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Doing business in Austria: Environmental rules

28 March 2012
by Ina Dimireva -- last modified 30 March 2012

At present, there is no uniform Austrian environmental code of law. Instead, the legal foundations of environmental protection are determined by various laws.


Legal requirements

The following Austrian provisions are arranged by regions and contain core environmental law clauses:

General information about environmental law

Environmental control

The Environmental Control Act and the Environmental Information Act govern transparent environmental control and the public right of access to environmental information.

Environmental Control Act

Environmental Information Act

The right of unrestricted access to environmental information is set out in the Austrian Federal Environmental Information Act and in similar laws of the provinces of Austria.

Right of access to environmental information

Implementation of environmental information legislation in the provinces

Waste management

Various obligations apply with regard to waste management, such as regarding the disposal of waste materials.

Waste management in Austria

Waste Management Act 2002

Rehabilitation and protection of contaminated sites in Austria

Act on the rehabilitation of contaminated sites

Contaminated Sites Atlas Regulation


The Chemicals Act regulates any potential impact caused by manufacturing, circulation, purchasing, use or disposal of substances, preparations or processed goods.

Chemicals policy in Austria

Chemicals Act 1996

List of regulations for Chemicals Act 1996

EU regulations

International agreements on chemicals


Water is the number one requirement for life. Its uses include drinking and hygiene in all areas of life. Agriculture, industry and homes need water. Water protection provides sustainability for future generations.

Water policy in Austria

Water Protection Act 1959

Information on the Water Protection Act 1959

Water protection link

Waste water

Water resources planning

EU Water Framework Directive

Climate and air

Climate change caused by humans is generally considered to be the most serious global environmental problem. Its long-term effects can only be mitigated by concerted action by the international community. Austria has made an international commitment to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases by 13%. In order to achieve this, the Federal Government has laid out a national climate protection programme which is to be implemented over the next few years.

Austria's tasks for climate protection

The objective of a national sustainable clean-air policy is the permanent protection of human health, the animal and plant populations, their habitats and the precautionary reduction of immission loads. In order to achieve these objectives, laws and regulations set limits, trigger values and targets on the exceeding of which measures are to be taken to prevent future violations.

Clean-air policy in Austria

Forests are Austria's green lungs. Constant management and care is needed to ensure that future generations inherit healthier forests.

Forestry policy in Austria

Legal provisions:

Emission regulations

Immission regulations

International agreements

Nuclear safety

The following laws in particular are intended to protect human life and health as well as the environment from harmful radiation:

Nuclear energy policy in Austria

Radiation Protection Act

General Radiation Protection Regulation

Natural Radiation Sources Regulation

Intervention Regulation

Nuclear Liability Act 1999

The Federal Constitutional Provision for a Nuclear-Free Austria

Radiation Protection Passport Fees Regulation

Hazardous incident

The aim of this Regulation is to inform people who may potentially encounter a hazardous incident about hazards, safety measures and the correct procedure during a hazardous incident.

Hazardous Incident Information Regulation


Projects that are expected to have a significant impact on the environment when implemented must undergo a systematic inspection (the Environmental Impact Assessment) before approval and must be evaluated as part of an approval process.

General information on the Environmental Impact Assessment

Detailed information on the Environmental Impact Assessment

Environmental Impact Assessment Act 2000

Businesses are free to go beyond the minimum environmental legal requirements at their own initiative.

Administrative procedures

Declaratory procedure


Waste management

The three basic principles of waste management in Austria areprevention, recycling and disposal of waste. The legal foundation for this is the Waste Management Act (AWG). Producers of waste must fulfil various obligations including:

Handling of waste

Provision of information on waste

Recording obligation

Drawing up accompanying documents

Declaring accompanying documents

Appointing a waste manager in businesses with more than 100 employees 

In certain cases, producing a waste management plan 

A further series of obligations applies to producers of hazardous waste.

Hazardous waste

The Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management makes it possible to fulfil these obligations online. Exporters of waste planning a shipment for which notification is required can register here:

Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management electronic data management portal


Special notification requirements apply to preparations which are toxic, highly toxic or corrosive and are sold to the general public.

Due to their particular hazard to consumers (acutely harmful to human health and easily obtainable by private individuals without restriction), such preparations must be declared to the Federal Environmental Agency within two weeks of the substance entering circulation.

Federal Environmental Agency

Data management for certain hazardous products

Declaration of toxic and corrosive chemicals sold to the general public

Chemicals Act 1996

Toxin Information Act 1999

Every substance classed as highly toxic or toxic which is being circulated in Austria for the first time must be declared to the Federal Chancellery. This must be done via the submission of specific documentation within two weeks of the substance entering circulation.

Federal Chancellery

Chemicals Act 1996

Declaration of Listed Toxins Regulation

Anyone circulating a highly toxic or toxic new substance which has been declared to the appropriate authority in another EU Member State and is not contained in the list of toxins in Austria for the first time must declare this substance, referring to the declaration made in another EU Member State, to the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management within two weeks of the substance entering circulation for inclusion in the list of toxins.

Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management

Chemicals Act 1996

Climate and air

Owners of waste (co-)incineration plants have to submit an emissions declaration for each calendar year retrospectively.

Emission declaration for waste (co-)incineration plants

Permits and licences

Site development

In most cases, it is necessary to obtain authorisation before constructing or converting industrial facilities. This means that companies wishing to do so must first apply for an authorisation for facilities.

Authorisation for facilities

Authorisation requirement under nature protection law

Authorisation required under water law 

Other authorisations

Waste management

The relevant authority is the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management, which provides a range of online services via the electronic data management portal (EDM portal). These services include requesting forms for information on waste or registration forms, searching for registered persons and declaring of shipments for which notification is required.

Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management EDM portal


Any use of a public water body outside the scope of common use as well as the construction or alteration of a facility for the use of the water body requires authorisation as set out in the Water Protection Act 1959. Applications must be directed to the relevant water authority.

Authorisation required under water law

Water Protection Act 1959


This inspection incorporates a declaratory procedure, a preliminary procedure and the actual Environmental Impact Assessment. An application for a permit must be submitted to the relevant authority. This must include the documents specified in the administrative regulations (e.g. layout plan, approval of land owner).

Environmental Impact Assessment

Environmental Impact Assessment process


The Federal Environmental Agency (UBA) is the special department for environmental affairs in Austria. The UBA publishes the results of its work in studies and reports. The UBA also provides an online database covering various topics.

Federal Environmental Agency

Useful information for people living and working in Austria is available from HELP, the Austrian government help service, or the Business Service Portal USP.



Services of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management:

Environment service - Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management





Various institutions offer environmental subsidies.

Environmental subsidies by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management

Subsidies - Austrian Federal Ministry for Transport, Innovation and Technology

Source: European Commission