SHARE
COPY LINK
For members

TRANSPORT

Everything you need to know about driving on the autobahn in Austria

Unlike Germany, Austria already has a speed limit on motorways, but that’s not the only rule that motorists should be aware of.

Everything you need to know about driving on the autobahn in Austria
Motorways in Austria have a speed limit, unlike the autobahn in Germany. Photo by GUENTER SCHIFFMANN / AFP.

Austria might be neighbours with Germany but that doesn’t mean they share the same rules when it comes to driving on a motorway (autobahn).

In fact, there is a strict speed limit in Austria, as well as other rules regarding road tax and environmental factors.

Then there are debates surrounding the reduction of the current national speed limit in a bid to lower the consumption of Russian oil.

To make sure you’re up to date and following the rules, here’s what you need to know about driving on the autobahn in Austria.

FOR MEMBERS: UPDATED: How to save money on fuel costs in Austria

What is the speed limit on the autobahn in Austria?

In Austria, the national speed limit on the motorway for motorbikes and cars is 130 km/h (81 mph), unless stated otherwise. For vehicles with a light trailer, the national speed limit is 100 km/h.

There are varying speed limits for vehicles with larger trailers or those with a heavy weight and there is also a speed limit of 60 km/h for certain trucks when driving at night.

This means Austria does not have long stretches of motorway without speed limits like in neighbouring Germany.

There have been discussions in the past about raising the speed limit to 140 km/h on Austrian motorways, with particular interest from the Freedom Party Austria (FPÖ). 

So far though, there are no indications that the speed limit will be raised and, if anything, there are calls to go in the opposite direction (see below for more).

READ ALSO: What you need to know about parking in Austria

Is there a tax for using the autobahn?

Austrian motorways operate on a vignette system which is a prepaid road tax issued as either a physical sticker for the windscreen or digitally.

Vignettes can be purchased at outlets across the country, such as petrol stations, service stations and some tourist information offices.

A vignette can be purchased for 10 days, two months or on an annual basis. For drivers that regularly use motorways in Austria, the annual ticket is the most economical option at €93.80 for a car or €37.20 for a motorbike (2022 prices).

Prices for the vignette are set by the Federal Ministry for Climate Action, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology. The Motorway and Expressway Finance Company (ASFINAG) is responsible for issuing vignettes.

Compliance with the vignette is monitored through the use of control cameras on Austrian motorways. For cars or camper vans with no or an expired vignette, the fine is €120. For motorbikes the fine is €65.

If anyone is caught with a tampered toll sticker, the fine is €240 for a car or campervan and €130 for a motorbike.

EXPLAINED: What you need to know about Austria’s vignette motorway toll stickers

The political climate and the impact on driving

Greenpeace Austria recently called for the national speed limit on the Autobahn to be reduced to 100 km/h to save on fuel and emissions, as reported by the Kronen Zeitung.

The announcement follows EU sanctions on Russia in response to the invasion of Ukraine and debates within western governments on how to wean themselves off a dependency on Russia oil and gas.

According to Greenpeace, lowering the speed limit would reduce our usage of petrol and diesel as driving at a lower speed uses less fuel. This would then help towards reducing the amount of oil Austria needs to source from Russia.

READ MORE: Austria’s nationwide public transport ‘climate ticket’ now available

Clara Schenk from Greenpeace Austria told Ö1 Morgenjournal that lowering the speed limit would have a “measurable impact” on Austria’s fuel consumption.

This was echoed by Johannes Wahlmüller from GLOBAL 2000 who said: “In principle, reducing the speed is a very simple and inexpensive measure to both save CO2 emissions and reduce fuel consumption. 

“If you drive at 100 km/h on the autobahn, you use around ten percent less fuel than at 130 km/h.” 

The principle arguments in favour of reducing the speed limit are that it is easy to implement, can save motorists money and can lead to quick results.

In fact, a 100 km/h speed limit is already in place on some roads when the air quality requires it, such as on the A1 Westautobahn between Linz and Vienna and on the A12 in Tyrol.

But on a national level, such a move could be politically hard to impose and there are calls to lower tax on fuel instead to combat rising prices. Motorist clubs ARBÖ and ÖAMTC support this approach, as well as the Chamber of Labour, the Chamber of Commerce, the Social Democratic Party of Austria (SPÖ) and the Freedom Party Austria (FPÖ).

What is the situation elsewhere in Europe?

Germany is known around the world as a country with relaxed motorway rules when it comes to speed, but discussions surrounding a national speed limit have picked up pace in recent years.

In a 2021 survey by public broadcaster ARD, 60 percent of Germans believed there should be a speed limit of 130 km/h on German motorways. Only 38 percent said there should be no speed limit.

The main reason for this was environmental with many people saying they would be willing to lower their driving speed on motorways to reduce emissions.

In the past week, both Greenpeace Germany and Environmental Action Germany have again raised the issue of introducing a speed limit on motorways, but this time to reduce the consumption of Russian oil, as well as emissions.

They claim that a reduction in speed could save 3.7 billion litres of petrol and diesel, as well as 9.2 million tonnes of CO2.

Useful vocabulary

Autobahn – motorway

Vignette – road toll/tax

Tankstelle – petrol station

Tempolimit – speed limit

Member comments

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

LIVING IN AUSTRIA

EXPLAINED: How to sell a car in Austria

Whether your time in Austria is coming to an end or you simply want to upgrade your vehicle, it's always good to understand the process of selling a car in the Alpine Republic.

EXPLAINED: How to sell a car in Austria

The used car market is booming in Austria right now – and in many other parts of Europe – making it a good time for anyone selling a car.

But before you start posting a listing on Willhaben (Austria’s online marketplace), it’s a good idea to know the rules about selling a vehicle in Austria, as well as the benefits of selling privately or through a dealer.

Here’s what you need to know.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: Will Austria ban horse-drawn carriages?

Private sale

Selling a car (or Auto, in German) privately means you can maximise the potential profit by not paying any fees to a third party.

The most popular methods in Austria for selling privately are online or through a personal network, such as family, friends and colleagues.

If you choose to go down the online route, platforms like Willhaben and Auto Scout 24 are good starting points.

Then there are workplace and community notice boards to consider, as well as social networks like Facebook.

However, the downside of selling privately is that you will personally have to take care of all advertisements, negotiations and official paperwork, including a purchase contract or invoice.

FOR MEMBERS: Importing a car in Austria: What’s the process for EU and non-EU vehicles?

Sell via a dealer

Another option when selling a car in Austria is to use a dealer. This is essentially a third party who will advertise and sell the vehicle for you – usually for a percentage of the sale price.

A big advantage of this method is that you can sit back and relax while a dealer puts in the effort, and vehicles can sell quicker with a dealer than by private sale. You can even trade in your car and put the profit towards an upgrade once it has been sold.

Additionally, some dealers offer optional extras like cleaning services to ensure your car looks its best before hitting the market.

A disadvantage though is that you will end up having to pay the dealer a commission, which will eat into your profit.

Negotiations

In Austria it’s common for people to barter on the advertised price of a used car. 

When selling a car, expect potential buyers to negotiate at around 10 percent less of the asking price.

It’s also worth keeping in mind that sellers do not have to show proof of a technical inspection when selling a car in Austria, but some buyers might ask for it as part of the negotiations.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: Everything you need to know about retiring in Austria

The legal process of selling a car

When anyone buys a car in Austria, they are legally required to register it in their name at the nearest Versicherungsverband Österreich (VVÖ).

Then, when a car is sold, the opposite applies and it has to be deregistered before the new owner can register the vehicle in their name.

Documents required to deregister a car are photo ID, registration certificate of the car, the vehicle approval document (also known as second part of registration certificate) and the number plates.

If the previous owner has died, a declaration of consent from the executor of the registration holder’s will or a certificate of inheritance also needs to be submitted.

If the registered owner is not deregistering the car in person, then a proxy form needs to be submitted by power of attorney.

There are no costs involved when deregistering a car in Austria.

Useful vocabulary

Auto – car

Zu verkaufen – for sale

Autoverkäufer – car salesman

Nummernschild – licence plate

Preis – price

Useful links

Austrian Federal Government website

Willhaben

Auto Scout 24

SHOW COMMENTS