EU citizens, EEA citizens and Swiss nationals

Freedom of settlement and freedom to provide services are fundamental liberties in the European Union. All EU citizens are allowed to live and work in any EU country, whether self-employed or employed. EEA citizens and Swiss nationals enjoy equal freedoms based on bilateral agreements.

This means that EU citizens are free, within a given timeframe, to look for work, to study, and to settle in that country for that purpose and, possibly, to remain there after their employment has ended or they have completed their studies. The same holds for self-employed persons or entrepreneurs. This also covers cross-border services. Moreover, EU citizens are entitled to the same treatment as nationals in terms of access to employment, working conditions and the acquisition of permanent residency status (after 5 years), as well as to tax benefits and social welfare services.

Market access from other EU member states

The Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union governs the freedom of settlement and the freedom to provide services as well as the free movement of workers. Under this Treaty, EU citizens enjoy free access to the labour market in the member states of the EU Internal Market.

If you are self-employed, you benefit from the freedom to provide services, which allows you to engage in cross-border activities. This covers both working in another member state, as well as posting workers to another member state, in which case the general labour and social law rules such as the Act on Fighting Social and Wage Dumping must be complied with (Lohn- und Sozialdumping-Bekämpfungsgesetz, LSD-BG).

Short-term stay up to 3 months

EEA nationals simply need a valid ID card or passport in order to travel and stay in another EU country.

Stays of more than 3 months

EEA member states and Switzerland may require registration, if the time of stay and employment in the hosting state exceeds three months.

In Austria, you need to apply for a registration certificate within four months, if you are planning to stay three months or longer.

This application must be filed in person with the competent settlement authority (district administration authorities in the provinces and Municipal Department MA 35 in Vienna). The following requirements apply:

The EEA citizen must

  • work on an employed or self-employed basis or
  • provide evidence of having sufficient means and comprehensive health insurance coverage or
  • be a pupil or student at an accredited educational institution and provide evidence of comprehensive health insurance coverage and credible proof of having sufficient financial means.

Pupils or students in Austria must submit proof of sufficient financial means and health insurance to be able to stay in Austria for a longer period of time. However, in their case it suffices to submit mere statements (e.g. confirmation of parental support).

The following documents are required to obtain a registration certificate:

  • Filled-in application form
  • Passport or ID card
  • Proof of self-employment (trade permit, tax number), or employment (confirmation by the employer) or,
  • Proof of sufficient financial means (bank deposit, retirement benefits) and sufficient health insurance coverage or
  • Proof of admission to an educational institution, confirmation of health insurance, statements or other proof of financial means.  

Employment must be evidenced for at least six hours per week.

Certificate of permanent residence

After you have stayed in the country lawfully and without interruption for five years you may apply for a “certificate of permanent residence”, which entails absolute equality (also in terms of social benefits) with Austrian citizens. Prior to that, equality is reserved to persons in gainful employment.