I completed my bachelor’s degree in my home country, Croatia, where I didn’t have to pay too much attention to the legal requirements because, after all, I was at home. After moving to Austria, I learned a lot about dealing with documents and requirements and I’m more than happy to share some of my knowledge in this post.
This text focuses on the first legal steps upon arrival in Graz. These are usually:
- Registering your residential address
- Registering at the local government office (Land Steiermark)
- Opening a bank account
- Reviewing your health insurance
In addition, there are a few tips on cycling in Graz. This is not all about the first steps, but there are some legal things to consider that you may not be familiar with:
- Riding a bicycle in Graz
Registering your residential address
What is it?
Registering your address (also known as residence or domicile) is the first mandatory step for every new person upon arrival in Graz.
Registration can be done at a local office (Stadt Graz). It is mandatory to pre-register and make an appointment. The registration process usually takes five to ten minutes. Immigration law requires that the registration of the new address has to be done within three days after moving in. Not following the law can lead to fines of up to 150 euros.
Visit the website of the City of Graz to find out how to register.
- Application form of the Meldezettel: If you are moving into a student dorm or residence, the coordinator will issue this document, and if you are moving into an apartment, the landlord has to issue it. It is a kind of certificate of your residential address but should not be confused with the registration certificate or Anmeldebescheinigung.
Registering at the state government office (Land Steiermark)
What is it?
Only EU and Swiss citizens require this document, which formally replaces the visa. This document is called the registration certificate or Anmeldebescheinigung. With this document EU and Swiss citizens confirm that they are residing in the state of Styria for a period of more than three months.
On the website of the Styrian state government office you can find everything about the registration certificate (in German language).
The registration certificate can be issued in the state government office (Landesamt) at Paulustorgasse 4, and it costs around 30 euros. This document has to be issued in the first four months after entering and registering your residential address in Austria, otherwise you can face fines from 250 euros upwards.
Opening a bank account
Having a bank account in Austria is really helpful when dealing with finances. Opening a bank account as a student has a lot of benefits, like not having to pay the regular monthly service fee in some banks. All you need for opening a bank account in Austria is your passport, certificate of residential address and a certificate of enrollment at the university. Students are often exempt from service charges till their 27th year.
Reviewing your health insurance
For students coming from another EU country, there are two options regarding health insurance.
The first option is simply to use your existing insurance, since your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) covers most of the expenses. However it should be noted that non-urgent treatment most likely won’t be covered. Cards are issued by your national health insurance provider.
The other option is to buy an Austrian health insurance. There are many different private insurance companies, and the state insurance is called ÖGK (Österreichische Gesundheitskasse). Most students choose ÖGK, since it is the cheapest option available. (At the moment it costs around 60 euros per month). For more information on this insurance, visit the ÖGK website.
Students coming from outside the EU are obliged to choose the ÖGK, since it is required for their visa permit.
If you are a degree seeking student and need any help with your stay in Austria even before arrival contact the Welcome Center of at Graz University of Technology (TU Graz). Exchange students will receive information on necessary administrative steps via email directly from their Exchange Coordinators.
Some other tips…
Riding a bicycle in Graz
Graz has a large number of cyclists on the streets, and the cycling infrastructure is fantastic. Cyclists have to ride their bicycles on the bike lanes or if there aren’t any bike lanes, on the road. Riding a bicycle on the sidewalk is prohibited, and violating this rule can lead to fines.
When parking your bike, you should watch out if there is a sign prohibiting leaving bicycles on that particular area. Riding a bike under the influence (e.g. alcohol) is also strictly forbidden. Fines start at 50 euros.
Having a working front and rear bicycle light when riding at night is mandatory. Any infringements of this rule can also lead to fines.
You can find a lot of interesting information about living in Graz for students on the TU Graz website.
I believe that it is extremely important to be well informed about legal regulations, required documents and deadlines, because inadequate or incomplete documentation or missed registration deadlines can sometimes lead to pricey fines which could easily have been avoided. The tips given above can be helpful especially for new students, and hopefully save them a lot of time and effort.
To sum everything up, living in Graz is exceptionally good but like in every other city, you have to obey the law because it leads to a better functioning and more organized society.