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Austria


Austria

HISTORY AND POLITICAL STRUCTURE

Austria (officially the Republic of Austria) is a landlocked country of roughly 8.3 million people in Central Europe. The territory of Austria covers 83,872 square kilometers (32,383 sq mi) and has a temperate and alpine climate. Since Austria has the Alps its terrain is highly mountainous. The majority of the population speaks German, which is also the country’s official language. Other local official languages are Croatian, Hungarian and Slovene.

The origins of Austria date back to the time of the Roman Empire when a Celtic kingdom was conquered by the Romans in approximately 15 BC and later became Noricum, a Roman province. In 788 AD, the Frankish king Charlemagne conquered the area and introduced Christianity. Under the native Habsburg dynasty, Austria became one of the great powers of Europe. In 1867, the Austrian Empire was reformed into Austria-Hungary.

The Austro-Hungarian Empire collapsed in 1918 and the First Austrian Republic was established in 1919. In 1955 the Austrian State Treaty ended the occupation and Austria was permanently neutral under the Declaration of Neutrality.

Today, Austria is a parliamentary representative democracy comprising nine federal states. The capital and largest city, with a population exceeding 8.364,095, is Vienna. Austria is one of the richest countries in the world, Austria has been a member of the United Nations since 1955, joined the European Union in 1995, and is a founder of the OECD. Austria also signed the Schengen Agreement in 1995, and adopted the European currency, the euro, in 1999.

The Parliament of Austria is located in Vienna, the country’s largest city and capital. Austria became a federal, parliamentary, democratic republic through the Federal Constitution of 1920. The political system of the Second Republic with its nine states is based on the constitution of 1920 and 1929, which was reenacted on 1 May 1945.

The head of state is the Federal President, who is directly elected by popular vote. The chairman of the Federal Government is the Federal Chancellor, who is appointed by the president.

The Federal Assembly (Parliament) consists of two houses--the National Council (Nationalrat), or lower house, and the Federal Council (Bundesrat), or upper house. Legislative authority resides in the National Council. Its 183 members serve for a maximum term of 4 years in a three-tiered system, on the basis of proportional representation. The National Council may dissolve itself by a simple majority vote or the president may dissolve it on the recommendation of the Chancellor.

The highest courts of Austria’s independent judiciary are the Constitutional Court; the Administrative Court, which handles bureaucratic disputes; and the Supreme Court, for civil and criminal cases. While the Supreme Court is the court of highest instance for the judiciary, the Administrative Court acts as the supervisory body over government administrative acts of the executive branch, and the Constitutional Court presides over constitutional issues. The Federal President appoints the justices of the three courts for specific terms. Austria has a strong state and local loyalties have roots in tradition and history.

ECONOMY

Austria is the 12th richest country in the world due to the fact that it has a well-developed social market economy, and a high standard of living. Until the 1980s, many of Austria’s largest industrial firms were nationalised; in recent years, however, privatisation has reduced state holdings to a level comparable to other European economies. Labour movements are particularly strong in Austria and have large influence on labour politics. Next to a highly developed industry, international tourism is the most important part of the national economy. Austria’s economy benefited greatly from its entry into the EU in 1995 and the introduction of the Euro in 2002. In addition, its growing commercial relations especially in the banking and insurance sectors in central, eastern, and southeastern Europe was a great benefit.

Trading with the 27 countries of the European Union, accounts for about 72% of Austrian imports and exports. Expanding trade and investment in the new EU members of central and Eastern Europe represent a major pillar of Austrian economic policy. Austrian firms have sizable investments there and continue to move labor-intensive, low-tech production to these countries. About one-half of Austria’s foreign direct investment (FDI) is concentrated in the countries of central, eastern, and southeastern Europe. Many western European and international companies have located their central/eastern European headquarters in Austria.

WHY CHOOSE AUSTRIA WHEN STARTING A BUSINESS?

Austria has an extraordinary heritage. It is vehemently protective over its intellectual and cultural history. Another thing Austria has refined to a fine art is business. It has a fully developed market economy and enjoys a high standard of living. It also has a robust relationship with its fellow European Union constituents, and investors coming from overseas generally find the legalities of setting up rather conductive and accommodating. Austria provides an attractive market with a stable political, economic and social climate, and is well situated for expansion to other neigh-bouring eastern European nations.

As a member of the European Union and European Economic Area, the country welcomes the free movement of goods and capital.

Advantages of the Jurisdiction of Austria

  • An Austrian company is legally exempt from dividends tax received from a foreign subsidiary. Austria levies no withholding tax on dividends paid to the foreign parent.
  • As a member of the European Union (EU), Austria is governed by the provisions of the EU’s Parent-Subsidiary directive.
  • An Austrian company can access a large network of double taxation treaties Austria has signed with major trading nations around the world.
  • A minimum of one director and one shareholder is required for Austria company formation. The shareholder and director can be the same person, and need not be resident in Austria.
  • It is easy to open global corporate bank accounts to support your Austrian company formation.
  • Austria is regarded as one of the world’s most competitive economies. It has excellent business advantages in-cluding its economic performance, government efficiency, business efficiency and infrastructure.
  • A register containing directors and shareholders details is available for public viewing.

How to form an Austrian Company

Austrian company formation is an 8-stage process, which takes the following procedures:

  1. Receive confirmation from the Economic Chamber to prove that the company is a new business. This procedure is optional, but it can mean exemption from paying certain taxes. This takes 1 day to complete.
  2. Have the articles of association notarised. This takes from 2 to 5 days.
  3. Deposit the minimum amount of capital required into the bank, a process taking 1 day.
  4. Registration of the company at the local court, and the publication of a formation announcement. This takes around 2 weeks.
  5. Register with the trade authority, a process which takes a day. This has no charge if exemption has been granted under stage 1, in other cases stamp duties vary dependent on the type of trade.
  6. Registration with the tax office, and obtain a VAT number. This takes around 12 days.
  7. Register the employees with social security, which takes one day.
  8. Register with the municipality, which levies community taxes on all businesses. This process takes a day.

Requirements for the Registration of an Austrian Company

  • Director: Directors may be of any nationality and may reside anywhere. Only one director is required, although there may be several. Directors can be residents or non-resident. Corporate directors are allowed. Nominee directors are allowed.
  • Shareholder: Shareholders may be of any nationality and may reside anywhere. Only one shareholder is required. This can be the same person as the director. Shareholders can be residents or non-resident. Corporate shareholders are allowed.
  • Shares & Capital: The minimum share capital of a GmbH is €35,000 and this must be subscribed in full on formation of the company, but only €17,500 of the total share capital must be paid up before registration. There are no share certificates in an Austrian company, so a valid transfer of the ownership of shares is only possible by means of an assignment before a notary.
  • Name of the Company: The name of the company must end with GmbH to denote limited liability; sometimes it is required to provide a special expert opinion on the permissibility of a company’s name issued by the chamber of commerce to the commercial register, especially in case the company’s name includes a reference to “Austria”.

Required Documents to register the company

For the registration of a company the following documents should be prepared and with the application form and send to the registrar:

  • The Memorandum and Articles of Association (M&A)
  • Notarized declaration of establishment;
  • A declaration and bankers confirmation of minimum cash requirement has been deposited;
  • Signatures of the managing directors, and confirmation by the tax authorities that the formation tax for capital transaction has been paid. 

Austria is considered to be a prosperous and sophisticated business centre and a traditional trading bridge to Eastern
Europe and the Balkans. In addition Austria, actively welcomes foreign investors considering Austrian company forma-
tion. Setting up a company here is physically very easy. There is plenty of office and industrial space available, both for
short and long term let and we can provide serviced office facilities. Austria is considered to be a good place to start
a business. 


GENERAL OVERVIEW

Location

Central Europe.

Time zone

GMT + 1 hour.

Population

8,364,095.

Capital

Vienna.

Airport(s)

Vienna, Linz, Salzburg, Graz, Klagenfurt, Innsbruck.

Language

German.

Currency

Euro.

Political system

Republic.

International dialling code

+43.

Legal system

Civil law.

Centre’s expertise

Tourism, high-tech, biotech, financial services.

TAX

Personal income tax

Progressive tax rate (up to 50% when tax base exceeds € 51,000) numerous exemptions and tax incentives.

Corporate income tax

Flat 25%, capital gains (cross border) and inter company dividends (domestic and foreign) tax exempt, far reaching group taxation system (domestic and foreign losses of sub's tax deductible).

Exchange restrictions

None.

Tax treaties

More than 70 including Belize, Barbados, Cyprus, Malta, Liechtenstein and San Marino.

SHARE CAPITAL

Permitted currencies

No restrictions.

Minimum authorised capital

GmbH (company with limited liability) €35,000. AG (stock corporation) €70,000. Private foundation €70,000.

Minimum share issue

One (AG, GmbH). Foundation has no shares, only beneficiaries.

TYPE OF ENTITY

Shelf companies

Hardly available.

Timescale for new entities

One week.

Incorporation fees

Articles of association €2,500 - €4,000. Notary €1,500 - €3,000. Registration fees approx. €400. Capital duty 1% of paid in share capital.

Annual fees

Minimum corporate tax €1,750 credited against later corporate tax, can be carried forward for indefinite time.

DIRECTORS

Minimum number

One.

Residency requirements

No.

Corporate directors

No.

Meetings/frequency

As required / discretionary.

SHAREHOLDERS

Disclosure

Yes.

Bearer shares

No.

Minimum number

One.

Public share registry

Yes.

Meetings / frequency

As required / discretionary resolutions can be on mail basis.

ACCOUNTS

Annual return

Obligatory for both trade law and tax law purposes.

Audit requirements

AG (stock corporation) and foundations: obligatory. GmbH: depending on size, obligatory if em­ployees >250, asset's value >€12.5m and turnover >€25.0m in two consecutive years.

OTHER

Registered office

Required.

Domicile issues

N/A.

Company naming restrictions

Only necessary that the name of a company has to be clear and distinctive, it is NOT necessary anymore that the purpose of the company is reflected in its name.

Integrity

We strive to provide quality results with full confidentiality and discretion