Business practice and etiquette is similar in Austria and the United States; however, there are some important differences. First, it is worth noting the relatively formal environment in which business is generally conducted in Austria. When making appointments with prospective buyers or clients, it is customary to make initial contact well in advance (either in writing or by phone) and to offer to meet on the business premises of the person in question. Another manifestation of Austrian formality is the widespread use of titles, whether in recognition of a university degree, a position in a firm, or in the government. Finally, remember that Austrians place a high value on a personal relationship as a precursor to a business relationship.
Travel Advisory: Due to the global health pandemic travel restrictions, potential U.S. travelers to Austria should carefully review the most recent Austrian entry regulations at: https://www.austria.info/en/service-and-facts/coronavirus-information#border-controls
All U.S. citizens are also strongly advised to consult with State Department travel advisory information prior to any international travel at: https://travel.state.gov/. Specific details about travel to Austria are also available at the U.S. Embassy Austria website: https://at.usembassy.gov/covid-19-information/.
A visa is not required for U.S. citizens who wish to stay in Austria for up to 90 days within a six-month period. At the conclusion of the 90-day stay, the visitor must leave the country.
U.S. companies that require travel by foreign businesspersons to the United States should have their contacts consult their closest U.S. Embassy for visa travel guidance. Visa applicants should go to the State Department Visa Website.
The currency used in Austria is the euro (EUR). Credit and debit cards are widely accepted, though there may be some establishments that choose to accept cash only. For official business payment transactions many still prefer traditional bank transfers over credit and debit cards. Checks are not common in Austria.
To tip servers in bars and restaurants, customers traditionally round up small totals to the nearest euro. (e.g., paying EUR 8.00 for a EUR 7.70 meal is completely acceptable.) Even on large bills, the tip does not need to exceed ten percent of the sub-total.
Telecommunications services are reliable in Austria and internet access is widely available. The phone system is fully automated, and direct dialing is available to most countries in the world at varying international rates. Pre-paid SIM cards for phone and internet are available at mobile shops, post offices, bookstores, tobacco shops and supermarkets. Portable Wifi devices with unlimited internet data can also be purchased at mobile shops. Austria uses the GSM standard for its cellular service. The Herold Business Data AG also provides online telephone information for Austria: https://www.herold.at/telefonbuch/
Austria uses the EU standard 230 volts/50 Hz power sockets. Adapters can be found in airports, train stations, and electronic shops throughout Austria. Although some modern appliances can work with both U.S. and European voltages, any U.S. appliances compatible with only U.S. voltages (110 or 120 volts) will need a voltage converter to prevent a burn-out.
Direct flights connect Vienna to several U.S. cities primarily through Austrian Airlines (Star Alliance), with many other routes through other European cities. Austria’s modern highways link most cities, and numerous border crossings into neighboring countries are easily accessible. Austrian Railways (Österreichische Bundesbahnen, ÖBB) offers domestic and international rail trips. Private rail service Westbahn offers rail trips within Austria and to Munich Germany. For travel itineraries, train schedules, and prices please visit:
ÖBB website: https://www.oebb.at/en
Westbahn website: https://westbahn.at/en
Though German is the official language, most Austrians speak at least some English.
Health: Vienna is one of the safest cities in Europe and the world. Violent crime in Austria is rare. Pickpocketing and purse-stealing are the most frequent crimes in urban areas and even these are rare. As in any large city, visitors should take care when walking alone to avoid dark and isolated places.
Medical care is widely available throughout the country and doctors usually speak English. Visitors are encouraged to consult with their own medical insurance company prior to traveling to Austria to determine medical insurance eligibility or if supplemental medical insurance is necessary for travel. Travelers needing to consult a doctor should check with the receptionist at their hotel or make use of the yellow pages of the local telephone directory. For English-speaking doctors practicing in Austria, who are known to the Embassy, please see this list in no significant order: https://at.usembassy.gov/medical-assistance/
Water in Austria is pure and safe to drink.
All milk sold in Austria is pasteurized.
Emergency numbers in Austria are as follows:
- Fire (“Feuerwehr”): 122
- Police (“Polizei”): 133
- Ambulance (“Rettung”): 144
- Poison Information Hotline: 1 406 43 43
- Emergency Doctor: 141
- Mountain Rescue: 140
Local time, Business Hours, and Holidays
Central European Time (CET) is used in Austria. There is a time difference of +6 hours between Vienna and New York City, except for a few weeks in the spring and fall when European and American daylight savings times differ. Austrians use the 24-hour clock. For example, 5 p.m. is written as “17:00 Uhr.” Austria follows European Daylight Savings Time, which begins the last Sunday in March, and ends on the last Sunday of October. Austrian official holidays are listed at: https://www.austria.info/en/service-and-facts/about-austria/holidays-daylight-savings-time
Business visitors should note that the Austrian vacation season is in July and August, and that many decision-makers take extended vacations during that time. Appointments may also be difficult to make during Christmas break (December 20 – January 6). Many offices are closed Friday afternoons, reflecting the widely implemented 38.5-hour work week.
Temporary Entry of Materials and Personal Belongings
When entering Austria, business visitors should declare valuables. It is advisable to have a copy of the invoice available. The visitor will be issued a Customs document called a “Verwendungsschein,” which will also include the visitor’s departure date. When leaving Austria, the visitor should go through Customs again for a checkout.