Austria Consular Information Sheet
November 16, 2005

COUNTRY DESCRIPTION:  Austria is a highly developed stable democracy with a modern economy.  Read the Department of State Background Notes on Austria at http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/3165.htm for additional information.

ENTRY REQUIREMENTS:  Passport required.  A visa is not required for business or tourist stays up to three months.  For further information concerning entry requirements for Austria, travelers should visit the Embassy of Austria's web site at http://www.austria.org/ for the most current visa information.  The Embassy of Austria is located at 3524 International Court NW, Washington, D.C. 20008, Tel: (202) 895-6711, and the Austrian Consulates General are located in Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York.  See our Foreign Entry Requirements brochure for more information on Austria and other countries.

For entry and exit requirements pertaining to dual nationality and the prevention of international child abduction, read our information at http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1469.html.  For Customs Information see http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1468.html.

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.

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, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department's Internet web site at http://travel.state.gov where the current Travel Warnings and Public Announcements, including the Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, can be found.

Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S., or for callers outside the U.S. and Canada, a regular toll-line at 1-202-501-4444.  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 pamphlet A Safe Trip Abroad at http://travel.state.gov/travel/tips/safety/safety_1747.html.

CRIME:  Austria has a low crime rate, and violent crime is rare.  However, crimes involving theft of personal property have increased in recent years.  Travelers should be particularly careful not to leave valuables at their table while serving themselves from hotel or restaurant breakfast buffets.  Travelers are also targets of pickpockets and purse-snatchers 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. Stephan's Cathedral and the nearby pedestrian shopping areas (in Vienna's First District).

INFORMATION FOR 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.  See our information on Victims of Crime at http://travel.state.gov/travel/tips/emergencies/emergencies_1748.html.

MEDICAL FACILITIES AND HEALTH INFORMATION:  Good medical care is widely available.  The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and if it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation.  U.S. medical insurance plans seldom cover health costs incurred outside the United States unless supplemental coverage is purchased.  Further, U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs do not provide payment for medical services outside the United States.  However, many travel agents and private companies offer insurance plans that will cover health care expenses incurred overseas, including emergency services such as medical evacuations.

Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747) or via the CDC's Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel.  For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization's (WHO) website at http://www.who.int/en.  Further health information for travelers is available at http://www.who.int/ith.

MEDICAL INSURANCE:  The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation.  Please see our information on medical insurance overseas at http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1470.html.

TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS:  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 (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 have 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 a highway tax sticker "Autobahn Vignette" on the inside windshield of the vehicle.  The sticker may be purchased at border crossings, gas stations in Austria, as well as 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 $120.00.

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.

Effective November 15, 2005, Austrian law will require that operating motor vehicles have the headlights on at all times, day and night, whether on highways or in cities.  Detailed information may be obtained through the Austrian automobile clubs listed above.

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.  The vehicle can be held by Austrian police 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.

Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information at http://travel.state.gov/travel/tips/safety/safety_1179.html.  Visit the website of Austria's national tourist office at http://www.austria-tourism.at/us.

AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT:  The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of Austria as being in compliance with ICAO international aviation safety standards for oversight of Austria's air carrier operations.  For more information, travelers may visit the FAA's website at http://www.faa.gov/safety/programs_initiatives/oversight/iasa.

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.

Please see our information on customs regulations at http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1468.html.

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 possession, use, or trafficking in 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.  For more information visit http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1467.html.

CHILDREN'S ISSUES:  For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, see the Office of Children's Issues website at http://www.travel.state.gov/family/family_1732.html.

REGISTRATION / EMBASSY LOCATION:   Americans living or traveling in Austria are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate through the State Department's travel registration website, https://travelregistration.state.gov, and to obtain updated information on travel and security within Austria.  Americans without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.  By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy or Consulate to contact them in case of emergency.  The Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy is located in the Marriott Hotel Building, on the fourth floor of Parkring 12A, in the First District. The Embassy website http://www.usembassy.at/en/embassy/ includes security updates and other information helpful to American citizens.  Citizens requiring consular assistance may also send an email to "Consularvienna@state.gov," or may contact the Consular Section through the U.S. Embassy switchboard at (43)(1) 31-339.

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This replaces the Consular Information Sheet dated March 21, 2005, to update the sections on Traffic Safety and Road Conditions, and Registration / Embassy Location.

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An additional and useful resource for travelers can be found at:  http://www.travelinsurance.org/additional-resources/state-dept-guide/