Citizenship in Austria
Background and Legal Considerations
Several countries have adopted provisions that allow the acquisition of citizenship on the basis of an investment and/or a direct contribution to the state as a means of development of the country. In Austria, Art. 10 (6) of the Austrian Citizenship Act states that the government can reward foreign persons with citizenship in the event of extraordinary merit. This may take various forms, including economic ones, and can include investment or other economic benefit brought to Austria. However, citizenship is not granted on the basis of investment alone. The foreign investor must make an extraordinary contribution alongside his investment, such as bringing new technologies to the country or creating a substantial number of new jobs.
Under the citizenship-by-investment provisions, an applicant is required to invest actively in the Austrian economy, for example in the form of a joint venture or direct investment in a business that creates jobs or generates new export sales. Significant direct investment is generally required. Passive investments in government bonds, real estate, etc. do not qualify.
In addition to standard documentary requirements (passports, birth and marriage certificates, etc.), a completely clean personal record (certificate of no criminal record), a comprehensive CV and business background information, as well as impeccable references, must be provided by all applicants.
The Austrian Citizenship Act generally requires the applicant to abandon his current citizenship as a precondition for being granted Austrian citizenship. However, in the case of a grant of citizenship under the provisions of Art. 10 (6) of the Citizenship Act, the former citizenship can be legally maintained, i.e. the applicant is not required to give up his present citizenship.
The grant of citizenship on the basis of an investment involves various procedures and requires Government approval at several levels. It is, therefore, essential that the applicant is properly advised from the beginning, that each individual case is carefully prepared and that informal approvals from the key ministries are obtained before the investment is made and the formal application process is started.
Haskew Law advises on suitable investment opportunities, liaises with the various government agencies and ministries, and finally prepares and lodges your application with the Government. As with other citizenship programs, the procedure involves a thorough background check, and applicants are normally required to attend an interview in Austria. Citizenship documents are issued after the citizenship application has been approved.
The average time frame for an application is 24 - 36 months. Successful applicants receive full citizenship of the Republic of Austria by the decision of the Government of Austria and can apply for a passport immediately afterwards. Passports are issued within a few days.
The grant of citizenship is not published and not reported to any other country, as it falls within the Government provisions relating to privacy/official secrets.
As a citizen of Austria you can live and work in the country as well as anywhere in the European Union at any time. In addition, as an EU citizen you also have the right to live in Switzerland, which is a very attractive place for tax-advantaged residence.
Unless you decide to actually reside in Austria, you are not subject to tax in Austria.
The Austrian passport enjoys an excellent reputation and offers very comprehensive visa-free travel, including visa-free access to the USA. The Austrian passport is without a doubt among the very best travel documents in the world.
When you acquire citizenship under the Austrian Citizenship Act, you and your family enjoy full citizenship for life, which can be passed on to future generations by descent.
The granting of citizenship is at the sole discretion of the Government of the Republic of Austria, and we are unable to guarantee that applications will be approved. However, great care has been taken to provide the best possible safeguards for persons entering the program. Prior to taking on any mandate, a written agreement is made between the applicant and Haskew Law defining the responsibilities of both parties.
Key advantages of Austrian citizenship
- Opportunity to become an EU citizen upon making a substantial investment
- Austrian passport gives visa-free access to most countries worldwide
- Austrian passport gives the right to reside anywhere in the EU as well as in Switzerland
- There is no need to spend any particular time actually residing in Austria
- There are no tax consequences unless your main (tax) residence is moved to Austria
More About Austria
Located in Central Europe, Austria borders Germany and the Czech Republic to the north, Slovakia and Hungary to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the west. The total area of this landlocked country is 84,000 km2 with only a quarter that is low-lying. The official language, German, is also the mother tongue of 88.6 % of the population.
Austria is a parliamentary representative democracy consisting of nine federal states. It is one of six European countries that have declared permanent neutrality and includes the concept of everlasting neutrality in the constitution. Austria has been a member of the United Nations since 1955 and joined the EU in 1995. The country plays an active role in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and other international economic organizations.
- Vienna, the European capital of classical music, has been a centre of musical innovation since the early 1500s
- The country is the birthplace of a number of world-famous composers such as Mozart and Strauss
- Ludwig van Beethoven spent the better part of his life in Vienna
- Austria is one of Europe's most heavily forested countries
- Austria has a great variety of flora and fauna, including endemic species that are under preservation
- More visitors than ever took a holiday in Austria in 2015 (39.4 million arrivals)
- There are 20,000 organic farmers in Austria, the highest per capita worldwide
- Austria's handicrafts are famous worldwide - most notably fine hand-crafted items, costume jewellery, ceramics and glassware
- Austria is the leading generator of hydro-electric power in the EU
Austria is the fourth richest country within the European Union, with a GDP per capita of approximately USD 41,077 (2014). Since becoming a member state of the EU it has gained closer ties to other EU economies, reducing its economic dependence on Germany. Membership in the EU has also drawn an influx of foreign investors attracted by its access to the single European market and proximity to EU aspirant economies. Austria's service sector generates the vast majority of its GDP.
Austria's economy relies on its export market with main exports including machinery and equipment, motor vehicles and parts, paper and paperboard, metal goods, chemicals, iron and steel, textiles and food stuffs.
Vienna has established itself as the gateway to the East and aims to expand trade and investment in the emerging markets of Central and Eastern Europe. Viennese law firms and banks are among the leading players in business with the new EU member states.
Please contact us for more information on citizenship in Austria or to arrange an initial personal consultation.