Driving advice for every country in Europe

Find up-to-date driving laws and advice for any country in Europe before you visit, including any accessories you may need to purchase. Don't forget the RAC provides European breakdown cover while you're driving in Europe.

Driving in Austria

Austria
Population: 8.8m
Area: 83,870 square kilometres
Currency: Euro (EUR) € = 100 cents

Coronavirus update

Please be aware that driving in Europe may be restricted at the moment.

Check the Foreign travel advice section of the GOV.UK website for up to date advice on all European countries.

Whether you’re hitting the elegant streets of Vienna or channelling your inner von Trapp in the hills above Salzburg, Austria has everything for that perfect road trip escape in the heart of Central Europe. 

But if you’re planning a road trip to Austria, it’s essential you’re fully prepared ahead of time as driving there is different to the UK. 

To make your trip to the Continent as safe and effortless as possible, we’ve put together a guide to everything you need to know before you go, from required documents to rules of the road.  

Driving a rented vehicle? Jump to the advice for driving a hire car in Austria section.

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To supplement this, RAC also offers travel insurance. Cover will include medical expenses, baggage, personal money and belongings, among many other benefits.

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Advice for driving in Austria

driving-tips-for-austria

In an emergency

Emergency lanes (rettungsgasse), whereby motorists move as far left or right in the respective lanes as possible to create a route down the middle of traffic during congestion, are compulsory on motorways and dual carriageways. 

112 - Here's a really important bit of knowledge; you can dial 112 from anywhere in Europe and an operator will connect you to an emergency service in the country you're visiting. 

Operators can answer your call in their native language, English or French. 

Driving licence law in Austria

Visitors must be aged 18 or over and hold a full, valid driving licence to legally drive in Austria. Riders of motorcycles up to 125cc must be aged 16 or over, while moped (not exceeding 50cc) riders must be aged 15 or over.  

Driving licences issued in EU and EEA countries are accepted. International driving permits are recognised, but not required. 

Things to take when driving in Austria

Documents for driving in Austria

austria hills

Vehicles from the UK can be temporarily imported into Austria for up to six months in any period of 12 months without formality. In order to stay on the right side of the law, the following documents should always be carried:

  • Full, valid UK driving licence
  • Proof of ID (passport)
  • Motor insurance certificate
  • V5 registration document

Do I need a GB or UK sticker for driving in Austria?

From 28th September 2021, the distinguishing mark (or national identifier) displayed on vehicles registered in the United Kingdom that are driven abroad will change from GB to UK.  

This means that vehicles registered in the UK must display the letters “UK” when driven in Austria.   

The identifier can be incorporated in vehicle number plates (along with the Union Flag) or as a separate sticker. Note that vehicles featuring the letters GB together with the Council of Europe golden stars are no longer valid for driving abroad.

If your vehicle does not have the UK identifier within the number plate, you will require a UK sticker when driving in Austria. GB stickers will no longer be valid from the end of September.

Do I need an insurance green card?

From 2nd August 2021, drivers will no longer require an insurance green card for taking their vehicles to Austria.

Driving in Austria packing checklist

In addition to required documents, motorists are also required by law to carry the following items when driving to avoid hefty on-the-spot fines:

  • Reflective jackets (which should be worn in case of breakdown outside built-up areas and on all major routes)
  • Warning triangle (compulsory in every vehicle with more than two wheels) 
  • First aid box (in a strong, dirt-proof box)
  • Headlamp beam deflectors (depending on your car, you will either need deflector stickers or have to adjust the beam manually)
  • Crash helmets are compulsory for riders of mopeds and motorcycles.

Is there anything that I shouldn’t take with me?

Be aware that you cannot take the following with you into Austria:

  • meat or products containing meat
  • milk or dairy products

You cannot take the following unless you pay to have them inspected before you leave and get a ‘phytosanitary certificate’:

  • fresh fruit (apart from bananas, coconuts, dates, pineapples and durians)
  • vegetables
  • plants
  • plant products

Rules of the road in Austria

Overtaking and passing

In Austria, motorists drive on the right and overtake on the left. Overtaking is forbidden on and approaching pedestrian crossings, and when it means crossing a continuous white line. 

Trams can be overtaken providing no passengers are hindered or endangered and there is at least 1.5m space. Walking speed must be used when overtaking trams. 

Who has priority?

As a general rule, priority must be given to vehicles coming from the right unless indicated. Emergency vehicles and vehicles on rails have priority over other road users.

Drivers must stop at zebra crossings when a pedestrian is on or showing intention to use the crossing.

On some mountain roads where two vehicles are unable to pass each other, both drivers should stop and one, whomever it is easier, should reverse to a passing place. There is no priority rule. 

Warning of approach

Horns should only be used in case of danger and are largely prohibited in Vienna and around hospitals. 

Seat belts

It’s compulsory to wear seat belts in the front and rear seats of cars equipped with belts. 

The fine for failing to wear a seat belt is a €35 on-the-spot charge. 

Traffic lights

The international three-colour traffic light system is used in Austria.

A flashing green light means the green phase is ending so drivers should prepare to stop. 

Austrian speed limits

Austria uses the metric system for all road signs, meaning speed limits and other road signs including distance are indicated using kilometres and metres. These are the general speed limits for private cars:

In built-up areas30km/h – 50km/h (according to local signs)
Outside built-up areas100km/h (according to local signs)
Motorways 130km/h

Special speed restrictions apply to certain classes of vehicle, including mopeds, motorhomes and vehicles with trailers, so check before travel.

Speeding fines in Austria

Speeding fines in Austria range from €20 to €2,180 depending on the speed at which offenders are caught, or the road on which they’re driving.

Speed camera detectors

Radar detectors that interfere with police equipment are prohibited in Austria, although sat nav systems that indicate where fixed speed cameras are located are permitted.  

Dash cams

Dashboard cameras are prohibited in Austria.

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Travelling with children

All passengers must wear a seat belt if their seat is equipped with one. 

Child car seat laws

Children under 14 years old and less than 1,35m in height travelling in vehicles registered in Austria or abroad must use special seat belts adapted to their size, or special child restraints, both at the front and at the rear of the vehicle.  

Vehicles without such protection cannot be used at all to transport children under 14 years of age. Children under 14 years of age but over 1,50m in height must use the adult seat belt.

As an exception, children over 1,35 m are allowed to use a 3-point belt without special booster seat, providing the belt does not come across their neck or throat. 

Bike helmet law

Bike helmets are not compulsory in Austria except for children under 12 (or children under 15 in the Niederösterreich region).

Driving a camper van and towing a caravan in Austria

A vehicle with a trailer or caravan must not exceed 18.75 metres in length, 4 metres in height and 2.55 metres in width.

Loads mustn’t exceed 11.5 tonnes at the drive axle and 10 tonnes at a single axle.

Please note: The Department for Transport advises that A-frames are not legal for use by UK campers and caravanners abroad. In practice, this could mean towing your car while it’s fixed to a trailer.*

Penalties and fines in Austria

On-the-spot fines

Police can impose on-the-spot fines of up to €90 to drivers of foreign-registered cars. For a higher fine, the police may ask motorists to pay a deposit, with the remainder of the fine payable within the following two weeks.

Minimum and maximum fines

Fines range from €20 for a minor speeding offence to €5,900 for driving under the influence of alcohol. 

Some motoring offences are considered criminal offences and can also lead to licence revocation, and a possible prison sentence.

The Cross-Border Enforcement Directive

An EU cross-border directive came into effect in the UK in May 2017. This is aimed at tracking down people who commit traffic offences in cars that are registered in an EU member state different to where the offence was committed.

If you commit a driving offence in Austria or any other EU country, the crime will effectively follow you back home to the UK where you can still be prosecuted.

Parking in Austria

Parking regulations

Vehicles are not allowed to be parked in a place where they can cause an obstruction and if visibility is bad, side lights should be switched on when a vehicle is parked. 

On-street parking in central Vienna is severely limited, although there are plenty of underground car parks in Vienna District 1.

Paid parking

Parking charges apply in most major Austrian towns and cities and most have “m-parking” capabilities which allows visitors to use their mobile phones to make payment. 

Enforcement of parking regulations

Illegally-parked vehicles are likely to be clamped unless causing an obstruction to moving traffic, when they will be towed away. In both cases, a fine must be paid to cover the offence plus towing and impounding costs. 

Disabled parking access

EU-issued disabled permits are recognised across Austria and must be displayed on the windscreen of a vehicle. 

Drink-driving law in Austria

Legal limit

The general limit for drivers of private vehicles is 0.049%.

For professional drivers (driving a bus, coach, HGV or public service vehicle), as well as for newly qualified drivers (less than two years' experience), the limit is 0.01%.

Drink-driving test

A driver suspected of being under the influence of alcohol or drugs can be made to undergo a breath test for alcohol or a saliva test for drugs. 

Offenders face heavy fines and licence revocations and visitors could be banned from driving in Austria. 

Tolls in Austria

All motor vehicles must pay a toll called a “mautvignette” to use motorways in Austria. Vehicles are required to display a sticker in the windscreen to show this toll has been paid, available from post offices, border points and fuel stations.

The charge depends on the length of the vignette, but costs around €10 for 10 days. Failure to have or display a valid vignette could see drivers fined €120. 

Austrian service areas

There are many service areas along the Austrian motorway network.

Availability of fuel

Different types of clean fuel are available in Austria, including biodiesel, LPG and thousands of public charging points. There are no automatic petrol pumps in Austria. 

Driving a hire car in Austria

Not all of the information in the guide above will be relevant to those looking to rent a hire car in Austria.

Though it might be a good idea to read through everything anyway, here are the most important things to know for drivers of rental vehicles:

Rental information

  • The minimum age to hire a car is 18, although this can vary depending on the provider and model of car
  • You need a full, valid UK driving licence and usually a second proof of ID (passport)
  • Car rental companies ask that you have held your licence for a minimum term of 1 year
  • It is best to check with the hire company beforehand as to whether you will need a credit card
  • You may not be able to drive outside of Austria unless planned in advance - check with your hire company first
  • Make sure you get car hire excess insurance before your trip to protect yourself from unexpected costs. It's almost always cheaper to do this with a separate insurer and in advance

Hire car driving tips

  • The national speed limit on motorways in Austria is 130km/h (80 mph). On a main road outside a built-up area it's up to 100km/h. For built-up areas it’s between 30km/h to 50km/h.
  • Dial 112 in an emergency
  • If seat belts are fitted to your car, they must be worn by both drivers and passengers.
  • The blood alcohol content limit for drivers of private vehicles is 0.049%. That's lower than the 0.08% in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and the 0.05% of Scotland.

Driving in Austria FAQs

  • Can I drive my car in Austria?

    Yes. You must have a valid UK licence and V5 document, along with sufficient insurance and breakdown cover for your trip. You should also familiarise yourself with the laws around driving in Austria before you set off to keep yourself and other road users safe.

  • How do I drive to Austria?

    Getting to Austria by car from the UK is probably an easier journey than you think, with some excellent scenery en route – particularly in the mountainous regions of the Alps.

    Firstly, you’ll need to take your car across the Channel to Calais on either a ferry from Dover or the Eurotunnel from Folkestone. Once in Calais, either head through Belgium and Germany if going to Vienna, or France and Germany if you’re visiting western Austria near Innsbruck.

    The drive from Calais to Innsbruck will take just over 10 hours, while Calais to Vienna will see you on the road for over 13 hours.

  • What side of the road do they drive on in Austria?

    Unlike in the UK, motorists drive on the right-hand side of the road in Austria and overtake on the left – which can take some adjustment if you’re used to driving on the left.

  • Can you drive in Austria with a UK licence?

    Yes, you can legally drive in Austria with your UK-issued driving licence without the need to apply for an International Driving Permit.

  • Do I need extra insurance to drive in Austria?

    Austria and the UK are both part of the Green Card System, a Europe-wide scheme allowing all countries to recognise foreign vehicle insurance policies of visiting motorists, so it’s quite possible your existing insurance will cover you.

    However, before setting off on your trip, you should contact your insurance provider to make sure that no additional cover is required, as you won’t be able to buy short-term cover at the border entry points.

  • Is driving in Austria dangerous?

    Driving in Austria is generally very easy once you get used to driving on the right side of the road, with all main roads in good condition and well signposted.

    Exercise caution on any steep mountain roads if you’re unaccustomed to them, and if you go off the beaten track be warned the quality of the roads and signage may vary.

  • Do I need a GB sticker to drive in Austria?

    You will need to display a GB sticker on the rear of your car unless it has EU number plates with the country code in a circle of stars on a blue background.

  • Do I need headlamp converters in Austria?

    Depending on your car, you should use deflector stickers or adjust the beam manually. This is so you don’t dazzle oncoming traffic when driving on the right side of the road at night.

  • What is the national speed limit in Austria?

    The national speed limit on Austrian motorways is 130km/h (80 mph). If you’re driving on a main road outside a built-up area, the limit is 100km/h, and for built-up areas it’s between 30km/h and 50km/h.

  • Do I need snow chains in Austria?

    Between 1st November and 15 April, vehicles must be fitted with winter tyres or snow chains if weather conditions require them. Visitors can hire snow chains at all major border crossings.

    Restrictions on weight and speed limit are in place for vehicles with chains.

  • How much are toll roads in Austria?

    Motorists travelling on Austria’s motorways and expressways will require a vignette. The cost of this vignette will depend on how long you plan on staying in the country.

    A 10-day vignette costs €9.40, a two-month vignette costs €27.40, and a one-year vignette costs €91.10.

  • How do you pay for toll roads in Austria?

    You will need to pay a vignette to travel on Austria’s motorway network, which can be bought at some major border crossings, from insurance companies and at some petrol stations.

  • Does Austria use mph or kph?

    Austria uses the metric system for all road signs, so speed limits and other signs including distance are shown in kilometres and metres.


 

Source: Information in this document is sourced from the AIT (Alliance Internationale de Tourisme) & the FIA (Federation Internationale de l'Automobile) and, to the best of the RAC’s knowledge, is correct at the time of publication (November 2020).
 
*https://www.campingandcaravanningclub.co.uk/helpandadvice/travelplanning/eurotraveladvice/europeancampingguide/page5/

British Embassy in Vienna

Office: British Embassy Vienna
Street Address: Jauresgasse 12
ZIP Code: 1030
City: Vienna

Telephone: (43-1) 716130
Fax: (43-1) 71613
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Website: http://www.britishembassy.at

British Consulate in Salzburg

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British Consulate in Graz

Office: British Consulate Graz
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Telephone: (43-316) 826 105
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British Consulate in Lauterach/Bregenz

Office: British Consulate Lauterach/Bregenz
Street Address: Bundesstrasse 110
ZIP Code: A-6923
City: Lauterach/Bregenz

Telephone: (+43-5574) 78586
Fax: (+43-5574) 70928

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