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Austria travel guide

About Austria

Despite its small size, Austria has a long-established international reputation, which is why most visitors arrive with heads full of Habsburg, Mozart and Alpine visions. Some expectations are delightfully met – the mountain scenery is breathtakingly real, there are the omnipresent fingerprints of the old empire in Vienna, and home-grown musical icons Mozart, Schubert and Strauss are championed everywhere – but Austria also has a few surprises up its sleeve in the form of contemporary art, cutting-edge architecture and innovative cuisine.

Austria is frequently cited as one of the best places to live in Europe, and it is not difficult to see why. Remarkably safe and clean, it offers plenty of affordable culture, natural beauty and elegant Baroque and neoclassical architecture, as well as an efficient public transport system.

It’s also surprisingly varied. You can hurtle down a black run in the skiing paradises of Kitzbühel and St Anton, or cosy up with a hot drink in one of Vienna’s famous coffee houses. You can skate across icy lakes in winter or seek out wildflower meadows on summertime hikes. You can wonder at the intricate church interiors and the ostentatious opulence of the old Habsburg palaces, or indulge in a more low-key aspect of Mitteleuropa culture over a steaming goulash in a rustic country inn. Or you can ride a horse through pretty wooded tracts, get an eyeful of Rubens, Raphael and Rembrandt, and marvel at Hundertwasser House in Vienna – a fantastical housing complex characterised by its vivid patterns and mismatched colours.

Don’t try to squeeze it all in though. More than anything, Austria is a place to recline, relax and relish. Its natural beauty is the result of many millennia of natural activity and its grand art, architecture and culture was painstakingly created by many hands over many centuries. These aren’t sights to be hurriedly ticked off a list; allow yourself plenty of time to luxuriate.

Key facts

Area:

83,871 sq km (32,382 sq miles).

Population:

8,741,072 (UN estimated statistic 2017)

Population density:

106 per sq km.

Capital:

Vienna (Wien).

Government:

Federal Republic.

Head of state:

President Alexander van der Bellen since January 2017. 

Head of government:

Chancellor Karl Nehammer since December 2021.

Travel Advice

Coronavirus travel health

Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for Austria on the TravelHealthPro website.

See the TravelHealthPro website for further advice on travel abroad and reducing spread of respiratory viruses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Entry and borders

See Entry requirements to find out what you will need to do when you arrive in Austria.

Returning to the UK

Travelling from and returning to the UK

Check what you must do to travel abroad and return to England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.

If you plan to pass through another country to return to the UK, check the travel advice for the country you’re transiting.

Be prepared for your plans to change

No travel is risk-free during COVID. Countries may further restrict travel or bring in new rules at short notice, for example due to a new COVID-19 variant. Check with your travel company or airline for any transport changes which may delay your journey home.

If you test positive for COVID-19, you may need to stay where you are until you test negative. You may also need to seek treatment there.

Plan ahead and make sure you:

  • can access money
  • understand what your insurance will cover
  • can make arrangements to extend your stay and be away for longer than planned

Travel in Austria

FFP2 face masks are compulsory on public transport and inside taxis.

Public spaces and services

Regional COVID measures vary. Check regional rules before you travel.

FFP2 facemasks are compulsory in some public spaces such as supermarkets, banks and petrol stations.

Testing positive for COVID-19 in Austria

If you get a positive PCR test result, you will have to self-isolate immediately. You should contact the health authorities for further instructions by calling 1450.

If you test positive with a lateral flow test, you will be treated as a “suspected case” and must self-isolate immediately, following the instructions of the health authorities. A lateral flow test will usually be followed up with a PCR test. If the PCR test is negative, you can leave self-isolation.

Options for self-isolation vary by region. In Vienna, a free hotel is available for visitors who test positive and have nowhere else to self-isolate.

Rules for ending self-isolation after a confirmed infection vary by region and may require a negative PCR test. They should be communicated to you as part of the official order to self-isolate (“Absonderungsbescheid”).

Healthcare in Austria

For contact details for English speaking doctors visit our list of healthcare providers.

Your emotional and mental wellbeing is important. Read guidance on how to look after your mental wellbeing and mental health.

View Health for further details on healthcare in Austria.

COVID-19 vaccines if you live in Austria

Wherever possible British nationals should aim to be vaccinated in the country where they live. We will update this page when the Government of Austria announces new information on the national vaccination programme. You can sign up to get email notifications when this page is updated.

The Austrian national vaccine programme started in December 2020 and is using a range of vaccines: Moderna, AstraZeneca and Janssen on the eligible population over 18 years of age, and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines for those aged over 12 years of age. British nationals resident in Austria are eligible for vaccination. The Austrian authorities have issued guidance on how to register your interest in being vaccinated (only available in German). The guidance provides information and links on how you can register depending on which region of Austria you live in. Individuals over 80 years of age or who are in a high risk group can use the dedicated regional email addresses for further information. This service is separate to the need to register interest in being vaccinated. The Austrian government has published a range of key documents in English.

Find out more, including about vaccines that are authorised in the UK or approved by the World Health Organisation, on the COVID-19 vaccines if you live abroad.

If you’re a British national living in Austria, you should seek medical advice from your local healthcare provider. Information about COVID-19 vaccines used in the national programme where you live, including regulatory status, should be available from local authorities.

If you receive your COVID-19 vaccination in Austria, you can get an EU Digital COVID Certificate from the national authorities. The Certificate proves that you have been vaccinated against COVID-19, received a negative test result, or recovered from COVID-19. It will help facilitate your travel within the EU and, in some countries, you can use it to demonstrate your COVID-19 status to businesses and other organisations. For further information visit the European Commission’s EU Digital COVID Certificate page.

Finance

For information on financial support you can access whilst abroad, visit our financial assistance guidance.

Help and support

If you need urgent consular assistance, contact your nearest British embassy, high commission or consulate. All telephone numbers are available 24/7.

Crime

There is a low rate of crime, but petty crime does occur and you should take the usual precautions to avoid becoming a victim. Do not leave valuables unattended. Be especially vigilant around major public transport hubs and city centre parks after dark. Safeguard your valuables against pick-pockets, especially in the major cities when tourists can be targeted for passports and money. If you’re travelling on international trains to or from Austria you should be especially aware of your luggage.

Outdoor activities and adventure tourism

Hiking, mountaineering and other adventure sports are popular activities in Austria. Unfortunately, each year there are incidents with visitors getting into difficulty and needing the help of the emergency services.

If you are taking part in extreme sports, check that the company is well established in the industry and that you’ve arranged for your insurance to cover this specific activity. For sporting activities such as skiing, potholing and mountaineering, and for sports classed as particularly dangerous (e.g. off-piste skiing, mountain biking, climbing, paragliding or BASE jumping), your insurance should include mountain rescue services, helicopter costs and repatriation to your country of residence or possible transfer to neighbouring countries for treatment.

Check weather forecasts and conditions and make sure you’re properly equipped for the worst-case scenario. A map, compass, GPS and telecommunication equipment should always be used when travelling outside urban areas. Don’t undertake any activity alone, and consider hiring a guide for expert advice. Always leave copies of your itinerary with someone.

Skiing

If you are planning a skiing holiday, for advice on weather and safety conditions before you travel contact the Austrian Tourist Agency by email: info@austria.info or telephone 00800 400 200 00. Off-piste skiing is highly dangerous. You should follow all safety instructions carefully given the danger of avalanches in some areas and in particular in times of heavy snow. Always check with the local tourist offices on current snow and weather conditions on arrival. Avalanche beepers (receivers) are the most common rescue devices and when properly used provide the fastest way of locating an avalanche victim. You can get information about the risk of an avalanche occurring by email: lawine@tirol.gv.at or by visiting the websites of the Tirol Avalanche Warning Service or the European Avalanche Warning Service. Take extra care during the spring season, as this is when avalanches most commonly occur.

Read more about how to stay safe on the slopes.

Road travel

In 2019 there were 416 road deaths in Austria (source: Department for Transport). This equates to 4.7 road deaths per 100,000 of population. By comparison, the UK average was 2.6 road deaths per 100,000 of population in 2019.

See the European Commission,AA and RAC guides to driving in Austria, and the website of the Austrian Transport Ministry.

If you are planning to drive in Austria, see information on Driving Abroad.

Licences and documents

When driving in Austria, you should always carry your full British licence, ownership documents and insurance details. You must be at least 18 years of age to drive in Austria unless you are learning under supervision and have met the relevant legal requirements.

If you’re living in Austria, check the Living in Guide for information on requirements for residents. 

Driving a British car abroad

You may need a UK sticker to drive your car outside the UK. From 28 September 2021 UK stickers have replaced GB stickers. Check the GOV.UK Displaying number plates website for more information on what to do if you are driving outside the UK.

Driving regulations

If you are stopped by police on the motorway the police officer will identify him or herself. Unmarked vehicles will have a flashing electronic sign in the rear window, which reads ‘Stopp’, ‘Polizei’ and ’Folgen’. If you are in any doubt, contact the police on the emergency number 133. Drivers have the right to ask to speak to uniformed patrol officers.

The legal drink driving limit in Austria is 50 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood. The limit is 10 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood for coach/HGV drivers and those who have had a licence for less than two years. Penalties for driving under the influence of alcohol are severe.

You must carry a high visibility warning vest and wear it when exiting the vehicle on the hard shoulder or in the event of breakdown. You must also have a first aid kit and a warning triangle inside the car. Only ‘hands free’ mobile telephones can be used whilst driving.

It is no longer compulsory for cars to be driven with headlights switched on throughout the day all year round. If you are travelling in a right-hand drive car you will need headlamp converters in the form of stickers that can be put on your headlights when you are driving on the right.

Motorists in Austria must form an emergency corridor as soon as traffic ceases to progress and congestion is imminent on motorways or dual carriageways and highways, regardless of whether emergency vehicles are already in the vicinity or not.

Motorway travel

If you use Austrian motorways (‘Autobahn’) and ‘S’ roads you must display a motorway vignette (sticker) on the inside of the windscreen of your vehicle as you enter Austria. Failure to have one will mean a heavy, on-the-spot fine. You can get a motorway vignette at all major border crossings into Austria and at larger petrol stations.

All vehicles above 3.5 tonnes maximum permitted laden weight using motorways and expressways must have a small device - called the ‘GO-BOX ‘ - attached to the windscreen. This includes larger private vehicles like motor caravans that are above the weight limit. If your vehicle is close to the weight limit you should carry proof of the maximum permitted laden weight. If your registration documents don’t clearly state this, you will need to produce alternative certification, eg from a weighbridge

The GO-BOX uses the high frequency range to communicate with toll points, making it possible to effect an automatic toll deduction without slowing down or stopping. They can be obtained for a one-off fee of Euro 5.00 at sales centres in Austria and neighbouring countries, or online.

Road hauliers

There is a ban on all lorries over 7.5 tonnes laden weight (without a trailer) or over 3.5 tonnes (with a trailer) which applies throughout the year on all motorways on Saturdays between 15:00 and 24:00 and all day on Sundays and public holidays. Lorries over 7.5 tonnes laden weight are also prohibited from using motorways throughout the year between 22:00 and 05:00. There is a ban on lorries over 7.5 tonnes laden weight overtaking on several motorways. Look out for special signs.

The Transport Ministry and ASFINAG (the semi-privatised motorway operator) carry out stringent checks on HGVs. All vehicles must be roadworthy and correctly documented. Vehicles found to have defects are likely to be impounded until the completion of necessary repairs.

Road travel in winter (1 November to 15 April)

All vehicles must be adapted to winter road conditions between 1 November and 15 April. Snow chains on the driving wheels will only be allowed as an alternative where the road is fully covered by snow and/or ice and the road surface will not be damaged by the chains. Chains or summer tyres will not be allowed for slush conditions. Heavy fines or temporary loss of vehicle may be imposed on those who ignore this legislation.

Terrorist attacks in Austria can’t be ruled out.

UK Counter Terrorism Policing has information and advice on staying safe abroad and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack. Find out more about the global threat from terrorism.

There is a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against UK interests and British nationals, from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria. You should be vigilant at this time.

Drug laws are similar to those in the UK. Possessing or trafficking drugs will be dealt with severely. If convicted a lengthy prison sentence is usual.

Under Austrian law, you’re required to have your passport readily accessible at all times. If you don’t carry your passport with you, your passport must be in the same district as you, and you must be able to access it within a reasonable time. A UK driving licence isn’t recognised as an official form of ID.

As of 1 October 2017, it’s illegal in Austria to wear in a public place any clothing or object which conceals the face and makes facial features unrecognisable. Failure to comply with this law is punishable by an on-the-spot fine of up to €150. You could also be required to attend a police station if you refuse to uncover your face once asked, or if your identity is impossible to determine. The law applies to both residents and visitors. See the website of the Austrian Interior Ministry for more information on the law and a list of exemptions. This does not apply to medical or fabric face masks, which are compulsory in some situations due to coronavirus. See Coronavirus for more details.

If you use an individual paper ticket on a bus, tram or train, make sure you validate it in the machine on the vehicle or in the station. If you don’t validate your ticket, you may have to pay a high, on-the-spot fine.

Taking food and drink into the EU

You cannot take meat, milk or products containing them into EU countries. There are some exceptions for medical reasons, for example certain amounts of powdered infant milk, infant food, or pet food required for medical reasons. Check the rules about taking food and drink into the EU on the European Commission website.

This page has information on travelling to Austria. Check what you must do to return to the UK.

This page reflects the UK government’s understanding of current rules for people travelling on a full ‘British Citizen’ passport, for the most common types of travel.

The authorities in Austria set and enforce entry rules. The Austrian embassy in London has information for travellers.

You should also check with your airline.

All travellers

Passengers arriving in Austria do not need to show proof of COVID vaccination, a negative COVID test, or a certificate of recovery from COVID.

If you’re fully vaccinated

Entry requirements for Austria are the same for all travellers, regardless of COVID-19 vaccination status.

Proof of vaccination status

You don’t need to provide proof of your vaccination status for entry to Austria.

If you’re not fully vaccinated

Entry requirements for Austria are the same for all travellers, regardless of COVID-19 vaccination status.

If you’ve had COVID-19 in the past year

Entry requirements for Austria are the same for all travellers, regardless of whether you have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past year.

Children and young people

There are no specific requirements for children and young people.

If you’re transiting through Austria

Transiting is when you pass through one country on the way to your final destination.

Check with your airline before departing.

Check your passport and travel documents before you travel

Passport validity

If you are planning to travel to an EU country (except Ireland), or Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Andorra, Monaco, San Marino or Vatican City, you must follow the Schengen area passport requirements.

Your passport must be:

  • Issued less than 10 years before the date you enter the country (check the ‘date of issue’)
  • valid for at least 3 months after the day you plan to leave (check the ‘expiry date’)

You must check your passport meets these requirements before you travel. If your passport was issued before 1 October 2018, extra months may have been added to its expiry date.

Contact the embassy of the country you are visiting if you think that your passport does not meet both these requirements. Renew your passport if you need to.

Visas

You can travel to countries in the Schengen area for up to 90 days in any 180-day period without a visa. This applies if you travel as a tourist, to visit family or friends, to attend business meetings, cultural or sports events, or for short-term studies or training.

If you are travelling to Austria and other Schengen countries without a visa, make sure your whole visit is within the 90-day limit. Visits to Schengen countries within the previous 180 days before you travel count towards your 90 days.

To stay longer, to work or study, for business or for other reasons, you will need to meet the Austrian government’s entry requirements. Check with the Austrian Embassy what type of visa and/or work permit you may need.

If you are travelling to Austria for work, read the guidance on visas and permits.

If you stay in Austria with a residence permit or long-stay visa, this does not count towards your 90-day visa-free limit.

Passport stamping

Check your passport is stamped if you enter or exit the Schengen area through Austria as a visitor. Border guards will use passport stamps to check you’re complying with the 90-day visa-free limit for short stays in the Schengen area. If relevant entry or exit stamps are not in your passport, border guards will presume that you have overstayed your visa-free limit.

You can show evidence of when and where you entered or exited the Schengen area, and ask the border guards to add this date and location in your passport. Examples of acceptable evidence include boarding passes and tickets.

You may also need to:

  • show a return or onward ticket
  • show you have enough money for your stay

If you are resident in Austria, read our Living in Austria guide for passport stamping information.

Travelling with children

If you are a single parent, or travelling with a child who is not your own, you will need documentary evidence of parental responsibility and a letter of consent. For further information on exactly what will be required at immigration contact the Austrian Embassy in London.

UK Emergency Travel Documents

UK Emergency Travel Documents are accepted for entry, airside transit and exit from Austria.

Returning to the UK

Check what you must do to return to the UK.

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for Austria on the TravelHealthPro website.

See the healthcare information in the Coronavirus section for information on what to do if you think you have coronavirus while in Austria.

At least 8 weeks before your trip, check the latest country-specific health advice from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) on the TravelHealthPro website. Each country-specific page has information on vaccine recommendations, any current health risks or outbreaks, and factsheets with information on staying healthy abroad. Guidance is also available from NHS (Scotland) on the FitForTravel website.

General information on travel vaccinations and a travel health checklist is available on the NHS website. You may then wish to contact your health adviser or pharmacy for advice on other preventive measures and managing any pre-existing medical conditions while you’re abroad.

The legal status and regulation of some medicines prescribed or purchased in the UK can be different in other countries. If you’re travelling with prescription or over-the-counter medicine, read this guidance from NaTHNaC on best practice when travelling with medicines. For further information on the legal status of a specific medicine, you’ll need to contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to.

While travel can be enjoyable, it can sometimes be challenging. There are clear links between mental and physical health, so looking after yourself during travel and when abroad is important. Information on travelling with mental health conditions is available in our guidance page. Further information is also available from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC).

Healthcare

You should get a free UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) or European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) before leaving the UK. If you already have an EHIC it will still be valid as long as it remains in date.

The GHIC or EHIC entitles you to state provided medical treatment that may become necessary during your trip. Any treatment provided is on the same terms as Austrian nationals. If you don’t have your EHIC with you or you’ve lost it, you can call the NHS Overseas Healthcare Team on +44 191 218 1999 to get a Provisional Replacement Certificate.

It’s important to take out appropriate travel insurance for your needs. A GHIC or EHIC is not an alternative to travel insurance and you should have both before you travel. It does not cover all health-related costs, for example, medical repatriation, ongoing medical treatment and non-urgent treatment.

Read more about what your travel insurance should cover.

If you’re living in Austria, you can also find more information on healthcare for residents in our Living In Austria guide.

If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 112 and ask for an ambulance. If you are referred to a medical facility for treatment you should contact your insurance/medical assistance company immediately.

The currency of Austria is the Euro.

If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission. If you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad, contact the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) in London on 020 7008 5000 (24 hours).

Foreign travel checklist

Read our foreign travel checklist to help you plan for your trip abroad and stay safe while you’re there.

Travel safety

The FCDO travel advice helps you make your own decisions about foreign travel. Your safety is our main concern, but we can’t provide tailored advice for individual trips. If you’re concerned about whether or not it’s safe for you to travel, you should read the travel advice for the country or territory you’re travelling to, together with information from other sources you’ve identified, before making your own decision on whether to travel. Only you can decide whether it’s safe for you to travel.

When we judge the level of risk to British nationals in a particular place has become unacceptably high, we’ll state on the travel advice page for that country or territory that we advise against all or all but essential travel. Read more about how the FCDO assesses and categorises risk in foreign travel advice.

Our crisis overseas page suggests additional things you can do before and during foreign travel to help you stay safe.

Refunds and cancellations

If you wish to cancel or change a holiday that you’ve booked, you should contact your travel company. The question of refunds and cancellations is a matter for you and your travel company. Travel companies make their own decisions about whether or not to offer customers a refund. Many of them use our travel advice to help them reach these decisions, but we do not instruct travel companies on when they can or can’t offer a refund to their customers.

For more information about your rights if you wish to cancel a holiday, visit the Citizen’s Advice Bureau website. For help resolving problems with a flight booking, visit the website of the Civil Aviation Authority. For questions about travel insurance, contact your insurance provider and if you’re not happy with their response, you can complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service.

Registering your travel details with us

We’re no longer asking people to register with us before travel. Our foreign travel checklist and crisis overseas page suggest things you can do before and during foreign travel to plan your trip and stay safe.

Previous versions of FCDO travel advice

If you’re looking for a previous version of the FCDO travel advice, visit the National Archives website. Versions prior to 2 September 2020 will be archived as FCO travel advice. If you can’t find the page you’re looking for there, send the Travel Advice Team a request.

Further help

If you’re a British national and you have a question about travelling abroad that isn’t covered in our foreign travel advice or elsewhere on GOV.UK, you can submit an enquiry. We’re not able to provide tailored advice for specific trips.

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