How to register a small business in Austria in 12345 easy steps

May 22, 2023



Hi lovelies,

if you know how bureaucracy works in Austria, you will probably get a splitting headache immediately even before reading this story. And for those who do not know, just imagine this: try to solve a Rubik's Cube while blindfolded and with your hands tied behind your back. 

If you need anything from the magistrate, you must personally go there and register instead of doing everything online. Some things did improve during covid (yes, I also need to talk about the good points here) and they added a few online services. Plus, they managed to switch to appointments only instead of just going there with 100 other people and wait in line for hours. Literally. Thank you covid, for improving Austrian bureaucracy.

But don't get me started if you only have limited German skills, it's like trying to solve a math problem with letters instead of numbers. And don't come alone if your German is not great, there are people working there who refuse to talk in English with you. 


My big adventure started on a rainy thursday afternoon, on the 13th of April 2023. I was finally ready to register Royal Duck as a small business and for that I got an appointment at the magistrate at 3pm (you need to go to the one that's in the district of your shop location eg. I registered in the magistrate of the 15th district because the shop I rented is in the 15th district but I live somewhere else) And the good citizen I was, I was there 10minutes early. The woman at the counter sent me up to the 2nd door, 2nd floor. And there I waited. And waited. 

The room was big, empty and grey, an ugly mix of Gründerzeithaus (built around 1900) and 70s interior design, freshened up with a few plants near the window. After 20 mins a woman came out to ask for my business, she then sent me away to the other room which was at door 3 (thanks again to the nice woman at the counter for the wrong door :) )and there I encountered another civil servant coming from the bathroom who took me in. 

She was super kind but when I told her I do bead embroidery, have jewellery made out of Plexiglas and also stream and get money from ad revenue and donations she was a bit overwhelmed and kindly asked me to go to WKO - Wirtschaftskammer Österreich (Austrian Chamber of Commerce) because she didn't know the exact category in which to put me in and even asked if I would like to register two businesses’. And no, I do not. 


WKO has their seat in the 2nd district next to Praterstern which is only a few stops from my work, and I could go there without an appointment, so off I went.  

Apart from the three receptionist there was no one around and it was eerily quiet. I didn't wait for longer than 5 minutes before my name was called and I entered a glass room office that looked so uninviting and uncomfortable, especially as the window overlooked the train tracks. But apart from that, I had a friendly woman who took care of my registration. 

In Austria, if you want to open a business, you must bring the following: yourself, and a passport. You also need to swear that there are no reasons of exclusions from opening a business (as in, signing a sworn statement rather than do it orally) and that's it.

Now that you registered your business at WKO, there are two others one needs to register at:

  • Finanzamt 
  • SVS 


Fill out form Verf24 on their website. Trust me, that's the easiest way because they don't have an email address and if you don't want to do it online, you have to physically go there. Before you go to their site, you need an ID Austria (a kind of mobile signature -> you can get this at the Municipal court or online)

Fill out the form and hope it's correct. I got my tax number on my online tax inbox at finanzonline a few days later so I think I filled it out correctly. Fingers crossed!



This is the insurance company - as a small business you are not obliged to pay pension- or health insurance, but you must pay for an accident insurance (which I thought was insanely funny. I am working at home on my sofa and desk, what was the worst thing that could happen there? Fall of the sofa? Get attacked by my cat?). The insurance is 10,97 a month if you don't earn more than 35.000€ a year and is mandatory.

While Finanzamt was quick, SVS took ages to reply. And in ages that is more than two weeks. But I finally got my papers and the confirmation, that I really only needed to pay the 10,97€ a month. Lucky me. 

If you expect to earn more than 35.000€, you need to pay for health insurance and a pension fund which is so much more: 

Beiträge zur Sozialversicherung

Es wird zwischen dem Beitragsprozentsatz und der Beitragsgrundlage unterschieden. In der Krankenversicherung sind 6,8 % und in der Pensionsversicherung 18,5 % der Beitragsgrundlage als Beitrag zu zahlen.

Beitragsgrundlage sind die Einkünfte aus Gewerbebetrieb. Basis ist der Jahreseinkommensteuerbescheid. Für die Unfallversicherung ist ein fixer Beitrag (unabhängig vom Einkommen) von derzeit € 10,97 monatlich (€ 131,64 jährlich) zu entrichten. - Gründerservice

This means that health insurance is about 6,8% and pension fund is about 18,5% of your expected earning. For the sake of the calculation, let's say your expected earning is exactly 35.000€ 

Health insure 6,8% of 35.000€ is 2380€ a year or 198,33€ a month

Pension fund is 18,5% of 35.000€ is 6475€ a year or 539€ a month

Accident insurance is always 10,97€, no matter what you earn. 

Firmenbuch (company register)

2.380 Quelle:

Now that everything was said and done, I had to think about getting my business registered in the company register entry (Firmenbuch). It's not mandatory for small businesses that earn less than 35.000€ a year. But the only benefit I saw is that no other company can bear the name you chose for the company. And even if you have a name registered, you always also have to put your real name underneath it: My company is now registered as my Name and Surname. With an entry to the company register, I could have a company name but still have to put my real name on documents. If you know me, I hate to put my real name on anything on the internet. It does not feel safe at all, but here I am, trying to earn some money and therefore need it plastered to everything I sell with Royal Duck. Where are the times when everyone was saying that you do not put your real name on the internet?


I tried calling Handelsgericht Vienna, but they just reconnected me three times until I came to a person who asked me to call again as she was not on her desk at the moment. I did say it was easy, wasn't it? 


After an hour I finally reached her at her desk, and she checked my chosen name. It was still available, to no surprise. All names have to be unique and therefore there must be a short check in the database. Afterwards I could register the name online (hooray!) and then I waited again. Allegedly, one can register for free at Handelsgericht if the company is less than a month old, which mine is. But I am pretty sure they will conveniently forget, and I need to pay. The information on where to register was quite hidden but I found it! You can register at justizonline 

  • Fill out the form with your data. 
  • But be aware, email adresses were not able to have a _ (underscore) in their name?? The form just deletes it. 
  • Fill in the rest and send it. A few days later, you'll receive an electronic message that the company is registered. To access it, you once again need a digital or mobile signature.   


well, it has been a few days later and I got 79€ deducted from my account for the registry. So I checked and is not the correct way to register IF you are a new business. New business have to register under: 

Bombastic side eye.

The GISA number (GewerbeInformationsSystem Austria) arrived a few days later on my company adresss. It's the unique number of your business. Not sure what I need it for though.

But apart from that letter, you will get a ton of other letters. On my company adress I also got a letter from Metro (a kind of wholesale) and on my private adress I got a letter for enrolling at Wirtschaftsbund, a business newspaper, etc.

On the other hand on my email adress, I already got 4 emails from Landesinnung Kunsthandwerke Wien, and one from WKO for a summer event called women in business.

I am beeing flooded with mails and emails and it is more than annoying.

Addendum: Grundumlage

Good I didn't post this entry yet because yesterday I got another letter. It seems like everyone who is registered at WKO also needs to pay an anual fee (!) called Grundumlage. And my fee was 200€ for 2023. Just awesome, more money gone. 

More information at or download the pdf from 2022 directly to see all the fees.

All the best,

Auris Lothol

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