Austria is a member of the Eurozone and the Schengen Area and as such people from most countries in Europe will not require a visa in order to visit for less than 90 days. On top of that, there are a number of other countries outside of Europe which benefit from this privilege including the United Sates of America, Japan, Israel, New Zealand, Taiwan and a number of others. However, citizens of many countries will be forced to apply for entry, particularly those from Africa and the Middle East.
If you would like to visit Austria and are from one of the many countries which do not require a visa then all you will need is a current passport containing blank visa pages (they recommend at least 2 for visa stamps) and any necessary transit visas for connections in other countries. Although the need for free visa pages may at first seem trivial it can take quite a while to apply to have extra pages added to your passport, during which time you will often be stranded so it’s worth making sure.
If you are a citizen of a country which requires a visa to visit Austria and you are resident in that country then you will have to apply for a tourist visa at the Austrian consulate in that country. Should Austria not have a consulate in your country there will generally be a consulate in a neighbouring country which covers yours. If you are resident in the UK or the US, however, it will often be possible to use a visa service to get a visa delivered to you in this country.
In order to get one of these visas you will need to hand over your passport, two passport-sized photographs and if you are resident in a country that is not your own proof of immigration status. You will also need to provide a travel itinerary, proof that you have travel insurance, a recent bank statement proving that you have funds of at least 60GBP for each day of your stay. You may also be required to provide a letter from your employer stating that you have been granted a leave of absence. A personal letter of invitation from your Austrian host may also help your application but this will need to be notarized by the city hall in the town they live in.
If you are applying for a business visa and are from a country that has no agreement with Austria then the process will be similar. One additional step, however, will be that you will need to provide a business invitation letter from the company who are sponsoring your visit. This will need to be written on company letterhead and meet certain criteria including a description of your job role, the nature of the business and the type of visa requested.
In the UK, visa processing takes a minimum of 14 days but in many countries it will take longer. This generally turns on how busy your local Austrian consulate is and how well-equipped it is to deal with the demand. In countries with smaller Austrian consulates the process may well take longer than 14 days. In the UK, for instance, the Austrian Embassy is open between 9.00am and 11.30pm Monday to Friday but is closed on Austrian Public Holidays and UK bank holidays.
The typical visa fee charged is £48.60 for adults and £28.40 for children although there are many exceptions to this listed. Anyone in education, for instance, such as school students, post-graduate students and teachers accompanying students are exempt from the visa fee. Many researchers who are travelling for the purpose of carrying out scientific research will also be exempt as well as those under 25 years old who are travelling as representatives of non-profit organizations to participate in certain types of event.
Alternatively, it is possible for citizens of many countries to apply for a Schengen Visa. A Schengen Visa gives you free access to all of the countries who are signed up to the Schengen Agreement, including the great majority of Europe and, of course, Austria. Not everyone is eligible to sign up for a Schengen visa, however, and this depends yet again on your country of citizenship. Schengen Visas are for tourist visits only and if you plan on staying for longer than 90 days other arrangements will have to be made. Once you are granted a Schengen Visa you will be eligible to travel freely within the Schengen Area although you will be asked to stick to a predetermined travel plan.
If you decide that you would like to live in Austria longer than a tourist visa allows a different set of rules apply. Living in Austria is different than travelling there and getting a Residence Permit follows a different procedure than getting a Visa. Citizens of the European Union and of countries who are parties of the European Free Trade Agreement may simply travel to Austria and apply for a residence permit whilst there. Others, however, must ensure that they apply before leaving.
To complicate things, there are 7 different types of residence permits that can be applied for depending on your reason for living in Austria and each of these has sub-types. For instance, it is possible to apply for a temporary residence permit if you plan to stay in Austria for a few months but not permanently. For this type of visa there are 8 su-types including: the residence permit for an employee sent “on temporary duty” is different than that for what is termed a “rotational employee” which is different again from the visas intended for students, academic researchers and even artists.
Other visas are for those who would like to stay in Austria permanently, with the type mostly determining on your circumstances and will depend on whether or not you are an EU citizen or married to one. One important point to note is that, without exception, all residence applications are required to be submitted in person.