Freelancing in Austria: a Practical Guide

In this guide, find out everything you need to know about being a freelancer in Austria—how to get started, where to look for prospective clients, and much more.
6 min read
Dreaming of flexibility, freedom, and a better work-life balance? Then you might already be considering whether to make the leap to self-employment. And if so, you’ve probably got all kinds of questions about how things work in Austria before you set off on your new life as a freelancer.But don’t worry: In this guide, we’ll answer your need-to-know questions as a soon-to-be freelancer—from how to get started and where to look for clients to what taxes a freelancer in Austria has to pay. Ready? Let’s dive in!

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What does “freelancer” mean?

As a freelancer, you don’t work for a company—you work for yourself. No matter what field you choose for your business, your professional activities are generally done on a contract or project basis.Being a freelancer comes with some great perks: You can choose the workplace and hours that suit you best, and find your own projects and customers. Plus, there’s no cap on your salary (at least, theoretically). That’s because you keep all your profits for yourself once you’ve paid your taxes. However, you’re also responsible for building up your customer base and maintaining it so you get enough work. And you’re solely responsible for filing your tax return, and paying taxes, health insurance, pension, and other social contributions, as well.The specific taxes and contributions you need to pay in Austria depend on your self-employment status. Find out more about this in the next section.

Freelancers and self-employment—what’s the difference?

The terms “freelancer” and “self-employed” are often used interchangeably, but there’s actually a distinction among them. It’s pretty simple when you get down to it: If you pursue a profession in Austria independent of an employer, or in other words, you don’t have a fixed employment contract that determines your workplace, salary, and working hours, you’re self-employed. In contrast, the word “freelancer” describes the specific type of working relationship (freelance collaboration vs. employment relationship). Now, to add just a bit of complexity: The term “freelance professional” (Freiberufler) might also apply to you, depending on the type of professional activity you’re doing. This is because self-employment can be divided into two groups: freelance professions and trades. If your job is one of the freelance professions—artistic or academic professions such as doctors, journalists, interpreters, architects, or musicians—you’re classed as a freelance professional. If your work doesn’t fall under one of these occupational categories—for example, if you’re producing non-artistic items to sell or you run a cafe—you’re considered to be a tradesperson. That means you’re subject to trade regulations. Many self-employed people in Austria are tradespeople—they’re subject to trade regulations and have compulsory insurance with the Sozialversicherung der Selbständigen (self-employed social security).That said, it’s not always easy to know which is the right category. Thankfully, you’re not responsible for figuring this out alone. When you register as self-employed, the tax office will decide whether your work is classified as a freelance profession or as a trade. 

Freelancer Taxes in Austria

The types of taxes in Austria that you need to pay as a freelancer are dependent on the type of work you do, but the amount you pay is based on your annual income. Our tip: Set aside enough money for taxes and other contributions ahead of time so you can avoid nasty surprises down the line.The two key taxes for freelancers in Austria are income tax and value-added (VAT). Trade tax, which still exists in Germany, was abolished in Austria back in 1994—so you don’t need to worry about that, at least!

Income Tax

The good news: Self-employed workers have a tax-free basic income of €11,000. In other words, you don’t need to pay any income tax at all until your annual profits are more than €11,000. You pay income tax on anything above this. The amount of income tax you pay, in turn, depends on how much you earn each year. If you earn between €11,001 and €18,000, you’ll pay 25% tax, and if you earn between €18,001 and €31,000, you’ll pay a hefty 32.5%.


In Austria, all companies with an annual turnover of more than €35,000 are subject to VAT. If your annual turnover is less than €35,000, something called the small business rule comes into play, meaning you don’t need to pay VAT. For this to apply, you can’t exceed this annual turnover limit by more than 15%—although you can do this once every five years. That said, you should bear in mind that you can’t claim input tax as a small business, either. All in all, put some thought into what’s the best option for you.

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Being a Freelancer in Austria: Initial Steps

Heard enough? Ready to start your new life as a freelancer? We’ve got our fingers crossed for you! To get started, there are actually just five steps you need to complete:
  1. Decide whether you want to work full-time or part-time as a freelancer and give notice at your job if needed.
  2. Have a free consultation with the Austrian Economic Chambers (Wirtschaftskammer Österreich—WKO). You can also take part in workshops and training sessions to prepare for your future freelance life.
  3. Find out if you need to register as a tradesperson. If you do, you can do this online here.
  4. Register for social security.
  5. Register with the tax office.
And that’s it! Now you just need your first job. Wondering how you actually find freelancer jobs in Austria? Fear not! We’ve got lots of helpful tips for you here, too—read on to learn more.

Where can I find freelancer jobs in Austria?

There are tried-and-true strategies you can use as a freelancer to gain prospective clients and ultimately find new projects. We recommend starting by building a strong presence on relevant social media channels, building a meaningful portfolio, and setting up a personal website. Plus, there are lots of international freelancer platforms where you can find new jobs, like Fiverr,, and Upwork. Of course, you can look for work on traditional job boards, as well.

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Your money at N26

Being a freelancer can be pretty complicated. That’s why it’s even more important that organizing your finances is as streamlined as possible. With N26 Business Smart, our smart business account for freelancers, you can manage your finances from your smartphone. And with N26 Business You, you get 0.1% cashback and fee-free global payments—plus travel and theft insurance. Or make a statement with N26 Business Metal and get 0.5% cashback, comprehensive travel insurance, and access to tons of partner offers. Plus, your most important tool for your work—your smartphone—is protected with insurance against theft or damage.No matter which N26 account you pick, our handy features give you full control over your finances. Thanks to our export feature for your transaction list, even tax returns are now child’s play! Plus, it only takes a few minutes to set up your account. So, what are you waiting for?


  • What´s Freelancing?
  • Why do companies hire freelancers?
  • How can you work from home as a freelancer?
  • Can you work as a freelancer alongside being employed?
  • Are all freelancers self-employed?
  • How can I calculate my daily freelance rate?
  • Do freelancers need to register as a company?
  • Do freelancers need a business account?
  • What’s the difference between a personal bank account and a business one?
  • What freelancing websites are best for beginners?
  • How can you build your own brand as a freelancer?
  • What skills do I need to develop to work as a freelancer?
  • How to draw up a freelancer contract
  • How can you attract customers as a freelancer?
  • What’s the best project management tool?
  • How much tax do freelancers need to pay?
  • Can students work as freelancers?
  • How do you write invoices as a freelancer?
  • How can you find work online as a freelancer?
  • Can you get a credit card as a freelancer?
  • How do you end a business relationship as a freelancer?
  • Can freelancers take out loans?
  • Do freelancers need insurance?

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