Reader question: Do I need to be vaccinated to come to Austria?

Many European countries require that tourists, especially those outside of the EU, be vaccinated against Covid-19 to enter. With Covid measures being wound back, what are the current rules in Austria?

Reader question: Do I need to be vaccinated to come to Austria?
Having a few documents handy might help during border control checks. Photo: Skitterphoto/Pexels

The European Council proposed a framework for travel from outside the European Union, prioritising vaccinated travellers to promote safe reopening steps.

The decision stated that member states should reopen systematically to those vaccinated with vaccines having completed the World Health Organisation, but left it to the countries themselves to make a final decision on regulations.

Austria has decided on a relatively moderate entry regulation.

As a result, travellers are currently not required to have been vaccinated against Covid-19 to enter the country, regardless of the reason for travel or the country they are entering from.

Here are the updated entry restrictions you should be aware of when coming to Austria.

The so-called 3G rule

To enter Austria, travellers need to show proof of vaccination, or proof of recent recovery from a Covid-19 infection, or a negative test result.

READ ALSO: Easter holidays: What to expect if you are coming to Austria

This applies to arrivals from all countries, people of all nationalities and for all reasons for travel. People who cannot show 3G proof will still be allowed in Austria but will need to register online and go into quarantine.

What counts as vaccination proof

For two-dose vaccinations, the proof is valid for 270 days after the second dose, and there need to be at least 14 days between the first and second shot of the vaccine. A booster dose is valid for 270 days after it was taken, and it must have been taken at least 90 days after the second dose.

If a person took a vaccine after recovering from Covid, the proof is valid for 270 days of that dose.

For entry purposes, Austria recognised people vaccinated with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine after 22 days of the first dose and 270 days after that.

READ ALSO: Vienna: How tourists, visitors (and residents) can get free Covid tests

BioNtech/Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Covishield, Covaxin, Covovax, Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, Nuvaxovid (Novavax), Sinovac, and Sinopharm are all valid for entering Austria. Mix and match vaccinations are valid, as well, according to the country’s official tourism website.

However, it is essential to note that both the validity period and the single dose of the Johnson&Johnson above only apply when entering Austria. Once inside the country, for purposes of the 2G or 3G rules, two-dose vaccines are only valid for 180 days after the second dose.

A Jannsen vaccine needs to be followed by a second dose.

Also, only EMA-approved vaccines are accepted inside the country, so BioNtech/Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, and Nuvaxovid (Novavax) are accepted.

Austria has removed most of its restrictions internally. However, the capital Vienna still requires people to be either vaccinated or recovered if they want to enter bars and restaurants.

READ ALSO: Reader question: What are Vienna’s new Covid measures?

What counts as proof of recovery or test

A medical certificate, including a recovery date, is necessary to prove that you have recently recovered from a Covid-19 infection. You can download a form in English here.

Notification of a positive test, including the NHS email, is not valid as proof of recovery.

If you have not been vaccinated nor recently recovered from Covid, you can still enter Austria, even if you are coming from outside of the European Union. However, you will need to show a negative Covid test.

A PCR test is valid for 72 hours, and an antigen test for 24 hours after the test was administered. The certificates need to be issued by official medical authorities, and self-tests are not accepted.

Who is exempt from these rules?

There are very few exceptions from the Entry regulations, but children under the age of 12 do not need to show 3G proof when entering the country. However, in Vienna, children need to show entry tests from the age of six.

READ ALSO: UPDATED: What rules do children need to follow for Austria’s Covid pass?

What about if I’m only passing through Austria?

You don’t need to show 3G proof or register online when you are making a transit journey without a stopover. If you are driving through Austria, you are allowed to make essential stops, such as to refuel, for example.

However, you might be asked to show proof that you are in transit or that you comply with the regulations of your final destination.

READ MORE: What are The Local Austria’s ‘reader questions’?

Important links
Health Ministry
Recovered form
Entry form (only necessary for those not complying with the 3G rules)
Foreign Affairs Ministry
Vienna City

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EXPLAINED: How to not be ‘bumped’ from an overcrowded Austrian train

Austrian trains have been overly crowded recently, with some people who had valid tickets having to be removed for "safety reasons". Here's how to make sure you get to your destination.

EXPLAINED: How to not be 'bumped' from an overcrowded Austrian train

Train travel is a safe and relatively comfortable way to get around Austria, but there is still much to do to make these journeys better for travellers, especially for commuters.

In Austria, a combination of high fuel prices, the adoption of the subsidised Klimaticket, and Vienna’s new short-term parking system, combined with other factors including a green surge and nice weather, has led to an increase in the search for train travel.

The operator ÖBB expects an even higher surge in the next few days, as warm weather meets holidays in Austria. This has led to several journeys being overcrowded, with people travelling standing up or being removed from trains when they reach capacity and the number of people compromises safety.

READ ALSO: Half-price Europe train tickets on offer in Interrail flash sale

“Safety is the top priority. If the train is too full to be guided safely, passengers must be asked to get off. If they don’t do it voluntarily, we have no choice but to get the police. This happens very rarely,” Bernhard Rieder from ÖBB told broadcaster ORF during an Ö1 interview.

Why are trains overcrowded?

There are several reasons for the surge in train travel, but they boil down to two things: rising costs for other means of transportation and environmental worries.

With galloping inflation, Austrians have seen prices of fuel climbing, and as the war in Ukraine continues, there is no likelihood of lower petrol prices any time soon.

At the same time, since March, Vienna (the destination for many domestic tourists and commuters) has instituted a new short-term parking system, basically removing free parking in the streets of the capital.

Driving has become more expensive when everything else seems to be costly, and many Austrians turn to train travel. Particularly for those who are holders of the Klimaticket, a yearly subsidised card that allows for unlimited travel for just over €1,000 – early buyers could get a hold of the ticket for under €900.

READ ALSO: Nine German expressions that perfectly sum up spring in Austria

The ticket allows travellers to “hop on and hop off” as they wish, making occupancy more unpredictable. However, it is possible to reserve seats even if you have them, and there are low-budget bundles for commuters.

The Klimaticket was created in an effort with the Environmental Ministry, looking to increase the use of greener transport alternatives in Austria.

The environmental concern is also one of the reasons why train travel is on the rise globally – travelling by train is also more convenient in many cases, with comfortable seats, free wifi, a dining area and the fact that you can start and end your journey in central stations instead of far-away airports.

READ ALSO: OPINION: Trains are in fashion so why is rail travel across Europe still so difficult?

Why won’t ÖBB only sell as many tickets as there are train seats?

A reasonable question, but that is not possible with the way train journeys operate in Austria – and in most countries.

Some tickets are “open” and flexible, meaning that people can board any train from a specific time. These are particularly useful for commuters who might be late leaving work, for example.

Additionally, holders of the Klimaticket and other regional yearly offers don’t need to buy tickets. They only need to show their Klimaticket card with an ID once checked.

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

What is ÖBB doing to avoid overcrowding?

After the several incidents of overcrowding when people even had to leave their trains despite having valid tickets, ÖBB announced it would bring additional trains for the peak season around the holidays (May 26th, June 5th and 6th and June 16th), increasing the number of seats by “thousands”, according to a press statement.

What can I do to guarantee my journey?

Despite the increase in offer, the operator still warns that “on certain trains, demand can still exceed capacity”.

The best way to try and guarantee your journey, according to ÖBB, is by reserving a seat.

READ ALSO: One day in Vienna: How to spend 24 hours in the Austrian capital

“A seat reservation is the best way to use the most popular train connections. Starting at €3, you can reserve a seat in ÖBB trains in Austria”.

Reservations are available online at the ÖBB app, at the ÖBB ticket counter, and at the ÖBB customer service at 05-1717.