Everyday life for me

How do I greet people in Austria?

You look the other person in the face when you greet them. If you meet in person (in private, at school, with an adviser at a bank or at the labour market service – AMS), you shake hands with the right hand. Men and women do of course shake hands – anything else is seen as impolite. When you enter a room where there are many people whom you do not know (a shop or a course room), you simply say “Guten Tag!” (“Good day!”) or “Guten Abend!” (“Good evening!”).

What water can I drink?

The water from the taps in houses and in public is always drinking water. If there should be an exception, this is clearly indicated there: “Kein Trinkwasser” (“not for drinking”).

Where do I have to register?

If you move into a new home you have to register within 3 days with the municipal office, the magistrate or the police under the new address. This is what is called the obligation to register. For that, you fill in a registration form. Registration forms are available from tobacconists or as a download on the Internet. Registration is free of charge.

How do I receive mail?

All important information is sent by mail. That is why you need a delivery address. The delivery address can also be a building in which several people live (centre, guesthouse, hotel ...). It is best for a post box or a box with compartments to be available there displaying the names of everybody who lives there.

What happens to waste/rubbish?

Waste is separated. There are separate containers for paper, plastics, glass, metal cans and for everything else (= residual waste). Hazardous waste (medication, old oil, batteries) must be collected separately and handed in to waste collection centres. Waste separation is mandatory in Austria.

Where can I buy tickets for transport?

You can buy tickets for Austrian Federal Railways (ÖBB) at counters in major stations or from ticket machines. For the Wiener Linien, there are tickets in advance sales outlets, from ticket machines and at many tobacconists; these tickets have to be stamped at the ticket validation machines before travel for them to be valid. You can only get on trains of Austrian Federal Railways (ÖBB), trams and the Viennese underground with a valid ticket; otherwise you may incur a high fine (approx. 100 Euros). With other forms of transport, it varies depending on the municipality. Get informed on how you can get tickets and how you can make them valid for your journey.

Are some places reserved on trains and buses?

Yes, if the trains or buses travel long distances. These places are marked; the passengers have paid extra for them. That is why nobody else is allowed to sit there. With generally free places in all means of transport, it is seen as impolite not to offer a seat to elderly and frail persons or to women who are pregnant. Certain places are reserved for such persons and marked accordingly. Also offer assistance to people with prams.

How should I behave on public transport?

Eating is allowed. It is expected that no food remains are left behind. Unpacking strong-smelling food is seen as impolite, as is speaking loudly (on the phone) or listening to loud music. You may not place your feet on the seats. You only stand near to the door if you want to get off. You only get on a bus, tram or underground train when people have finished getting off. You stand on the right on escalators so that others can pass you on the left.

When can I go shopping?

Most shops are open from Monday to Saturday. On Sunday, almost all shops are closed and most people do not work. Friday is a normal working day in Austria; many people and most schoolchildren have the day off on Saturday.

I abide by certain food regulations. How can I know what I am buying?

All packed food is marked. It is indicated on the packaging what is inside. The sales staff will provide information for unpacked food (meat, sausage, fruit and vegetables). There is also special food for vegetarians (no meat), vegans (no products of animal origin), diabetics (no sugar) or people with a gluten intolerance.

Where do I get halal food?

Some food chains offer halal products that are marked accordingly. In addition, there are retail stores in which you can buy such products. Ask in your place of residence whether there are such shops and where they are.

Are the prices indicated fixed prices or are they open to negotiation?

Haggling in shops is not usual in Austria. In supermarkets, bakeries and in other shops, the prices are fixed and nobody would attempt to negotiate them. Prices are only negotiated at markets and at private sales auctions such as flea markets.

Do I have to turn up for an appointment on time?

Yes, you are expected to be punctual in Austria. Please be sure to arrive for appointments on time, ideally a few minutes before the appointment. Arriving more than 15 minutes late can result in the appointment being cancelled and is deemed to be highly impolite, even for private appointments. Public transport also leaves punctually to the minute in most cases.

Is it normal for cats and dogs to be out and about on the road and even in buildings and restaurants?

Cats and dogs are the most popular pets in Austria. Dogs are often out and about with their owners. They may go into public buildings, offices and even many restaurants only with their owners. Dogs are also allowed to be taken on trams, buses and trains. There are special tickets for them.