Living in Austria For Members

EXPLAINED: Everything you need to know about retiring in Austria

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10 May, 2022 Updated Tue 10 May 2022 12:35 CEST
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People from all over the world can retire to Austria as long as they meet the immigration requirements. Photo by Nikolett Emmert on Pexels.

Retiring to Austria to spend time in fresh alpine air is a dream for many people, but who is actually eligible to retire to the Alpine Republic? Here’s what you need to know.

People from all over the world can retire to Austria, but unlike some other European countries, Austria does not have a specific retirement visa.

Instead, it has a residence permit that can be applied for by people that don't intend to work in Austria - like retirees.

This means anyone wanting to retire to Austria has to go through the standard immigration channels, with different rules for EU and non-EU citizens.

Here’s what you need to know about retirement in Austria and who is eligible to retire in the Alpine Republic.

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What are the rules for retiring to Austria as an EU citizen?

The process for citizens from EU and EEA countries to retire in Austria is relatively simple due to freedom of movement across the bloc.

There are a few rules though.

To stay in the Austria for longer than three months, retirees will need to be able to support themselves financially (e.g. through a pension) and have sufficient health insurance.

When it comes to accessing a pension from another EU member state, this is typically taken care of by an insurance provider in Austria who will deal with the approval process between the states. Access to public healthcare in Austria is also available to all EU/EEA citizens.

Currently the pension age in Austria is 60 for women and 65 for men. More information about pensions in Austria can be found on the European Commission website.

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What are the rules for retiring to Austria as a non-EU citizen?

According to immigration lawyer Patrick Kainz, the most popular visa route for non-EU retirees hoping to live out their golden years in Austria is to apply for a settlement permit. 

This is issued to people that do not intend to work in Austria and is referred to as “residence permit gainful employment excepted” (Niederlassungsbewilligung – ausgenommen Erwerbstätigkeit) by Austrian immigration.

Kainz said: "As the name suggests, it will allow you to live in Austria, however you do not get access to the Austrian job market.

"Austria even expects that you do not pursue gainful employment anywhere outside Austria - be it employed or self-employed - while you are holding this residence permit."

To qualify for the settlement permit, applicants must prove they have sufficient funds, comprehensive health insurance and a place to live.

Proof of sufficient funds means applicants must have a regular monthly income from a pension, profits from enterprises abroad, income from assets, savings or company shares. 

The minimum amount is €1,030.49 for a single person, or €1,625.71 for married couples or those in a partnership. 

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There is also a limit on how many settlement permits are issued to retirees each year (at the beginning of the calendar year) - something that Kainz says could be a barrier.

Kainz said: "These residence permits with gainful employment excepted are in high demand in most of the regions Austria.

"Many regions, such as Vienna, have implemented a pre-registration procedure, with a strict deadline and only people who managed to get a spot during pre-registration will be entitled to file their application.

"For this reason, potential candidates should explore the options and requirements to be granted such a permit well in advance of actually planning to move."

As well as proof of funds, third-country nationals have to provide evidence of basic German language skills at Level A1, in line with the Common European Framework of References for Languages. The diploma must be no older than one year when submitted with the application.

However, the application process will be entirely in German so for people that don’t have advanced German language skills, it’s best to hire an English-speaking immigration lawyer.

Additionally, Austria has a social security agreement with several non-EU states, including the UK, Canada and the USA. This allows some people to access their pension directly from Austria, depending on the agreement.

Again, it can be useful to find an English-speaking advisor to help with the bureaucratic part of accessing a pension in Austria if you don’t have strong German language skills.

After five years of living in Austria with a settlement permit, visa holders can then apply for permanent residence.

Want information on pensions? Then check out the following link. 

EXPLAINED: How does the Austrian pension system work?

Useful vocabulary

Retirement - Ruhestand

Pension - Rente

Social insurance - Sozialversicherung

Health insurance - Krankenkasse

Settlement permit - Niederlassungsbewilligung

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2022/05/10 12:35

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