For members


How to post packages between Austria and the UK post-Brexit

Sending and receiving parcels between the UK and Austria has become a little more difficult since Brexit. Here's what you need to know.

Parcels being delivered by DHL
Parcel carrier Turan Oeztekin of the Deutsche Post DHL Group logistics and postal services company sorts parcels in his van as he delivers parcels in a residential area in Dortmund, western Germany, on December 10, 2020. (Photo by Ina FASSBENDER / AFP)

One of the first things many people will have noticed since the United Kingdom left the European Union is it is no longer possible to send and receive parcels between the UK and Austria without filling in a customs form. 

READ MORE: Austria to investigate ‘flood of complaints’ against parcel delivery companies

New rules that came into force on January 1st mean new taxes and charges now apply to almost everything that goes back and forth between the two, including gifts, second hand items, products bought on Amazon or eBay and from private sellers.

So is there any way to avoid paying customs charges and extra tax? 

Gifts valued up to a certain amount do not attract charges

If people in the UK are sending you a parcel with a gift worth under €45 or £39, they should say “No commercial value”or “Birthday gift” or “For private use only”, on the customs form and state the value is below the threshold. 

But gifts worth more than this amount are eligible for VAT and, if valued at over £135 (€156) customs duties, with the recipient receiving the bill.

Sending parcels as gifts to the UK

When sending parcels to the UK from Austria, the sender should fill in a customs form, which you can find here

You should print out two copies of the completed form, and hand it in when sending the package. 

Importing packages from the UK into Austria 

When importing packages for a business from the UK into Austria, the shipping company  may ask you for the correct HS codes, which can be found on the UK government’s website.

You can find out more about  importing goods here.

Exporting goods from the UK to Austria

In order to give businesses time to adapt, the UK government has decided that imports into the UK from the EU can operate as normal until 1st April. From that date, under current plans, all items of animal origin such as meat, honey, milk or egg products, as well as regulated plants and plant products, will require full documentation and, where necessary, veterinary certificates to be sold in the UK.

From 1st July, all companies exporting to the UK will be required to fill out full customs declarations and goods could be subjected to physical checks at new UK customs centres.

So from 1st April, exporting will become more complicated. UK import clearance can only be handled by a UK-based company. The UK company must apply for a UK EORI number and carry out an import declaration.

All others have to hire a British “indirect representative” to carry out the import process. Until the end of June 2021, the import declaration can be made as “entry in the declarant’s records” and a complete import declaration can be submitted later.

You can find out more here

How are businesses finding the post-Brexit world? 

The Local spoke to John Szewczuk, the owner of Bobby’s Foodstore in Vienna, which sells British and American foodstuffs.

He said he had been unable to import any British goods since Brexit until March, and was mainly relying on goods he had stockpiled until December. 

Situation ‘really bad’

Szewczuk said the situation since January had been “really bad”. Due to a lack of correct labelling he has been unable to import any items containing animal products, including milk and butter, from the UK since January.

He received his first post-Brexit shipment of Marmite and tea in March, and said he had to pay an extra 10 to 15 percent in new customs charges for the products. He is now running low on cereals including Rice Krispies and All Bran. 

Due to the butter or milk content, he is currently unable to import chocolate, biscuits or shortbread from the UK.

Szewczuk says these requirements were already in place for the American products he imports, but these have labelling which allow them to be imported into the EU.

He said in the UK, even large firms such as Nestle have yet to introduce labelling which would allow the goods to be imported.

He has been told the situation should improve around the end of March. 

“Learning curve”

Richard Holmes, who makes and sells British sausages from a company called Britwurst in Vienna, said he had found it a “learning curve” trying to import a pea husk ingredient from the UK for his gluten-free bangers.

First his shipping company asked him to provide the HS codes, which he had to look up on the government website.

He says his shipping company admitted they were confused about the new regulations, and were behind on deliveries to Europe due to the new paperwork.

One of his two packages was delivered without problems, attracting a €8 customs charge and €10 admin fee on goods worth £35.

The second parcel was sent without the customs paperwork and is being held at the post office. He has not managed to collect it. 

He said he was looking into buying his ingredients from France in future.

Impact on research

Student researcher Victoria James said the changes in import rules had affected her research into immunology, as essential reagents, which she could only buy from the UK, were getting held up in customs, leaving her unable to plan experiments. She said she believed this problem would be affecting many science researchers in Europe. 

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For members


Do Brits in Austria need to carry a residence permit at the border?

Whether you arrived in Austria before the Brexit cut-off date or moved here more recently, you may be wondering if carrying your residence title or permit is necessary when entering or leaving the country.

Do Brits in Austria need to carry a residence permit at the border?

For many Brits living abroad in the EU, the past few years have been a steep learning curve. For the first time in a generation, they have to register for their residence rights or navigate the complicated immigration rules for third-country nationals, like applying for work or study visas.

This means that even Brits who have lived in Austria for years may end up encountering situations they haven’t dealt with before, such as being asked for residence permits when applying for jobs or crossing the border into and out of Austria. 

But what are the rules in general for Brits when entering and leaving Austria? And is it necessary to always have a residence permit (Aufenthaltstitel) or post-Brexit residence document – known as an “Article 50 Card” (Aufenthaltstitel “Art 50 EUV”)? 

What is the status of Brits in Austria after Brexit?

Since the transition period ended, UK citizens have been treated in much the same way as other non-EU citizens in Austria – albeit with a few more perks. 

These include the right to visa-free travel in Austria (and the Schengen Area) for up to 90 days in every 180, the right to enter the country before applying for a visa and the ability to work for employers abroad while living in Austria.

In general, however, for people who didn’t live in the country before the end of the Brexit transition period, the immigration requirements are much the same as they would be for someone from, for example, Japan or the USA.

In order to live in Austria long-term, Brits now need an appropriate residence permit, such as work, family reunification or study visa, or another status such as citizenship that assures their rights.

Brits who arrived before the Brexit transition period ended on December 31st, 2020 have a special residence permit known as an Article 50 Card or “Aufenhaltstitel ‘Art 50’ EUV.” 

Without either an Article 50 Card or a regular residence permit, immigration authorities will enforce the so-called ’90-day rule’, meaning that Brits will be unable to spend more than three months out of every six in the Austria.   

READ ALSO: How Britons can move to Austria to live and work post-Brexit

Do Brits Article 50 Card holders need their residence card to cross the border?

You won’t be denied entry into Austria if you show up at the border without your Article 50 Card, provided you have a British passport. That’s because British citizens are typically allowed to visit Austria for up to three months without a visa.

But you will likely have your passport stamped if you don’t show a residence card such as the Article 50 card.

However a stamp in your passport will also not affect your rights as a legal resident of Austria. Any stamp is simply considered null and void if you later produce evidence of your residency rights. Many Brits resident in Austria and other countries have fretted about stamps after Brexit but residency rights trumps all passport stamps. However they are important for those travelling in the Schengen area because of the 90 day rule.

That said, to avoid bureaucratic headaches, official British government advice is to make sure you carry your Article 50 Card with you and to proactively present it to Austrian border control. Don’t wait until you’ve been asked to show it. Simply present it right away alongside your passport to avoid any confusion.

If you have applied for an Article 50 Card but not yet received it, for example if your passport has expired and you needed to get a new Article 50 Card, you can bring the certificate with you confirming that you’ve applied instead.

Austrian border policemen check papers of car passenger at the Austro-Hungarian border in Nickelsdorf, Austria, near Hegyeshalom, Hungary. (Photo by JOE KLAMAR / AFP)

The same rules generally also apply to Brits who have regular Austrian residence permits rather than Article 50 Cards.

Although Austria typically requires you to have at least three months remaining on your passport to cross the border, if you can produce your valid Article 50 Card or residence permit, you can cross into Austria with less than three months remaining on your passport – as long as it’s still valid.

If you cannot prove that you are a resident in Austria, you may be asked additional questions at the border to enter the EU.

READ ALSO: Reader Question: Can Britons living in EU spend more than 90 days in another Schengen country?

Do Brits who live in Austria with a visa need their residence permit to enter and/or leave?

According to official advice, foreigners can be required to show their passport whenever they cross the Austrian border, even potentially those shared with other Schengen states, and should also be able to show a residence document if required.

That means that, where possible, it’s important to have both with you if you are planning on leaving Austria for any amount of time. 

As we mentioned, Brits are allowed to enter Austria without a visa, even if you don’t have your residence permit. But having it with ensures the most hassle-free crossing.

According to recent stats, only 195 Brits were turned away at the EU border in 2022 due to the 90-day rule. 

However, this is always a risk that you face if you don’t have the required documents with you and, even if you are let in, you may have to deal with numerous questions beforehand and may even receive a passport stamp. 

READ ALSO: How many travellers are turned away at European borders because of 90 day limit

Can I still travel after my residence permit expires? 

The short answer is yes – though it is a good idea to be proactive about renewing it.  

In most cases, booking a visa appointment will automatically extend your visa until the date of your appointment, just make sure you have documents with you proving your pending appointment or application.

Remember that initial Article 50 Cards in Austria expire after five years, and no reminder is given for renewal. If your Article 50 Card expires, you may be in danger of losing many of your Withdrawal Agreement rights, even if you’re eligible for another type of Austrian residence permit.

Article 50 Cards issued after the first one are valid for 10 years. As we mentioned, people continuously resident in Austria for at least five years – whether they have Article 50 Cards or a different kind of permit – can apply for permanent residence.

READ ALSO: EES and ETIAs: The big changes for travel in Europe

READ ALSO: Visas and residency permits: How to move to Austria and stay long-term

With additional reporting by Aaron Burnett.