The most important laws for establishing companies in Austria are the following:
The New Companies (Special Assistance) Act (NeuFöG) is intended to help reduce the costs associated with establishing and acquiring businesses.
The rights of partners are set out in the Partnership Agreement.
Legal forms for companies
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 in Austria:
- sole proprietorships and limited companies
- Sole proprietorships
Partnerships under Austrian law:
- 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 company as general partner (GesmbH & Co. KG);
Legal entities under Austrian law (limited companies, associations):
- Public limited company (Aktiengesellschaft, AG);
- Private limited company (Gesellschaft mit beschränkter Haftung, GmbH).
To succeed, a new business needs a sound commercial strategy and secure financing.
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 Business Start-Up Service of the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber. In many cases this allows founders to register their businesses immediately after the start-up consultation, providing they have all the necessary documentation.
Registering a business
The following steps are necessary when establishing a business in Austria: Selecting a legal form. For more information, see below:
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).
The type of business activities undertaken must be registered with the tax authorities and an application for a tax ID number must be submitted (within the first four weeks).
Services Directive: Point of single contact
The Services Directive is European legislation intended to provide significant relief for companies wishing to provide domestic or cross-border services within the European Union. The Directive establishes the regulations for business operators that wish to establish a business or perform temporary cross-border services in the EU/EEA area (i.e. the 27 EU member states, plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway). It requires all member states to eliminate all unnecessary bureaucratic obstacles for businesses and to simplify the formalities involving them. It also causes public authorities to be more efficient.
To implement the Directive, each member state must designate a “Point of single contact” (PSC) and set up an e-government portal that can help businesses complete all the administrative formalities online. The PSCs provide substantial information on all administrative conditions associated with the founding or expansion of a service company in a given country. The following questions, may, for example, arise:
- What licences, documents or permits do I need to set up an company (in my own country or abroad)?
- What do I have to do if I wish to temporarily provide my services in other countries?
- What must I do to apply for a licence? Which is the responsible authority?
- Are the licences subject to fees?
- What deadlines have to be observed?
- What laws and decrees apply to my sector?
- What must I do to open, for example, a restaurant or a shop? Or can a tour operator function in another country without having to found a business there?
- Who can provide me with individual advice and further information?
Thanks to the PSC, you no longer have to worry about contacting several different authorities! one by one! The PSC enables you to find all relevant Information and to submit online applications through this service to the responsible authorities. And you can complete your administrative formalities electronically by means of the PSC. For this purpose, you approach the PSC in the country in which you will exercise your business activities.
All PSCs belong to the European EUGO network and are readily accessible by means of a central website. Of course the PSC activities are only to be understood as offered service. You will always have the opportunity of approaching the responsible authorities directly.
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 providing support for business development and innovation. It also offers a range of subsidies, including in the following areas: funding for young entrepreneurs, investment loans and capital loans, credit guarantees, equity capital guarantees, assumption of liabilities and double equity guarantee funds.
The ÖsterreichischeHotel-und Tourismusbank (Austrian hotel and tourist industry bank) provides funding for the tourist industry.