One day you get a wonderful idea: moving to Austria! In this small and beautiful country there are good job opportunities, the air is clean and fresh, you could have a home close to lakes and mountains, and it is a perfect place to raise your children. But what is the most important information you need to be able to live as a foreigner in Austria?
Since Austria is an EU country and part of the Schengen Agreement, it is not that difficult to live in Villach if you are from an EU country or Switzerland. All you need in order to live a trouble-free life in Austria are your official ID or passport and a few documents which you can get and fill out once you’ve arrived.
First of all, you have to declare that you have officially moved to Austria by filling out a form called a Meldezettel, which is an official residence registration form. This form must be filled out and brought to the proper authorities within three days of moving to Austria. You can find the Meldezettel online or you can go directly to the registration authority, called the Meldeamt der Stadt Villach, located at Rathaus Standesamtsplatz 1. Along with this completed document you need only your official ID or passport and your landlord’s signature. Please note: you cannot send these documents by email or fax; they must be handed in personally or sent by post (though be aware that there is always some risk when sending official documents by post).
When you fill out this form you can declare your new Austrian address as either your primary residence (Hauptwohnsitz) or your secondary residence (Nebenwohnsitz). The difference between primary and secondary residence is simple: your primary residence is where you have the centre of your life - your family, work, school, etc; a secondary residence is a place you sometimes live, but which is not the centre of your life.
If you want to live in Austria longer than three months you must then request the registration certificate, or Anmeldebescheinigung. In order to qualify for this certificate, you must have one of the following: proof that you are self-employed or employed by a company in Austria; proof that you are in Austria on a study course at an approved school, and also that you have comprehensive health insurance and enough money to support yourself and any family members who are with you; or simply proof that you have comprehensive health insurance and enough money to support yourself and any family members who are with you. You must have all necessary documentation and request this certificate within four months after handing in your Meldezettel. This document costs € 15.00, is just for EU and Swiss citizens, and you have to hand everything in at the Rathaus, Eingang II, 2nd floor, room 202.
Moving to Austria for non-EU citizens is not as easy as it is for EU and Swiss citizens, and there are quite a few things to take into account. One of the most important things to do needs to happen before you depart your home country - you need to contact your embassy in Austria and get the information about the visa that you’ll need. There are several visa options depending on your country of origin, which can grant you a stay from between three and six months. If you want permission to stay longer than six months you will need one of the following residence permits. There are quite a few different types of residence permits for non-EU citizens who want to move to Austria, and which one you’ll need depends on the reason for your move.
As noted above in the section about EU citizens, non-EU citizens who wish to settle in Austria for more than three months must also declare this officially by filling out and handing in a Meldezettel within three days of finding accommodation. The information is the same for citizens of all countries (please see above!) except that non-EU citizens have to bring the form and other required documents to rooms 204 and 205 in the Villach Rathaus.
The healthcare system in Austria is generally fantastic, and it is important to know that it is compulsory to have health insurance. If you are employed, you will be signed up for a health insurance plan through your employer, and it will be paid partly by your employer and partly deducted from your paycheck. If you are self-employed or unemployed then you will need to register for a healthcare policy yourself. With all normal types of insurance policies you will rarely have to pay very much out of pocket when you visit the doctor, unless you opt for optional procedures or upgrades to the standard service.
People living in Austria normally cannot choose which organization insures them, as it is based on their job category; however, if you are self-employed you have more of a choice of which organization you are insured by. No matter what your employment situation is you can always upgrade to different types of private insurance, which is extra coverage that you pay for yourself but which also gives more choice regarding doctors and services.
There is certainly no lack of bureaucracy in Austria, but these processes normally go smoothly and you will often find civil servants who are ready to help you. Make sure to prepare those documents when you arrive in Villach and your new adventure will get off to a good start!
Nicole Lazzari is an Italian expat from Pordenone, Friuli Venezia Giulia.
She studied Cultural Tourism and Management of Cultural Activities in Italy and in February she started her new adventure in Villach. She loves taking picture with her Canon, go to Festivals and discover new cultures.
Nicole writes about Friuli Venezia Giulia in turismofvg.it, as she is an official Social Ambassador, and about Kärnten at welcome2villach.at.