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WORKING IN AUSTRIA

When are the next public holidays in Austria?

Planning vacations around public holidays is an easy way to maximise time off work in Austria. To help you get started, here are the next dates for your diary.

When are the next public holidays in Austria?
Residents in Austria get 13 public holidays a year, so make the most of them. (Photo by Lachlan Ross / Pexels)

We might be heading towards the final season of the year, but there are still several national public holidays to enjoy in Austria before 2022 is over.

Here’s what you need to know.

Austrian National Day

The next big public holiday in Austria is the country’s National Day on Wednesday October 26th. 

It was on this day in 1955 that Austria signed its so-called Declaration of Perpetual Neutrality, although the date has only been a public holiday since 1965.

FOR MEMBERS: Why everything in Austria is closed on Sundays – and what to do instead

The Declaration marked the end of the Allied occupation in Austria by British, American, French and Soviet Union forces, who had controlled the country since the end of World War II in 1945.

On Austrian National Day, the Federal President usually addresses the nation on TV, as well as honouring the victims of the war resistance and laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. This is also the day when new recruits of the Austrian Armed Forces are sworn in. 

Additionally, military celebrations typically take place at Vienna’s Heldenplatz and many museums offer free or discounted entry on the holiday.

All Saints’ Day

This religious holiday falls on Tuesday November 1st. It is a celebration of all saints of the Catholic Church and is also recognised in many other countries across Europe.

On the eve of All Saints’ Day (also known as Halloween), it is customary for lanterns to be left at Austrian graveyards. Church bells then ring at noon on the actual holiday. This signifies a release of the souls of the dead, according to the beliefs surrounding this day.

Many Austrians visit cemeteries on this public holiday and decorate the graves of loved ones with autumn flowers, like marigolds and chrysanthemums.

READ ALSO: From inflation to Covid: What to expect from Austria’s winter season

Feast of the Immaculate Conception

On Thursday December 8th, the country shuts down once again for another religious holiday, known as Mariä Empfängnis (Mary’s Conception).

This roots of this public holiday is a celebration of the life of the Virgin Mary as Catholics believe Mary was immaculately conceived on this day. Mary’s mother, Anne, is known as the patron saint of pregnant women.

During the Nazi era, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception was no longer allowed to be a public holiday in Austria. But it was brought back in the 1955 following a public referendum on the issue.

One extra bonus for Austrian residents on Mariä Empfängnis is that shops are allowed to open as the holiday falls during the busiest shopping period of the year. On all other public holidays in Austria, shops are closed.

People stand outside of the traditional annual Christmas Market in front of Vienna’s city hall in Vienna, Austria on November 15, 2021. (Photo by JOE KLAMAR / AFP)

Christmas Day

This year, Christmas Day (December 25th) falls on a Sunday.

Today, Christmas is a celebration of food, culture and gift giving, but the holiday has its roots firmly in Christianity as it marks the birth of Jesus.

In Austria, Christmas is mostly celebrated on the evening of December 24th – known as Christmas Eve elsewhere – and usually involves a meal with family followed by gifts. 

But as Christmas is on a Sunday in 2022, it means the holiday is technically lost. When public holidays fall on a weekend in Austria they are not replaced with another day off, like in some other countries.

READ ALSO: Reader question: What happens in Austria when a holiday falls on a weekend?

St. Stephen’s Day

St. Stephen’s Day in Austria is on December 26th, a holiday that is known as Boxing Day in places like the UK, Australia, New Zealand and Canada. In the US, December 26th is more commonly known as a shopping holiday.

In Christianity, St. Stephen is regarded as one of the first martyrs and it is believed he dedicated his life to helping the poor and needy. In Austria, the day is commemorated by visiting a Christmas market, going to church or attending a special festival.

As with most other public holidays in Austria, shops are closed on St. Stephen’s Day.

READ NEXT: ‘Mission 11’: Austrian government reveals tips on how to save energy and fuel

Making the most of public holidays in Austria

Austria has a generous public holiday allowance with 13 days every year.

So if employees plan to take vacations during the public holidays, they can really maximise their time off. 

For example, if a public holiday falls on a Wednesday, then it’s possible to take almost a week off work by only using vacation days for Thursday and Friday. But be sure to get any requests in quick as some people plan their vacation days for the entire year in January.

If you are a freelancer, then it’s always a good idea to be aware of public holidays in Austria – especially when working with clients in other countries that have different public holidays.

This way you can make sure you’re not the only one in your household working on a holiday. Or you can at least stock up on groceries before everything shuts down for a day. 

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WORKING IN AUSTRIA

EXPLAINED: How to register as self-employed in Austria

Working as a freelancer in Austria is an attractive prospect for international residents. But the process might not be as easy as back home. Here’s what you need to know.

EXPLAINED: How to register as self-employed in Austria

Anyone that has set up a business as a freelancer in Austria will know how confusing it can be. Especially if they are from countries like the UK and US where starting a business as a sole trader is fairly easy.

In Austria though, there are several steps to registering as self-employed, with limited information in English on how to navigate the process. 

So to help foreigners in Austria get started, we spoke to Vienna-based business consultant Miglena Hofer to break down the steps when registering as self-employed.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: What can I deduct from my tax bill in Austria?

Obtain a business licence (or not)

The first step to becoming self-employed in Austria is finding out if you need a business licence.

Sounds simple enough, right? But for those without strong German language skills, it can quickly become tricky.

Miglena Hofer told The Local: “There is a lack of information about the process in English, especially explanatory information. 

“In Austria there are also different types of self-employed people. The two main types are business owner and operator, and the new self-employed [such as writers, photographers].” 

“Almost everything requires a business licence in Austria. Even if you only intend to cover costs with your work, it still counts as a business.”

READ NEXT: ‘Brutal’: What it’s really like to learn German in Austria

The Ministry of Labour and Economics has a list of regulated trades that need a business licence in Austria (only available in German). Professions include electrician, hairdresser, florist and masseuse. 

If you do need a business licence, an application has to be submitted by the first day you plan to start working in your business. 

To apply for a licence, visit the Gewerbe­informations­system Austria (Business Information System Austria). This website has the option to translate the information into English.

Any professions that don’t require a business licence, like journalists, artists and teachers, are classed as new self-employed (Neu Selbständige) and can move on to the next steps.

Notify the tax office 

This involves filling in the form Verf24 and sending it to the tax office (Finanzamt) to inform them that you are self-employed. There is a deadline of four weeks after you have started operating for this part of the process.

You also have to make an appointment at the WKÖ (Austrian Economic Chamber) and become a member. This involves paying an annual fee (which varies depending on the type of business) and in some places, like in the Alps, you might have to pay a tourist tax.

However, finding information or help in English at this stage can be difficult, and business consultant Miglena advises anyone struggling to reach out for help.

FOR MEMBERS: Digital nomad visas: How does Austria compare with other countries?

She said: “Many Austrians refuse to give advice in English, which is a curious thing. This applies to all kinds of professional services, but it’s important that we are understood.

“I don’t want people to be afraid. I want to make starting a business in Austria easy. Once you know how to do it, it’s fine. But it’s easy to feel lost and be overwhelmed by legal German words.”

Set up social insurance

The final stage in the process is to register with SVS – the social insurance fund for self-employed people in Austria.

It is mandatory for everyone living in Austria to have social insurance (or comprehensive private health insurance). It gives people access to public health care and includes pension contributions.

Registering with SVS has to take place within four weeks from the date of starting a business. You will then receive an e-card (if you don’t already have one) and start paying social insurance bills on a quarterly basis.

The good news about SVS payments though is that they are tax deductible, so don’t forget to include them in your bookkeeping.

Useful vocabulary

Business registration – Gewerbeanmeldung

Business licence – Gewerbeschein

New self-employed – Neu Selbständige

Social insurance – Sozialversicherung

Tax – Steuer

Tax office – Finanzamt

Useful links

Austrian tax office

Business Information System Austria (GISA)

Social insurance

Self-employed in Austria

Ministry of Labour and Economy

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