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.
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.
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.
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.
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.