Austria has one of the most valuable passports in the world. It is also the only EU country that offers high networth investors a direct route to citizenship with no prior residency requirements. With its enviable location, robust and diversified economy, high quality of life, and breath-taking natural landscape, it is an ideal location for the investor seeking citizenship in an EU state.
1. Eligibility for Application
Applicants are required to meet the following requirements:
- The Investor must be from a non-EU/EEA country with no criminal record, a valid passport, and excellent background and references
- An investment that directly benefits the Austrian economy is required, be it a business venture or an investment in a business that creates jobs etc. Passive investments in bonds do not qualify.
- Although there is no actual residency requirement, applicants will need to travel to Austria for certain procedures, such as an interview as part of the background check. A personal visit is also required to complete citizenship.
2. Immigration by Investment
Austria’s route to citizenship through investment is not a program as such, and so there are no clear-cut steps available for applicants. Government approval is required at various stages and each case is decided on its own merits, so it is essential that applicants have the appropriate guidance before they commence an application. Ousheng can provide advice on investment opportunities and provide assistance at every part of the application process.
The basis for immigration by investment is Article 10(6) of the Citizenship Act, which provides for citizenship for investors of merit. Citizenship requires a large financial commitment and an active investment in the Austrian economy. Passive investments do not qualify. It’s generally accepted that investments of about €10,000,000 are required (or a charitable donation of €2,000,000 to €3,000,000).
Austrian naturalisation generally requires renunciation of any previous citizenship, but Article 10(6) naturalisations do not require this and are not reported. A thorough background check is involved and applicants should supply references and visit Austria for an interview as part of the process. The process normally takes between two and three years. A passport can be applied for after naturalisation.
3. Why Choose Austria?
- Austria is a member of the European Union. Investors and their families are free to live, work, study and do business in any EU member state and in Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Iceland. The Austrian passport is one of the most valuable passports in the world and Austrian passport holders enjoy visa-free entry to 157 countries and territories.
- Under this route to naturalisation, applicants are not required to renounce their previous citizenship.
- The family of the applicant can also receive Austrian citizenship, and the citizenship can be passed hereditarily.
- There is no language requirement as part of the criteria for naturalisation.
- It is one of the fastest ways to acquire an EU passport, as the total time required is normally between two and three years.
- There is no residency requirement before or after natu- ralisation, and the applicant’s tax liability remains unchanged, unless their tax residence is moved to Austria.
4. Life in Austria
Austria occupies a location of strategic importance at the centre of Europe and along the important Danube trade route. It is home to many international organizations including the OSCE, the IAEA and OPEC. Its capital, Vienna, is a vibrant, cosmopolitan city steeped in culture and boasting magnificent architecture, world class galleries, top restaurants and bars ,and of course, the famous coffee shops. Indeed, the Mercer Quality of Life Survey 2016 rated Vienna as the world’s best city to live in; it has a rich cultural heritage, it is exceptionally safe, it boasts efficient public transport and it is an excellent hub for international business. Austria is also a hotspot for outdoor enthusiasts, with tourists flocking every year to its beautiful alpine regions to ski, snowboard, or just relax amid the snow-capped peaks and crystal blue lakes. Austrians have access to excellent health care and education, and life satisfaction levels are high. It is truly a destination where one can achieve a harmonious worklife balance.
5. Freedom of an Austrian Passport
Austria has visa-free, visa-on-arrival, or e-visa arrangements with 157 countries and regions.
Visa-free Countries: Albania, Andorra, Antigua & Barbuda, Ar- gentina, Armenia, Austria, Bahamas, Barbados, Belgium, Be- lize, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Estonia, Fiji, Finland, France, Gambia, Georgia, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamai- ca, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Kiribati, Kosovo, Latvia, Lesotho, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macau, Macedonia (FYROM), Malaysia, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Mexico, Micronesia, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Moroc- co, Namibia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Palau, Palestinian Territories, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philip- pines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Saint Kitts & Nevis, Saint Lucia, Samoa, San Marino, Sao Tome & Principe, Senegal, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, St. Vincent & The Grenadines, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Timor- Leste, Tonga, Trinidad & Tobago, Tunisia, Tuvalu, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, Uruguay, Vanuatu, Vatican City, Venezuela.
Visa-on-arrival Countries: Bahrain, Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cape Verde, Comoros, Djibouti, Egypt, Ethiopia, Guinea-Bissau, Iran, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Lebanon, Madagascar, Malawi, Maldives, Mauritania, Mozambique, Nepal, Oman, Papua New Guinea, Qatar, Seychelles, Suriname, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Togo, Turkey, Ugan- da, Zambia, Zimbabwe.
6. Why You Should Choose to Invest in Austria
a) Strong Points
The country’s strong points are its well-developed infrastructures, its skilled and competent work force and high productivity. Austria is the location for many firms’ headquarters and ranks 21st out of 189 economies with regard to ease of doing business in the World Bank’s 2016 Doing Business ranking. Austria also has a significant pharmaceutical industry, thus developing a focus of biotechnological skills and attracting the big companies of this sector. Finally, political stability, quality of life and personal security are especially high in Austria.
Export incentives, political stability and low telecommunication costs make the Austrian business climate favorable. Another attractive factor is Austria’s accommodating commercial taxation system, which is one of the most favorable in Europe as it does not have a wealth tax or professional tax. It also aims to stay competitive with other countries within the EU. In 2005, it decreased Austria’s corporate tax rate from 34% to 25%. As of 2016, the rate still stands. Moreover, regional investment subsidies, tax exemptions on training (20%) and a training bonus for apprentices guarantees the country’s appeal.
To mitigate the effects of the global financial crisis, Austria implemented measures to reinforce the liquidity and capitalisation of the financial system.
b) Protection of Foreign Investment
- Bilateral investment conventions signed by Austria Visit the UNCTAD website.
- International Controversies Registered By UNCTAD
- Austria is not involved in any investment dispute.
- Organizations Offering Their Assistance in Case of Disagreement
- ICSID , International Center for settlement of Investment Disputes
- ICCWBO , International Chamber of Commerce
- Member of the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency
c) Country Comparison For the Protection of Investors
Source: Doing Business – Latest available data.
Note: * The Greater the Index, the More Transparent the Conditions of Transactions. ** The Greater the Index, the More the Manager is Personally Responsible. *** The Greater the Index, the Easier it Will Be For Shareholders to Take Legal Action. **** The Greater the Index, the Higher the Level of Investor Protection.
d) Procedures Relative to Foreign Investment
- Freedom of Establishment Guaranteed.
- Acquisition of Holdings: A majority holding interest in the capital of a local company is legal in Austria.
- Obligation to Declare: In order to be able to run a company in Austria, professional ability proofs are required in nearly all activities, listed in a regulatory test: Gewerbeordnung, renewed by the law number 194 of 1994.
- Federal Competition Authority (FCA)
- Requests For Specific Authorizations: Licenses are required in sectors like banking and insurance.
e) Office Real Estate and Land Ownership
- Possible Temporary Solutions
- Ready to use office spaces (on rent) are available in the country. They offer complete infrastructure to start business operations.
- The Possibility of Buying Land and Industrial and Commercial Buildings
f) Investment Aid
- Forms of Aid: Easy access to capital market, corporate tax cut, special tax incentives are available for R&D. Austria offers financial and tax incentives within EU parameters to firms undertaking projects in economically depressed and underdeveloped areas on Austria’s eastern and southern borders.
- Privileged Domains: Research and Development, Infrastructure building (expanding and improving the road, rail, energy and telecom infrastructures), and sectors helping in creation of jobs.
- Privileged Geographical Zones: Research and Development, Infrastructure building (expanding and improving the road, rail, energy and telecom infrastructures), and sectors helping in creation of jobs.
- Free Zones: Austria does not have any such free zones. However in some regions (the economically underdeveloped areas on Austria’s eastern and southern borders), the government offers special facilities and services (“cluster packages”) to foreign investors. g) Investment Opportunities
- The Key Sectors of the National Economy
- Many High Potential Sectors
- Tenders, Projects and Public Procurement: Tenders Info, Tenders in Austria: Tenders Electronic daily, Business opportunities in EU 27, DgMarket, Tenders Worldwide