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Austria has a well-developed market economy that welcomes foreign direct investment, particularly in technology and R&D. The country benefits from a skilled labor force, and a high standard of living, with its capital, Vienna, consistently placing at the top of global quality-of-life rankings.

With more than 50% of its GDP derived from exports, Austria’s economy is closely tied to other European Union (EU) economies, especially that of Germany, its largest trading partner. The United States is one of Austria’s top two-way trading partners, ranking fourth in overall trade according to provisional data from 2022. The economy features a large service sector and an advanced industrial sector specialized in high-quality component parts, especially for vehicles. The agricultural sector is small but highly developed.

The Austrian economy rebounded well from COVID, recording a 4.6% GDP growth rate in both 2021 and 2022. The unemployment rate was 4.6% in 2022, lower than before the onset of the pandemic. However, Austria’s economy is forecast to stagnate in 2023, with a 0.3% growth rate, due to the global economic downturn and tighter fiscal measures in response to high energy prices. Inflation soared to 8.5% in 2022, reaching the highest monthly rates in 70 years, with high gas and electricity prices being the primary drivers. Inflation is forecast to remain high in 2023, at 6.5%, before gradually dropping back to 3% and below in the coming years. Businesses list high energy prices and shortage of skilled labor among their main challenges.

The country’s location between Western European industrialized nations and higher-growth markets in Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe (CESEE) has led to a high degree of economic, social, and political integration with fellow EU member states and the CESEE. Some 220 U.S. companies have investments in Austria, represented by around 300 subsidiaries, and many have expanded their original investment over time. U.S. Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into Austria totaled approximately EUR 12.8 billion (USD 13.6 billion) in 2021, according to the Austrian National Bank, and U.S. companies support over 17,100 jobs in Austria. Austria offers a stable and attractive climate for foreign investors.

The most positive aspects of Austria’s investment climate include:

  • Relatively high political stability;
  • Harmonious labor-management relations and low incidence of labor unrest;
  • Highly skilled workforce;
  • High levels of productivity and international competitiveness; and
  • Excellent quality of life for employees and high-quality health, telecommunications, and energy infrastructure.

Negative aspects of Austria’s investment climate include:

  • A high overall tax burden;
  • Rising energy costs;
  • A large public sector and a complex regulatory system with extensive bureaucracy;
  • Low-to-moderate innovation dynamics;
  • Low levels of private venture capital; and
  • Shortage of skilled labor.

Key sectors that have historically attracted significant investment in Austria are:

  • Automotive;
  • Pharmaceuticals;
  • ICT and Electronics; and
  • Financial.

Key issues to watch:

  • Although Austria has been able to cope with reduced natural-gas imports from Russia (accounting for around 80% of annual demand before Russia’s February 2022 invasion of Ukraine and falling to about 60% of demand for the full year 2022) via diversification of supply and increasing storage levels, possible disruptions in supply could remain an issue in 2023 and 2024. High or volatile natural gas prices as determined by European gas hubs like the Title Transfer Facility (TTF) hub in the Netherlands may also hamper business output. Other factors that could affect energy costs going forward include efforts to reduce natural gas consumption, further diversification of natural-gas supply, and increasing domestic production of natural gas (currently meeting approximately 7% of demand) and non-fossil biomethane.
  • Austria’s high inflation rate, reaching 8.5% in 2022 and forecast for 6.5% in 2023, slightly exceeding EU eurozone rates (8.4% in 2022 and 5.6% in 2023, according to EU Commission forecasts), may limit consumption and investment, and dampen short-term economic growth prospects. The government has provided several one-time payments to ease the burden on consumers and businesses, but it is unlikely to continue these supports through 2023.
Table 1: Key Metrics and Rankings
Measure Year Index/Rank Website Address
TI Corruption Perceptions Index 2022 22 of 180 
Global Innovation Index 2022 17 of 132 
U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, historical stock positions) 2021 USD 4,632 
World Bank GNI per capita 2021 USD 52,760 

Policies Towards Foreign Direct Investment

The Austrian government welcomes foreign direct investment, particularly when such investments have the potential to create new jobs, support advanced technology fields, promote capital-intensive industries, and enhance links to research and development.

There are limited restrictions on foreign investment. American investors have not complained of discriminatory laws against foreign investors. Austria’s investment screening law, which requires government approval of transactions leading to 10 % or more foreign ownership in sensitive sectors, has resulted in an increase in the number of investments screened, from less than three per year, to 50 completed screenings from July 2020 to July 2021, the first full year the law has been in effect. The majority of these screenings (31 in total) were for U.S.-based investments. Please see the “Laws and Regulations on Foreign Investment” section below for further details on the law and its applications.

Austria’s corporate tax rate was lowered from a 25 % flat tax to 24 % on January 1, 2023. The government is planning to reduce it further to 23 % in 2024, bringing it closer to the EU average. U.S. citizens and investors have occasionally reported that it is difficult to establish and maintain banking services since the U.S.-Austria Foreign Accounts Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) Agreement went into force in 2014, as some Austrian banks have been reluctant to take on this reporting burden.

Potential investors should also be aware of Austria’s lengthy environmental impact assessments in their investment decision-making. An update to the related law, as adopted in March 2023, is expected to reduce processing time but also sets up new requirements. Some sectors also suffer from heavy regulation that may affect certain investments. For example, the requirement that over 50 % of energy providers must be publicly owned places a potential cap on investments in the energy sector. Strict liability and co-existence regulations in the agriculture sector restrict research and virtually outlaw the cultivation, marketing, or distribution of biotechnology crops. The mining and transportation sectors are also heavily regulated.

Austria’s national investment-promotion organization, the Austrian Business Agency (ABA), is a useful first point of contact for foreign companies interested in establishing operations in Austria. It provides comprehensive information about Austria as a business location, identifies suitable sites for greenfield investments, and consults in setting up a company. ABA provides its services free of charge.

The Austrian Economic Chamber (WKO) and the American Chamber of Commerce in Austria (AmCham) are also good resources for foreign investors. Both conduct annual polls of their members to measure their satisfaction with the business climate, thus providing early warning to the government of problems identified by investors.

Limits on Foreign Control and Right to Private Ownership and Establishment

There is no principal limitation on establishing and owning a business in Austria. A local managing director must be appointed to any newly established enterprise. For non-EU citizens to establish and own a business, the Austrian Foreigner’s Law mandates a residence permit that includes the right to run a business. Many Austrian trades are regulated, and the right to run a business in regulated trade sectors is only granted when certain preconditions are met, such as certificates of competence, and recognition of foreign education.

There are limited restrictions on foreign ownership of private businesses. Austria’s investment-screening law requires an investment-screening process to review potential foreign acquisitions of 25%%or more of a company that is essential to the country’s infrastructure, lowering the threshold to 10% %for sensitive sectors (see the “Laws and Regulations on Foreign Investment” section below for further details). In April 2019, the EU Regulation on establishing a framework for the screening of foreign direct investments into the Union entered into force. It creates a cooperation mechanism through which EU countries and the European Commission will exchange information and raise concerns related to specific investments which could potentially threaten the security of EU countries.

Other Investment Policy Reviews

The American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) commented on Austria’s strengthened investment-screening law following implementation in 2020 that the two-month screening process takes too long and places an undue administrative burden on companies. AmCham advocated for expedited screenings for proposed investments with no clear threat to national security. Business interest groups such as the Austrian Economic Chamber and the Federation of Austrian Industries also commented during the legislation’s draft and review process that the strengthened screening measures would impose an undue administrative burden on businesses, the definition of sectors requiring screening was too wide, and the updated legislation would reduce the attractiveness of Austria as an investment location.

Business Facilitation

Austria has generally ranked in the top 30 countries in the world in the World Bank “Ease of Doing Business” reports, but starting a business takes time. The average time to set up a company is 21 days, compared to 9.2 days on average in OECD high-income countries. To register a new company or open a subsidiary in Austria, a company must first be listed on the Austrian Companies Register at a local court. The next step is to seek confirmation of registration from the Austrian Economic Chamber (WKO) establishing that the company is really a new business. The investor must then notarize the “declaration of establishment,” deposit a minimum capital requirement with an Austrian bank, register with the tax office, register with the district trade authority, register employees for social security, and register with the municipality where the business will be located. Finally, membership in the WKO is mandatory for all businesses in Austria.

For sole proprietorships, it is possible under certain conditions to use an online registration process via government websites in German to either found or register a company: eGründung ( , or Gewerbeanmeldung ( . It is advisable to seek information from ABA or the WKO before applying to register a firm.

The ABA website contains further details and contact information and is intended to serve as a first point of contact for foreign investors in Austria: Starting a Business in Austria | INVEST in AUSTRIA 

Outward Investment

The Austrian government encourages outward investment. Advantage Austria, the “Austrian Foreign Trade Service,” is a special section of the WKO that promotes Austrian exports and supports Austrian companies in establishing an overseas presence. Advantage Austria operates five offices in the United States (Washington D.C., New York, Atlanta, Los Angeles, and San Francisco). Overall, it has about 100 trade offices in 70 countries across the world, reflecting Austria’s strong export focus and the important role the WKO plays. ( Austria ist überall: Die AußenwirtschaftsCenter – ) The Ministry for Labor and Economy and the WKO run a joint program called “Go International,” providing services to Austrian companies that are considering investing for the first time in foreign countries. The program provides grants for market access costs and provides “soft subsidies,” such as counseling, legal advice, and marketing support.

There is currently no investment agreement between the United States and Austria. Austria has several Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs) in force, all of which can be found here: Bilaterale Investitionsschutzabkommen – Länder ( 

Austria was not among the 23 EU countries that signed the agreement for the termination of intra-EU bilateral investment treaties on May 5, 2020. Austria has terminated 10 of its 12 bilateral intra-EU BITS.

Austria and the United States are parties to a bilateral double-taxation convention covering income and corporate taxes, which went into effect in January 1998. Another bilateral double-taxation convention (covering estates, inheritances, gifts, and generation-skipping transfers) has been in effect since 1982 (amended in 1999). Austria and the United States signed the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) Agreement on April 29, 2014, covering U.S.-citizen account holders in Austria, and the agreement came into force December 9, 2014. Austria has 92 additional double taxation treaties in force with other countries. Two other Austrian agreements, with Switzerland and Liechtenstein, on cooperation in the areas of taxation and financial markets (which entered into force in January and April 2013 respectively) cover the treatment of anonymous accounts from Austrian citizens in those countries.

Austria is a member of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Inclusive Framework on Base Erosion and Profit Shifting and supports the establishment of a global minimum tax. Austria endorsed the Inclusive Framework statement October 2021, which includes a commitment to remove all digital services taxes or make them consistent with the agreed OECD framework once a Multilateral Convention comes into force.

Transparency of the Regulatory System

Austria’s legal, regulatory, and accounting systems are transparent and consistent with international norms. The government does not assist in distinguishing between high- and low-quality investments, leaving this up to the market.

Federal ministries generally publish draft laws and regulations, including investment laws, for public comment prior to their adoption by Austria’s cabinet and/or Parliament. Relevant stakeholders such as the “Social Partners” (Economic Chamber, Agricultural Chamber, Labor Chamber, and Trade Union Association), the Federation of Industries, and research institutions are invited to provide comments and suggestions on draft laws and regulations, directly online, which may be taken into account before adoption of laws. These comments are publicly available. Austria’s nine provinces can also adopt laws relevant to investments; their review processes are generally less extensive, but local laws are less important for investments than federal laws. The judicial system is independent of the executive branch, helping ensure the government follows administrative processes. The government is required to follow administrative processes, and its compliance is monitored by the courts, primarily the Court of Auditors. Individuals can file proceedings against the government in Austria’s courts, if the government fails to act in accordance with the law. Similarly, the public prosecution service can file cases against the government.

Draft legislation by ministries (“Ministerialentwürfe”) and resulting government draft laws and parliamentary initiatives (“Regierungsvorlagen und Gesetzesinitiativen”) can be accessed through the website of the Austrian Parliament: Startseite | Parlament Österreich  (all in German). The parliament also publishes a history of all law-making processes. All final Austrian laws can be accessed through a government database, partly in English: RIS Legal Information System ( .

The effectiveness of regulations is not reviewed as a regular process, only on an as-needed basis. Austrian regulations governing accounting provide U.S. investors with internationally standardized financial information. In line with EU regulations, listed companies must prepare their consolidated financial statements according to the International Financial Reporting Standards (IAS/IFRS) system.

Public finances are transparent and easily accessible through the Finance Ministry’s website, Austria’s Central Bank, and various economic research institutes. Overall, Austria has no legal restrictions, formally or informally, that discriminate against foreign investors.

International Regulatory Considerations

As an EU member, Austria must ensure its laws comply with EU legislation, and the country is subject to European Court of Justice (ECJ) jurisdiction. Austria is a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and largely follows WTO requirements. Austria has ratified the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) but has not taken specific actions to implement it.

Legal System and Judicial Independence

The Austrian legal system is based on Roman law. The constitution establishes a hierarchy, according to which each legislative act (law, regulation, decision, and fines) must have its legal basis in a higher legislative instrument. The full text of each legislative act is available online for reference. All final Austrian laws can be accessed through a government database, partly in English: RIS Legal Information System ( 

Commercial matters fall within the competence of ordinary regional courts except in Vienna, which has a specialized Commercial Court. The Commercial Court also has nationwide competence for trademark, design, model, and patent matters. There is no special treatment of foreign investors, and the executive branch does not interfere in judicial matters.

The legal system provides an effective means for protecting property and contractual rights of nationals and foreigners. Sensitive cases must be reported to the Ministry of Justice, which can issue instructions for addressing them. Austria’s civil courts enforce property and contractual rights and do not discriminate against foreign investors. Austria allows for court decisions to be appealed, first to a Regional Court and in the last instance to the Supreme Court.

Laws and Regulations on Foreign Direct Investment

Austria has restrictions on investments in industries designated as critical infrastructure, technology, resources, and industries with access to sensitive information and involved in freedom and plurality of the media. The government must approve any foreign acquisition of a 25 %% or higher stake in any companies that generally fall within these areas. The threshold is 10 %% for sensitive sectors, defined as military goods and technology, operators of critical energy or digital infrastructure and water, system operators charged with guarding Austria’s data sovereignty, and R&D in medicine and pharmaceutical products. Additional screenings are required when an investor in the above categories plans to increase the stake above the thresholds of 25 % or 50 %. The investment-screening review period generally takes two months. The number of filed applications has increased significantly since the law was implemented, from three per year to 50 completed screenings in the first 12 months after the updated investment screening law went into effect (from July 2020 to July 2021). None of the completed screenings was rejected, and two were approved with amendments to safeguard domestic supply of the product/service in question.

There is no discrimination against foreign investors, but businesses are required to follow numerous local regulations. Although there is no requirement for participation by Austrian citizens in ownership or management of a foreign firm, at least one manager must meet Austrian residency and other legal requirements. Expatriates may deduct certain expenses (e.g., costs associated with moving, maintaining a double residence, education of children) from Austrian-earned income.

The “Law to Support Investments in Municipalities” (published in the Federal Law Gazette, 74/2017, available online on the federal legal information system in German only RIS Informationsangebote ( ), allows federal funding of up to 25 % of the total investment amount of a project to “modernize” a municipality. The Austrian Business Agency serves as a central contact point for companies looking to invest in Austria. It does not serve as a one-stop-shop but can help answer any questions potential investors may have ( INVEST in AUSTRIA 

Competition and Antitrust Laws

Austria’s Antitrust Act (ATA) is in line with EU antitrust regulations, which take precedence over national regulations in cases concerning Austria and other EU member states. The ATA prohibits cartels, anticompetitive practices, and the abuse of a dominant market position. The independent Federal Competition Authority (FCA) and the Federal Antitrust Prosecutor (FAP) are responsible for administering antitrust laws. The FCA can conduct investigations and request information from firms. The FAP is subject to instructions issued by the Justice Ministry and can bring actions before Austria’s Cartel Court. Additionally, the Commission on Competition may issue expert opinions on competition policy and give recommendations on notified mergers. The most recent amendment to the ATA was in 2017. This amendment facilitated enforcing private damage claims, strengthened merger control, and enabled appeals against verdicts from the Cartel Court.

Companies must inform the FCA of mergers and acquisitions (M&A). Special M&A regulations apply to media enterprises, such as a lower threshold above which the ATA applies, and the requirement that media diversity must be maintained. A cartel court is competent to rule on referrals from the FCA or the FAP. For violations of antitrust regulations, the cartel court can impose fines of up to the equivalent of 10 % of a company’s annual worldwide sales. The independent energy regulator E-Control separately examines antitrust concerns in the energy sector but must also submit cases to the cartel court.

Austria’s Takeover Law applies to friendly and hostile takeovers of corporations headquartered in Austria and listed on the Vienna Stock Exchange. The law protects investors against unfair practices, as any shareholder obtaining a controlling stake in a corporation (30 % or more in direct or indirect control of a company’s voting shares) must offer to buy out smaller shareholders at a defined fair market price. The law also includes provisions for shareholders who passively obtain a controlling stake in a company. The law prohibits defensive action to frustrate bids. The Shareholder Exclusion Act allows a primary shareholder with at least 90 % of capital stock to force out minority shareholders. An independent takeover commission at the Vienna Stock Exchange oversees compliance with these laws. Austrian courts have also held that shareholders owe a duty of loyalty to each other and must consider the interests of fellow shareholders in good faith.

Expropriation and Compensation

According to the European Convention on Human Rights and the Austrian Civil Code, property ownership is guaranteed in Austria. Expropriation of private property in Austria is rare and may be undertaken by federal or provincial government authorities only based on special legal authorization “in the public interest” in such instances as land use planning, and infrastructure project preparations. The government can initiate such a procedure only in the absence of any other alternatives for satisfying the public interest; when the action is exclusively in the public interest; and when the owner receives just compensation. For example, in 2017-18, the government expropriated Adolf Hitler’s birth house in order to prevent it from becoming a place of pilgrimage for neo-Nazis, paying the former owner EUR 1.5 million (USD 1.6 million) in compensation. The expropriation process is non-discriminatory toward foreigners, including U.S. firms. There is no indication that further expropriations will take place in the foreseeable future.

Dispute Settlement

ICSID Convention and New York Convention

Austria is a member of both the Convention on the Settlement of Investment Disputes between States and Nationals of Other States (ICSID) and the New York Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards, meaning that local courts must enforce foreign arbitration awards in Austria. There is no specific domestic legislation in this regard, but local courts must enforce arbitration decisions where the affected companies have their business locations.

Investor-State Dispute Settlement

Austria is a member of the UN Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL). Its arbitration law largely conforms to the UNCITRAL model law. The main divergence is that an award may only be set aside if the arbitral procedure is not in accordance with Austrian public policy.
Austria does not have a BIT or Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the United States. There is no special domestic arbitration body.

In 2015, the Austrian government was sued, for the first time ever, by the offshore parent company of the Austrian Meinl Bank, Far East. The case was brought before the ICSID in New York because of alleged damages arising from domestic prosecution in Austria; the ICSID dismissed the case in November 2017.

International Commercial Arbitration and Foreign Courts

The Vienna International Arbitral Center of the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber acts as Austria’s main arbitration institution, handling both national and international cases. Legislation is modeled after the UNCITRAL model law (see above).

Bankruptcy Regulations

The Austrian Insolvency Act contains provisions for business reorganization and bankruptcy proceedings. Reorganization requires a restructuring plan and the debtor to be able to cover costs or advance some of the costs up to a maximum of EUR 4,000 (USD 4,257). The plan must offer creditors at least 20 % of what is owed, payable within two years of the date the debtor’s obligation is determined. The plan must be approved by a majority of all creditors and a majority of creditors holding at least 50 % of all claims. If the restructuring plan is not accepted, a bankruptcy proceeding is begun. Bankruptcy proceedings take place in court upon application of the debtor or a creditor; the court appoints a receiver for winding down the business and distributing proceeds to the creditors. Bankruptcy is not criminalized, provided the affected person performed all his documentation and reporting obligations on time and in accordance with the law.

Austria’s major commercial association for the protection of creditors in cases of bankruptcy is the “KSV 1870 Group”,, which also carries out credit assessments of all companies located in Austria. Other European-wide credit bureaus, particularly “CRIF” and “Bisnode”, also monitor the Austrian market.

Investment Incentives

Financial incentives and business subsidies provided by Austrian federal, state, and local governments to promote investments are equally available to domestic and foreign investors and include tax incentives, preferential loans, loan guarantees, and grants. Most incentives are targeted to investments that meet specified criteria, including job-creation and promotion of education, use of cutting-edge technology, improving regional infrastructure, strengthening SMEs, promoting research and development, supporting environmental protection, increasing renewable energy production, and promoting startups. Under these conditions, the EU ban on state aid would not apply.

Austria’s Wirtschaftsservice (AWS) is the governmental institution that provides most federal government financial incentives for businesses. Information on targeted investment incentives is available at INVEST in AUSTRIA 

The AWS also focuses on promoting investments, particularly for Subject Matter Experts (SMEs)s, providing guarantees of up to EUR 15 million (USD 16 million) over three to 20 years for investments in Austria and up to EUR 25 million (USD 26.7 million) for green and digitalization projects. Companies can also profit from growing their already existing investments, resulting in a 10 to 15 % additional grant for this expansion.

Various government agencies in Austria offer incentives for R&D activities, including grants of up to 14 % of investors’ total research expenditures. The incentives are also available for foreign-owned enterprises. The agencies providing incentives include: the Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG) ( FFG – The Austrian Research Promotion Agency | FFG ); the Austrian Science Fund (FWF), which is the country’s central body for the promotion of basic research ( FWF EN )and AWS (above).

Austria allocated over EUR 50 million (USD 53 million) in funding from 2022 to 2023 for investments in the life sciences sector to increase resilience and reduce supply-chain dependencies, particularly related to the pharmaceutical sector following the COVID pandemic. To date, the government has provided EUR 11.5 million (USD 12.2 million) for 11 projects to support production of medicinal products and digitalization of the health sector.

Austria’s 2022 tax reform, in force since January 2023, implemented a new 10-15 % (eco-) investment tax allowance for purchasing new commodities or business assets that have a life span of at least four years and/or have an ecological impact on the business of the company.

A law to expand the production of renewable energy provides for investment subsidies and subsidies to sell renewable energy on the market for investors installing new wind, solar, biomass, and hydropower plants, which entered into force in February 2022. The subsidies are subject to installed capacities and environmental conditions.

Foreign Trade Zones/Free Ports/Trade Facilitation

Not applicable. Austria does not have any designated free trade zones and no ports. Austria is a member of the European Union and Austrian trade policy falls under EU law.

Performance and Data Localization Requirements

If investors want to employ foreign workers from outside the EU in Austria, they need to apply for a work permit with the immigration authority in one of the Austrian provinces. The Austrian Labor Service (AMS) then certifies whether there is no comparable person in the pool of registered unemployed persons in Austria, which is a prerequisite for employing non-EU workers. This does not apply to senior management positions, researchers, highly qualified personnel, and a limited set of other categories.

Austria offers several non-immigrant business visa classifications, including intra-company transfers/rotational workers, and employees on temporary duty. Recruitment of long-term, overseas specialists or those with managerial duties is governed by a points-based immigration scheme to attract skilled workers and specialists in individual sectors (points are available for qualification, education, age, and language skills). This Red-White-Red card (RWR) model allows firms to react flexibly to rising demand for talent in different occupations. It is available to highly qualified individuals, qualified specialists/craftsmen in certain understaffed professions (qualified labor and registered nurse jobs), and key personnel/professionals. Applicants must have an offer of employment to apply for the RWR. Highly qualified individuals holding U.S. citizenship may apply locally in Austria or opt to find a potential employer from abroad and have the company apply in Austria on their behalf.

Austrian immigration law requires those applying for residency permits in some categories to take German language courses and exams. There is a specific visa category under the RWR model for independent key specialists and founders of start-up enterprises to support Austria’s push to expand its innovation economy.

A less bureaucratic alternative is the EU Blue Card, which entitles applicants to a fixed-term residency of 24 months, and employment is tied to a specific employer for at least one year. However, there is a threshold of gross annual income of at least the average gross annual income for full-time employees (in 2023: at least EUR 45,595 (USD 48,596); annual salary plus special payments).

While there is no requirement for foreign IT providers to turn over source code and/or provide access to encryption, EU and Austrian data protection stipulations apply. The EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) as adopted by Austria in 2018, places restrictions on companies’ ability to store and use customer data. It also requires specific user consent for companies to send out promotional materials (previously, implied consent was sufficient). Transmission of customer or business-related data is therefore subject to EU GDPR regulations. Austria’s Data Protection Authority enforces all GDPR-related matters, which include GDPR rules on data storage.

The Austrian government may impose performance requirements when foreign investors seek financial or other assistance from the government, although there are no performance requirements to apply for tax incentives. There is no requirement that Austrian nationals hold shares in foreign investments or for technology transfer, and no requirement for foreign investors to use domestic content in the production of goods or technology.

Real Property

The Austrian legal system protects secured interests in property regardless of gender. For any real-estate agreement to be effective, owners must register with the land registry. Mortgages and liens must also be registered. As a rule, property for sale must be unencumbered. In case of rededication of land, approval of the land transfer commission or the office of the state governor is required. The land registry is a reliable system for recording interests in property, and access to the registry is public.
Non-EU/EEA citizens need authorization from administrative authorities of the respective Austrian province to acquire land. Provincial regulations vary, but in general there must be a public (economic, social, cultural) interest for the acquisition to be authorized. Often, the applicant must guarantee that he does not want to build a vacation home on the land in order to receive the required authorization.
100% of land has clear title and is registered in the land registry.

Intellectual Property Rights

Austria has a strong legal structure to protect intellectual property rights, including patent and trademark laws, a copyright law, and a law protecting industrial designs and models. Austria is a party to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and several international property conventions. Austria also participates in the Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) program with the USPTO (started in 2014), which allows filing of streamlined applications for inventions determined to be patentable in other participating countries.

In October 2022, the ministry in charge of innovation published a draft update to the Austrian Patent Law (expected to be adopted in 2023) introducing a “uniform patent,” making patent protection in 17 participating EU countries also applicable in Austria with one application. The new patent law would also address circumvention of Austria’s strict prohibition of patentability of plants and animals derived from breeding techniques.

Austria’s Copyright Act conforms to EU directives on intellectual property rights. It grants authors exclusive rights to publish, distribute, copy, adapt, translate, and broadcast their work. The law also regulates copyrights of digital media (restrictions on private copies), works on the Internet, protection of computer programs, and related damage compensation. Infringement proceedings, however, can be time-consuming and costly. Austria implemented the EU Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market (2019/790) by adopting an amendment to the Austrian Copyright Act in December 2021.

Austria also has a law against counterfeit trade, which was amended in 2020. In 2021 Austrian customs authorities confiscated pirated goods worth EUR 12 million (USD 12.7 million), which was a decrease from the previous year.

Austria is not listed in The United States Trade Representative’s (USTR)s Special 301 or notorious markets reports, but its trade-secrets regime has historically been a concern for some U.S. businesses. Austrian and U.S. companies have voiced specific concerns about both the scope of protection and the difficulty of adjudicating breaches. Following years of steady U.S. government advocacy, and because Austria was required to implement the 2016 EU Directive on Trade Secrets, the country improved its trade-secrets regime in the Law Against Unfair Competition (entered into force in February 2019), including a requirement for safeguarding the confidentiality of business-confidential information in court procedures. Criminal penalty legislation is still pending.

For additional information about national laws and points of contact at local IP offices, please see WIPO’s country profiles at Country Profiles ( 

Capital Markets and Portfolio Investment

Austria has sophisticated financial markets that allow foreign investors access without restrictions. The government welcomes foreign portfolio investment. The Austrian National Bank (OeNB) regulates portfolio investments effectively.

Austria has a national stock exchange that currently includes 60 companies on its regulated market and several others on its multilateral trading facility (MTF). The Austrian Traded Index (ATX) is a price index consisting of the 20 largest stocks on the market and forms the most important index of Austria’s stock market. The size of the companies listed on the ATX is roughly equivalent to those listed on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange (MDAX) in Germany. The market capitalization of Austrian listed companies is small compared to the country’s Western European counterparts, accounting for 31 % of Austria’s GDP, compared to 46 % in Germany or 193 % in the United States.

Unlike the other market segments in the stock exchange, the Direct Market and Direct Market Plus segments, targeted at SMEs and young, developing companies, are subject only to the Vienna Stock Exchange’s general terms of business, not the more stringent EU regulations. These segments have lower reporting requirements but also greater risk for investors, as prices are more likely to fluctuate, due to the respective companies’ low level of market capitalization and lower trading volumes.

Austria has robust financing for product markets, but the free flow of resources into factor markets (capital, raw materials) could be improved. Overall, financing is primarily available through banks and government-sponsored funding organizations with very little private venture capital available.

Austria is fully compliant with International Monetary Fund (IMF) Article VIII, all financial instruments are available, and there are no restrictions on payments. Credit is available to foreign investors at market-determined rates.

Money and Banking System

Austria has one of the most fragmented banking networks in Europe with close to 3,800 branch offices registered in 2022. The banking system is highly developed, with worldwide correspondent banks and representative offices and branches in the United States and other major financial centers. Large Austrian banks also have extensive networks in Central and Southeast European (CESEE) countries and the countries of the former Soviet Union. Total assets of the banking sector amounted to EUR 1.2 trillion (USD 1.3 trillion) in 2021 (approximately 2.5 times the country’s GDP).

Approximately EUR 514 billion (USD 548 billion) of banking sector assets are held by Austria’s two largest banks: Erste Group and Raiffeisen Bank International (RBI). The Austrian banking sector is considered one of the most stable in the world. It is managed and overseen by the Austrian National Bank (OeNB) and the Financial Market Authority (FMA). Five Austrian banks with assets in excess of EUR 30 billion (USD 34 billion) are subject to the Eurozone’s Single Supervisory Mechanism (SSM), as is Sberbank Europe AG, a Russian bank subsidiary headquartered in Austria (which ceased operations in March 2022, its assets now being liquidated in a bankruptcy proceeding), and Addiko Bank AG. All other Austrian banks continue to be subject to the country’s dual-oversight banking supervisory system with roles for the OeNB and the FMA, both of which are also responsible for policing irregularities on the stock exchange and for supervising insurance companies, securities markets, and pension funds. Foreign banks are allowed to establish operations in the country with no legal restrictions that place them at a disadvantage compared to local banks.

Due to U.S. government financial reporting requirements, Austrian banks are very cautious in committing the time and expense required to accept U.S. clients and U.S. investors without established U.S. corporate headquarters.

Foreign Exchange and Remittances

Foreign Exchange

Austria has no restrictions on cross-border capital transactions, including the repatriation of profits and proceeds from the sale of investments, for either residents or non-residents. The Euro, a freely convertible currency and the only legal tender in Austria and 18 other Eurozone member states, shields investors from exchange rate risks within the Eurozone.

Remittance Policies

Not applicable. Austria is a well-developed country with remittances by migrants not being a significant issue and therefore does not have any specific policies limiting remittances.

Sovereign Wealth Funds

Austria has no sovereign wealth fund.

Austria has two major wholly state-owned enterprises (SOEs): OeBB (Austrian Federal Railways) and ASFiNAG (responsible for highway financing, building, maintenance, and administration). Other government industry holding companies are bundled in the government holding company OeBAG (

The government has direct representation in the supervisory boards of its companies (commensurate with its ownership stake), and OeBAG has the authority to buy and sell company shares, as well as purchase minority stakes in strategically relevant companies. Such purchases are subject to approval from an audit committee consisting of government-nominated independent economic experts.

OeBAG holds a 53 % stake in the Post Office, 51 % in energy company Verbund, 33 % in the gambling group Casinos Austria, 31.5 % in the energy company OMV, 28 % in the Telekom Austria Group, as well as a handful of smaller ventures. Local governments own most utilities, 40% of Vienna International Airport, and more than half of Austria’s 270 hospitals and clinics.

Private enterprises in Austria can generally compete with public enterprises under the same terms and conditions with respect to market access, credit, and other such business operations as licenses and supplies. OMV, Casinos Austria, and Telekom Austria Group are also active in international markets, but no Austrian SOE competes in the United States. While most SOEs must finance themselves under terms similar to those applicable to private enterprises, some large SOEs (such as OeBB) benefit from direct state subsidies and pension systems. As an EU member, Austria is also a party to the WTO’s Government Procurement Agreement (GPA), which indirectly also covers SOEs (which are monitored by the Austrian Court of Auditors).

Four major OeBAG-controlled companies (Postal Service, Verbund AG, OMV, and Telekom Austria) are listed on the Vienna Stock Exchange. Senior managers in these companies do not directly report to a minister, but to an oversight board. However, the government often appoints management and board members, who usually have active political affiliations.

Privatization Program

The government has not privatized any public enterprises since 2007. Austrian public opinion is skeptical regarding further privatization, and there are no indications of any government privatizations on the horizon. In prior privatizations, foreign and domestic investors received equal treatment. Despite a historical government preference for maintaining blocking minority rights for domestic shareholders, foreign investors have successfully gained majority or full control of enterprises in several strategic sectors of the Austrian economy, including in telecommunications, banking, steel, and some others.

Austrian Responsible Business Conduct (RBC)/Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) standards are laid out in the Austrian Corporate Governance Codex, which is based on the EU Commission’s 2011 “Strategy for Corporate Social Responsibility.” The Austrian Standards Institute’s (ONR) 192500 acts as the main guidance for CSR and is based on the EU Commission’s published Strategy, which is also compliant with UN guidelines. Major Austrian companies follow generally accepted CSR principles and publish a CSR chapter in their annual reports; many also provide information on their health, safety, security, and environmental activities. There are no requirements to report on human rights issues.

Austria adheres to the OECD’s Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises. The Ministry for Social Affairs, Healthcare, and Consumer Protection is represented in national and international CSR-relevant associations and supports CSR initiatives while working closely with the Austrian Standards Institute.

The Austrian export credit agency promotes information on CSR issues, principles, and standards, including the OECD Guidelines, on its website: .

Austria is a signatory to the Montreux Document on Private Military and Security Companies, which it ratified in 2008.

Additional Resources

Department of State

Department of the Treasury

Department of Labor

Climate Issues

Austria has a National Climate and Energy Plan in place. It was last updated in 2019, and the government is currently preparing an update that it should have reported to the European Commission by end of 2020, according to the EU Climate and Energy Package, but it has not done so yet. The government, in its 2020 program, set the goal that Austria must be climate-neutral by 2040. According to the EU goals as outlined (but not yet adopted) in the “Fit-for-55” plan within the “Green Deal,” Austria would be required to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 48 % by 2030.

To implement the climate goals, Austria introduced a law to expand production and supply of renewable energies (photovoltaics, wind, hydropower, biomass) with annual subsidies of around USD 1 million until 2030. The government plans to invest EUR 17.5 billion (USD 18.7 billion) in the expansion of rail infrastructure and is subsidizing train tickets and the purchase of electric cars (around USD 5,900 per purchase). The Parliament in 2021 adopted a “green tax reform,” introducing a new CO2 emissions pricing system as of July 2022 that phases in a fixed price, rising from EUR 30 (USD 32) per ton of CO2 in 2022 to EUR 55 (USD 59) in 2025. The tax reform will affect energy-intensive production of the private sector, but the government has not set specific emissions reduction goals for businesses. Expenditures for implementing climate goals – EUR 3.2 billion ($3.4 billion) in 2023 with similar amounts planned through 2026 – include support for investments in climate-neutral industrial production, phasing out fossil fuels for heating by 2040, and climate related innovation.

In December 2022, the government introduced a “Biodiversity 2030+” strategy, including a 10-point program to effectively protect habitats of endangered species, complementing a comprehensive biodiversity-monitoring system to provide an overview of the number of related habitats in Austria. The Ministry for Climate, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation, and Technology set up a EUR 50 million (USD 53 million) Biodiversity Fund to support the monitoring system to be implemented with input from universities and environmental NGOs.

In 2021, the government adopted an Action Plan for Sustainable Procurement, providing 16 binding ecological criteria for all public procurement beginning in 2022. It includes requiring emission-free cars for the government’s fleet, providing all public buildings with 100 % electricity from renewable sources, and purchasing organic food for hospitals and school cafeterias.

Austria is a member of the Council of Europe’s Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) and also ratified the UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) and the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention. As part of the UNCAC ratification process, Austria has implemented a national anti-corruption strategy. Central elements of the strategy are promoting transparency in public sector decisions and raising awareness of corruption. Austria ranked 22nd (out of 180 countries) in Transparency International’s latest Corruption Perceptions Index falling nine spots compared to 2021. Transparency International remarked that corruption scandals, including those surrounding former Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, were factored into the rating for the first time. Transparency International also recommended strengthening of Austria’s freedom-of-information provisions, whistleblower laws, and the independence of the Prosecution Service. In its fifth round of evaluations, published in early 2023, the Group of States Against Corruption (GRECO) criticized Austria for awarding top jobs in the police force under strong political influence. The report also recommended that more attention be paid to risk factors for corruption around senior political officials, as well as more transparency regarding the income of members of parliament and the appointing procedures for general secretaries.

Bribery of public officials, their family members, and political parties, is covered under the Austrian Criminal Code, and corruption does not significantly affect business in Austria. However, the public’s belief in the integrity of the political system was shaken by the 2019 Ibiza scandal, when a 2017 video surfaced in which Vice Chancellor and chair of the right populist Freedom Party (FPOe) Heinz Christian Strache and the FPOe floor leader in parliament Johann Gudenus were filmed discussing providing government contracts in exchange for favors and political party donations with a woman posing as the niece of a Russian businessman. This was compounded by further revelations in 2019 that the FPOe had allegedly promised gambling licenses to Casinos Austria in exchange for placing a party loyalist on the company’s executive board. Strache was convicted of corruption and bribery by the Vienna District Court in August 2021 following a separate healthcare-fraud investigation. In October 2021, then-Chancellor Sebastian Kurz of the center-right People’s Party (OeVP) announced his resignation amid allegations that, while he was Foreign Minister in 2016, his inner circle paid newspapers to publish falsified opinion polls in his favor; that investigation by anti-corruption prosecutors is still ongoing. Finance Minister Bluemel (OeVP) also resigned, and prosecutors continue to investigate allegations that he may have facilitated political party donations by Casinos Austria subsidiary Novomatic, in exchange for government assistance with the company’s tax problems.

Anti-corruption cases are often characterized by slow-moving investigations and trials that drag on for years. The trial of former Finance Minister Grasser, which started in 2017, concluded in late 2020, with Grasser receiving a sentence of eight years’ imprisonment. The official verdict was published in January 2022, and Grasser is expected to appeal the sentence. More than a year later, the appeal had still not moved forward.

Bribing members of parliament is considered a criminal offense, and accepting a bribe is an offense punishable with sentences varying depending on the amount of the bribe. The 2018 Austrian Federal Contracts Act implements EU guidelines prohibiting participating in public procurement contracts if there is a potential conflict of interest and requires measures to detect and prevent such conflicts of interest. This required public authorities to set up compliance management systems or amend their existing structures accordingly. Virtually all Austrian companies have internal codes of conduct governing bribery and potential conflicts of interest.
Corruption provisions in Austria’s Criminal Code cover managers of Austrian public enterprises, civil servants, and other officials (with functions in legislation, administration, or justice on behalf of Austria, in a foreign country, or an international organization), representatives of public companies, members of parliament, government members, and mayors. The term “corruption” includes the following in the Austrian interpretation: active and passive bribery, illicit intervention, and abuse of office. Corruption can sometimes include a private manager’s fraud, embezzlement, or breach of trust.

Criminal penalties for corruption include imprisonment ranging from six months to ten years, depending on the severity of the offense. Jurisdiction for corruption investigations rests with the Austrian Federal Bureau of Anti-Corruption and covers corruption taking place both inside and outside the country. The Lobbying Act of 2013 introduced binding rules of conduct for lobbying. It requires domestic and foreign organizations to register with the Austrian Ministry of Justice. Financing of political parties requires disclosure of donations exceeding EUR 2,500 (USD 2,665). No donor is allowed to give more than EUR 7,500 (USD 7,995), and total donations to one political party may not exceed EUR 750,000 (USD 799,500) in a single year. Foreigners are prohibited from making donations to political parties. Private companies are subject to the Austrian Act on Corporate Criminal Liability, which makes companies liable for active and passive criminal offences. Penalties include fines up to EUR 1.8 million (USD 1.9 million).

To date, U.S. companies have not reported any instances of corruption inhibiting FDI.

Resources to Report Corruption

Contacts at government agencies responsible for combating corruption:

Wirtschafts- und Korruptionsstaatsanwaltschaft (Central Public Prosecution for Business Offenses and Corruption)
Dampfschiffstraße 4
1030 Vienna, Austria
Phone: +43-(0)1-52 1 52 0

BAK – Bundesamt zur Korruptionsprävention und Korruptionsbekämpfung (Federal Agency for Preventing and Fighting Corruption)
Ministry of the Interior
Herrengasse 7
1010 Vienna, Austria
Phone: +43-(0)1-531 26 – 906800

Contact at “watchdog” organization:
Transparency International – Austrian Chapter
Gertrude-Fröhlich-Sandner-Straße 1
1100 Vienna, Austria
Phone: +43-(0)1-960 760

Civil disturbances are generally rare, and the overall security environment in the country is considered safe. There have been no incidents of politically motivated damage to foreign businesses. Austria suffered a terrorist attack on November 2, 2020, when a gunman shot and killed four civilians and injured 23 in the center of Vienna.

Austria has a well-educated and productive labor force of 4.3 million, of whom 3.8 million are employees and 500,000 are self-employed or farmers. In line with EU regulations, the free movement of labor from all member states is allowed.

The unemployment rate fell to an estimated 4.6 % in 2022, the lowest rate since 2011. As of January 2023, the number of people unemployed for longer than 12 months, which saw a spike during the COVID-19 pandemic, had decreased by 40 % compared to the previous year. Around 840,000 foreign workers are employed in Austria, accounting for almost one quarter of the country’s labor force. Migrant workers come largely from the CEE region, but many workers who arrived during the Syrian refugee crisis have also entered the labor market. Migrant workers often occupy lower-paying jobs and make up a large %age of workers in the tourism and healthcare sectors. Since the outbreak of war in Ukraine, Austria had taken in over 90,000 Ukrainian refugees as of February 2023, of which around 8,000 were employed.

Youth unemployment is relatively low, compared to European reference countries. Austria’s successful dual-education apprenticeship system, combining on-the-job training with classroom instruction in vocational schools, has helped bring youth into the labor market. The program includes guaranteed placement by the Public Employment Service for those 15–24-year-olds who cannot find an apprenticeship. Austria and the United States signed a Memorandum of Understanding to foster cooperation on apprenticeships and workforce development in April 2022.

Austria has a well-balanced labor market but, like many of its neighbors, suffers from a shortage of skilled IT personnel, particularly in the banking and financial sector. Social insurance is compulsory in Austria and is comprised of health insurance, old-age pension insurance, unemployment insurance, and accident insurance. Employers and employees contribute a %age of total monthly earnings to a compulsory social insurance fund. Austrian laws closely regulate terms of employment, including working hours, minimum vacation time, holidays, maternity leave, statutory separation notice, severance pay, dismissal, and an option for part-time work for parents with children under the age of seven. Problematic areas include increased deficits in the pension and health insurance systems, the shortage of healthcare personnel to care for the increasing number of elderly, and escalating costs for retirement and long-term care. Due to its generous social welfare system, Austria has a high rate of employer non-wage labor costs, amounting to approximately 30 % of gross wages. Labor laws are commonly adhered to and strictly enforced.

Labor-management relations are relatively harmonious in Austria, which traditionally enjoys a low incidence of industrial unrest. Strikes are uncommon, with only two notable incidents over the past decades (2011, 2018). All employees are automatically members of the Austrian Labor Chamber.

Collective bargaining revolves mainly around wages and fringe benefits. Approximately 90 % of the labor force works under a collective bargaining agreement. In 2017, Austria implemented a national minimum wage of EUR 1,500 (approx. USD 1,600) per month, with monthly wages paid 14 times per year. This equates to an hourly wage of EUR 10.09 (approx. USD 10.74), placing Austria in the upper tier among European countries with a minimum wage, ahead of France, Germany, and the UK.

Austrian law stipulates a 40-hour maximum workweek, but collective bargaining agreements also allow for a workweek of 38 or 38.5 hours per week. Firms may increase the maximum regular hours from 40 to 60 per week in special cases, with no more than 12 hours in a single day. Responsibility for agreements on flextime or reduced workweeks is at the company level. Overtime is paid at an additional 50 % of the employee’s salary, and, in some cases, such as work on public holidays, 100 %. Austrian employees are generally entitled to five weeks of paid vacation (and an additional week after 25 years in the workforce); the rate of absence due to illness/injury averages 13 workdays annually.

OPIC programs are not available for Austria.

Table 2: Key Macroeconomic Data, U.S. FDI in Host Country/Economy
Host Country Statistical source* USG or international statistical source USG or International Source of Data:  BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other
Economic Data Year Amount Year Amount
Host Country Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ($M USD) 2022 $477billion 2021 $480 billion
Foreign Direct Investment Host Country Statistical source* USG or international statistical source USG or international Source of data:  BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other
U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, stock positions) 2022 $13,914 2021 $4,632 BEA data available at
Host country’s FDI in the United States ($M USD, stock positions) 2022 $18,270 2021 $16,202 BEA data available at
Total inbound stock of FDI as % host GDP 2022 40,0% 2021 41.5% UNCTAD data available at  

* Source: Austrian National Bank (OeNB), March 2023

Table 3: Sources and Destination of FDI
Direct Investment from/in Counterpart Economy Data
From Top Five Sources/To Top Five Destinations (US Dollars, Millions)
Inward Direct Investment Outward Direct Investment
Total Inward 214,709 100% Total Outward 267,800 100%
Germany 60,894 28% Germany 44,366 17%
The Netherlands 32,855 15% Czech Republic 19,007 7%
Russian Federation 24,256 11% United States 17,746 7%
Luxembourg 20,280 9% Switzerland 16,135 6%
Switzerland 15,760 7% Poland 16,105 6%
“0” reflects amounts rounded to +/- USD 500,000.

Andreas Lerch
Economic Specialist
U.S. Embassy Vienna, Vienna 1090, Boltzmanngasse 16
+43 1 31339-2387

On This Page

  2. 1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment
    1. Policies Towards Foreign Direct Investment
    2. Limits on Foreign Control and Right to Private Ownership and Establishment
    3. Other Investment Policy Reviews
    4. Business Facilitation
    5. Outward Investment
  3. 2. Bilateral Investment and Taxation Treaties
  4. 3. Legal Regime
    1. Transparency of the Regulatory System
    2. International Regulatory Considerations
    3. Legal System and Judicial Independence
    4. Laws and Regulations on Foreign Direct Investment
    5. Competition and Antitrust Laws
    6. Expropriation and Compensation
    7. Dispute Settlement
      1. ICSID Convention and New York Convention
      2. Investor-State Dispute Settlement
      3. International Commercial Arbitration and Foreign Courts
    8. Bankruptcy Regulations
  5. 4. Industrial Policies
    1. Investment Incentives
    2. Foreign Trade Zones/Free Ports/Trade Facilitation
    3. Performance and Data Localization Requirements
  6. 5. Protection of Property Rights
    1. Real Property
    2. Intellectual Property Rights
  7. 6. Financial Sector
    1. Capital Markets and Portfolio Investment
    2. Money and Banking System
    3. Foreign Exchange and Remittances
      1. Foreign Exchange
      2. Remittance Policies
    4. Sovereign Wealth Funds
  8. 7. State-Owned Enterprises
    1. Privatization Program
  9. 8. Responsible Business Conduct
    1. Additional Resources
    2. Climate Issues
  10. 9. Corruption
    1. Resources to Report Corruption
  11. 10. Political and Security Environment
  12. 11. Labor Policies and Practices
  13. 12. U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC), and Other Investment Insurance or Development Finance Programs
  14. 13. Foreign Direct Investment Statistics
  15. 14. Contact for More Information
2023 Investment Climate Statements: Austria
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