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Expert guide to electricity and utilities in Austria

You are moving in a new home and need help for setting up electricity and internet? Call
0720 1166 39 (Mo-Fr, 8 am to 6 pm). We find the right offer and take all the administrative steps for you - for free. We call back as well.

Setting up base in a new country can be easy. Selectra provides all the essential information for activating utilities such as electricity and gas in Austria. Also, the article provides information on Internet and Phone services and navigates you throught the bureaucratic hurdles one faces when moving here.

Wien Stephansplatz Fiaker

Here you get all information about moving to Austria


Activating Utilities: Electricity and Gas

Light switch

call 0720 1166 39 for English-speaking assistance in finding an electricity or gas supplier

Ideally, you should start the electricity and gas activation service process about two weeks before moving in. This allows enough time for you to verify whether electricity and/or gas has been deactivated to your new home and for a technician to reactivate the line(s). If you own a propane gas tank, you may need to fill the tank. Keep in mind that if your accommodation is newly built, you may need to connect it to the distribution network.

That being said, starting energy service will be difficult if you don't already have a Austrian bank account and phone number, so focus on getting those out of the way first!

We are available at 0720 1166 39 Monday through Friday from 8am - 7 pm to help you set up energy supply. Or let us call back.

Setting Up Electricity

The electricity distribution system in Austria is highly fragmented, and can be quite complicated.

For more informations, take a closer look at our English Guide to starting utility in your new home!

Local network providers own and operate the power distribution network in a certain area, and while each one has the exclusive right to operate within their service territory, several providers may be present within the same city/town. Your local network provider is responsible for delivering electricity to your home, maintaining and operating the power grid, and for responding to power outages, and you must open an account with them in order to have power running in your home. The easiest way to find out which network provider services your home is to ask your landlord or the previous tenant or owner.

You will also need to open an account for your electricity supply. As of 2001, the electricity market in Austria is open to competition, meaning that you have a choice of electricity supplier beyond the historical supplier for your area. With many alternative suppliers developing in recent years, it is now often the case that the local/historic network provider is no longer the cheapest option for electricity supply. Call
0720 116639 to find the cheapest offers available at (Monday through Friday from 8am - 7 pm). Or let us call back.

To open an electricity account, you need to contact a supplier and provide them some basic information about your accommodation (heating system, cooking appliance, water tank, etc). If you can, you should also provide the supplier with a meter reading along with the previous occupant’s name.

Setting Up Gas Service in Austria

The natural gas system in Austria is similar to that of electricity: several local network providers are responsible for delivery within their specific service areas, but you have a choice of natural gas supplier.

There are approximately 30 natural gas distribution operators operating in specific areas within the country. As is the case with electricity, customers must open an account with an energy supplier to have gas service. Gas suppliers are responsible for providing gas supply, billing, and other customer service. Some suppliers propose dual offers (gas and electricity) which can often ensure greater savings.

Which energy offer should you choose in Austria? Some offers are more competitive than others. Think about comparing prices by calling our customer helpline at
0720 116639 (Monday through Friday from 8am - 7 pm)! Or let us call back.

Glossary of Austrian Terms
Austrian Term English Translation Austrian Term English Translation
Aufenthaltsbewilligung Temporary residence permit Meldezettel Residency form
Kontonummer Bank account number Bankleitzahl Bank code number
Miete Rent Mietvertrag Lease
Kaution​ Deposit Mietrechtsgesetz​ Austrian tenancy law
Bestandsaufnahme Apartment inventory Strom/Elektrizität​ Electricity
Strom/Gasanbieter Electricity/gas supplier Gas Gas

Activating Utilities: Phone and Internet

Looking for a Austrian Phone or Internet Plan? Call us at 0720 1153 57 from Monday to Friday 8 am - 7:00 pm to answer your questions and help you set up internet and phone service. Or let us call back.

Tablet WIFI

Call 0720 115357 for setting up Internet service

As a tenant you are often responsible for setting up Internet service yourself, and if you're planning on staying in Austria for three months or more, it is definitely worth getting set up a Austrian cell phone plan. You will also need a Austrian phone (or mobile) number if you are responsible for setting up electricity and gas for your home.

You can find a full list of operators on our supplier page (in German). Offers and operators vary depend on where you live, but the largest operators in Austria are Tele2, A1, UPC, and TELEMATICA.

Most phone providers offer both contracted plans (often 12 months or more), or contract-free (sans engagement) plans, and you can often save money by setting up an internet and phone plan together. You will need a Austrian bank account (with an IBAN) to subscribe. Note that an Internet box usually takes 7-10 days to be shipped.

GIS (Gebühren Information Service)Austrian regulations requires all broadcasting reception equipment (which includes televisions, radios, computers, laptops, and tablets) to be registered and licensed. You can register your devices online here. The cost of a licence ranges between 19,78 EUR and 25,18 EUR per month, but one licence can cover up to 10 devices in the same household. The Gebühren Info Service has more information about licencing and registration in English on their here.

Moving to a New Home in Austria

Umzugskisten Uhr Pflanzen

Finding the right flat is not always easy

Buying property in Austria is complicated and expensive for foreigners (though there are no formal restrictions on foreigners purchasing property in the country). If you are determined to purchase a home, you should hire a real estate agent to assist you. You can find a list of registered real estate agents (Immobilienmakler) on the Austrian Federal Association of Real Estate Agents.

Rent in Austria is relatively affordable, with prices for a one-bedroom flat ranging from 500€ to 800€ in most city centres. However, most apartments are rented unfurnished. Properties for rent in Austria can be found online (derStandard.at, Bazar.at, ImmobilienScout24.at, immowelt.at, and jobwohen.at are all popular sites), through real estate agents, by word of mouth, or through expat network sites.

Depending on which city or town you are looking to live in Austria, finding a place to rent may be relatively easy or quite stressful! Don't forget to use your common sense when searching online - if an announcement seems too good to be true, it probably is! Never send money before you have signed a rental agreement.

Paperwork Required to Rent in Austria

Making sure your paperwork is in order is an important element in your apartment search.
Renting in Austria is relatively straightforward, but you will be required to present some paperwork. Austrian landlords typically ask for the following documents from prospective tenants:

  • Proof of identity (passport)
  • Proof of earnings and employment status (employment contract, tax filings from the year before, salary slips) - in Austria, it is custom that tenants' monthly salaries are required to be three times the amount of their monthly rent (not including heating and other additional charges)
  • If you do not meet this requirement, some landlords may accept a letter of guarantee from someone who makes more money than you and will agree to pay rent on your behalf should you ever miss a month. The guarantor is usually required to provide proof of their employment/resources, along with a letter confirming their agreement to guarantee rent for the renter. Many landlords prefer a Austrian guarantor, though some may accept one living abroad.
  • Copy of your bank account details
  • Some landlords may ask for a character reference, or a letter of recommendation from your previous landlord, and/or may require you to fill in a questionnaire/application form

In Austria, landlords typically ask for the equivalent of three month's rent as a deposit, though there is no maximum deposit amount fixed by law. Sometimes they may ask for up to six month's rent (if they can prove that there is a risk with renting to a particular tenant). It is custom to pay the deposit by cash/cheque, with the amount returned to you (with or without interest, this is up to you to arrange) upon your exit from the apartment.

Lease and Rental Agreements

The "Mietvertrag" stipulates the terms and conditions of your rental agreement, including rental rates, term, etc. It must include the owner's name and address (including those of the agent, if one has been used), contract start and end dates as well as the length of the term, rental amount & terms allowing for increase (if applicable), deposit amount, type of dwelling (i.e. appartment, house, etc), and a description of the property.

Bestandsaufnahme

While not required by law, before signing the Mietvertrag the landlord and tenant should also draw up an "Bestandsaufnahme​" (inventory and condition report) at the beginning and the end of an accommodation contract, by mutual consent. It is a good idea to take photos and to do a meter reading for electricity/gas. Make sure to keep a copy for yourself (the tenant) as well as one for the landlord.

Household Insurance

While it is not required by Austrian law to have household insurance to cover the property, it is a good idea to subscribe to an insurance plan that will cover things like broken windows, theft/vandalism, fire damage, weather-related risks, etc.

Before You Arrive: Visas, Residence Permits, and other Paperwork

Please keep in mind that the information in this article is for informational purposes only. Check with your local Austrian consulate for the latest news and for answers to any specific questions you might have.

Depending on your nationality, you may need to apply for a visa and/or residence permit if you are planning to stay in Austria for more than six months. If you are an EU citizen, you do not need a visa to enter Austria, nor do you need to apply for a work permit (just don't forget about registering with the local authorities - Meldezettel). If you are from a country that takes part in a visa waiver programme with Austria (e.g. Canada, USA, Mexico, Brazil, etc.) you do not have to apply for a visa to enter Austria, but you will need a residence permit if you are planning to stay in the country for more than 6 months. Citizens of all other countries must apply for a residence permit in order to stay in Austria.

Do you need a visa

Citizens from the following countries do not need a visa to visit Austria, as long as they stay no longer than 90 days in the country over a period of 180 days. Note that this does not mean that you have the right to work in Austria. People coming to study should apply for a student visa.

Visa-Exempt Countries (not including EU countries)
Andorra Antigua & Barbuda Argentina
Australia Bahamas Barbados
Brazil Brunei Canada
Chile Costa Rica Croatia
El Salvador Guatemala Honduras
Iceland Israël Japan
Liechtenstein Malaysia Mauritius
Mexico Monaco New Zealand
Nicaragua Norway Panama
Panama San Marino Seychelles
Singapore St Christoph & Nevis South Korea
United States Uruguay Venezuela

Local RegistrationWhile nationals from EU/EEA/Switzerland do not need a visa to stay and work in Austria, all foreign citizens living in Austria must register with local authorities within three days of arrival (the Meldezettel form). This applies to EU and non-EU citizens alike.

Long Stay Visas in Austria

Unless you are an EU citizen, you will need to have a residence permit in order to stay for an extended period of time. The most common type of residence permit is the Aufenthaltsbewilligung, a temporary residence permit that allows you to do a particular activity in Austria. Note that residence permit applications must be made and approved before you go to Austria. You should allow for at least one month's processing time, as most applications must be sent to Austria. Once approved and issued, you can pick up your residence permit at the relevant issuing authority in Austria.

  • There are several different types of Aufenthaltsbewilligung (temporary residence permit categories)
  • Betriebsentsandter: temporary worker. This is a one-year work permit and applies to a specific job in a specific location.
  • Rotationsarbeitskraft: rotational employee (company representative/manager/executive) sent by his/her international company.
  • Selbstständiger: self-employed individual
  • Forscher: researcher (for individuals doing research work at an Austrian academic, research, or educational institution)
  • Künstler: artist (self-employed or employed)
  • Sonderfälle unselbständiger Erwerbstätigkeit: special employment situation: au-pair, journalist, guest lecturer, etc.
  • Studierender/Student: note that the student visa is for university/students only, and applies only to students of public and accredited private institutions.
  • Schüler: primary/secondary school (grade 1-12) students

If you are staying for a longer period of time, you may be able to apply for a permanent residence permit (Niederlassungsbewilligung). The Niederlassungsbewilligung permanent residence permit is eligible for those wishing to move to Austria for personal reasons (e.g. retirement), professional reasons (permanent work), and for those wishing to rejoin family living in Austria (that are not Austrian or EU citizens).

Working in Austria

If you are not an EU/EEA national and wish to come to Austria to work, you will likely need to already have a contract signed with an employer in Austria before your arrival in Austria. To avoid problems and delays, you should start the visa application process as soon as possible, as the visa process could take up to several months and requires a considerable amount of paperwork.

Nationals of certain countries who are under the age of 30 may be able to apply for a working holiday visa. Check with the local Austrian embassy in your country of citizenship for more information.

Studying in Austria

Buch Brille

Non-EU-students need a student visa

Non-EU students have to apply for a student visa (Studierender) in order to stay in Austria for their studies. The visa is multiple entry and is valid for the period of your studies. To apply for a student visa, you must be enrolled with a recognized institution (public university/college or an accredited private institution). You need to submit the following for a student visa:

  • A completed and signed application form
  • Valid passport (must be valid for three months following your stay in Austria
  • A passport-sized photograph, in colour
  • Your birth certificate (original or notarized copy including apostille)
  • Criminal record check/certificate of good conduct from the local police station with apostille
  • Proof of health insurance covering the entire duration for your stay
  • Confirmation of enrollment in the Austrian educational institution
  • Proof of sufficient financial means to cover your living costs for 12 months in advance (scholarship, letter of grants, bank statement of last two months/parent's account of last two months, other proof of income)
  • Proof of accommodation (e.g. rental agreement, accommodation agreement with a student hall of residence)
  • Statement of Financial Liability (Haftungserklärung; available only in German) if your stay in Austria is sponsored by someone residing in Austria

Opening a Bank Account in Austria

You can and should open a bank account in Austria if you are planning to stay in Austria for three months or longer, as it will make your life much easier - you need an Austrian bank account and IBAN to set up energy service and to get a mobile phone and Internet plan, for example.

  • You will need the following documents to open a bank account account in Austria:
  • Piece of identity (e.g. passport);
  • Proof of residence in Austria (e.g. your rental agreement);
  • Your employment/student details (e.g. copy of your contract, document confirming your registration);
  • Completed registration in Austria form (Meldezettel / Meldebestätigung)

A current account (girokonto) is the most common type of bank account in Austria, and usually comes with a bank card (bankomatkarte) when opened. Once you open your bank account, you will receive information about your account details (kontonummer), and the bank's swift code (bankleitzahl), and will be assigned a personal banker. While your bank account can be opened in a day, your bank card and cheque books will generally arrive a couple of days (up to 10) after that. You may be charged for some banking services such as the use of your credit card or a secure Internet access to your savings and earnings.

 

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