Exporting to Austria – everything you need to know

Austria is a relatively small nation with a population of just 8.5 million – the big plus point from a trade point-of-view is that, being located right in the centre of Europe, it has over 48 million people within a 400km radius of Vienna, its capital city, which means exporting to Austria will put your products and services within reach of a lot of potential customers.

It’s also one of the wealthiest nations in Europe, with a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per head of €33,200 compared with a European Union (EU) average of €25,700. Austria’s high standard of living and relatively low living costs results in high non-essential disposable income.

If you want to take advantage of this, here’s everything you need to know about exporting to Austria…

The pros and cons of exporting to Austria

A number of international organisations have their headquarters in Austria, including:

  • United Nations (UN)
  • Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE)
  • Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO)
  • Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC)

And there are more than 350 internationally active companies have their Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) headquarters in Vienna.

The strengths of the Austrian market include:

  • Well educated workforce
  • Important tourist destination
  • All major international legal and accountancy firms represented
  • Politically stable
  • Well developed infrastructure

And, as you’d imagine, there are a lot of plus points to doing business over there, not least:

  • English widely spoken amongst professional people
  • Strategic position as link between western and eastern European markets
  • Less than 2 hours away by plane
  • Low cost flights between Austria and UK
  • Starting point for access into CEE

UK exports to Austria rose from €2 billion in 2013, to €2.3 billion in 2014, and the main main exports are:

  • Automotive products
  • Information and Communications Technology (ICT)
  • Chemical products
  • Dyes and plastics
  • Machines and metal
  • Medical and surgical equipment

And if your business is a provider of services, not products, there are opportunities available for specialists in:

  • Innovative financial services
  • Franchise opportunities
  • Ecommerce
  • High value luxury goods

There are few challenges, but on major stumbling block is because Austria is a federal state, there may be some regulatory changes to negotiate, particularly if you’re in the healthcare or construction sectors.

Another hurdle could be that you’ll need a definitive USP for your product as it takes a lot for Austrian businesses to switch from a supplier they use and trust. So if it’s just a standard product at a standard price, you may have to up your game.

And don’t forget, if you’re going to do business in Austria, you’ll need a reliable and cost effective conference call provider – here’s how to set up a conference call between the UK and Austria.

Tax and customs in Austria

Tax

The general rate for value added tax (VAT) is 20% for most manufactured goods and services, but a lower rate of 10% is levied on food, agricultural products, property rents, and some other items.

The importer in Austria will declare the goods on their VAT return form so, as a UK-based exporter, you should zero rate the goods at your end. If the buyer is not registered for VAT or the seller cannot obtain his VAT number then the seller must charge the UK rate of VAT.

A special tax, based on the car’s average fuel consumption, is levied on the first registration of cars.

Corporate tax is 25 % of any income of legal entities.

Income tax can be as high as 50% and is paid by all people who are registered in Austria, and you will be liable for income tax if registered abroad, but have an Austrian work contract.

Customs

No import duties apply as Austria is a member of the EU single market, and goods can move freely between member states without any documentation. You should still send normal documentation like packaging lists and invoices, which should include; address details, VAT registration number of supplier and receiver, customs tariff number, as well as net and gross weights.

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