up to six months as long as they have a valid licence from their country of residence. For some countries, an international driving permit (IDP) is required in addition to their valid licence.

For example, drivers from the UK do not need an IDP in Austria if they have a photocard driving licence issued in the UK, but drivers from the USA do need an IDP, as well as their original licence.

The IDP is an internationally recognised translation of a foreign driving licence and a United Nations regulated travel document. Drivers should apply for an IDP in their country of residence before arriving in Austria.

READ MORE: How half of Austria drove on the left and half on the right – for 20 years

However, driving licences from the following countries are not recognised in Austria: Afghanistan, Bolivia, Burundi, Cameroon, China, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Indonesia, Kosovo, Libya, Nepal, Nicaragua, Solomon Islands, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania, Tonga and Yemen. 

It’s not all bad news though as drivers from these countries might still be able to exchange their licence for an Austrian one.

What are the rules for exchanging an EU or EEA driving licence in Austria?

Driving licences from EU and EEA countries are recognised in Austria and remain valid for up to five years, as long as they don’t expire.

This means they do not have to be exchanged for an Austrian licence after six months, although drivers can choose to do this voluntarily.

If an EU or EEA driving licence has to be exchanged in Austria, the process involves the Austrian driving licence authority submitting a request to the issuing country to verify if an Austrian licence can be issued. 

As long as there are no issues, applicants will be issued with an Austrian driving licence within several weeks.

If a driving licence from an EU or EEA country expires while the holder is a resident in Austria, it will have to be renewed in Austria.

What are the rules for exchanging a non-EU/EEA driving licence in Austria?

People with a non-EU/EEA driving licence have to exchange their licence for an Austrian one after six months of living in Austria, because it loses validity after this, and they need to exchange it earlier if the licence will expire before then.

Most holders of a non-EU/EEA driving licence will have to take a practical driving test in Austria to exchange their licence. This usually takes place in German.

Non-EU/EEA countries that are exempt from the driving test rule (for all categories of licence) are Andorra, Gibraltar, Guernsey, Isle of Man, Japan, Jersey, Monaco, Montenegro, San Marino, Switzerland, Serbia, United Kingdom and Northern Ireland.

Additionally, people with a driving licence from Australia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Hong Kong, Israel, Canada, North Macedonia, New Zealand, Republic of South Africa, Republic of South Korea (if issued after 1 January 1997), USA and United Arab Emirates are exempt from having to take a driving test for a category B licence.

A category B licence allows holders to drive a vehicle with up to eight passengers and a maximum weight of 3,500kg.

READ MORE: What are the post-Brexit rules about UK driving licences in Austria?

For British people, the rules around driving licences in Austria have changed in the past year as a result of Brexit. This means British people that were resident in Austria before December 31st 2020 had to exchange their UK driving licence for an Austrian licence before June 30th 2021. 

British people now moving to Austria (post-Brexit) will have to follow the rules for non-EU/EEA residents when exchanging a driving licence in Austria, although a practical driving test is not required.

How to exchange a driving licence in Austria

Applications for exchanging a licence in Austria take place at a state police department, at LPD Wien (Vienna Police Headquarters) or at the district administration office (Bezirkshauptmannschaft) where you live.

An appointment is usually needed to submit an application, although your local driving licence authority will advise on the correct process.

The documents required for the application are passport, foreign driving licence, one passport photo, medical certificate including an eye test (most doctors will charge for this) and a Meldezettel (compulsory address registration in Austria).

The fee for converting a driving licence in Austria is €60.50.

Applicants are issued with a temporary licence if the original licence is handed in to the authorities. This is valid for four weeks from the date of issue, but only within Austria.

FOR MEMBERS: What happens if you haven’t exchanged your UK driving licence in Austria?

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For members

WORKING IN AUSTRIA

Six official websites to know if you’re planning to work in Austria

If you are moving to Austria and planning to work once you're here, there are a few websites that you need to know.

Six official websites to know if you’re planning to work in Austria

Austria is certainly one of the best countries to work in, with strong labour laws that give employees access to public health insurance through their employers, a minimum five weeks of paid vacation and many rights for families.

The alpine country is also known for its high quality of living. Residents can enjoy cheap public transport, public schools and plenty of free or cheap cultural, sports and leisure options.

There are also many vacant jobs, and the country is aiming to make it easier for foreigners who have qualifications to come fill in those jobs – many in nursing and healthcare professions, but a lot in several other so-called “shortage occupations”.

READ ALSO: How Austria is making it easier for non-EU workers to get residence permits

If you are planning to work in Austria, here are a few government or government-linked websites to know.

Migration.gv.at

It may not look very modern, but this website will have most of the things you’ll need if you want to move to Austria – especially coming from countries outside of the European Union.

This is where you will find the infamous “point calculator” to see if you get the minimum amount of points based on specific criteria (such as age, education, and language knowledge) to be able to apply for certain work-based residence permits.

There are also many pages explaining the different visas, permits, and many other issues with migration to Austria. The website has a very extensive and complete English version.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: The 2022 salary requirements for Austria’s EU Blue Card

ABA – Work in Austria

ABA – Work in Austria is a department of the Austrian Business Agency, which operates under the Federal Ministry for Digital and Economic Affairs in Austria.

The website has plenty of information – in English – about Austria, living and working in the country, and its job market. ABA – Work in Austria also offers services, including relocation and recognition of qualifications.

Vienna Business Agency

Another site aimed at expats and immigrants but connected to the City of Vienna. The website is entirely in English (there is a German version, too), and most of it will have tips and services for businesses and startups settling in the Austrian capital.

However, there is also an extensive advice area for foreigners. 

People moving to Vienna can also schedule in-person and free appointments to receive advice on anything from setting up a company to paying taxes.

READ ALSO: The downsides of Vienna you should be aware of before moving there

Portal der Arbeiterkammern

This is the Chamber of Labour website, which is an organisation that represents the interests of 3 million Austrian employees and consumers.

Even if you are not a member, it still has plenty of valuable information on Austria’s working and labour market. The website, however, is only in German.

Der Wirtschaftskammer

Also, a local website, WKO is the Austrian Chamber of Commerce, and even though it is only in German, it holds a lot of information, especially on labour laws in the country.

Furthermore, it is possible to schedule a free appointment with an English-speaking representative to answer questions on employment, self-employment, and more.

READ ALSO: Which are the best companies to work for in Austria?

Public Employment Service Austria (AMS)

This is Austria’s official provider of labour-market related services. The government agency offers placement assistance and vocational counselling.

It is also the point of contact for those looking to register as employees, hire people or seek many of the benefits (including unemployment payments) that they are entitled to. It also has a job-looking platform.

Even though a part of the website is in English, most of the pages are in German only. It is also challenging to find people willing to speak English at the AMS offices.

Bonus website: The Local

Besides our news website, with pieces that will help you learn more about life in Austria and be up to date on the latest and most important information, The Local also has a job search platform where you can look for open positions which require only the English language.

Check out our jobs platform here. 

Do you know any other government or government-linked websites that might be useful for people working in Austria? Let us know: [email protected]

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