For members


Reader question: Do I need an international permit to drive in Austria?

If you're visiting Austria and plan to drive during your trip - or if you recently moved to the country, will an international driving permit be necessary? Here's a look at the rules.

Reader question: Do I need an international permit to drive in Austria?
(Photo: Alex Jumper / Unsplash)

Even though Austria has excellent public transport and train connections throughout, it is also an excellent country for a road trip. In fact, some of its Alpine highways offer stunning views for motorists, and driving to smaller towns is sometimes much easier than taking a train. 

But if you are driving in Austria, as a tourist or a resident, you will need proper documentation. The exact documents needed will depend on where your driver’s licence was issued.

Driving with an EU/EEA licence

The most simple case is if you hold an EU/EEA driver’s licence. With one, you are allowed to drive in Austria without needing any further documentation. Even if you permanently reside in Austria, you won’t need to get a local licence (though you can easily swap if you want).

READ ALSO: How to exchange your foreign driving licence for an Austrian one

Driving with a third-country licence

Here is where things get a bit tricky. If you are driving with a licence issued outside of the EU/EEA, you will likely need to also carry an international driver’s licence or an official translation to German obtained with one of the Austrian automobile clubs ÖAMTC or ARBÖ.

If your national driving licence is in German or divided into classes A to E, you may make use of your foreign driving licence within Austria without the need for a translation. A UK driving licence is not in German but is divided into A to E categories and may be used in Austria without the need for an international driving permit. However, a US licence has different categories and may not be used.

If your licence is neither in German nor divided into classes A to E it is only valid in combination with an International Driving Permit (IDP) from your home country or a translation which explains the extent of your licence.

It’s worth noting that both an IDP and a translation are not valid on their own, so you need to carry your driver’s licence with you as well.

READ ALSO: Everything you need to know about driving on the autobahn in Austria

If you become a resident of Austria, your non-EEA driving licence is valid for six months from the date on which you become a resident if you are 18 or over. After that, you may not make use o your licence anymore – regardless of if you have an international permit or not. 

Some driving licences are not recognised in Austria and cannot be used for driving within Austria – you also won’t be able to hire a car with such a licence. These are licences from Afghanistan, Bolivia, Burundi, Cameroon, China, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Indonesia, Kosovo, Libya, Nepal, Nicaragua, Solomon Islands, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania, Tonga, and Yemen, according to ÖAMTC.

Is it really necessary to obtain an International Driving Permit (IDP)?

There is some information out there that suggests that travellers do not need to obtain an IDP at all when travelling to Austria with some people claiming to have driven on Austrian roads numerous times without being asked to show one. 

Although it appears that most visitors to Austria are unlikely to be asked for an IDP, some regular visitors have reported that checks have become more frequent in recent years. It is important to note that not having the necessary documentation when it is required could end up being expensive – and troublesome.

READ ALSO: Reader question: Can I take the Austrian driving licence test in English?

When picking up your rental car, the company may request that you show both your foreign driver’s license and IDP, although this is dependent on the company. However, it is more critical to have an IDP when you are stopped by the police or involved in a car accident, even if you did nothing wrong. 

Random roadside checks are frequent, and not having the necessary permit when asked will result in fines.

We recommend that you adhere to the rules and get your IDP if your license was issued in the US or another country that requires an IDP under Austrian regulations. 

Even if you never have to present it, having an IDP will give you peace of mind and make your trip to Austria more enjoyable.

Please note that The Local cannot advise on individual cases. For more details about how Austria’s road rules may apply in your circumstances, consult the Austrian embassy in your country or read more about the rules on driving in Austria on the ÖAMTC website.

Do you have a question about living in or travelling to Austria that you’d like to see answered on The Local? You can send us an email: [email protected]

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For members


The six ways you can lose your driving licence in Austria

From drink-driving to dangerous tailgating, these are the offences that can lose you your license in Austria.

The six ways you can lose your driving licence in Austria


Most Austrian motorways have a speed limit of 130 km/h, though, on some open roads, a lower limit of 100 km/h applies. The speed limit for built-up areas (such as main roads in towns and cities) is generally 50 km/h.

In order to get your license revoked for speeding, you need to be driving at a dangerously high speed and the higher the velocity, the longer you’ll lose your license for:

  • Exceeding the speed limit by 40 km/h in a built-up area or by 50 km/h on a highway comes with a driving ban of two weeks
  • Driving 60 km/h over the speed limit in a built-up area or 70 km/h on a highway can result in a 6-week driving ban
  • Exceeding the speed limit by 80 km/h in a built-up area or by 90 km/h on an open road will result in a ban of at least three months
  • Driving 90 km/h over the speed limit in a built-up area or 100 km/h on a highway can result in a ban of at least six months

Exceeding the speed limit in front of schools, kindergartens or cyclist crossings by more than 20km/h can also get you a six-month ban.

Driving under the influence

In Austria, having an alcohol level of more than 0.5 (50 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood) counts as drink-driving -the same as in neighbouring countries Germany and Italy. 

Drinkers toast with beer glasses. Photo: ELEVATE/Pexels

To lose your license through drink-driving, you need to be caught with an alcohol level of at least 0.8 – which will land you a ban of at least one month.

An alcohol level of 1.2 carries a ban of at least four months while driving with a blood-alcohol level of at least 1.6 or refusing to take a breathalyser test can result in a driving ban of at least six months, as a refusal to be tested is always considered as heavy drinking.

Getting behind the wheel while high on drugs will also land you with at least a one-month ban.

Dangerous and irresponsible driving

As well as speeding and drinking under the influence, there are several other reckless driving behaviours that can get you banned.

Aggressive tailgating – or failing to keep a distance of at least 0.2 seconds (e.g. less than 7 metres at 130 km/h) can lead to a driving suspension of at least six months.

READ ALSO: Reader question: Do I need an international permit to drive in Austria?

Failing to stop immediately or to provide the necessary assistance after a road traffic accident can result in a three-month ban.

Ignoring overtaking bans or overtaking in poor visibility, as well as participating in unauthorised road races all come with six-month bans.

Losing your driving license abroad

If your driving license is confiscated while travelling abroad, the ban generally only applies in the country in question. However, if the Austrian authorities subsequently find out about the ban, and if the offence committed abroad also comes with a license suspension in Austria, the authorities will take away your license in Austria, too. 

Criminal Offences

You don’t need to commit an offence behind the wheel to have your license suspended, sometimes any serious offence will be enough.

A gavel is banged in a courtoom. Photo: EKATERINA BOLOVTSOVA/ Pexels

If you, for instance, commit a serious bodily assault, get convicted of serious drug crimes, or even robbery, this can be grounds for suspending your driving license. 

Repeat offenders

When any of the above offences are repeated, they can come with longer driving bans the second time around or even a permanent driving suspension.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: What are the rules on winter and summer tyres in Austria?

For drink-driving, offences are considered to be repeat offences when committed within a five-year time period following the initial offence. Speeding and other dangerous driving offences, meanwhile, will carry more weight if repeated within a four-year period.

You can find a list of repeat offences that can get you banned under offences named Wiederholungsfall (repeated case) here.

How do I get my driving license back?

Once the time period of the driving suspension has passed, you can make an application to have your license reinstated. You can find the relevant form here

Depending on the offence that resulted in the ban, you may also be required to complete follow-up training, traffic-psychology coaching or get a medical report on your fitness to drive.

If the driving licence has been revoked for more than 18 months, then you have to take the driving test again.