Setting up a business in Austria

Setting up a business in Austria requires an average of 8 procedures, takes 22 days, costs 0.3% of income per capita and requires paid-in minimum capital of 13.6% of income per capita.

Formal registration of companies has many immediate benefits for the companies and for business owners and employees. Legal entities can outlive their founders; resources are pooled as several shareholders join forces to start a company. Formally registered companies have access to services and institutions from courts to banks as well as to new markets. And their employees can benefit from protections provided by law. An additional benefit comes with limited liability companies. These limit the financial liability of company owners to their investments, so personal assets of the owners are not put at risk. Where governments make registration easy, more entrepreneurs start businesses in the formal sector, creating more jobs and generating more revenue for the government.

Setting up an entity

Generally, people have a number of options when setting up an operational entity within Austria. The most common types of companies within the Austrian jurisdiction for corporate clients are:

  • Stock Corporation (Aktiengesellschaft - AG). These are mainly large companies with a large capital requirement.
  • Societas Europaea (SE)

A GmbH requires at least one (personal or corporate) shareholder, EUR 10,000 as minimum share capital (EUR 5,000 as minimum to be paid into a bank account), and the appointment of at least one personal managing director. The GmbH has to be registered with the applicable commercial register at the registered address.

Only stock corporations and SEs can be listed on the stock exchange (listed companies). Unless otherwise stated, the term company refers to limited liability companies, stock corporations and SEs (which are likely to play a more important role in the future), as these are most relevant to corporate governance and directors' duties.

Company licence

Depending on the business activity of the entity, it is necessary to check whether an application for a licence is mandatory. In order to ensure a quick set-up process, such items should be checked in the very beginning. Timelines for the application and confirmation/provision of mandatory licences depend on the business activity and may vary from 4 weeks to 12 months.

Renting an office

The following processes should be factored into your timeline:

  • Obtain a land registry extract from the competent District Court, a notary public or an attorney-at-law. Duration approximatly 1 day.
  • Authenticate signatures and authorisation of representatives, and obtain property acquisition tax clearance from the notary. Duration approximatly 1-3 days.
  • File the application at the competent District Court (Land Registry). Duration approximatly 7-28 days.

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