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Working in Austria

Austria combines a healthy economy with very high living standards, making it an interesting option for expats. InterNations has compiled this short guide on working in the republic in the Alps to help you make the most of your expat experience.
Tourism, especially during the winter season, is an important driver of the Austrian economy.

At a Glance:

  • Tourism plays a very important part in Austria’s economy, and the Alps are its main attraction; around 70% of all employees work in Austria’s service sector.
  • The most common work permit expats need is either the Red-White-Red Card which is valid for twelve months, the EU Blue Card which is valid for 24 months, or the long-term work permit.
  • If you’re employed by an Austrian company, you’re immediately covered by public health insurance. Everyone who is insured automatically receives an e-card that you need to bring every time you visit a doctor.
  • For business meetings and negotiations, always make sure to be punctual and accurate.  You will also be expected to back up your statements with facts and figures.


For many people, Austria is primarily a holiday destination. Winter sports fanatics from all over the world come to Austria for a skiing vacation, while others come to enjoy hiking in the Alps during the summertime. Thousands of tourists flock to places like Vienna and Salzburg every year — some love it so much, they decide to relocate to the country in the Alps.

Most expats end up working in the nation’s capital, Vienna, which is home to many major international organizations, such as the OSCE and OPEC. Together with New York, Geneva, and The Hague, Vienna is one of the UN cities and hosts several offices and sub-organizations of the United Nations.

The Economic Climate in Austria

With almost 620,000 employees in 2015, tourism is a significant source of income and employment. As mentioned above, the Alps are Austria’s main tourist attraction, but city trips, cultural tours, and spa holidays also play an important part.

Looking at the bigger picture, it is the services sector as a whole (not just tourism), that is the motor of Austria’s economy. The majority of the workforce is active in this sector, generating over 70% of the GDP. Apart from tourism, trade and banking are the other main areas of interest.

The secondary sector employs 27% of the national workforce and accounts for roughly 33% of the GDP. While the mining industry has lost a lot of its importance in recent years, there are still a lot of jobs in environmental technology, logistics, and automotive production. Austrian employees are known to be loyal to their company, and this contributes to the country’s high productivity and GDP growth.

Organic Farming is the Future

Despite the fact that 87% of Austria’s surface is agricultural, mountainous, or forested land, only 1% of the working population is employed in the agricultural sector. The reason may be that there is comparatively little industrial farming. However, about 17% of the agricultural enterprises and farmers in Austria specialize in organic produce — they are one of the top producers of organically grown food in the EU.

Austria is known for having some of the world’s most unique wine regions. More and more people are working in the wine business, making it one of the country’s most important agricultural exports. Austrian wines are particularly popular in Germany, Switzerland, the USA, and the Netherlands

A Permit for Every Situation

Apart from Croatian nationals, EU citizens enjoy free labor market access. If you’re relocating to Austria from outside of the EU, you can consult our article on moving to Austria for a more in-depth explanation about the different work permits for expats.

Depending on your situation, these are the most important permits for expats:

  • the Red-White-Red Card, which is valid for twelve months and requires the passing of language module 1
  • the EU Blue Card, which is valid for 24 months and requires no language test
  • the long-term work permit, which you can apply for after five years of legally working in Austria and successfully having passed the language test module 2It is valid for five years and allows you to take up work anywhere in the country. Foreign spouses and children of applicants may also apply. 

If a foreign employer is temporarily transferring an employee to Austria, they require a specific permit depending on where the company is registered and the nationality of the worker. If the employer is an EU company but the employee is either a Croatian national or a non-EU citizen, an EU placement permit (Entsendebestätigung) is needed. If the employer is not from an EU member state or is originally from Croatia, the Austrian contractor must apply for a foreign placement permit (Entsendebewilligung), that is valid for four months.

For further information with regards to residence and work permits, please visit the Austrian Migration Portal of the Federal Government.


We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete. 

Fernando Achutegui

"InterNations events and forums have provided me with an extensive network of business and personal contacts in Vienna. "

Jayanti Malhotra

"The group of InterNations expats in Vienna is so open and friendly that it was very easy to make friends."

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