Driving in Austria
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Updated 7 months ago

In general, the age that gives you permission to drive is your 18th birthday. And in a country like Austria, this marks a very special event for most young people. It is the day of freedom and independence of their parents. There are certain exceptions on how to get your driving license earlier than that though.

The Austrian license

To obtain a license to drive in Austria, you must be a minimum of 17 years old and have a family member or friend who has been driving for at least seven years to accompany you as a supervisor. The document issued is called the “L-17”. New drivers usually take educational lessons before they pass a written theory test and a series of driving courses and tests. The process is strict, and all tests are conducted in German.

Converting your driver's license

If you already have a licence from an EU or EEA country, you are not required also to have an Austrian licence. However, you can exchange your licence for an Austrian one, which can also be used as a form of identification within Austria.

Residents from a country outside of the EU/EEA, who wish to drive locally, must obtain an Austrian license within six months of arrival in the country. Depending on your home country, you may be able to exchange your licence without also taking the theory and driving tests.

If you want to exchange your international license for an Austrian license, you will need to provide a range of documents:

  • The Austrian application form to exchange your license
  • Your original licence, including an official translation if the licence was not issued in German
  • Birth certificate
  • Austrian residency registration card
  • Identification photo for the new licence
  • Proof of good health for driving, issued by a doctor

International driver's license

If you are only in the country for a short time and wish to drive, and your licence is not issued in German, then you will need to have either an official translation of your licence into German or an international license, also known as an International Driving Permit (IDP).

You can issue the IDP in your home country before travelling overseas by following a simple process, which requires you to show your full local license and pay a small fee.

The highway in Austria

To use the Austrian highway named “Autobahn”, car drivers have to buy a so-called “Vignette”. The Austrian highways are toll roads without toll gates to pay. Be sure to buy a vignette in a gas station before you start driving the highway. Cars pay € 9,20 for ten days, € 26,80 for two months or € 89,20 for a whole year. It is cheaper if you drive a motorcycle. The fine is € 120,00 so don't take any risks. 

Speed limits in Austria

The speed limit on highways is 130 km/h, in parts with IGL (air safety control), you are only allowed to drive at 100 km/h. If you pass the speed limit with IGL signs on, you will not be fined for speeding but for an environmental offence, which is much more expensive and not worth the hassle. On open country roads, it is allowed to drive 100 km/h and in urban places 50 km/h, except where signed otherwise. If there is a so-called “Wohnstrasse”, which you will know by the sign of children playing, you have to drive at foot-pace which means 5 to 15 km/h maximum.

Car insurance and other costs in Austria

If you buy a car in Austria, you will also need to account for insurance costs. All car owners must have third party insurance, with some drivers also purchasing comprehensive insurance, which covers their vehicle in case of an accident. Roadside assistance packages are another important thing to budget for, in the event of breakdowns. You will also need to account for registration fees when purchasing a new or secondhand vehicle.

If you purchase a car from outside Austria, the buyer is liable for any import tax and a roadworthy certificate to prove it is safe to drive.

 Good to know:

Some rules regarding driving in Austria include: Driving is done on the right side of the road; between November 1st and April 15th all drivers must keep winter tires or snow chains in their car; the legal limit for alcohol and driving is 0.5BAC; if car is covered in snow make sure that you free the roof, the window, the front and the back of snow

 Useful links:

Austria driving
Driving license information, Austrian government
OAMTC - official license translations in German

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