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Overseas Security Advisory Council
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Austria 2019 Crime & Safety Report


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.

Overall Crime and Safety Situation

U.S. Tri-Mission Vienna does not assume responsibility for the professional ability or integrity of the persons or firms appearing in this report. The ACS Unit cannot recommend a particular individual or location and assumes no responsibility for the quality of service provided.

Review OSAC’s Austria-specific webpage for proprietary analytic reports, Consular Messages, and contact information.

Crime Threats

There is minimal risk from crime in Vienna. Crime rates generally decreased slightly during 2018, except for a notable increase in reported cybercrime. The most common crime experienced by U.S. citizens was 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. These crimes were overwhelmingly non-violent, and seldom involved weapons.

Residential burglaries continued to be a concern, but 2018 rates reflected a slight decrease from prior years, especially in suburban neighborhoods and districts with more affluence. In 2018, 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 also decreased in 2018.

In 2018, 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 on nationality. 

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 2018.

Organized crime, primarily from Serbian and Polish groups, is present in Austria, though it is usually non-violent and involves burglary and property theft. On December 21, 2018; however, there was an assassination incident in central Vienna involving rival Balkan groups.

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.

Cybersecurity Issues

Cybercrime generally followed worldwide trends. Austrian law enforcement dedicated additional personnel towards cybercrime prevention between 2015 and 2018, resulting in the recent establishment of a cybercrime taskforce.

Transportation-Safety Situation

Road Safety and Road Conditions

Austria has a substantial network of highways and roads, all in good 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.

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.

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.

For more information on self-driving, review OSAC’s Report Driving Overseas: Best Practices.

Public Transportation Conditions

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 around trams, as they are nearly silent and strike several pedestrians and vehicles each year.

Other Travel Conditions

In winter, snow blocks some minor mountain passes, sometimes 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.

Terrorism Threat

Local, Regional, and International Terrorism Threats/Concerns

There is moderate risk from terrorism in Vienna. There have been no recent terrorist attacks in Austria; however, take the potential for terrorist-related incidents seriously. A number of Austrian citizens or residents left for Syria or Northern Iraq to fight with extremist groups in 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. Poelten. Authorities have also confirmed ongoing radicalization efforts by violent Islamist extremist groups in the country. 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.

Anti-U.S./Anti-Western Sentiment

Anti-U.S>/Anti-Western sentiment is not common in Austria; however, in 2018 there were 11 demonstrations at the Bilateral Chancery and one at the U.S. Consulate from a variety of groups, though most commonly from Kurdish protestors. All demonstrations were peaceful and concluded without violence. 

Political, Economic, Religious, and Ethnic Violence

Civil Unrest

There is minimal risk from civil unrest in Vienna. Austria is a stable democracy. Groups are generally free to protest; peaceful protests concerning a variety of political causes are common in Vienna. Civil disorder associated with public protests or demonstrations is rare, but does occur. Protest organizers must apply for a permit with the Vienna city government at least 24 hours in advance to request to protest. 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; avoid them when possible, especially when rival groups will be present. Pro-Israeli, Palestinian, and Kurdish groups demonstrated outside the U.S. Embassy during 2018. Since the inauguration of the conservative government, there have been reoccurring demonstrations from left-wing groups every Thursday in Vienna and around Austria.

Post-specific Concerns

Environmental Hazards

Austria experiences a number of deadly 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 rescue/survival gear.

Privacy Concerns

Austria maintains strict privacy laws that govern the release of personal information.

Personal Identity Concerns

There are no legal restrictions on same-sex sexual relations or the organization of LGBTI events in Austria. An LGBTI community is established 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.

Accessibility and accommodation may be very different from what one finds in the United States. Austrian federal law mandates access to public buildings for persons with physical disabilities, so accessibility has greatly improved. While many stores and restaurants in Austria still lack ramp or elevator access, most tourist attractions are accessible. A comprehensive assessment of public buildings, including tourist sites, restaurants, cafes, and hotels in Vienna, is available at the Vienna Tourist Information website. Click here for information regarding accessibility in other regions of Austria.

Drug-related Crimes

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. In recent years, police have aggressively targeted drug and drug-trafficking related crime.

Police Response

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.

Crime Victim Assistance

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. Follow-up assistance is available through American Citizen Services at the U.S. Consulate, reachable at +43-1-31339-7535.

Emergency telephone numbers (all intend to have English-speaking duty personnel): Police: 133; Fire: 122; Medical Emergency: 144.

Medical Emergencies

Contact Information for Available Medical Services

  • Allegemeines Krankenhaus (AKH): +43 1 40 4000
  • Wilhelminenspital: +43 1 49 1500
  • Donauspital SMZ Ost: +43 1 288 02
  • Unfallkrankenhaus Lorenz Bohler (Trauma): +43 1 33 1100

 

Available Air Ambulance Services

Austrian Air Ambulance (+43 1 40 144) and Tyrolean Air (+43 512 224 22 100) have several aircraft that are air ambulance capable. Both airlines, based in Austria, have short (hours) response times for limited (less than ten) casualties.

International SOS (+49 6102 3588 100) can draw on a larger pool of continental air ambulance companies with arrival times of 12-24 hours.

Insurance Guidance

Ensure you have adequate medical insurance that is valid for coverage in Austria.

Country-specific Vaccination and Health Guidance

The CDC offers additional information on vaccines and health guidance for Austria.

OSAC Country Council Information

There is an 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 Location and Contact Information

Embassy Address and Hours of Operation

Boltzmanngasse 16, 1090 Vienna; 0800-1700, Monday-Friday, except holidays.

U.S. Consulate (+ American Citizen Services) Address and Hours of Operation

Marriott Hotel, Parkring 12A, A1010 Vienna, northeast side entrance, 4th floor; 0800-1700, Monday-Friday, except holidays.

Embassy Contact Numbers

Embassy switchboard (24 hour): (+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

Website: http://at.usembassy.gov/

Embassy Guidance

U.S. citizens traveling in Austria should register in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). STEP is a free service that helps the U.S. Embassy disseminate information about safety conditions and contact travelers in an emergency.

Additional Resource: Austria Country Information Sheet

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