General prerequisites for obtaining a trade licence
- Austrian or EU/EEA- or Swiss citizenship; on certain conditions also citizenship of a non-EU member state
- Legal capacity (e.g. at least 18 years of age)
- No grounds for exclusion (e.g. conviction for crimes or financial crimes)
Special prerequisites for obtaining a trade licence
- The admission requirements for each regulated trade are laid down in decrees (Verordnungen).
- If such proof of qualification cannot be provided, the authority must verify, on the basis of the required certificates of the documents concerning the professional training and previous activities, whether the applicant has the required knowledge, skills and experience. If the provided documents comply with the requirements, the authority must recognize individual qualification, which may be limited to certain activities of the trade concerned.
Registration of a trade
To carry out any kind of trade or business activity, you need a trade licence (Gewerbeberechtigung).
Applications for these licences can be submitted to the relevant district or city administration authorities (Bezirksverwaltungsbehörden) which now act as one-stop shops for starting a business.
Applications can be submitted personally, in writing or electronically as well as in each other technically feasible ways, e.g. by means of the Unternehmensserviceportal or via GISA form (in german only).
The application must precisely indicate the type of trade and the location of the trade activity.
The following documents need to be submitted unless the authority can access them by electronic means:
- documents concerning personal details (name, citizenship, age, place of residence)
- documents concerning the proof of qualification (in case of regulated trades)
- notification of the appointment of an executive director (if mandated by the Trade Act, e.g. in case of corporations; gewerberechtlicher Geschäftsführer)
- in case of corporations a recent extract from the companies register (Firmenbuchauszug)
As for the trades listed in Art. 95 of the Trade Act the applicant's reliability has to be verified before his or her business can be entered in the trade register (Zuverlässigkeitsprüfung):
- master builder
- chemical laboratories
- electrical engineering
- gas and sanitary engineering
- pharmaceutical manufacturing
- security firms
- arms trade
- collection agency
- travel agency
- proprietary consultant
If the requirements are fulfilled the relevant authority has to enter the applicant into the Austrian Business Licence Information System (Gewerbeinformationssystem Austria, GISA) within three months unless the registration does not require a reliability examination; the authority has to notify the applicant of the registration by transmitting the respective extract from the register.
When it comes to trades listed in Art. 95 Trade Act (reliability verification) the authority has to pass a decision within three months concerning the fulfilment of the requirements. When this decision becomes final the authority has to enter the applicant into the Austrian Business Licence Information System.
No fees or taxes
The obligation to pay (federal) fees and taxes with regard to the execution of the Trade Act has been abandoned by an amendment to the Trade Act in 2017, Federal Law Gazette No. 94/2017; this applies to extracts from the Austrian Business Licence Information System, too.
The registration of a trade is therefore for free.
When can you take up trades?
- Basically the entrepreneur can take up a regulated or a free trade as soon as he has registered the trade (i.e. submitted all the necessary documentation to the competent authority).
- Does the application concern a trade that requires a verification of reliability the trade cannot be carried on unless the decision of the authority about the completion of requirements becomes final.
- In terms of certain trades (e.g. insurance agencies) the applicant is allowed to carry out the trade as soon as the trade has been registered in the Austrian Business Licence Information System by the responsible authority.
Additional information for start-ups
The New Companies Promotion Act (Neugründungsförderungsgesetz – NeuFöG) contains facilitations and exemptions concerning taxes and fees for business start-ups and partially for company successions. The respective declaration has to be submitted before or at the same time as claiming the promotion.
In the case of foundations further legal steps are required, e.g. registration at the Social Insurance Institution for Trade and Industry (SVA) and at the tax office (Finanzamt) as well as registration of employees at the regional health insurance funds (GKK).