Buy a car

Everything you need to know about buying and owning a car in Austria

If you want to avoid import taxes and the effort of getting a car here in the first place, then you might want to buy one here in Austria.

Here are a few websites we can recommend for searching online for used or new cars from private sellers or car dealerships:

Importing for Personal Use

However, if you do want to improt your car, there are procedural differences depending on whether you are planning to import from a non-EU or EU member state:

Importing from an EU member state

The good news is that in this case no additional documentation or import tax payment is required. There is however a standard consumption tax (NoVA – Normverbrauchsabgabe) which is determined by the vehicle’s value as well as its fuel consumption.

Importing from a non-EU member state

Avoiding paying import taxes is a possibility in this case as well; under certain conditions of course. If you are moving to Austria and wish to bring your car along as a personal effect, it will not be exposed to additional taxation if you provide the following documents:

  • Proof of previous residency in the non-EU member state (minimum of 12 months)
  • Proof of vehicle usage in that particular country (minimum of 6 months)

In addition:

  • You must register the vehicle as a personal effect within 12 months of becoming an Austrian resident
  • The vehicle ownership may not be changed for 12 months following the tax exemption request (therefore, selling is not an option)
  • Just like in the case of importing from an EU member state, the NoVA tax must be paid prior to the start of the registration process (The NoVA tax must be paid whenever a vehicle is being registered for the first time for road use in Austria; it can only be avoided if you purchase a used car in Austria).

Car-registration: PROCEDURE

In Austria car registration is done at registration offices of insurance companies.

First thing you need to take care of before going to the registration office is getting a vehicle inspection. The second thing you need to do is prepare proof of a third-party car insurance. The level of an individual’s insurance payment is determined based on his/her driving history as well as the horsepower of the vehicle. Depending on conditions such as years of driving experience and number of car accidents, the insurer will choose the appropriate level (German: Stufe). The insurance fee can be significantly lower for ‘good’ drivers. Insurance payments can be made on a monthly, half yearly or yearly basis, where the last option is the most cost-effective one.

Documents needed for the registration:

  • Confirmation of third-party insurance
  • Passport/photo ID
  • Valid driver’s license
  • Proof of principal residency (German: Meldebestätigung) (only individuals with a principal residency in Austria have the right to register their vehicle(s) here)
  • Car-sale contract (German: Autoverkaufvertrag) / proof of ownership
  • In case of an imported vehicle: proof of standard consumption tax payment (at responsible tax authority)

Why should you register your vehicle?

A vehicle with non-Austrian license plates may be used in Austria for a maximum of 1 month. Once this period has passed, the responsible local authority has the right to remove your plates and take further legally predetermined steps.

It is also essential to point out that vehicles with foreign license plates cannot be parked on the streets of Vienna (only in private or other kinds of paid garages).

Exchanging your driver’s licence to an Austrian one

EU member state driver’s license

The validity period for these types of licenses in Austria is unlimited. If an individual wishes to exchange his/her foreign license for an Austrian one, he/she may do so at any point in time, without having to retake the driver’s test.

Non-EU member state driver’s license

  • Individuals whose primary residency is not in Austria: foreign license is valid for 12 months following the first entry
  • Individuals with registered residency in Austria: foreign license is valid for 6 months following the registry

Different Non-EU member state licenses go through different exchange processes:

Simplified process – no requirement to retake a driver’s test:

For all classes of driving licenses: Andorra, Guernsey, Isle of Man, Japan, Jersey, Monaco, San Marino and Switzerland.

For driving licenses class B: Australia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Canada, Hong Kong, Israel, Macedonia, Republic of South Africa, Republic of South Korea (if the driving license was issued after 1 January 1997), United Arab Emirates and USA.

Holders of other non-EU member state driver’s licenses must take an additional driver’s test (which is usually quite pricey in Austria).

The responsible authority for driver’s license exchanges is the Motor Vehicle Department (German: Bundespolizeidirektion Wien Verkehrsamt).

Required documents:

  • Filled out application form
  • Birth certificate
  • Residence confirmation
  • Passport or official photo ID
  • Old driver’s license
  • Two passport size photos
  • Medical report (only for non-EU member state licenses)

Make sure to prepare copies of the documents and if necessary official translations!