Visas for Austria

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Visas for Austria

There are no border controls between countries that have signed and implemented the treaty - the European Union (except Bulgaria, Cyprus, Ireland, Romania and the United Kingdom), Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. Likewise, a visa granted for any Schengen member is valid in all other countries that have signed and implemented the treaty. But be careful: not all EU members have signed the Schengen treaty, and not all Schengen members are part of the European Union. This means that there may be spot customs check but no immigration checks (travelling within Schengen but to/from a non-EU country) or you may have to clear immigration but not customs (travelling within the EU but to/from a non-Schengen country).

Airports in Europe are thus divided into "Schengen" and "non-Schengen" sections, which effectively act like "domestic" and "international" sections elsewhere. If you are flying from outside Europe into one Schengen country and continuing to another, you will clear Immigration, but not Customs, at the first country and then continue to your destination where your baggage will have customs checks but there will be no further immigration controls. Travel between a Schengen member and a non-Schengen country will result in the normal border checks. Note that regardless of whether you are travelling within the Schengen area or not, many airlines will still insist on seeing your ID card or passport.

Nationals of EU and EFTA (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland) countries only need a valid national identity card or passport for entry - in no case will they need a visa for a stay of any length.

Nationals of non-EU/EFTA countries will generally need a passport for entry to a Schengen country and most will need a visa.

Only the nationals of the following non-EU/EFTA countries do not need a visa for entry into the Schengen Area: Albania*, Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Bosnia and Herzegovina*, Brazil, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Israel, Japan, Macedonia*, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Montenegro*, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Saint Kitts and Nevis, San Marino, Serbia*/**, Seychelles, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan*** (Republic of China), United States, Uruguay, Vatican City, Venezuela, additionally persons holding British National (Overseas), Hong Kong SAR or Macau SAR passports.

These non-EU/EFTA visa-free visitors may not stay more than 90 days in a 180 day period in the Schengen Area as a whole and, in general, may not work during their stay (although some Schengen countries do allow certain nationalities to work - see below). The counter begins once you enter any country in the Schengen Area and is not reset by leaving a specific Schengen country for another Schengen country, or vice-versa. However, New Zealand citizens may be able to stay for more than 90 days if they only visit particular Schengen countries.

If you are a non-EU/EFTA national (even if you are visa-exempt, unless you are Andorran, Monégasque or San Marinese), make sure that your passport is stamped both when you enter and leave the Schengen Area. Without an entry stamp, you may be treated as an overstayer when you try to leave the Schengen Area; without an exit stamp, you may be denied entry the next time you seek to enter the Schengen Area as you may be deemed to have overstayed on your previous visit. If you cannot obtain a passport stamp, make sure that you retain documents such as boarding passes, transport tickets and ATM slips which may help to convince border inspection staff that you have stayed in the Schengen Area legally.

Note that:

  • while British subjects with the right of abode in the United Kingdom and British Overseas Territories citizens connected to Gibraltar are considered "United Kingdom nationals for European Union purposes" and therefore eligible for unlimited access to the Schengen Area,
  • British Overseas Territories citizens without the right of abode in the United Kingdom and British subjects without the right of abode in the United Kingdom as well as British Overseas citizens and British protected persons in general do require visas.

However, all British Overseas Territories citizens except those solely connected to the Cyprus Sovereign Base Areas are eligible for British citizenship and thereafter unlimited access to the Schengen Area.

Further note that:

(*) nationals of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia need a biometric passport to enjoy visa-free travel,

(**) Serbian nationals with passports issued by the Serbian Coordination Directorate (residents of Kosovo with Serbian passports) do need a visa and

(***) Taiwan nationals need their ID number to be stipulated in their passport to enjoy visa-free travel.

To stay longer than 90 days, a non-EU foreigner will need either a long-stay visa (valid for up to 6 months) or an Aufenthaltstitel (residence permit). Visa-exempt visitors may be able to acquire a residence permit inside Austria after entry, but consulates do not recommend this route due to processing times for the permits and that the permit must be obtained within the initial 90-day period of stay.

Getting to Austria

By Plane

There are 6 airports in Austria with scheduled flights. The most important international airport is Vienna which has connection to all major airports of the world. Other international airports include Graz, Innsbruck, Klagenfurt, Linz, and Salzburg which provide domestic flights as well as connections to some European countries. Those airports are particularly popular with cheap airlines such as Ryanair. For traveling to the western states it is recommended to use the very close Munich airport.

The most common airports to visit Vorarlberg are Altenrhein (Austrian), Friedrichshafen (Ryanair, Intersky) and Zurich (Swiss).

If visiting Austria for winter sports, choose airport considering cost and duration for the whole trip (plane+transfer), not always Vienna and even likely not in Austria.

Unlike many countries, getting in to Austria for skiing shouldn't imply flying to the capital city first. Vienna itself is a 4 hour drive away from the nearest medium-sized resort, and longer by public transport.

With children

Austrian Airlines - Baby strollers weighting over 10kg should be checked in as a luggage; strollers below 10kg are allowed up until the aircraft board, and taken by personnel right at the entrance to the aircraft.

By Bus

Bus is not always the cheapest way to travel though deep discounts for advanced bookings are being introduced for long-distance travel (as far as from Warsaw to Austria for €4). The bus may also be the cheapest option if you want to travel at short notice or if you have large amounts of luggage. Bus travel is especially interesting for those comming from the East as there are many buses into Vienna and they are often faster than trains.

Eurolines Austria is the largest operator and organizer of bus travel in Austria though many services are not included in their scheduals.

By Car

Austria and all its neighbouring countries are Schengen members so in theory there are no border controls. For using the Autobahnen or Schnellstrassen, a vignette, or tax sticker, must be purchased. Costs are approx €70 for one year, €20 for 8 weeks, or about €7 for 10 days.

On some Saturdays in July and August expect traffic jams on the motorways between Germany, Austria and Italy when millions of German tourists head south at the beginning of school vacations. A delay of about 2 hours is not unusual. The motorway A10 between Salzburg and Villach is especially notorious. It's best to avoid those Saturdays.

From Germany

  • Motorway A8 from Munich to Salzburg.
  • Motorway A93 from Rosenheim via Kufstein to Innsbruck, Tyrol.
  • E43 (A96) from Leutkirch via Wangen to Bregenz, Vorarlberg.
  • E56 from Regensburg via Passau to Linz, Upper Austria.

From Italy

  • Motorway A23 to Villach, Carinthia.
  • E54 via Brenner to Innsbruck, Tyrol.

From Slovenia

  • E652 to Villach,Carinthia.
  • E57 via Spielfeld to Graz, Styria.

By Train

Austria has plenty of connections with all its neighbors daily. Every neighboring country (even Lichtenstein) have trains at least hourly. Many (Czech Republic, Hungary, Germany, Slovakia, Switzerland) even more frequently. The ÖBB (Austrian Railways) operate high-speed ICE and RailJet trains from cities like Zurich, Munich, Frankfurt, Passau, and Budapest. Eurocity trains are the next fastest trains available as well as the trains connecting the bigger Austrian cities called Intercity. Regional trains called EURegio and simply Regionalzug are also avialible from all 8 of Austria's neighbors.

Vienna is a the largest railroad hub but day and night trains from most Central European countries travel to many stops across Austria. Day trains are normally much quicker than night trains. Tickets can be purchased from certain locations to Austria via the ÖBB website. Always compare fares from the departure or even transit countries' railways as there may be price difference even for the same train. ÖBB offers discount 'SparSchiene' tickets to and from destinations like Croatia, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Serbia, and Switzerland for a flat-rate (i.e. €29 for a one-way seater, €39 for a couchette, or €59 for a sleeper). There are a limited number of tickets at this price. At peak times you need to book in advance. Additional offers are avaible to all countries in Central Europe, although many cannot be booked online.

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