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Travel Security Advice for Austria Print

 

Austrian_National_Flag

AUSTRIAAustria_Overview


 

 

COUNTRY DESCRIPTION:

Austria is a highly developed, stable democracy with a modern economy.  Tourism is an important pillar of the Austrian economy and facilities are widely available.  Read the Department of State Background Notes on Austria for additional information, or see the information at the Austrian National Tourist Office.

REGISTRATION / EMBASSY LOCATION:

U.S. citizens living or traveling in Austria are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate at the Department of State travel registration page, so that they can obtain updated information on local travel and security.  U.S. citizens without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.  Registration is important; it allows the State Department to assist U.S. citizens in an emergency.

Local embassy information is available below and at the Department of State’s list of embassies and consulates.

U.S. Embassy in Vienna, Consular Section


Pakring 12a
Telephone: +43- 1-31339-7535
Facsimile: +43-1-5125835

ENTRY / EXIT REQUIREMENTS:

Austria is a party to the Schengen agreement.  As such, U.S. citizens may enter Austria for up to 90 days for tourist or business purposes without a visa.  The passport used should be valid at least for the period of the intended stay (usually the date of the return flight).  For further details about travel into and within Schengen countries, please see our Schengen fact sheet.

Anyone intending to stay longer than 90 days must obtain the appropriate visa issued by the Austrian Embassy in the United States.  For visa holders entering Austria, the passport should be valid for at least three months beyond the period of intended stayVisit the Embassy of Austria website for the most current visa information.  There are four Austrian Consulates General in the United States; as each one serves clients from a particular region, please contact the appropriate office for assistance.  If you reside outside the U.S., please contact the responsible Austrian Embassy or Consulate in your country of residence. A list of Austrian Embassies/Consulates is also available.

There are no vaccination requirements for international travelers.  The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Austria.

Information about dual nationality or the prevention of international child abduction can be found on our website.  For further information about customs regulations, please read our Customs Information page.

THREATS TO SAFETY AND SECURITY:

Austria remains largely free of terrorist incidents; however, like other countries in the Schengen area, Austria’s open borders with its Western European neighbors allow the possibility of terrorist groups entering/exiting the country with anonymity.  Americans are reminded to remain vigilant with regard to their personal security and to exercise caution.

Austrian intelligence experts have registered increased radicalization of immigrant Muslim individuals and of small conspiratorial groups, as well as intensified use of the Internet as a propaganda and communications platform.  Despite some terrorism-related incidents in 2007 directed against individual Austrian nationals or the Government of Austria, authorities overall believe the likelihood of terrorist attacks in Austria remains relatively low.

Every year, a number of avalanche deaths occur in Austria's alpine regions.  Many occur when skiers/snowboarders stray from the designated ski slopes.  Leaving the designated slopes to ski off-piste may pose serious risks and may delay rescue attempts in case of emergency.  Skiers/snowboarders should monitor weather and terrain conditions, and use the available avalanche rescue equipment.  Avalanche beepers (transceivers) are the most common rescue devices and, when properly used, provide the fastest way of locating an avalanche victim, usually enabling authorities to begin rescue operations within minutes.

For the latest security information, U.S. citizens traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs website

Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free within the U.S. and Canada, or by calling a regular toll line, 1-202-501-4444, from other countries. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

The Department of State urges American citizens to take responsibility for their own personal security while traveling overseas.  For general information about appropriate measures travelers can take to protect themselves in an overseas environment, see the Department of State’s extensive tips and advice on traveling safely abroad.

CRIME:

Austria has one of the lowest crime rates in Europe, and violent crime is rare.  However, crimes involving theft of personal property do occur.  As such, most crimes involving Americans are crimes of opportunity involving theft of personal belongings.  Travelers are also targets of pick-pockets who operate where tourists tend to gather.  Some of the spots where such crimes are most frequently reported include Vienna’s two largest train stations, the plaza around St. Stephen’s Cathedral and the nearby pedestrian shopping areas (in Vienna’s First District).

The U.S. Embassy receives reports of theft and pick-pocketing on public transportation lines, especially on those lines coming into and out from the city center.  U.S. citizens are advised to secure personal belongings and always take precautions while on public transportation and in public places such as cafes and tourist areas.  Many citizens have had to disrupt travel plans while awaiting replacements for lost and stolen passports.

In many countries around the world, counterfeit and pirated goods are widely available.  Transactions involving such products may be illegal under local law.  In addition, bringing them back to the United States may result in forfeitures and/or fines.

VICTIMS OF CRIME:

The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.  If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate for assistance.  The embassy/consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred.  Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed.  Information on the Austrian crime victim compensation program can be found on the U.S. Embassy’s website.

The local equivalent to the “911” emergency line in Austria is “133.”

Please see our information on victims of crime, including possible victim compensation programs in the United States.

CRIMINAL PENALTIES:

While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law.  Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses.  Persons violating Austrian laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned.  Penalties for possessing, using, or trafficking illegal drugs in Austria are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines.  Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States.

SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES:

Travelers using U.S. issued debit cards in Austrian Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs) may encounter problems.  If the request for cash is rejected, travelers should check their accounts immediately to see whether the money was in fact debited from their account.  If this is the case, they should notify their banking institution immediately.  Prompt action may result in a refund of the debited amount.  Receipts should always be requested and kept for verification with your home bank.

MEDICAL FACILITIES AND HEALTH INFORMATION:

There are an adequate number of hospitals available in Austria.  Local hospitals will not settle their accounts directly with American insurance companies.  The patient is obliged to pay the bill to the local hospital and later claim a refund from his/her insurance carrier in the United States.  MEDICARE payments are not available outside the United States.

The Austrian Medicine Import Act generally prohibits the import of prescription drugs into Austria, with two exceptions:

A) Travelers residing outside the European Union are allowed to carry with them (as part of their personal luggage) drugs and medicines, but only the quantity that an individual having a health problem might normally carry; and

B) Travelers, while staying in Austria, may receive drugs and medicines for their personal use by mail.  The quantity is limited to the length of their stay in Austria and must never exceed three packages.

It is recommended that travelers have either a prescription or written statement from their personal physician that the medicines are being used under a doctor's direction and are necessary for their physical wellbeing while traveling.

Public health conditions in Austria are excellent.  The level of community sanitation in Vienna meets or exceeds that of most large American cities.  Disease incidence and type are similar to that seen in the major cities of Western Europe and the United States.  At the present time, air pollution is not a major health problem in Vienna.

For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad, consult the infectious diseases section of the World Health Organization (WHO) websiteThe WHO website also contains additional health information for travelers, including detailed country-specific health information.

MEDICAL INSURANCE:

The Department of State strongly urges U.S. citizens to consult their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad. Important questions are whether the policy applies overseas and whether it covers emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation.  For more information, please see our medical insurance overseas page.

Any person, regardless of citizenship, who wants to take up residence in Austria, must be covered by some health insurance plan that covers full medical treatment in Austria.  American citizens interested in joining the health insurance plan under the Austrian system should apply to the Health Insurance Agency (Gebietskrankenkasse) in the province (Bundesland) where they reside.

TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS:

While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States.  The information below concerning Austria is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Road conditions in Austria are generally excellent.  During the winter, however, roads in alpine areas may become dangerous due to snowfall, ice, or avalanches.  Some mountain roads may be closed for extended periods and tire chains are often required.  Drivers should exercise caution during the heavily traveled vacation periods (i.e., December-February, Easter, July-August).  Extra caution is recommended when driving through autobahn construction zones, particularly on the A-1 East/West Autobahn.

Reduced lanes and two-way traffic in these zones resulted in several deadly accidents in recent years. Traffic information and road conditions are broadcast on the English-language channel, fm4, located between 91 and 105 FM depending on the locale.

A U.S. driver’s license alone is not sufficient to drive in Austria.  The U.S. driver’s license must be accompanied by an international driver’s permit (obtainable in the U.S. from American Automobile Association and the American Automobile Touring Alliance) or by an official translation of the U.S. driver’s license, which can be obtained at one of the Austrian automobile clubs (OEAMTC or ARBOE).  This arrangement is only acceptable for the first six months of driving in Austria, after which all drivers must obtain an Austrian license.

Austria requires all vehicles using the autobahn to display an “Autobahn Vignette” highway tax sticker on the inside of the vehicle’s windshield.  The sticker may be purchased at border crossings, gas stations in Austria, and small “Tabak” shops located in Austrian towns.  Fines for failing to display a valid autobahn vignette on the windshield of your car are usually around $120.

Austrian autobahns have a maximum speed limit of 130 km/hr, although drivers often drive much faster and pass aggressively.  The use of hand-held cell phones while driving is prohibited.  Turning right on red is also prohibited throughout Austria.  The legal limit for blood alcohol content in Austria is .05 percent and penalties for driving under the influence tend to be stricter than in many U.S. states.

Tourists driving rented vehicles should pay close attention to the provisions of their rental contract.  Many contracts prohibit drivers from taking rented vehicles into eastern European countries.  Drivers attempting to enter countries listed as “prohibited” on the car rental contract may be arrested, fined, and/or charged with attempted auto theft.  Austrian police are authorized to hold the rented vehicle for the car rental company.

Emergency roadside help and information may be reached by dialing 123 or 120 for vehicle assistance and towing services (Austrian automobile clubs), 122 for the fire department, 133 for police, and 144 for ambulance.  The European emergency line is 112.

Austrian Federal Railroads (Österreichische Bundesbahnen) offer excellent railroad service to all major towns of the country and also direct connections with all major cities in Europe.  Trains are well maintained and fares are reasonable.  There is also an extensive network of bus lines operated by the Austrian Postal Service (Österreichische Post).  All major cities also offer excellent public transportation services.

Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information.  Visit the website of Austria’s national tourist office (Österreich Werbung) and the national authority responsible for road safety (Kuratorium für Verkehrssicherheit).

AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT:

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the government of Austria’s Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of Austria’s air carrier operations.  Further information may be found on the FAA safety assessment page.

CHILDREN'S ISSUES:

Please see our Office of Children’s Issues web pages on intercountry adoption and international parental child abduction.

This replaces the Country Specific Information for Austria dated January 30, 2009 without substantive changes.

 


 

The Foreign Commonwealth Office also has information regarding travel to Austria HERE....

Need to find an Embassy ?, Please check out our World Wide Embassy Listings Section HERE (For US Citizens) or HERE (For UK Citizens).......

Regards

The SW Team.....

 

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