Navigate the World of Self-Employment in Austria With This New Series

  • Self-employment offers lots of freedom and potential for self-starters
  • Though Austria offers a variety of options to become self-employed, it’s not always so straightforward
  • Metropole‘s new series in cooperation with Self-employed in Austria aims to help you navigate this complex field

For those who seek professional independence and creative freedom, self-employment might be the right career path. In Austria, there are a variety of ways to start your own business and become a successful entrepreneur. But while the decision to become self-employed can be quite liberating and exciting, the way to getting there is often not as straightforward. Instead of one general category of self-employment, there are several different kinds – and they all come with separate rules, laws and costs. To help you navigate this complex field, Metropole has partnered with Self-employed in Austria to bring you this helpful new series on all things self-employment.

Types of self-employment in Austria

Austria offers various types of self-employment, allowing self-starters to realize their full potential

In general, there are four types of self-employment in Austria, according to social insurance laws:

  • free/regulated business licenses (freie/reglementierte Gewerbe)
  • new self-employment (Neue Selbständigkeit)
  • liberal professions (freie Berufe)
  • independent service contract (freie Dienstvertrag)

Read on to find out how they differ and which one might be right for you.

Business licenses

One way to become self-employed in Austria is by obtaining a business license

The most common way to become self-employed in Austria is by obtaining a business license, which enables you to conduct business within Austria’s jurisdiction. There are two types of business licenses: free and regulated. In order to get one, you have to meet a set of requirements pertaining to your residence, age and criminal record. It’s important to note that the need for a business license is dependent on the nature of your profession, not your income. The Austrian Chamber of Commerce charges business license holders an annual fee of approx. €100 (depending on the profession) for their services.

Free business license

A free business license is required for those working independently in professions that don’t require a certificate of competence (you can find the full list here). If you’re unsure whether or not your profession applies for a free business license, you can contact the Austrian Chamber of Commerce for further information.

Some examples of professions that fall under the free business license category are:

  • digital marketer
  • web developer
  • software developer
  • professional photographer
  • IT project manager
  • proofreader

To learn more, get the Guide for Free Business License Owners by Self-employed in Austria as an e-book or paperback.

Regulated business license

A regulated business license is required for those working independently in professions that require a certificate of competence (you can find the full list here). In addition to the requirements mentioned above, people applying for a regulated business license have to present a proof of education, working experience or pass an exam to qualify.

Some examples of professions that fall under the regulated business license category are:

  • electrical engineer
  • hairdresser
  • optician
  • massage therapist

New self-employment

For young creatives, new self-employment might be the ideal way to start their business

New self-employment is for those working independently in professions that don’t require a business license registration. Therefore, the new self-employed are not members of the Chamber of Commerce (WKO) and don’t have to pay their annual fee. However, they still need to register their self-employment at the SVS (social security of the self-employed) and the tax office.

Examples of professions that fall under the category of new self-employment are:

  • artists
  • writers
  • journalists
  • lecturers
  • scientists
  • self-employed psychologists, physical and psychotherapists

To learn more, get the Guide for the New Self-employed by Self-employed in Austria  as an e-book or paperback.

Liberal professions

Pharmacists are among liberal professions

Liberal professionals perform services that require special qualifications. They are fully liable and professionally independent. Becoming self-employed in a liberal profession is time and cost intensive, often requires an academic degree and several years of professional experiences.

Examples for liberal professions are

Independent service contract

There is no legal definition for independent contractors, but the type of contract (freies Dienstverhältnis) is regulated by the Social Insurance Act (ASVG), which determines that an independent contract exists if a service provider agrees to provide their client with their workforce for a certain or indefinite amount of time in exchange for a fee.

It’s essential for the independent employment contract that the contractor makes their workforce available on a temporary basis. The independent contractor can mainly work with the client’s resources.

Independent contractors are insured at the Austrian Health Insurance (ÖGK), where their payments are covered by the client. However, as an independent contractor, they are subject to income tax and have to file a tax return every year.
In principle, every service that can be provided on the basis of regular employment can also be done with an independent contract. Each case can only be evaluated on an individual basis. You can find more information on independent contracting here.

This article is part of an unpaid cooperation with Self-employed Austria