Austria is one of the richest European countries which is why it attracts foreign investors from all over the world. With a stable political system and economy, Austria also offers a skilled workforce which plays an important role in its development so far.
Among the most sought investment industries are banking, trading and information technology which play an important role in the development of the country's economy. The legislation also favors the opening of new companies and foreign investors can benefit from a transparent and flexible company registration process.
Austria is a member of several international organizations, among which the World Bank, the World Trade Organization and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development which means that investors can do business here with the guarantee of the best international standards.
For those interested in doing business in Austria, our local company formation agents have prepared all the information necessary for them to get started.
Types of companies in Austria
The Company Act is the main law which provides for the establishment of a business in Austria. The first step for company formation in Austria is to choose a legal entity from the ones mentioned below:
- the sole proprietorship or sole trader which is the simplest form of starting a business in Austria;
- the limited liability company which can be private or public and is the most employed type of company;
- the partnership which is suitable for those who want to create small and medium-sized businesses;
- the subsidiary, branch and representative offices which are business forms available for foreign companies interested in entering the Austrian market.
Our company formation agents in Austria can offer information on the legislation applicable when starting a business in this country.
The sole trader in Austria
The sole trader is the simplest form of doing business in Austria and it can be established by natural persons only. There are no share capital requirements for those who want to set up this business form, however, they will need to register their trade name with the Companies Register in Austria and obtain certain licenses with the authorities.
- the private company, shortly known as the GmbH, which must be formed by at least one shareholder who cannot trade the company’s shares on the stock exchange and which requires a minimum share capital of 35,000 euros;
- the public company, shortly known as the AG, which also requires at least one shareholder and a minimum share capital of 70,000 euros; compared to the GmbH, the AG can trade its shares on the stock exchange.
There are four types of partnerships which can be registered by foreign investors interested in company formation in Austria. These are:
- the general partnership;
- the limited partnership;
- the dormant partnership;
- the civil law partnership.
No matter the type of partnership investors want to set up, at least two founding members are necessary. Also, there are no share capital requirements for this business form.
Setting up a branch office in Austria
The branch office is one of the options foreign companies can use to create a presence on the Austrian market. The Austrian company will totally depend on the parent company, which means that all the decisions related to the management of the branch will be taken by the head office. The Austrian branch will complete the activities of the parent company for which it must obtain the necessary licenses and permits.
Among the advantages of the branch office in Austria, we remind the following:
- it takes very little to be established with the Austrian Trade Register;
- the parent company will be liable for the local branch office’ obligations;
- the requirements for setting up such an establishment are minimum;
- the branch office in Austria can be completely owned by the foreign company.
Our company registration representatives in Austria can help with the registration of a branch office.
Opening a subsidiary in Austria
Another business form available for foreign companies is the subsidiary. Compared to the branch office, the subsidiary is an independent entity, usually registered under the form of a limited liability company. As such, it can take its own decisions and will be treated as a local company in the Austrian market.
The Austrian subsidiary offers similar advantages as the branch office.
We invite you to watch a short video about company formation in Austria:
- passports or IDs which must be notarized, depending on the shareholders’ nationality;
- the company’s statutory documents which are represented by the Memorandum and Articles of Association;
- a lease contract which proves the local address the company will have in Austria;
- information about the company’s managers or directors, such as the passport or ID copies;
- information about the share contribution of each shareholder.
The business owners must also open a bank account where the initial capital will be deposited.
The documents mentioned above must be filed with the Trade Register in order to obtain the company’s Certificate of Incorporation. Then, the company must register for tax and VAT purposes.
Company formation timeline in Austria
Foreign investors seeking to open companies in Austria are usually interested in knowing how much the process takes. Our Austrian company formation consultants have prepared a timeline which estimates the time to consider for each procedure.
This timeline implies:
the business name reservation takes a few hours and can be completed online;
the drafting and notarization of the company’s statutory documents can take up to 2 days;
the processing of the documents by the Trade Register can take approximately 6 days;
the opening of the corporate bank account can take up to one day;
obtaining the clearance from the Economic Chamber will take one day;
the registration with the tax authorities can take up to two weeks;
the application for the business license takes less than one day.
Our company formation advisors in Austria have also answered a few of the most usual questions asked by our clients:
Is it easy to register a company in Austria?
Yes, it is quite easy to open a company in Austria, as the company registration process is completed in a matter of days.
Do I need to be present when the registration takes place?
Your presence is not necessary when opening a company in Austria if you grant us power of attorney to represent you.
Does my company need a local address in Austria?
Yes, the company must have a local address in an Austrian city. We can assist with virtual office services for this purpose.
How much is the corporate tax in Austria?
The standard corporate tax rate in Austria is 25%.
If you have other questions or simply need company formation services in Austria, please feel free to contact us.
The Austrian Trade Register
The Austrian Trade Register is actually known as the Austrian Commercial Register. The institution deals with company registration in Austria, as well as the supervision of the legal matters regarding thecompanies in Austria. Information about companies in Austria is kept in a database available at commercial courts and regional courts and it is protected by the Federal Computing Centre. Details on private foundations and cooperatives are also registered with the Austrian Trade Register in order to meet the provisions of the Austrian legislation. The Trade Register in Austria falls under the regulations of the Ministry of Justice and it has the role to establish communication links between entrepreneurs and law, as well as with the public.
Information which can be found with the Austrian Companies Registrar
The Companies Registry in Austria gathers and keeps the following information on local companies and the branchesand subsidiaries of local and foreign companies operating here. Among the information kept is:
- the legal addresses of companies;
- information about the shareholders;
- information about the company directors;
- information about the financial statuses of companies;
- information about the insolvency or bankruptcy statuses of companies.
The Trade Register also keeps records on companies which have been registered with it and which have undergone bankruptcy or ceased to exist because of various reasons.
The Companies Register in Austria recognizes all the types of companies comprised in the Company Law. These are the sole proprietorship, the limited liability company, the joint stock company, and the partnership. Apart from these, branch offices, subsidiaries and liaison offices of foreign companies must also register with the Trade Register upon opening. The same information as in the case of local companies must be submitted by foreign companies operating in Austria.
Foundations and partnerships registered under the Civil Law must also submit information about their existence with the Trade Register. Also, joint ventures and franchises must also be registered with the Registrar.
Our company formation consultants in Austria can offer full information on the role of the Trade Register.
How can a company be registered with the Trade Register in Austria?
Company registration in Austria can be done in two different ways. One can go in person to one of the Commercial Register’s offices in Austria and file an application. It is also possible that the company registration is performed online, by downloading and completing an application form, together with the scanned copies of the requested documents via e-mail. After company registration in Austria is completed with the Trade Register, it is also necessary to register for tax purposes in Austria.
Company formation costs in Austria
Foreign investorswho want to open companies in Austria must bear in mind the following costs:
Up to 2,000 EUR
Obtaining a confirmation for the company registration
Free of charge
Depositing the share capital
Free of charge
Registering with the local court
Approx. 30 EUR
Free of charge
Registering with the Trade Authority
Free of charge
Registering for taxation purposes
Free of charge
Registering with the municipality
Free of charge
Accessing the Austrian Trade Register
Anyone can have access to the database of the Commercial Register in Austria. It is necessary to submit an inquiry and one of the six providers will answer. They also deal with the collection of court fees. Searching the database can be simplified by using some filters, such as the company name, the legal form, the registered address, the name of shareholders or managers. On the basis of the searching process, information on the company is provided regarding the whole background and history. An excerpt of the company’s documents can be offered on request via e-mail or in print. This can be done at any office of the Commercial Register in Austria.
Information requested by the Austrian Trade Register for company registration
In order toregister a company with the Companies House in Austria, one must submit the following information:
- the company’s trade name which must be reserved online;
- the personal information of the business owners and directors;
- information about the company’s share capital and the division of shares;
- the registered address of the company, as well as other secondary addresses;
- the date at which the company is registered with the Trade Register;
- the date at which the company ceases to exist, if it is pre-established;
- information about any business license if it was obtained prior to the registration.
This information must be contained in the Articles of Association of the company. Also, the application forms issued by the Registrar must be filled in and submitted. The company is required toset up a bank accountand information about will be required.
The directors must have their specimen signatures prepared and submitted with the Companies Registry. Their nominations must be accompanied by a declaration of appointment which must be signed by the shareholders and notarized by a public notary.
Once the company is registered, it will have the obligations of submitting annual financial information.
It should also be noted that any change brought to the company must be announced with the Commercial Register. Among these changes, the alterations brought to the company’s management structure and share capital must be registered with the Registry. Also, Austrian companies can change their trade names, a procedure which must be completed with the same Register.
If you are interested in registering a company, you can grant a power of attorney to a proxy. Our specialists in company formation in Austria can complete this procedure on behalf of foreign investors.
Requesting information with the Trade Register in Austria
Every individual and company is allowed to ask for information with the Companies Register by submitting a request. The information will be issued free of charge unless the search is specific and targets the financial documents of the company.
Most of the times, this information is requested when performing company due diligence procedures, however, it is best to ask for specialized services in order to reduce the waiting period before the information is released. Our Austrian company formation advisors can perform Commercial Register checks on behalf of clients interested in obtaining information about a local company.
Company checks are performed in case of mergers and acquisitions when creating joint ventures and before entering any other type of commercial activity with a local business.
We strongly recommend foreign investors who want to open a business or carry out company searches in Austria to ask for specialized services. We can help with the registration of new companies, and we can also help in amending any changes brought to existing companies.
Austria’s credit ratings from the largest agencies in the world
It is worth noting that between 2010 and 2015 Austria was rated AAA by all three agencies. The small country received the latest ratings from Moody’s, S&P and Fitch in 2016, when things have changed a little based on the economic uncertainty created by Brexit which has affected the whole EU. However, compared to powerful economies in Europe, Austria maintains a good rating and prospects for the following year. Austria’s latest ratings are as it follows:
- Fitch last rated Austria AA+ at the beginning of August, 2016;
- Moody’s rated Austria Aa1, at the end of June, 2016;
- S&P last rated Austria AA+/ A-1+ at the end of March, 2015.
Foreign citizens interested in opening a company in Austriacan receive detailed information on the company registration procedure from our consultants.
The most recent credit ratings for Austria
Austriais rated on a regular basis by some of the largest agencies in the world. Among these are Moody’s, Standard and Poor’s, Fitch and DBRS. The latest credit ratings issued by these agencies forAustria provide for:
- Moody’s last assessed Austria in May 2018 when it issued an Aa1 rating;
- Fitch also assessed Austria this year in July when it issued an AA+ rating;
- Standard and Poor’s issued the last rating for Austria in 2013 when it announced an AA+ rating;
- DBRS last assessment for Austria was in 2011 when it issued an AAA rating.
Most agencies have issued positive outlooks for the Austrian economy
Another important component of a credit rating refers to the outlook of Austria’s economy. Most of the agencies have issued positive and stable outlooks which speak very well about the future developments of the Austrian economy. These outlooks are usually based on the measures announced by the government.
Why are credit ratings important for Austria?
Credit ratings are the most important tool for large investors who want to enter the Austrian market. They are also a good indicator of how healthy the Austrian economy is.
Austria has attracted many good ratings over the years because:
- it has a diversified economy which relies on many developed industries;
- the credibility of its national institutions is very high;
- it is one of the strongest and most stable economies in the EU.
For more details about how you can open a company in Austria or in other European countries such as Serbia, you may contact our specialists in company formation. If you are interested in other jurisdictions, we can put you in touch with our foreign partners, such as LawOfficeMalaysia.com.
Call us now at (+43) 720 3037351to set up an appointment with our company formation specialists in Austria. Alternatively you can incorporate your company without traveling to Austria.
As a Ruttensteiner Business Consulting client, you will benefit from the joint expertize of local lawyers and international consultants. Together we will be able to offer you the specialized help you require for your business start-up in Austria.
The team from CompanyFormationAustria.com is very qualified and benefits from extensive expertise in this area. I would definitely recommend them to any entrepreneur decided to start his own business here.
Mihai Cuc, Partner of Enescu&Cuc; Law Firm www.romanianlawoffice.com