FOR MEMBERS

Registered partnerships: What are the rules in Austria?

A couple pictured reading.
Registered partnerships are legal in Austria. Photo credit Alex Halada/AFP.
A registered partnership is an alternative option for couples that don’t want to get married but do want their union to be legally recognised. How does it work in Austria?

In many ways, Austria is a traditional country with a strong focus on marriage and raising a family.

But for committed couples that don’t want to get married, there is the alternative option of a civil partnership referred to as a “registered partnership” in Austria.

Here’s what you need to know about entering into a registered partnership in Austria and what it means for immigration.

What is a registered partnership?

A registered partnership is a legally recognised union between two people. 

It represents a permanent partnership with similar rights to marriage, including the obligation to live together, a duty to financially support each other and inheritance laws.

The only difference between the two types of relationship is a registered partnership can be dissolved after three years, whereas a marriage can only be dissolved after six years.

READ MORE: The pros and cons of obtaining Austrian citizenship

In Austria, registered partnerships (sometimes referred to as civil partnerships) were first introduced in 2010 for same-sex couples.

Then, in 2019, both same-sex and opposite-sex couples were granted the right to choose between marriage or a registered partnership.

Couples must notify a registry office in advance of their intention to enter into a registered partnership in Austria.

What does this mean for people wanting to join a partner in Austria?

Both registered partners and spouses of Austrian or EU citizens are considered as family members by Austrian immigration law and have the right to join a partner in Austria.

This applies to both EU and third-country nationals.

The main difference between the two groups is that third-country nationals have to go through immigration to obtain residency as a family member, which includes a commitment to learn German up to Level A2 within two years. 

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EU citizens do not have to apply through immigration due to freedom of movement laws within the bloc and so German language skills are not a requirement of residency (although they are recommended). 

However, both EU citizens and third-country nationals have to submit a residence registration form (Meldezettel) within three days of moving into their new home. This is a legal requirement for everyone living in Austria as part of the 1991 Registration Act. 

Then, after five years of continuous residence in Austria, both EU citizens and third-country nationals can apply for permanent residence.

Is a civil partnership in Austria recognised in other EU countries?

In most EU countries, registered partnerships or civil unions are recognised, which means immigration to another EU country is possible as a couple.

The only places in the EU that don’t recognise registered partnerships are Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Slovakia.

However, within these countries a registered partnership is then considered as a “duly attested long-term relationship”, which means residence as a couple is still possible.

Useful websites

Your Europe

Austrian Federal Government

City of Vienna

Ministry for European and International Affairs


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