This is an annual report produced in
conjunction with the Regional Security Office at U.S. Tri-Mission Vienna. OSAC
encourages travelers to use this report to gain baseline knowledge of security
conditions in Austria. For more in-depth information, review OSAC’s country-specific
page for original OSAC reporting, consular
messages, and contact information, some of which may be available only to
private-sector representatives with an OSAC password.
The current U.S. Department of
State Travel Advisory at the date of this report’s
publication assesses Austria at Level 1,
indicating travelers should exercise normal precautions. Review OSAC’s report, Understanding the Consular Travel Advisory System.
Overall Crime and
The U.S. Department of State has assessed
Vienna as being a LOW-threat
location for crime directed at or affecting official U.S. government interests. Austria has one of the lowest
crime rates in Europe, and violent crime is rare. Crime rates generally decreased
slightly during 2019, except for a notable increase in reported cybercrime. The
most common crime experienced by U.S. citizens is purse/wallet snatching,
typically in crowded public areas. Other crimes of opportunity included those
in trains, restaurants, shopping areas, and crowded tourist areas in which
criminals distracted a victim who usually was not in direct physical control of
valuables. Be especially cognizant of your possessions in the plaza around St.
Stephen’s Cathedral and the nearby pedestrian shopping areas in Vienna’s First
District These crimes were overwhelmingly non-violent, and seldom involved
weapons. Review OSAC’s report, All That You Should Leave Behind.
burglaries continue to be a concern, but the trend continuous in2019 and the rates
reflected a slight decrease from prior years. In 2019, there were a small
number of residential crimes reported involving physical violence and home
invasion, though none specifically targeting U.S. citizens. Vehicle theft
reports stayed on a low level in 2019. In 2019, a bicycle theft increased and
was a focus for the police. Review
OSAC’s reports, Hotels: The Inns and Outs and Considerations for Hotel Security.
In 2019, U.S. citizens reported
occasional instances of assault by intoxicated or emotionally disturbed persons
in/near bars and transit hubs; these did not specifically target victims based
While violent crime is
infrequent, when it occurs, the media covers it heavily. Robbers target
merchants and residences most notably during the holiday shopping season. Armed
jewelry store and bank robberies occurred occasionally this year. Violent crime
within some ethnic communities, especially against women, increased in 2019.
Be alert to criminal schemes in
public places such as cafes and tourist areas.
Organized crime, primarily from
Serbian and Polish groups, is present in Austria, though it is usually
non-violent and involves burglary and property theft.
Credit card fraud is less
prevalent than in the U.S. because Austrians typically purchase goods and
services using cash or bank transfers instead of using credit cards. Review OSAC’s reports, The Overseas Traveler’s Guide to ATM Skimmers & Fraud and Taking Credit.
Cybercrime in Austria generally
follows worldwide trends. Austrian law enforcement has dedicated additional
personnel towards cybercrime prevention, resulting in the recent establishment
of a cybercrime taskforce.
Review OSAC’s reports, Cybersecurity Basics, Best Practices for Maximizing Security on Public Wi-Fi, Traveling with Mobile Devices: Trends & Best Practices, and Satellite Phones: Critical or Contraband?
Road Safety and
Austria has a substantial network
of highways and roads, all in generally excellent condition. Traffic typically
flows in an organized manner. In large cities, complex tram and bus systems
share city roads with cars, creating unique driving hazards. The large network
of mountain roads requires good, attentive driving skills.
Be alert when you drive through
autobahn construction zones, particularly on the A-1 East/West Autobahn.
Reduced lanes and two-way traffic in these zones have resulted in several deadly
accidents in recent years. Find traffic information and road conditions on the
English-language radio channel located between 91-105 FM depending on the
locale. Reach emergency roadside help and information by dialing 123 or 120 for vehicle
assistance and towing services.
Under normal conditions, the
speed limit in towns is 50km/h; on country roads, it is 100km/h; and on the Autobahn
(highways), it is 130km/h. Electronic radar detectors are located on all
autobahns, motorways, and in cities to assist the police with speed enforcement.
Austria employs cameras in controlled speed zones, and tickets drivers for
speed violations automatically. All vehicles on the Austrian Autobahn must have
a toll vignette (sticker) for passenger vehicles or a toll transponder for
heavier commercial vehicles. Purchase vignettes at gas stations, local
Tabak-Traffik tobacco shops, or online.
The legal limit for blood alcohol
is 0.05%. Fines for violating this limit range from 218€ to 3,634€, and result
in the suspension of the driver's license. Drivers may not use a hand-held cell
phone while driving or turn right on red.
Cars on Austrian motorways must
leave an emergency corridor, even when no emergency vehicle is approaching.
When traffic stops, create an emergency corridor in between the far-left lane
and all others to the right.
A U.S. driver's license alone is
not sufficient to drive in Austria. Authorities require an international
driving permit or an official translation of the U.S. driver's license,
obtained at one of the Austrian automobile clubs (ÖAMTC or ARBÖ). This
arrangement is only acceptable for the first six months of driving in Austria,
after which all drivers must obtain an Austrian license.
During heavy congestion on
highways, when traffic slows significantly, Austrian law mandates that motorists
create a lane for emergency vehicles to pass. The lane forms to the inside of
the far-right lane of traffic.
During the winter, roads in
alpine areas may become dangerous due to snowfall, ice, or avalanches, which
may block some minor mountain passes for prolonged periods. Winter tires or
appropriately rated all-season tires are required on cars during the fall and
winter months. Carry snow chains in winter; doing so may be compulsory in some
areas. Drivers receive substantial fines for failure to use winter tires on a
vehicle between November 1 and April 15. Car insurance becomes void if a
vehicle is in a wintertime accident without winter tires.
Authorities may arrest, fine,
and/or charge with attempted auto theft any drivers attempting to enter
countries listed as “prohibited” on a car rental contract.
Review OSAC’s reports, Road Safety Abroad, Driving Overseas: Best Practices, and
Evasive Driving Techniques; and
read the State Department’s webpage on driving and road safety abroad.
Public transit systems are
excellent. Most operate on the honor system, with random checks by plainclothes
ticket-enforcement officers. Fines for riding without a validated ticket can be
up to 100€ and must be paid on the spot. Be especially cautious when walking
near tram tracks, as trams are nearly silent and strike several pedestrians and
vehicles each year. Beware of
pickpockets on public transportation, on trains, and in train stations.
Transport coming into and out of the city center and trains that run between
Vienna and Budapest, Prague, and Rome are of particularly high risk.
Do not leave bags unattended.
Review OSAC’s report, Security In Transit: Airplanes, Public Transport, and Overnights.
U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of
Austria’s Civil Aviation Authority as compliant with International Civil
Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of
Austria’s air carrier operations.
The U.S. Department of State has assessed Vienna
as being a MEDIUM-threat location
for terrorism directed at or affecting official U.S. government interests. There have been no recent
terrorist attacks in Austria, but travelers should take the potential for
terrorist-related incidents seriously. And while there is no prominent
homegrown Islamist group in Austria, international groups such as ISIS and
Hamas have received support from some Austrian Muslim extremists. Austrian
citizens and residents have fought in Syria and Northern Iraq with extremist
groups over the past several years. As of early 2019, Austrian authorities
reported knowing about 320 foreign fighters with Austrian ties. Sixty of these
individuals died, 60 faced issues with authorities at the Austrian border and
traveled back to Syria, and 90 have returned to Austria from the war zone. Of
these 320 foreign fighters, 40% have an Austrian passport, and 40% are from the
Russian Federation (mostly Chechens). The threat of extremist violence from
these individuals is of growing concern to authorities.
Austria is a transport and
finance hub, and various international terrorist groups and individuals operate
in country, using it as part of their support base. Since 2016, Austrian
authorities have enhanced efforts to counter incitement of terrorist acts
motivated by extremism and to combat the problem of foreign terrorist fighters.
In February 2018, Austria convicted three men for establishing an ISIS-affiliated
cell in with the objective of attacking a police station in St. Pölten. Authorities
have also confirmed ongoing radicalization efforts by violent Islamist
extremist groups in the country. In March 2019, authorities arrested a 42-year-old
Iraqi ISIS sympathizer in Vienna in connection with failed terror attacks on
railways in Germany. Due to this heightened threat, government surveillance of
potential radical groups has increased.
Religiously motivated extremism
also presents a potential threat to European security. Terrorist attacks on
soft targets around the world underscore the concern of an ever-increasing
transnational terrorist threat. Be alert to your surroundings, especially in
circumstances where you may be time/place predictable. If you detect suspicious
activity, inform the police immediately.
Economic, Religious, and Ethnic Violence
The U.S. Department of State has assessed Vienna
as being a LOW-threat location for
political violence directed at or affecting official U.S. government interests.
Austria is a
stable democracy. Groups generally are free to protest; peaceful protests
concerning a variety of political causes are common in Vienna. Protests may
take place in response to political or economic issues, on politically
significant holidays, and during international events. Civil disorder
associated with public protests or demonstrations is rare, but does occur. Protest
organizers must request to protest permit from the Vienna city government at
least 24 hours in advance. The permit delineates the parameters of the protest
and advises the police of the planned activity. Police control for planned
demonstrations is consistently very good. However, the possibility exists of
any demonstration becoming violent, so travelers should avoid them when
possible, especially when rival groups will be present. Review OSAC’s report, Surviving a Protest.
Anti-U.S. sentiment is not common
in Austria. However, in 2019 there were 10 demonstrations at the Bilateral
Chancery and one at the U.S. Consulate from a variety of groups. Pro-Israeli,
Palestinian, and Kurdish groups demonstrated outside the U.S. Embassy during
2019. All demonstrations were peaceful and concluded without violence.
Austria experiences a number of
deadly landslides and avalanches each year, including one that killed several
U.S. skiers in 2015. Groomed ski areas monitor for avalanche danger, and authorities
bring down potential avalanches under controlled conditions. If participating
in winter sports outside of controlled areas, receive avalanche avoidance
training, heed avalanche danger cautions, monitor weather conditions, and carry
Air pollution results from
emissions by coal- and oil-fired power stations and industrial plants, and from
trucks transiting Austria between northern and southern Europe. Real-time air
quality information is available online.
Critical Infrastructure Concerns
Austria maintains strict privacy
laws that govern the release of personal information.
The law prohibits sexual harassment, and the
government generally enforces the law. Review the State Department’s webpage on
security for female travelers.
There are no legal restrictions
on same-sex sexual relations or the organization of LGBTI+ events in Austria. There
is an established LGBTI+ community in all larger cities. While there is some
societal prejudice, Austria has become more liberal with laws and social
opinion concerning sexual orientation and gender identity. Anti-discrimination
laws apply to LGBTI+ persons. Civil partnerships of same-sex couples are legal
but not equivalent to marriage. Review
the State Department’s webpage on security for LGBTI+ travelers.
In April 2019, the Interior Ministry published
statistics citing approximately 1,075 neo-Nazi extremist, racist, Islamophobic,
or anti-Semitic incidents in 2018, up slightly from 1,063 such incidents in
2017. An NGO operating a hotline for victims of racist incidents reported
receiving approximately 1,920 complaints in 2018. It reported that racist
internet postings comprised 60% of cases, and mostly targeted Muslims and migrants.
The Austrian Jewish community notes that
anti-Semitism remains at a “high but stable” level. The NGO Forum against
Anti-Semitism reported 503 anti-Semitic incidents during 2018. These included
five physical assaults in addition to name-calling, graffiti and defacement,
threatening letters, dissemination of anti-Semitic texts, property damage, and
vilifying letters and telephone calls. Of the reported incidents, five
concerned physical assaults, 28 threats and insults, 203 letters and calls, 51
vandalism, and 171 involved anti-Semitic internet postings. The government provided
police protection to the IKG’s offices and other Jewish community institutions
in the country, such as schools and museums. The IKG noted that anti-Semitic
incidents typically involved neo-Nazi and other related right-wing extremist
perpetrators. Review OSAC’s report, Freedom to Practice, and
the State Department’s webpage on security for faith-based travelers.
Austrian federal law mandates
access to public buildings for persons with physical disabilities, greatly
improving accessibility. While many stores and restaurants in Austria still
lack ramp or elevator access, most tourist attractions are accessible. Find a
comprehensive assessment of public buildings, including tourist sites,
restaurants, cafes, and hotels in Vienna, at the Vienna
Tourist Information website. Click here for information regarding
accessibility in other regions of Austria. Review
the State Department’s webpage on security for travelers with disabilities.
Drug-related criminal activity against
U.S. citizens is rare. However, the use of knockout drugs slipped into a
victim’s drink has been reported both as a means of incapacitating a victim for
theft of property and for disabling victims of sexual crimes. Review OSAC’s report, Shaken: The Don’ts of Alcohol Abroad.
In recent years, police have
aggressively targeted drug and drug-trafficking related crime. Austria is a transshipment
point for Southwest Asian heroin and South American cocaine destined for
Western Europe, and increasingly a consumer of European-produced synthetic
The police emergency lines in Austria are 133 (Austria) and
112 (inter European Union). The quality of police services is comparable in training,
efficiency, and expertise to that of most U.S. cities. Police authorities are
highly professional. Cooperate fully with police requests.
The federal police (Bundespolizei) maintain internal
security within 80+ districts and 25+ cities, reporting to the Interior
Ministry. The army is responsible for external security but also has some
domestic security responsibilities and reports to the Defense Ministry.
Municipal police (Stadtpolizei)
maintain local security in approximately 20 locations around Austria. The Bundeskriminalamt (BKK) conducts federal
investigations under the Interior Ministry’s Directorate General for Public
In large cities and vacation
resorts, an English-speaking officer is usually available to assist crime
victims. Victims of any type of crime should notify the police immediately. Download the State Department’s Crime Victims
NGOs continue to criticize police
for allegedly targeting minorities for frequent identity checks. Racial
sensitivity training for police and other officials continue with NGO
The medical emergency lines in Austria are 144 (Austria) and
112 (inter European Union). In the event of an injury, appropriate
medical treatment is widely available throughout the country. Outside of a
major metropolitan center, it may take more time for first responders and
medical professionals to stabilize a patient and provide life-saving
assistance. Find contact information for available medical services and
available air ambulance services on the Embassy’s medical assistance webpage.
Local hospitals will not settle
accounts directly with American insurance companies. You must pay the bill to
the local hospital and later claim a refund from the insurance carrier in the
United States. Ensure you have adequate medical insurance that is valid for
coverage in Austria. The U.S. Department of State strongly
recommends purchasing international health insurance before traveling
internationally. Review the State Department’s webpage on insurance overseas.
The Austrian Medicine Import Act
generally prohibits the import of prescription drugs into Austria, however,
non- European Union residents may carry medicines as part of their personal
luggage, but only the quantity required during the course of the stay.
Travelers may not receive medicine by mail while staying in Austria. If a
particular medication is not available locally in Austria, an Austrian pharmacy
may be able to order the medication prescribed by a local physician from a
pharmacy in the U.S. Review OSAC’s report, Traveling with Medication.
The CDC offers additional
information on vaccines and health guidance for Austria.
Review OSAC’s reports, The Healthy Way, I’m Drinking What in My Water?, Health 101: How
to Prepare for Travel, and Fire Safety Abroad.
There is an active OSAC Country
Council in Vienna. Contact OSAC’s Europe
team if you are
interested in private-sector engagement in Vienna, or have questions about
OSAC’s Country Council programs.
U.S. Embassy: Boltzmanngasse 16,
1090 Vienna; 0800-1700, Monday-Friday, except holidays.
U.S. Consulate (for American
Citizen Services): Marriott Hotel, Parkring 12A, A1010 Vienna, northeast side
entrance, 4th floor; 0800-1700, Monday-Friday, except holidays.
Embassy switchboard: +43 (1) 31339 0
After-hours emergency Tel: +43 (1) 31339 0
Regional Security Office: +43 (1) 31339 2221
American Citizens Services Tel: +43 (1) 31339 7535
Before you travel, consider the following
OSAC Risk Matrix
OSAC Travelers Toolkit
Department Traveler’s Checklist
Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP)
Additional Resource: Austria Country Information Sheet