For members


Can owners of second homes in Austria get residence permits?

The short answer is no. But having a holiday home in Austria might help make your application for a residence permit a little easier – but you need to be willing to make Austria your primary residence.

Can owners of second homes in Austria get residence permits?
Have a second home in Austria? Here's how you might be able to get residency -- if you're planning on making it your main. (Photo by Sarah Mutter on Unsplash)

Buying holiday property in Austria can be an exceptionally difficult undertaking – not just for non-EU foreigners, but even for Austrians and EU citizens living in Austria itself. In general, only about 15 percent of homes in any given region can be used as second homes.

But what about those people who already own holiday homes in Austria – including perhaps Brits who bought their Austrian second homes some time ago but didn’t take up residence in Austria before the Brexit deadline? Can having that home already entitle you to a residence permit.

Strictly speaking? No.

But what if you’re looking to make Austria your primary residence? Perhaps you bought your second home years ago, are finishing up your working life and looking to make the move to Austria to retire?

If that’s the case, having a second home in Austria may be an advantage and make getting a residence permit easier – if you’re willing to make that home your primary residence.


What qualifies as primary residence under Austrian law?

Austrian authorities hold that your primary residence – wherever it is – should be the “focal point of your personal life”. Where you spend most of your time, where you work, where you spend your social life, and where you have your economic relationships are all relevant to determining the location that is “the focal point of your personal life”. Having a job in the area would certainly qualify, but so too would having family nearby that you see regularly – like children or grandkids, for example.

If the “focal point of your personal life” could apply to more than one place, Austrian authorities recognise your primary residence as being the home with which you have the “closest association”. A quick heads up that they’ll use this criteria sometimes to determine whether someone is improperly listing a second home as their primary residence. Anyone found guilty of doing that is subject to a fine of up to €25,000. This is in place to help prevent people from trying to get around second home caps or getting bogus residence permits.

British second home owners in Austria now have to comply with the EU 90-day rule for third country nationals, unless they apply for residency and intend to stay in Austria most of the time. Photo by Nina Rath on Pexels.

Having your intended primary residence in Austria is a necessary condition of getting a residence permit for Austria anyway.

This is because applicants for an Austrian residence permit have to be able to demonstrate that they intend to spend most of their time – at least 183 days a year – in Austria, in order to be eligible for the permit.

You can also lose your residence permit if you spend more than a certain number of months outside the EEA. In general, this is more than six months at a time or over 10 months in a period of five years. In some cases though, these limits can be extended with permission.

Basically, if you want a residence permit for Austria, you need to be ready to spend most of your time here.

READ ALSO: READER QUESTION: How long can I stay out of Austria and keep my residency rights?

How do you change your second home to your primary residence in Austria?

If you are willing to make the leap and move to Austria to spend most of your time, your second home could help give you a leg up in applying for residency.

That’s because you need to be able to prove that you have accommodation in Austria that’s suitable for you and your family. That’s not enough by itself, as you’ll need proof being able to support yourself as well – for example through a job offer or perhaps international pension payments you’re still eligible to collect in Austria. But you’ll obviously already be able to easily prove you have accommodation through your second home.

You can register your second home as your primary residence through a simple visit to your local authority, or by post. Everyone resident in Austria – including Austrian and EU citizens – has to do this when they move to a new place. The only difference here is that when you visit or write your local authority, instead of registering a new place, you’ll tell them that you’re switching the status of your second home to be that of your primary residence.

What residence permit should I apply for?

That obviously depends on your situation. Switching your second home to your primary residence obviously will already help assure Austrian authorities that you have suitable accommodation that you intend to use. But you’ll still have to meet all the other requirements for your relevant residence permit – whether you’re working or intending to apply for a settlement permit in order to retire.


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For members


Reader question: Does Austria allow me to have multiple citizenships?

The issue of multiple citizenships in Austria is complex, with many myths surrounding the subject.

Reader question: Does Austria allow me to have multiple citizenships?

Austrian citizenship regulations are based on the principle of “jus sanguinis” (right of blood), meaning that individuals can acquire citizenship through their descent or family connections. 

The laws are different for those acquiring citizenship through a naturalisation proceeding, as the process typically involves meeting specific criteria, including residency requirements, language proficiency, and passing a citizenship examination. 

READ ALSO: How foreigners in Austria can get fast track citizenship

However, one common question regarding Austrian citizenship is whether the country allows dual or multiple citizenships. A common myth is that children who are born to an Austrian and a foreign parent will have to choose between the nationalities once they turn 18.

This misconception comes from the very strict laws Austria has on naturalisation. According to the federal government, “Austrian citizenship law does not permit dual or multiple citizenship”. However, this information is for Austrian citizens who voluntarily acquire foreign citizenship or foreign citizens who naturalise Austrians. 

READ ALSO: The seven common mistakes to avoid when applying for Austrian citizenship

In the first case, the Austrian citizen will generally lose their Austrian citizenship, while in the second case, the foreign citizen is asked to give up their previous nationality in order to become Austria.

The government is clear on an “important exception to this principle”, the acquisition of citizenship by descent. Here’s the specific information from another official government site:

“If, in the case of parents of different nationalities (Austrian and another), the principle of descent also applies in the country of origin of the foreign parent, the child is a dual citizen. According to Austrian law, the child does not have to decide on nationality when they reach the age of majority – however, it may be that the other state requires a decision,” the website states.

The child can keep their nationality acquired at birth as long as the other states allow it. So, for example, if the mother is Austrian and the father is Serbo-Croatian, the child holds three nationalities and can keep all of them throughout their entire life. 

READ ALSO: ‘Citizenship is problem child’: How Vienna’s immigration office MA35 is changing

How can someone lose Austrian citizenship?

Austrian citizenship is not automatically granted for life, and there are circumstances in which an individual may lose it. Here are some situations in which someone may lose Austrian citizenship:

  • Acquisition of foreign nationality: If a person deliberately acquires the nationality of another country without applying for and being granted retention of Austrian citizenship, they may lose their Austrian citizenship.
  • Voluntary military service in a foreign state: Engaging in military service voluntarily for a foreign country can result in the loss of Austrian citizenship.
  • Harming the interests or reputation of the Republic of Austria: If an individual’s actions are deemed detrimental to the interests or reputation of Austria, it may lead to the loss of Austrian citizenship.
  • Failure to renounce previous citizenship: When someone obtains Austrian citizenship but fails to give up their previous one within two years, they may lose their Austrian citizenship.

READ ALSO: Could Austria change the rules around dual citizenship?

It’s important to note that the specific conditions and procedures for losing Austrian citizenship may vary, and individuals should consult the relevant Austrian laws and authorities for precise information in their particular situation.