Starting a business in Austria05 October 2009
by Ina Dimireva -- last modified 18 May 2012
The key laws for establishing companies in Austria are the Austrian Commercial Code (UGB), the Austrian Trade Law 1994 (GewO 1994), the New Companies Promotion Act (NeuFöG) and the Commercial Register Act (FBG) and the Federal Law on Special Assistance for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises.
The New Companies Promotion Act is intended to help reduce the costs associated with setting up and taking over businesses.
The rights of partners are set out in the Memorandum of Association.
Legal forms for companies
The following legal forms exist for companies: individual enterprises or corporations, individual enterprises, partnerships, corporate bodies - Ltd. companies, associations.
The legal form of a company and the name given to a company are subject to the following legislation.
The following legal forms are possible for companies:
- Non-trading partnership (Gesellschaft bürgerlichen Rechts, GesbR)
- General partnership (Offene Gesellschaft, OG)
- Limited partnership (Kommanditgesellschaft, KG)
- Silent partnership (Stille Gesellschaft, StG)
- Limited partnership with a limited liability company as general partner (GesmbH & Co. KG)
- Limited liability company (Gesellschaft mit beschränkter Haftung, GmbH)
- Public limited company (Aktiengesellschaft, AG)
A first-rate business strategy and sound financing are prerequisites for founding a business successfully.
Some standard requirements to be completed when setting up a business are the same as when opening a branch.
One-stop shops for advice
Business registration is now offered as a one-stop process by the founder service of the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber. In many cases this allows founders to register their businesses straight after the founder advisory stage, if they have all the necessary documentation.
Registering a business
A legal form must be selected. For more information, see below:
The following steps are necessary when establishing a business in Austria:
The business must be registered with the relevant business authority (district authorities or magistrate).
The business must be entered in the commercial register.
The business must be registered with the social security authority for industry (within the first four weeks).
Social security authority (SVA) — registration (individual enterprises)
Social security authority (SVA) — registration (corporations)
The type of business activities to be engaged in must be registered with the fiscal authorities and a tax ID number must be applied for (within the first four weeks).
The Services Directive: Points of single contact
The Services Directive is a European law that aims to make life easier for businesses that wish to provide services in the European Union – in their home country or abroad. The Directive defines the rules that apply to entrepreneurs wishing to establish a business or perform temporary services in the EU/EEA area (the 27 EU member states, plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway). It obliges member states to eliminate unnecessary bureaucracy, simplify formalities for businesses and make public administrations more efficient.
For the implementation of the Directive, each member state had to set up ‘Points of Single Contact (PSC)’, e-government portals which help businesses complete their administrative procedures on-line. The PSCs provide comprehensive information on all administrative matters related to setting up or expanding a services business in a given country. This includes for example:
- Which licences, notifications or permits do I need to obtain to start a business (at home or abroad)?
- What do I need to do when I want to offer my services abroad on a temporary basis?
- What do I need to do to apply for a licence? Which authority is responsible?
- Are the licences subject to a fee? What kinds of deadlines apply?
- Which acts and decrees apply in my sector?
- What do I need to do to establish, for instance, a restaurant or a shop? Or to work as a tour operator in another country without actually setting up a company?
- Where can I turn for personalised advice and further information?
With the PSCs, you no longer need to approach various authorities one by one!! The PSC allows you to find all relevant information and to send in your online applications to the responsible authority through one single contact point, the PSC. You can complete your administrative formalities electronically through the PSC. Just contact the PSC of the country that you want to do business in.
All PSCs are part of the European EUGO network; through a central website you can easily access all PSCs in Europe. Of course, the services of the PSCs are optional. You may always address yourself directly to the relevant authorities, too.
The Federal Ministry of Economy, Family and Youth provides information about establishing businesses.
Legal information about setting up businesses for people living and working in Austria is available from HELP, the Austrian government help service, or the Business Service Portal USP.
Austria Wirtschaftsservice (aws) is a governmental body for financing and promoting businesses and innovation in industry. It also offers a range of subsidies for setting up companies including funding for young entrepreneurs, investment loans and capital loans, credit guarantees, equity capital guarantees, assumption of liabilities and double equity guarantee funds.
The Österreichische Hotel- und Tourismusbank provides funding for the tourism sector.
Personalised help and advice
The enterprise start-up service of the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber provides support for founders, successor establishments and franchisees.
The WIFI enterprise service is the coordination centre of the national enterprise network (UNS) of the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber.
Young Enterprise Austria (Junge Wirtschaft) represents the interests of young entrepreneurs in Austria and its services include successor establishment.
The Austrian Chamber of Tax Consultants and Certified Accountants (KWT) is the umbrella organisation for tax consultants and business experts in Austria and also advises young entrepreneurs.
The Enterprise Europe Network provides businesses with information and advice through its local partners.
SOLVIT helps businesses deal with problems that arise when national authorities wrongly apply EU market rules.
Source: Your Europe