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How to start as a self-employed artist in Austria?

Updated: Mar 20

Artists who want to register a business in Austria have to normally do so under "new self-employment" (Neue Selbständigkeit). The term doesn't refer to "newly" registered entrepreneurs but to the type of self-employment in Austria that is the newest one among all.

More about new self-employment (Neue Selbständigkeit)

In Austria, the type of your self-employment depends on the professional activity you conduct, and when it comes to new self-employment, the process of registration is slightly different compared to the other types. Luckily, it's the least complicated one!

I've been a new self-employed person for years, and the only drawbacks of this type of self-employment that I can think of are:

- not belonging to the Chamber of Commerce (WKO) which for an annual fee provides advocacy, courses, meeting rooms, advice and more;

- no official register of your business (WKO adds its members to an A-Z list of businesses they provide- the listing isn't anything fancy, but for some, it refers to recognition and easy confirmation of your registration);

- many funding and further education programs that I've seen on the website of the Vienna Business Agency are for business licence owners (members of the WKO) only.

But don't get discouraged! Many funding programs are still available to new self-employed, and it's a recognised type of self-employment that can be still confirmed by just printing out your SVS (Social Security Institution for Self-employed) coverage confirmation (accessible through the SVS Go).

Besides that, the Self-employed in Austria provides affordable legal and tax support, educational and networking events, and advice for all entrepreneurs in Austria that become our members.

In the Platform's forum and by attending some of our events you can meet other members who work as artists, or request tax/legal help through the forum or 1on1 consultations.

Registration as a self-employed artist

1. Step one of the registration would be to confirm that you have residency and a visa that allow you to work and be self-employed in Austria. If you have doubts about this topic you could check with the Austrian authorities or the NGO that we like: Austria for Beginners.

2. Austrian Tax Office - Finanzamt - one of the most important points of the registration that you can't skip . To register your tax account and receive a tax number, open FinanzOnline, the official portal of the Austrian Tax Office, click on the “Online Erstanmeldung” button, and fill in all the required information. Within about ten business days, you should receive access data by mail - your Login, PIN, and password - to your Finanz Online account.

Once you obtain all the information and are ready to log in, you can request your tax number via the Finanz Online platform as well. All you have to do is to click on “Weitere Services” (more services) and chose “Erklärungswechsel“ (this form applies if you earn income from self-employment only). On the basis of your information, the tax office decides whether you will be assessed for tax purposes, i.e. receive a tax number, or be kept on record. More information you can find HERE.

3. A mobile phone signature is completely optional, but I really recommend it. When you have it, everything becomes easier and faster, for example, signing official documents - I sign them almost every month, and if your printers and scanners tend to regularly break just like mine, having a mobile signature is very, very comfortable. With the signature, you can also gain access to your SVS Online account (next point) and easily register at the USP Portal (the Austrian portal for entrepreneurs explained at the end of this article).

More about mobile signature read HERE.

4. In Austria, the social security for self-employed is covered by the SVS, and registration there is obligatory for all self-employed operating in Austria, doesn't matter how much you earn.

You might not have SVS contributions assigned due to your small income as an artist (opt-in for health insurance is possible with a small income, though), but registration is a must.

You begin by opening the SVS portal and clicking on “Formulare & Anträge” (forms and applications). In this section of the website, you will find a wide range of forms that you can use to deal with any situation related to the SVS - and that’s “the way to do it” with the SVS - via forms.

The form you are searching for right now is located in the category Versicherung & Beitrag (insurance & contribution) and is called “Versicherungsanmeldung für Gewerbetreibende, Neue Selbständige und Freiberufler” (insurance registration for business licence owners, new self-employed and liberal professionals).

More about registration at the SVS read HERE.

5. The Austrian USP Portal is a so-called “collection portal” that is planned to become a central platform for public administration in Austria. The platform can be used by all self-employed for filing tax returns, receiving official documents and news (like, for example, news on your SVS contributions), viewing e-bills, submitting funding applications, filling out different e-forms, and more.

As of 1st January 2020, registration at the portal is required for some businesses so it’s a good idea to make a phone call with the USP Portal and discuss your case.

To register you need a mobile phone signature and a FinanzOnline account, although registration is also possible with the form FON1.

Other topics to consider

Self-employment as an artist is possible as a side hustle next to full employment too - the main rules, in this case, are to check your employment contract and to make sure the contract allows it, and to understand that in most cases of running a business on the side, double insurance will apply (from employment with ÖGK covered by the employer and from self-employment with SVS covered by you (exact cost depending on your income)).

When it comes to VAT and paying income tax, the rules are the same for all types of self-employment and you can read more here: Value-added tax (VAT) & small business regulation.

That's it for the start! The most important points that you really can't skip are 1, 3, 4, and the rest - mobile phone signature, USP Portal, and membership at our platform are just really recommended steps that will work for your benefit.

Here are other articles that will be useful for you once you've begun your journey as a self-employed artist:

Bogus self-employment explained

Am I obligated to use a cash register as a business owner in Austria?

Liability insurance for self-employed in Austria

Issuing invoices in Austria correctly - the content of an invoice & an example

What to do if a customer refuses to pay?

Commercial register (Firmenbuch) in Austria - regulations and registration process

Most of our long, instructional articles are Premium, so you'll need a membership to gain access to all of them. The monthly cost of the membership is only 4.90€, though, and within this plan, you also get access to all our educational and networking events and access to the forum with professional help included!

More info about the membership HERE.


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