Austria

Ease of Doing Business Rank: 19

Overview

 

Geographic location

Austria is a landlocked Central European country. The Czech Republic lies to the north, Lichtenstein lies to the west, Slovenia and Italy to the south and Slovakia and Hungary to the east.

Spoken language

The official and principal language of Austria is German spoken by 88.6% of the population. The remaining 11.4% speak several minority languages.

Minority languages include Croatian (0.5%) and Hungarian (0.1%). Foreign languages include English (73%), French (11%) and Italian (9%).

Population

The 2019 population is approximately 8.96 million.

Vienna is the largest city with over 1.8 million inhabitants. Only four other cities have populations over 100,000. The remaining residents live in small cities and rural areas throughout the country.

Popular industries

The top industries in Austria are food and luxury commodities, mechanical engineering and steel construction, chemicals, automotive, organic agriculture, tourism, telecommunication, IT, biotechnology, and nanotechnology.

Education

The Times Higher Education World Rankings ranks nine Austrian universities in the top 1,000 in the world.

The Legatum Prosperity Index ranks Austria’s education system 19th out of 149.

Popular entity types

The most common type of business entities in Austria are sole proprietorship, limited liability company, joint stock corporation, societas Europaea and partnerships.

The overwhelming majority of businesses are in the form of a limited liability company.

Austrian incentives for business

Austria offers a series of tax incentives and incentives for research and development activities. Incentive quotas of 50%, 60% or 75% in the form of cash grants from public R & D funds offset initial investment and recurring costs. The Austrian government also matches subsidies or cash grants through European Union.

Certain regions offer employment incentives upon approval as well reduced social security costs.

Austria’s corporate income tax is much lower than most other European countries (25%). The country does not have a trade or wealth tax and also makes it easier for companies to hire workers and terminate employment contracts than most European countries.

History & Features

 

Main cities for business

Vienna is the capital and center of business and finance in Austria.

Popular historical & tourist attractions

Austria is one of Europe’s smallest countries, dominated by the Eastern Alps. The River Danube also flows from west to east through the northern part of the country.

Austria has 10 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including the historic center of Vienna. The city developed from early Celtic and Roman settlements into the capital of the Austro-Hungarian and features diverse architecture including buildings in Romanesque, Baroque, Classicist, and Art Nouveau styles.

The spectacular Hofburg Palace in Vienna was the seat of Austria’s powerful monarchs for centuries. The city also has a notable music history including famous composers such as Mozart, Beethoven, and Brahms.

The Spanish Riding School was established by Emperor Maximilian II in 1562. He introduced Lipizzaner horses and visitors can still see equine demonstrations today.

The city of Graz demonstrates the cultural, architectural, and artistic influence of the aristocratic families in Central Europe from the Middle Ages until the 18th century.

Salzburg was a spiritual center from the earliest days of Christianity in Europe and the Salzburg Altstadt is another UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was founded in 690 AD and was the residence of Christian Archbishops until the early 1100s.

Salzkammergut is one of Austria’s premiere resorts surrounded by mountains, lakes and green hills. It offers mountaineering, horseback riding, swimming, cycling and luxury spas and hotels.

Austria is well-known for skiing. Innsbruck nestled in the Alps is one of the best winter sports destinations in the world. The city hosted the Olympics in 1964 and 1976 and many consider it one of the most scenic locations in the country.

History

Celtic people living in the area were occupied by the Romans in the 1st century BC. However, from the 4th century onwards Eurasian nomads, Germanic and then Frankish forces overran the area. Charlemagne eventually absorbed the region into his kingdom.

After Charlemagne’s death, the empire was divided into three sections. His grandson ruled the East Frankish Empire, including Austria.

In 1156, the Holy Roman Emperor made Austria a Duchy. When the Duke of Austria died in 1246, the king of Bohemia became the next duke. However, in 1273, Rudolf von Habsburg became Holy Roman Emperor and his son became the Duke of Austria.

With the exception of three years, the head of the House of Habsburg was also Holy Roman Emperor between 1438 and 1806. The Habsburg Monarchy acquired many other lands throughout Central Europe, including the Netherlands, Spain and its colonial empire, Hungary, and Bohemia.

During the early 16th century Turkish forces threatened Austrian territory, but failed to gain a foothold. Trade and commerce grew.

The Thirty Years War between 1618 and 1648 caused devastation to much of the Hapsburg lands. In 1683 the Turks laid siege to Vienna again, but were repelled.

Between 1701 and 1714, Austria was involved in the War of the Spanish Succession which led to Sardinia and part of Italy becoming part of the Austrian Empire.

Despite the power of the Austrian empire, it was on shaky ground. The ruling emperor did not have a male heir and ceded the empire to his daughter. Prussia invaded and started the War of the Austrian Succession. Between 1740 and 1748 Austria fought off the Prussians, French and Spanish.

By the end of the 18th century, Napoleon was on Austria’s doorstep. Austria fought France from 1792 to 1815, and in 1806 Napoleon dissolved the Holy Roman Empire. The ruler of Austria became Emperor of Austria.

After Napoleon’s defeat in 1815, Austria’s foreign minister introduced a repressive regime. Industrialization began in some regions, as did nationalism in Austrian-ruled Hungary and Bohemia. Revolutions swept across the Austrian Empire.

France defeated Austria in 1859 and then Prussia laid claim in 1866. Prussia became the dominant power in Central Europe and the Austrian Empire was split into two parts in 1867. Austria and Hungary became separate regions.

During the late 19th century, industrialism grew and railways spread across the empire. However, when Archduke Ferdinand was assassinated in 1914 it led to World War I.

Before World War I ended, the Austro-Hungarian Empire broke apart and each declared independence. In 1918, the Republic of Austria officially began. Austria recovered after the war and then suffered during the Great Depression.

During World War II, German troops occupied Austria in 1938. After the war, the Allies restored a provisional government. By 1955, Austria was an independent nation again.

Today, Austria is one of the 14 richest countries in the world in terms of GDP with a free market economy and stable democratic government.

Other relevant facts

At the 2018, 56.9% of the country’s population identify as Catholic. A further 8.8% identify as Eastern Orthodox, 3.3% as Protestant, 8.0% as Islamic, 0.3% as Buddhist and 22.7% do not affiliate with a religion or belong to other groups.

Austria is a homogeneous country and ethnic Austrians include about 7.8 million inhabitants. Other smaller ethnic groups include Turks, Germans, Serbs, and Slovenes.

Additional Information for Business

According to Forbes’ 2019 Best Countries for Business, Austria is the 22nd best country in the world for conducting business.

The 2019 Index of Economic Freedom rates Austria 31st globally and states, “Openness to global trade and investment is firmly institutionalized, and the relatively efficient entrepreneurial framework strengthens competitiveness.”

World Bank’s “Doing Business” rankings rate Austria 26th for ease of doing business in the world.

Austria Entity Support Services by Blueback Global

Blueback Global provides a one-stop integrated solution to managing all aspects of your global operations. We can take the burden off you or your company’s internal resources by managing Entity Setup, Local Payroll, Accounting, Tax Reporting, HR Admin and Regulatory Compliance matters associated with operating in a foreign country. Our services are designed to be flexible and customized, so whether you are starting from entity registration, or have already registered but need support in setting payroll or hire employees, we can help at every point of the process.

The common scenarios that may give rise to the need for Blueback Global’s services include the following:

With our integrated approach, you can expect the following experience:

We have an initial complimentary meeting to discuss the scope, objectives and plans for your expansion plan into Austria. After this meeting, you can expect a follow-up proposal from Blueback Global within 1 to 3 business days, that outlines that the approach, scope of work and expected deliverables and outcome. Thereafter, our implementation team will then work closely with your team to register the local entity, set up payroll, accounting process, employee social security and benefits. We will then develop a mutually agreed timeline and approach for ongoing payroll, accounting, tax reporting and HR support. Blueback Global will set up a compliance calendar so that you know exactly what and when compliance items such as tax reporting and payroll returns are due. We will of course facilitate all of these, so you do not have to keep track of the compliance dates.

Our goal is to make the process as smooth, simple and successful as possible, and remove the anxiety of operating in a foreign location, to deliver a great customer experience.

Other countries

Check out some other countries we serve below.