Are there any special requirements for driving or hiring a car in Austria?
Austria has one of the highest speed limits in the world and you are allowed to drive at 130 kilometres per hour on the motorways. Cars are generally manual but you can also order automatic vehicles.
Cars entering an intersection from the right have priority unless otherwise stated. Traffic entering the motorways must yield to traffic which is already on the motorways. You cannot turn right on a red light unless indicated to do so by a green arrow.
Seat Belt Laws
In Austria it's obligatory for all car occupants to wear a seatbelt whilst the car is moving. If caught not wearing a seatbelt you'll pay an on the spot fine.
Drinking and Driving
You must have no more that 50mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood whilst driving in Austria. This is lower than the UK meaning that one pint of beer or a glass of wine may put you at the limit for driving. If you've had your licence for less than two years, the limit is 10mg – effectively meaning no drink at all!
Must Have Documents
You will need to have a photo version of your passport or photo ID with a paper copy. If you're from Europe, that is sufficient but from overseas, an international drivers licence may be required. You'll need to carry the motor insurance certificate as well.
50 kilometres per hour in built up areas
100 kilometres per hour on the open road
130 kilometres per hour on motorways.
Speed limits are enforced by unmarked police cars and radar traps as well as cameras. If you get a ticket it will be sent to your rental agency or you may receive an on the spot fine.
Minimum Driving Age
The minimum age to drive is 18, though to hire a car you should be a minimum of 21 for some companies, up to 23 or 25 years old for others.
Safety Camera Warning Devices
It is illegal to use monitoring devices for safety (speed) cameras in Austria.
On the Spot Fines
Austria operate an on the spot fine system for many motoring offences. If you don't have the cash on you when stopped, you'll be taken to a cash machine or bank to withdraw the money and if you still can't pay, you may be held until the money is forthcoming.
Child Safety Rules
Children under twelve cannot sit in the front seat of a vehicle unless they have an appropriate safety seat conforming to EU regulations. This means a rear facing child seat as long as the air bag is deactivated or a booster seat for older children.
A minimum of third party insurance is compulsory in Austria and it's recommended that you have a green card too, proving that you have the minimum requirements.
Rules of the Road
Standard European driving laws apply with one or two exceptions.
You must use a warning triangle and have your hazard warning lights lit if involved in an accident or if you break down. You must also wear a reflective jacket.
If your number plate doesn't have the EU symbol and country lettering you need to affix the appropriate sticker.
You'll need to buy a motorway sticker if you intend to use the motorway network
You'll need to add stickers to your headlamps to ensure they are directed for traffic that uses the right hand side of the road.
You must have a first aid kit in the car.
In winter you'll need to make sure you have winter tyres fitted in wintry conditions.
There are no specific laws for towing. Use common sense and make sure other drivers are aware of what you are doing.
There are many fixed speed cameras in Austria and regular patrols operate mobile speed checks too. If you are caught on camera you'll get a fine in the post and the potential that points will be added to your EU licence or, at mobile speed checks, you'll get a ticket plus an on the spot fine.
Using Mobile Phones when driving
You cannot use a mobile phone without a hands free kit in Austria. To do so incurs an on the spot fine.
Parking is generally cheap in Austria apart from in Vienna and everywhere, it's free at the weekend. There are strict laws with high fines for illegal parking so it's often better to use formal parking facilities. You must park in the direction of the traffic, so, effectively, facing forward on the right hand side of the street.
In Austria you'll find ticket machines in many locations alongside the road. These allow a maximum of two hours parking usually. You cannot park where there are yellow or red lines alongside the kerb nor on the white lines of a bus stop or within three metres of a fire hydrant.
It’s possible to buy an International Blue Parking Disc from many shops and kiosks. There are special parking areas for holders of these and you can park there for up to two hours. It’s often a much cheaper way to park. Disks from other European countries cannot be used in Austria.
Roadside parking is warden controlled but the police will also intervene if the car is causing an obstruction. Parking fines are relatively high.
Austria follows EU guidance on the use of the disabled badge but never assume so. Do not use the disk to park anywhere unless there are specific indications you can do so.
Motor Way Signs
Motorway signs are blue with an illustration of a motorway in white. Your car must have a motorway tax sticker if you intend to use Austrian motorways. These stickers can be purchased to last for varying amounts of time up to one year. They can be bought at many petrol stations and are not expensive. Your car rental company should be able to sort this out for you.
Hello - Gruess Gott
Motorway - Autobahn
Goodbye - Servus
Petrol – Benzin
Please follow police - Polizei bitte folgen
Unleaded – Bleifrei
Road construction - Baustellen
Fines - Verwarnungsgeld
Self service - Selbstbedienung or SB-Tanken
Warning triangle - Warndreieck
I have broken down: Ich habe eine Autopanne
Where is the police station? - Wo ist die Polizei?
I have a flat tyre - Ich habe eine Reifenpanne
I have been in an accident: - Ich habe einen Unfall gehabt
Where is? - Wo ist?
Where can I buy petrol? - Wo ist eine Tankstelle?
Traffic lights follow the EU standard operation but UK drivers may get confused by the flashing green. The light does this four times to indicate it will soon change to amber then red.
All of the motorways in Austria operate on a toll system. The vignette motorway tax sticker covers you to drive on toll roads but you can be fined on the spot if you don't have it. Some motorways have additional charges which are paid at a booth along the route.
See our guide to toll roads in Austria here.
The emergency number in Austria is the European standard 112
The American Embassy is at Boltzmanngasse 16, A-1090 Vienna and can be contacted on +43-1 31339-0. Their website is http://austria.usembassy.gov/
The British Embassy is at Jauresgasse 12, 1030, Vienna and can be contacted on Tel: +43-1 716130. Their website is http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/travel-and-living-abroad/find-an-embassy/europe/embassy-Vienna
What to do in an emergency
In an emergency, you must display a warning triangle 30m from the vehicle and have your hazard warning lights on. If you are in a rural area, you must put on a reflective jacket, day or night, before proceeding to put out the triangle. Call the emergency services on 112 and wait with the vehicle until they arrive. It is an offence to leave the scene of an accident where someone has been injured.
As of December 2013, the price of 95 octane unleaded petrol in Austria is £1.19 whilst diesel is £1.23.