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New self-employment (Neue Selbständigkeit) in Austria explained

Updated: Jun 20

In this article:

new self-employment in Austria

New self-employment

First things first: what exactly is new self-employment?

From all the types of self-employment in Austria mentioned above, new self-employment is probably the least common type.

New self-employed are those working independently who don’t need a business licence registration for their professional activity. In other words, trade regulations do not apply to new self-employed. This also means that new self-employed individuals are not members of the Chamber of Commerce (WKO) and no membership fee applies. New self-employed professionals have no advocacy group to whom they can turn. They have to register at the Tax Office (Finanzamt) and are subject to income tax, so they have to file an income tax return every year. They pay insurance contributions to the SVS, but since in their case, the insurance costs depend on their gross income, they might or might not have to pay contributions to the social security institution. If they fall under a specific amount of gross income, their insurance contributions are voluntary - they can opt-in for health, accident, and pension insurance.


Examples of professions that fall under the category of new self-employment:

  • artists,

  • writers,

  • journalists,

  • lecturers,

  • self-employed nurses,

  • midwives,

  • scientists,

  • self-employed psychologists,

  • psycho- and physiotherapists.

Other characteristics of the new self-employed individuals are:

  • they mostly use their own operating resources,

  • their services are specified in work contracts,

  • they are not members of the Chamber of Commerce,

  • limited working partners and personally liable partners of partnerships can be new self-employed,

  • managing partners of a GmbH (a limited liability company) are also in this category of self-employment - if they are not insured as employees.

New self-employed vs business licence owners

Owning a business licence brings the right to carry out commercial activities. There are two types of business licences in Austria - free and regulated. To acquire each of them one has to fulfil requirements related to residence, age, and criminal record. Those are all the requirements needed for a free licence, but to get the regulated licence you need to prove qualifications (education and working experience) or pass an exam. Both types have a yearly fee.

Whether you need a business licence or not depends on the nature of your job, not on the income.

Most professions require a business licence registration - for example, builders, IT workers, commercial agents, masseurs, carpenters, financial advisors, management consultants, insurance agents, insurance brokers, translators, and even proofreaders.

In order to figure out whether you need a business licence or not, just ask the Chamber of Commerce by email, phone call, or personal visitation (often communication in English is possible).

There are also official lists of professions that fall under free and regulated business licence:

List of free licence professions: HERE

List of regulated licence professions: HERE

The main differences between new self-employed and business licence owners are:

  • business licence owners may have to pay a yearly fee for the business licence,

  • business licence owners automatically pay full contributions to SVS for health, accident, and pension insurance (opting out is still possible under a certain amount of income/year),

  • business licence owners are members of the Chamber of Commerce (WKO) and can turn to the Chamber in case of any problems or questions - they have an official advocacy channel,

  • new self-employed have no official permission for carrying out a business that falls under trade licence regulation.

New self-employed vs liberal professionals

Liberal professions are those that require special qualifications but are not subject to commercial law. Access to this category of self-employment is by no means easy and can be costly.

An academic degree and a few years of professional experience are usually required to carry out these activities independently.

Members of the liberal professions perform their services themselves due to their special qualifications. They are fully responsible and professionally independent.

The liberal professions are usually organized either in chambers or in professional associations.

Examples of liberal professions:

The main differences between new self-employed and liberal professionals are:

  • liberal professionals are insured under the GSVG (Commercial Social Insurance Act) or FSVG (Freelance Social Insurance Act),

  • special qualifications are needed for liberal professionals - academic degrees and experience.

New self-employed vs independent contractors

There is no legal definition of independent contractors (Freie Dienstnehmer), but the type of contract (Freies Dienstverhältnis) is regulated by the Social Insurance Act (ASVG). According to this Act, an independent contract exists if, for a fee, someone undertakes to provide his client with his workforce for a certain or indefinite period.

It is essential for the independent employment contract that the employee makes his workforce available on a temporary basis. The independent contractor can mainly work with the client's resources.

Independent contractors are insured at the Austrian Health Insurance (ÖGK) and do not have to worry about insurance payments - the client covers those. However, as an independent contractor, you are subject to income tax and you have to also file a tax return every year.

The main differences between new self-employed and independent contractors are:

  • independent contractors don’t have to pay social insurance contributions - the customer covers the costs (ÖGK),

  • independent contractors are provided with work equipment by the client, while new self-employed use their own equipment, have their own office, and are not active on the client's premises.

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