Austria confirms no grace period for Brexit residency permits

The New Year’s Eve 2021 deadline for applications for the Article 50 Card has now passed and the Ministry of the Interior has confirmed there will not be an extension -- but if you have a valid reason for missing the deadline, you should still apply.

Vienna street
Only in some special circumstances will British nationals still be able to apply for an Article 50 card. Photo: Anna Hunko/Unsplash

By the end of November 2021, 8,886 applications for the Article 50 Card had been submitted by British citizens living in Austria.

According to the Ministry of the Interior, 7,882 post-Brexit residency permits had already been issued by November 30th. Figures from Statistics Austria show 11,529 British citizens were living in Austria at the start of 2021, although some of these people may have since left Austria, or have a different right of residence, for example if they hold another EU citizenship.

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However, despite the Ministry stating there will not be a grace period for late applicants, there is still the possibility to apply if there is a valid reason for a delay.

A spokesperson for the British Embassy in Austria said: “As set out in the Withdrawal Agreement, you can still apply if you have reasonable grounds for missing it. These include severe illness, or, for children, if their parent or guardian did not apply earlier for them.

“Contact your local Magistrat or Bezirkshauptmannschaft to apply as soon as possible. If your Article 50 Card application is refused, you may be able to apply for residence as a third country national and should do so as soon as possible.”

As part of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement, British people who were already living in Austria at the end of the transition period on December 31st 2020 could apply for the Article 50 Card. This allowed them to stay in Austria and retain many of the rights they enjoyed as an EU citizen.

The Austrian Federal Government has published a guide for late Article 50 Card applications.

What is the Article 50 Card?

The Article 50 Card replaces all previous residency permits held by British people in Austria who were living here under EU freedom of movement. 

In a nutshell, it’s a post-Brexit residency card and applicants were either granted a five-year or a ten-year card, depending on how long they had lived in Austria prior to the end of the Brexit transition phase of December 31st 2020.

FOR MEMBERS: Where in Austria do all the British residents live?

Any British citizens living in Austria that hadn’t applied for the Article 50 Card by the New Year’s Eve 2021 deadline could lose their rights that were protected by the Withdrawal Agreement.

The application process for the Article 50 Card opened on January 4th 2021, although many people in Vienna experienced delays throughout 2021.

In February 2021 there were also reports of some British citizens in Austria wrongly having their benefits payments suspended due to misunderstandings of the new post-Brexit rules, as reported by The Local.

The suspension of benefits went against the Withdrawal Agreement and resulted in former British Ambassador to Austria Leigh Turner reaching out to the Austrian Federal Government to resolve the issue.

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Do Brits in Austria need to carry a residence permit at the border?

Whether you arrived in Austria before the Brexit cut-off date or moved here more recently, you may be wondering if carrying your residence title or permit is necessary when entering or leaving the country.

Do Brits in Austria need to carry a residence permit at the border?

For many Brits living abroad in the EU, the past few years have been a steep learning curve. For the first time in a generation, they have to register for their residence rights or navigate the complicated immigration rules for third-country nationals, like applying for work or study visas.

This means that even Brits who have lived in Austria for years may end up encountering situations they haven’t dealt with before, such as being asked for residence permits when applying for jobs or crossing the border into and out of Austria. 

But what are the rules in general for Brits when entering and leaving Austria? And is it necessary to always have a residence permit (Aufenthaltstitel) or post-Brexit residence document – known as an “Article 50 Card” (Aufenthaltstitel “Art 50 EUV”)? 

What is the status of Brits in Austria after Brexit?

Since the transition period ended, UK citizens have been treated in much the same way as other non-EU citizens in Austria – albeit with a few more perks. 

These include the right to visa-free travel in Austria (and the Schengen Area) for up to 90 days in every 180, the right to enter the country before applying for a visa and the ability to work for employers abroad while living in Austria.

In general, however, for people who didn’t live in the country before the end of the Brexit transition period, the immigration requirements are much the same as they would be for someone from, for example, Japan or the USA.

In order to live in Austria long-term, Brits now need an appropriate residence permit, such as work, family reunification or study visa, or another status such as citizenship that assures their rights.

Brits who arrived before the Brexit transition period ended on December 31st, 2020 have a special residence permit known as an Article 50 Card or “Aufenhaltstitel ‘Art 50’ EUV.” 

Without either an Article 50 Card or a regular residence permit, immigration authorities will enforce the so-called ’90-day rule’, meaning that Brits will be unable to spend more than three months out of every six in the Austria.   

READ ALSO: How Britons can move to Austria to live and work post-Brexit

Do Brits Article 50 Card holders need their residence card to cross the border?

You won’t be denied entry into Austria if you show up at the border without your Article 50 Card, provided you have a British passport. That’s because British citizens are typically allowed to visit Austria for up to three months without a visa.

But you will likely have your passport stamped if you don’t show a residence card such as the Article 50 card.

However a stamp in your passport will also not affect your rights as a legal resident of Austria. Any stamp is simply considered null and void if you later produce evidence of your residency rights. Many Brits resident in Austria and other countries have fretted about stamps after Brexit but residency rights trumps all passport stamps. However they are important for those travelling in the Schengen area because of the 90 day rule.

That said, to avoid bureaucratic headaches, official British government advice is to make sure you carry your Article 50 Card with you and to proactively present it to Austrian border control. Don’t wait until you’ve been asked to show it. Simply present it right away alongside your passport to avoid any confusion.

If you have applied for an Article 50 Card but not yet received it, for example if your passport has expired and you needed to get a new Article 50 Card, you can bring the certificate with you confirming that you’ve applied instead.

Austrian border policemen check papers of car passenger at the Austro-Hungarian border in Nickelsdorf, Austria, near Hegyeshalom, Hungary. (Photo by JOE KLAMAR / AFP)

The same rules generally also apply to Brits who have regular Austrian residence permits rather than Article 50 Cards.

Although Austria typically requires you to have at least three months remaining on your passport to cross the border, if you can produce your valid Article 50 Card or residence permit, you can cross into Austria with less than three months remaining on your passport – as long as it’s still valid.

If you cannot prove that you are a resident in Austria, you may be asked additional questions at the border to enter the EU.

READ ALSO: Reader Question: Can Britons living in EU spend more than 90 days in another Schengen country?

Do Brits who live in Austria with a visa need their residence permit to enter and/or leave?

According to official advice, foreigners can be required to show their passport whenever they cross the Austrian border, even potentially those shared with other Schengen states, and should also be able to show a residence document if required.

That means that, where possible, it’s important to have both with you if you are planning on leaving Austria for any amount of time. 

As we mentioned, Brits are allowed to enter Austria without a visa, even if you don’t have your residence permit. But having it with ensures the most hassle-free crossing.

According to recent stats, only 195 Brits were turned away at the EU border in 2022 due to the 90-day rule. 

However, this is always a risk that you face if you don’t have the required documents with you and, even if you are let in, you may have to deal with numerous questions beforehand and may even receive a passport stamp. 

READ ALSO: How many travellers are turned away at European borders because of 90 day limit

Can I still travel after my residence permit expires? 

The short answer is yes – though it is a good idea to be proactive about renewing it.  

In most cases, booking a visa appointment will automatically extend your visa until the date of your appointment, just make sure you have documents with you proving your pending appointment or application.

Remember that initial Article 50 Cards in Austria expire after five years, and no reminder is given for renewal. If your Article 50 Card expires, you may be in danger of losing many of your Withdrawal Agreement rights, even if you’re eligible for another type of Austrian residence permit.

Article 50 Cards issued after the first one are valid for 10 years. As we mentioned, people continuously resident in Austria for at least five years – whether they have Article 50 Cards or a different kind of permit – can apply for permanent residence.

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READ ALSO: Visas and residency permits: How to move to Austria and stay long-term

With additional reporting by Aaron Burnett.