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Travel: What are Austria’s current entry and Covid rules?

As spring arrives and the country has relaxed its Covid restrictions, here are the rules you need to know when travelling to Austria

A sign with the traditional Austrian greeting of Griaß di. Photo: Pixabay
A sign with the traditional Austrian greeting of Griaß di. Photo: Pixabay

Please note: This article is up to date as at March 31st, 2022. 

Since late February, Austria has allowed unvaccinated people to enter for tourism, as long as they have a negative Covid-19 test. 

Vaccinated and recently recovered can enter showing proof of their status. The country accepts most of the vaccines recommended by the World Health Organisation, including Chinese Sinovac and Sinopharm.

READ MORE: Travel rules update: Unvaccinated people can now enter Austria

Here is what you need to keep in mind regarding Covid-19 restrictions when travelling to and inside Austria. The rules are valid for every person over 12 years of age, regardless of the reason for travels, residence status, citizenship or country of arrival.

The exceptions include people in transit and certain professionals. Last week, Austria also updated its travel rules to allow for people who enter the country due to military conflict to be exempt from the ordinance.

The ‘3G rule’ is the norm

All people entering Austria need to present at least one of the documents:

  • Proof of complete vaccination (two doses)
  • Proof of recent recovery
  • A negative Covid test (PCR or rapid test) 

The vaccinated person needs to show proof that they took two doses of an approved vaccination or one dose of the Jansen vaccine. 

The vaccines accepted for entry into Austria are BioNTech/Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Covishield, Covaxin, Covovax, Johnson & Johnson (single dose), Moderna, Nuvaxovid (Novavax), Sinovac, and Sinopharm. 

However, only BioNTech/Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson (two doses), Moderna and Nuvaxovid (Novavax) are accepted inside of the country for those who want to enter 2G (vaccinated or recovered) establishments. 

This makes things a bit more complicated. It basically means that a person who has one dose of the Jansen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccine, for example, is allowed to enter the country without showing a test result, travel registration or going into quarantine.

However, this person is not considered fully vaccinated inside Austria and cannot enter 2G places – mainly gastronomy and clubs in Vienna.

The validity of the vaccination is also different for those entering the country or inside the country. To enter the country, the last dose cannot be older than 270 days. Inside Austria, the second dose cannot be older than 180 days (or 210 for people younger than 18 years). 

After that, the country requires a booster, or third-dose vaccination, to enter 2G places.

If you fall into the “recovered” status, a medical certificate that includes the recovery date is necessary. You can find the official form (in English) here.

For people coming into the country using only a negative test result, PCRs are valid for 72 hours while rapid antigen tests for 24 hours.

What if I don’t have 3G proof?

People who cannot prove that they have either been fully vaccinated, recently recovered, or tested negative can also enter the country as long as they fill out an online travel form and go into a ten-day quarantine. The quarantine can be ended earlier with a negative test result.

What happens after arrive in Austria?

Once you enter Austria, it is essential to keep in mind the current rules and restrictions regarding the pandemic. While in most of the country, the G-rules have fallen, meaning people can enter typical daily establishments without showing proof of vaccination, recovery, or negative test, that is not the case in Vienna.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: What are Austria’s current Covid rules?

Vienna rules

Austria’s capital city has kept the 2G rules for gastronomy, and tourists need to follow them to enter bars and restaurants. 

As shown above, even if you have entered Austria as a vaccinated person, Vienna might not accept your proof of vaccination.  

Only BioNTech/Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson (two doses), Moderna and Nuvaxovid (Novavax) are accepted inside of the country for those who want to enter 2G (vaccinated or recovered) establishments. 

Those are valid for 180 days after the second dose (210 for people under 180 years). 

Children up to five years old don’t need to show proof of entry. From 6 to 12 years old, they can use PCR or antigen tests to go into bars and restaurants. From 12 to 15, only a PCR is valid for entry rules. After that, they follow the same rules as adults. 

READ MORE: Record Covid case numbers: How close is Austria to a new lockdown? 

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Reader question: Can I get a refund after cancelling my Austria trip due to Covid?

Summer vacations and rising Covid-19 infection numbers are a dangerous combination for travellers. Here is what you need to know about your rights if you get sick and need to cancel your holidays to or from Austria.

Reader question: Can I get a refund after cancelling my Austria trip due to Covid?

You are all set for your long-awaited vacations, but just before you leave, the coronavirus test comes back positive. What to do and what are your rights? Is it possible to get a refund on your trip to or from Austria?

Will the airline let you move your flight to a different date, or will the hotel reschedule your reservation?

As summer vacations arrive, with most European countries having no or almost no coronavirus restrictions, travelling is back – and with a vengeance, it appears. Austrian Airlines boss Annette Mann said that “people [now] have an insane desire to travel”.

READ ALSO: Will Austria see travel chaos in airports this summer?

At the same time, Austria has been facing rising Covid-19 infection numbers for weeks, and there is a fear of an intense summer wave.

On Thursday, June 30th, the country reported 12,506 new cases in 24 hours, according to the Health Ministry.

What to do if you have symptoms?

If you have any symptoms of Covid-19, including mild flu-like symptoms like coughing or sneezing, you should get tested. In Austria, there are many alternatives for those looking for the test, from free PCR at home to antigen tests.

If you test positive with an antigen test, you should confirm the result with a PCR test. Once you are a suspected case, you should quarantine until your result is confirmed. If the PCR test is positive, you need to self-isolate for at least five days.

READ ALSO: Tourists: What to do if you test positive for Covid in Austria

Self-isolation after a positive test is mandatory in Austria and most countries worldwide. That means that, by regulation, you are not allowed to leave your home for non-medical purposes during those days – or even longer,, depending on the course of the disease.

If you have a trip scheduled during your isolation period, that could be a problem.

What happens to my flight tickets?

Airline companies are not required to refund you or allow you to make changes to your flight for free – unless the ticket you purchased entitled you to these rights.

Most companies sell tickets for the same journey with different fares. Not only prices can change depending on the classic “economic, business, first class” divisions, but they can also increase dramatically depending on the type of ticket.

For example, an Austrian Airlines flight from Vienna to Rome in economy starts at €59.92. There are then three options: economy light, economy classic, and economy flex.

An empty Austrian Airlines check-in counter. Photo: ALEX HALADA / AFP

READ ALSO: Austria sees scores of flight cancellations after airline staff contract Covid

The first, with the lowest tariff, does not entitle you to a refund and will charge you €70 for rebooking plus a possible tariff difference.

A “economy classic” ticket costs €89.92, and will allow you to rebook without a charge (you only need to pay the difference in prices). It will not give you a refund.

Finally, the “economy flex” costs €129.92, allows for a refund (minus a €70 fee), and lets you rebook without a charge (you only have to cover the price changes).

READ ALSO: Airport chaos in Europe: What are your rights if flights are delayed or cancelled?

The tickets have other differences, including allowing you to carry more luggage or reserve your seat, for example. Depending on which one you purchased, you may or may not be entitled to a refund.

What about my hotel reservations?

The same is valid for hotel reservations. Most of them, especially if you have used an online booking platform, will have different fees and travellers have different rights. It is essential to understand each tariff and what they entitle you to.

For example, a twin room in a hotel in downtown Vienna could cost you €92, but it is non-refundable and you need to pay in advance.

READ ALSO: EU extends Covid travel certificates until 2023

The same twin room can be found for €108, but with free cancellation – read the fine lines and you will see that even the free cancellation is only valid until three days before the booking date in some cases.

Just like airlines, hotels are not mandated to refund you if you can’t make it to your reservation because you or a travel companion got Covid-19. Unless you paid for the more flexible (and more expensive) rate.

Photo by Jorgen Hendriksen on Unsplash

What can I do, then?

It is worth mentioning that there are a few things you could try. For example, if you purchased travel insurance, or if your debit or credit card has it automatically, you might be able to get a refund. So, check those insurance documents.

Additionally, it may be possible to negotiate directly with a hotel. While airlines are major corporations and it might seem next to impossible to find a human being able to perhaps negotiate, this is not the case with a hotel.

READ ALSO: Covid-19: European summer holidays threatened by rise of subvariants

It may be that you are able to swap your reservation dates, depending on occupancy and how much wiggle room the hotel manager has. It won’t solve all your problems, but if it’s a trip to a nearby place, sometimes accommodation is more expensive than flights.

You also need to always be careful and double check the policies of tickets and hotel (or private accommodations) you buy and reserve. If you have booked through a travel agent or online platform, it is also worth looking if they have different cancellation or rescheduling policies.

Finally, if you have not made it to your hotel reservation because of a flight problem, if your flight was cancelled or delayed, for example, you have rights under the EU law.

*Prices for this story were checked on June 30th.

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