Advertisement

Living in Austria For Members

Passports, money, Brexit: The main issues affecting Brits in Austria

Hayley Maguire
Hayley Maguire - [email protected]
Passports, money, Brexit: The main issues affecting Brits in Austria
Passport renewal is the most common inquiry at the British Embassy in Vienna. (Photo by Ethan Wilkinson / Pexels)

Life as a foreigner can be difficult, but not all nationalities experience the same problems. We take a closer look at the main issues impacting British people in Austria right now.

Advertisement

A few years ago, one of the main issues for British people in Austria was Brexit – particularly how a change in status from EU citizen to third-country national would impact them.

Now, a few years into post-Brexit life, the split from the EU is still causing some problems, but it's not the only issue that Brits have to deal with.

We spoke to the British Embassy in Vienna and British people living in the Alpine Republic to find out more.

READ ALSO: How Britons can move to Austria to live and work post-Brexit

'Majority of Brits help themselves'

The British Embassy is based in Vienna and is often the first port of call for British nationals in distress. However, the most common enquiries at the Embassy are for more day-to-day issues.

A spokesperson for the British Embassy in Vienna told The Local: “The majority of Brits in Austria help themselves by finding the information online via our website or by giving us a call. 

“Our most common inquiry is around passports. Specifically how to renew a passport from Austria and how to obtain an emergency travel document for urgent travel.

“The consular team assists those who need more specific consular assistance in Austria, particularly around arrest and detention, death cases, people who have poor mental health and a variety of welfare issues. 

“We also provide marital status documents for those wishing to tie the knot in Austria.”

FOR MEMBERS: EXPLAINED: How to get married in Austria as a foreigner

But when we asked British people living in Austria, they described issues that are slightly more nuanced and dependent on individual circumstances.

Advertisement

For example, Mike Bailey, an Austrian citizen in Vienna who gave up his British citizenship after the Brexit referendum, told The Local that financial insecurity had become a big problem for some people in the British community.

Bailey said: “For people working in tourism and gastro jobs, there have been difficult times – uncertainties about lockdowns, business models taking a bashing due to the pandemic and the volatile geopolitical situation also really impacting people’s standard of living.

“The cost of living crisis has been difficult for many with rising rents, utility costs and rising food prices making things harder. And of course, many have only been getting pay rises below the rate of inflation.”

Whereas for others, the main issues are related to integrating into the Austrian way of life and navigating a bureaucratic system that can be quite different to the UK.

Bailey explained: “For those who don’t have immediate financial problems, the difficulties are ultimately more about the way things are done differently – like purchasing a property.

“Property laws being regional – by province or in extreme circumstances even down to district/municipal level – definitely throw British people wanting to get onto the property ladder, as well as those initially considering property for investment purposes.

“And in post-Brexit year three there are still issues in Salzburg and Lower Austria over whether British citizens are covered by the Withdrawal Agreement and can buy property.”

Citizens of EU or EEA member states are treated equally as Austrian citizens when it comes to purchasing property in Austria. But in some Austrian states (especially in high tourism areas where the cost of property is significantly higher than local wages), third-country citizens are subject to a mandatory approval process.

READ NEXT: Property in Austria: Can I still buy a holiday home in Salzburg?

Advertisement

'Logistical challenges'

Outside of the Austrian capital, Keith Davies from the British in Austria group said he has noticed that travel back to the UK has become more difficult in recent years.

Keith, who lives in Lower Austria, told The Local: “It now seems to be a bit of a logistical challenge given the lack of direct flights to Bristol/Cardiff. 

“As I live out in the sticks, and not in Vienna, finding the right flight times can be challenging and given that even Ryanair flights can have delays these days, missing that last train home can prove costly.”

Another post-Brexit issue is an increase in postal charges, particularly the import tax that is now applied to packages that arrive from outside of the EU – something that Keith said is causing the most “angst” amongst the British in Austria group.

The regulation, which was introduced in July 2021, states that three charges can be applied to parcels from third countries, including the UK: a postal service processing fee (starting at €5), VAT and Duty (tax).

Gifts with a value of less than €45 should be exempt from the import tax, although this can be hard to prove and “is open to interpretation by both parties”, according to a British in Austria article.

FOR MEMBERS: What is a regulated business licence in Austria and who needs one?

Additionally, Keith said self-employment in Austria can be difficult for British people to navigate as the system is different to the UK.

He said: “In the UK it is very easy to set up a Limited Company and start operating. In Austria, it seems a lot more regulated and restricted as to what you can and cannot do.

“There is a whole different level of bureaucracy with the WKO [Austrian Economic Chamber], and remote working and the gig economy is also a lot more tricky.”

Are you a British citizen living in Austria? Get in touch to tell us about your experience at [email protected].

Advertisement

Useful links

British Embassy in Vienna

British in Austria

More

Comments

Join the conversation in our comments section below. Share your own views and experience and if you have a question or suggestion for our journalists then email us at [email protected].
Please keep comments civil, constructive and on topic – and make sure to read our terms of use before getting involved.

Please log in to leave a comment.

See Also