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Reader question: Will Austria follow Spain in introducing a digital nomad visa?

Amanda Previdelli
Amanda Previdelli - [email protected]
Reader question: Will Austria follow Spain in introducing a digital nomad visa?
Digital nomads can work from anywhere in the world - in theory. (Photo by Windows on Unsplash)

There is a trend among European countries to introduce visas that permit remote workers to relocate from abroad. However, the question remains whether Austria will also adopt such a visa. Here is an overview of the current situation.

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In January, there was positive news for individuals who work remotely and are interested in relocating to southern Europe. 

Spain has recently introduced a 'digital nomad' visa, also known as the visa for remote workers, which permits non-EU freelancers and remote workers to enter and reside in the country (for more information, visit our sister site The Local Spain). 

Portugal also offers a digital nomad visa that permits remote workers to reside in the country for up to one year.

With more European countries acknowledging the advantages of permitting remote workers to relocate from other countries, one may wonder if Austria will follow suit.

READ ALSO: Digital nomad visas: How does Austria compare with other countries?

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Is Austria looking to implement a digital nomad visa?

There are currently no government plans to implement a digital nomad visa in Austria. Most countries in Europe with such a visa demand digital nomads earn high salaries - in areas that usually have lower average wages. This heats up the local economy and brings money to the country or specific regions, such as the coastal areas of Portugal

It's perfect for countries such as Croatia, Greece, Malta and Spain. However, Austria has other issues that won't be addressed through a digital visa. 

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Currently, the country is actually trying to attract more workers to its short-staffed full-time workforce. Whereas it is hiring full-time teachers, doctors, or IT professionals, Austria is not looking for temporary workers who won't contribute to the tax system and pension fund in the ageing country - at least for now.

READ ALSO: How Austria is making it easier for non-EU workers to get residence permits

Instead, the government is looking for ways to bring back retirees to the workforce, attract part-time workers and make it easier for high-skilled immigrants to work in hired positions in Austria.

What are the rules now?

Citizens of EU and European Economic Area (EEA) countries can stay in Austria for up to three months (90 days) without having to register as a resident - and can work during this time.

For stays of more than three months, you'd have to get an Anmeldebescheinigung, which is a registration that shows you have health insurance and means to support yourself (usually through employment). In practice, since EU/EEA citizens have freedom of movement within the bloc, many people only find out about the registration years later - in that case, the fine for the delay is €50 (different provinces might have different fines).

READ MORE: Anmeldebescheinigung: How to get Austria’s crucial residence document

For non-EU citizens, things are more complicated. Some third-country nationals, like those from the US, the UK, Canada and Brazil, can stay in Austria for up to 90 days out of every 180 days as a tourist without the need to apply for a visa beforehand.

For people who want to stay in Austria for longer than 90 days, there is the option to apply for Visa D, which allows third-country nationals to stay in the country for up to six months as a visitor (or up to 12 months in exceptional circumstances). This visa has to be applied for in your country of residence before arriving in Austria.

However, as there is not a dedicated digital nomad visa in Austria, working in Austria remotely as a third-country national with a tourist visa or Visa D is not legal. In practice, it is something digital nomads do, as it is obviously impossible for authorities to check every tourist's computer for evidence of remote working. Still, working illegally in Austria could lead to extradition, fines and even a re-entry ban.

READ ALSO: Six official websites to know if you’re planning to work in Austria

What about a self-employed visa?

Austria has a long-term visa option for self-employed key workers. This immigration route is essentially an investor visa. It involves a minimum investment of €100,000 into a business, the creation of new jobs and proof that the business will have an impact on the region.

This is financially out of reach for most digital nomads and not in keeping with the digital nomad lifestyle.

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