For members


How can British second home owners spend more than 90 days in Austria?

For some British people, Brexit means they can no longer spend long periods of time at their second home in Austria. But are there any alternative options?

How can British second home owners spend more than 90 days in Austria?
British second home owners in Austria now have to comply with the EU 90-day rule for third country nationals. Photo by Nina Rath on Pexels.

Since the end of the Brexit transition period on December 31st 2020, British people with a second home in the EU have had to comply with the 90-day rule for non-EU travellers.

The law means British people can now only spend up to 90 days within the EU in a 180-day period (excluding the country of residence, if living in an EU country).

This is different to a similar law in the UK that allows EU citizens to spend up to 180 days per year in the UK, without having to split it up into two separate blocks.

What does this now mean for British second home owners in Austria? And how can they spend more than 90 days in the country?

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

“It would make life so much easier”

Gerry Stapleton, 73, a retired property developer from the UK, has owned an apartment in Maria Alm, near Zell am See in Salzburg, since 2008.

Before Brexit, Gerry and his partner would visit Austria several times a year, with a prolonged stay in July and August, but this is no longer possible. 

Gerry told The Local: “I would like to be offered the same privilege that EU citizens have when they go to the UK. It would make life so much easier because it’s much more flexible. 

“We enjoy spending time at our Austrian apartment in the summer and the winter but we can’t do that anymore because we will now fall foul of the 90-day rule, which is unnecessary.”

FOR MEMBERS: Five reasons to retire in Austria

In a bid to overcome the limitations of the EU visitor visa rules for non-EU citizens, Gerry has been looking into alternative options. However, as he and his partner are both in their 70s, they are experiencing difficulties.

He said: “We are trying to get residency in Austria and we are 90 percent there. We need to get sufficient medical insurance to show we won’t be a burden on the state but so far no one will cover us because of our age.

“The only alternative is to transfer our benefits from the UK system to Austria, but then we wouldn’t have medical cover in the UK, so we are a bit stuck right now.”

The Local spoke to Patrick Kainz, a Vienna-based immigration lawyer, to find out if there are any exceptions to the 90-day rule.

Kainz said: “Unless you were in Austria before the Brexit deadline and now have the Article 50 card that allows you to maintain your previous rights in Austria, you will be treated as a third country national, which means the 90-day rule applies.”

In the case of retired people, Kainz said the best approach is to apply for a “gainful employment excepted” residents permit (Niederlassungsbewilligung ausgenommen Erwerbstätigkeit) that allows for income through a pension or private funds, but there are limits on how many permits can be issued in Austria each year.

What is the 90-day rule?

The 90-day rule allows British people to visit the EU for up to 90 days without having to get a visa. It is the same rule that was already in place for all non-EU citizens prior to Brexit.

This site has a fuller explanation of how the 90-day rule works, as well as a calculator to allow you to work out your visits.

Here are a few key points to be aware of:

  • The rule allows for 90 days in every 180, so in total in the course of a year you can spend 180 days in Austria, just not all in one go.
  • It is a rolling clock, so the 90 days are always counted from the previous 180 days, not from the start of the year.
  • The rule applies to the whole of the EU, so if you spend three months skiing in Austria you can’t then go straight to the south of France after the end of the winter season.
  • The clock only stops once you leave the EU and head to a non-EU country (which now includes the UK).

So, what are the options for British people that want to spend longer in Austria? Here are a few possibilities.


The Red-White-Red Card is for qualified or skilled workers from non-EU countries that want to live and work in Austria. If granted, the visa is valid for 24 months and allows visa holders to bring family members with them.

However, there are different types of visa issued under the umbrella of the Red-White-Red Card, depending on the applicant’s professional background.

For example, those with advanced degrees and management experience in the fields of mathematics, informatics, natural sciences or technology are considered as very highly qualified workers. They can initially enter Austria with a Job Seeker Visa, which can later be transferred to a Red-White-Red Card following a job offer.

READ ALSO: Can foreigners buy a second home in Austria?

Alternatively, there is a category for skilled workers in shortage occupations, such as engineers, carpenters, physicians, chefs and accountants. For this category, applicants must score a minimum of 50 points in the eligibility criteria (including elementary level German and English language skills), show proof of relevant qualifications and have a valid job offer.

Additionally, there is the EU Blue Card, which is available for non-EU citizens with a job offer in Austria with a salary of at least €66,593.

Then there are several other categories for the Red-White-Red Card, including one for recent graduates from an Austrian education institution and family reunification. Each category has its own eligibility criteria. 

For the full list, visit the Federal Government’s official migration website.

All of the above options are suitable for people that want to live and work in Austria on a temporary basis. But for retired people, or those with an existing job in the UK, they won’t be suitable.


Applying for residency in Austria is a big commitment and involves giving up residency in the UK (but not citizenship).

It also usually means losing access to the NHS because you will be required to contribute to the social security system in Austria, unless you have private medical insurance.

FOR MEMBERS: EXPLAINED: How to apply for a residency permit in Austria

Additionally, applicants need to be able to support themselves financially, whether through a pension, income from assets or savings. 

This means single people need a minimum monthly income of €1,030.49 and couples need to earn at least €1,625.71 a month to be eligible. An additional amount of €159 for each child also applies.

Trick/cheat the system

For British people who were used to coming and going in Austria with minimal paperwork or checks it can seem like an attractive option to simply stay in the country for more than 90 days.

However we would not suggest that people try this because passports are automatically scanned when you enter and leave the country, which makes it easy to spot over-stayers.

If you are caught over-staying your allocated 90 days you can end up with an ‘over-stay’ flag on your passport which can lead to you being deported and fined, as well as making it difficult to enter any other country – not just Austria.

This is likely to make any future attempts at getting visas or residency a lot more difficult.

Hope for a change to the rules

In some EU countries there are already campaigns ongoing for a change to the 90-day rule for second home owners.

France is one example where British people are calling for the 90-day rule to be scrapped and brought in line with the UK’s 180-day rule.

But immigration lawyer Kainz also doesn’t see any possibility of the rules changing soon.

Kainz told The Local: “I do not see any change to the 90-day rule, at least for the next few years as we try to grapple with the fall-out from Brexit. Maybe sometime down the line it could be more reciprocal but right now I don’t see any indication for that.”

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


Wild weather in Austria: How to protect yourself during summer storms

With violent storms becoming increasingly common in Austria, here’s how to protect yourself (and your home) this summer.

Wild weather in Austria: How to protect yourself during summer storms

Storms are a regular occurrence in Austria during the summer months, but the strength and frequency seems to be increasing.

Overnight on Tuesday, June 28th, both the Pöllinger and the Treffner rivers in Carinthia burst their banks causing widespread flooding, mudslides and damage across the region.

Reports on Wednesday morning said the villages of Treffen am Ossiacher See and Arriach (Villach-Land district) were still metres under water and several people had been rescued from the deluge.

READ ALSO: Who to call and what to say in an emergency in Austria

According to ORF, emergency services were still struggling to reach some areas and there were unconfirmed reports of missing people.

A Tweet from Unwetter-Freaks said: “Bad pictures from #Arriach in #Kärnten , which was hit by several storm cells last night. According to ORF, the place is currently cut off from the outside world and cannot be reached by the emergency services.”

Earlier this week, rural areas in Upper Austria were also hit by storms (overnight, June 27th) bringing torrential rain and hail the size of golf balls, which caused extensive damage to crops and grassland in the key agricultural state.

READ ALSO: 23 essential articles to help you navigate life in Austria

The Klaus reservoir had to be drained of 200 cubic metres of water to avoid flooding and trees were brought down across the province by wind gusts – some up to 91 km/h.

The Kronen Zeitung reports the storm caused damage to around 16,000 hectares of agriculture land, with insurers estimating the cost to be up to €6.5 million.

One Tweet showed the size of the hail on Monday night and read: “In the night we had ‘light’ hail.”

Storms then hit the region again on Tuesday night leading to a lightning strike on a hay barn in the Mühlviertel and the flooding of an underground car park in Linz.

With the summer season far from over and the possibility of more wild weather in the coming months, here’s how to stay safe during storms in Austria.

FOR MEMBERS: When and where to avoid driving in Austria this summer

Check the weather report

It might sound obvious, but checking the weather forecast should be at the top of the list of summer storm preparations.

Unlike in the past, weather reports are now typically reliable, and apps like Bergfex and Accuweather are well-known for providing detailed forecasts and weather warnings.

However, long-range forecasts can change quickly, so if you’re planning a camping or hiking trip, be sure to check the weather between 24 and 48 hours before to avoid being caught out.

Additionally, the Österreichischen Unwetterzentrale (Austrian Severe Weather Centre) has regular updates about storms and weather forecasts for Austria and users can sign up for email and SMS notifications.

Stay indoors

According to the organisation, Die Helfer Wiens (The Helpers of Vienna) one of the biggest risks during a storm is being hit by a fallen tree or flying debris.

For this reason, they advise people (and pets) to stay indoors during a storm and close all windows and doors. 

If staying in a tent or campervan, it’s also a good idea to seek shelter in a building (if possible) until the storm has passed.

However, if you are outside during lightning, the Austrian Red Cross says the best approach is to crouch down into a ball to reduce the amount of contact you have with the floor.

READ MORE: How to keep your apartment cool in Austria this summer amid rising energy prices

Stay away from the cellar

Cellars and underground car parks can quickly become flooded during heavy rain – as seen in recent storms in Upper Austria and Carinthia, and last year during violent storms across Austria.

Flash flooding can happen quickly (the clue is in the name), so stay away from cellars and underground spaces during a storm and call the emergency services if you suspect a flood in your home.

Remove plants and furniture from balconies

Having plants and flowers on a balcony is a lovely way to brighten up an outside space, but they risk being damaged during a storm.

To safeguard your pots and lovingly-planted flora, move them inside – especially during a thunderstorm with strong wind gusts and lightning.

The same applies to any outdoor furniture that could be damaged by wind or hail, like cushions, decorative objects and sun umbrellas.

Park cars under shelter

Hail is one of the leading causes of dents to bodywork on cars and damage to windscreens, both of which can be costly to repair.

If hail is forecast during a storm, park a car in a garage or under shelter, if possible. 

If strong wind is expected, then avoid parking a car under trees as debris, or even the tree itself, could end up landing on the vehicle.

FOR MEMBERS: EXPLAINED: How Austria banned everyone from the forest for 123 years

Don’t go into the forest

Whether walking or driving, the best advice is to stay from the forest or areas with lots of trees during a storm.

While sheltering under a tree can protect from rain or hail, lightning or strong wind can bring down trees. This makes the forest a dangerous place to be in a storm.

But if you do find yourself in the unfortunate position of being in a forest when a thunderstorm hits, stay away from low branches and tree trunks and crouch down low. Place any walking sticks or metal poles away from you and stay away from metal fences.

Avoid risky activities

Certain outdoor activities are especially hazardous if there’s a lightning storm. 

Any activity in an open area or that puts you into contact with water or metal is strongly advised against. So that means fishing, swimming, boating, cycling and golfing are out until the storm is over. 

Keep torches and candles ready

Power cuts are common during storms, so keep a stock of candles and torches ready in case you end up without electricity for several hours.

It’s also a good idea to have a portable USB charger to make sure your phone doesn’t run out of battery during an emergency.

Who to call in an emergency

These are the numbers to call if you need help from the Austrian emergency services during a storm.

122 – fire service (Feuerwehr).

133 – police (Polizei).

144 – ambulance (Krankenwagen or Rettungswagen).

120 – ÖAMTC emergency breakdown service.

123 – ARBÖ emergency breakdown service.

140 – mountain rescue.

Finally, 112 is the single European emergency number, whose operators will direct you to the relevant services. This number can even be called on a locked mobile phone without needing the pin.

Find out more with The Local’s guide on who to call and what to say in an emergency.