Main residence/other place of residence (‘secondary residence’)

Main residence

A person’s main residence is deemed to be accommodation that they wish to make the focal point of their personal life. On the one hand, it is of essential importance that the person takes up or has taken up the accommodation with this intention, or on the other hand that they actually live there. The intention behind it may be proven (for example, because the main residence has been registered) or be apparent from circumstances (because someone is actually living there).

The following criteria are of relevance in determining the focal point of someone’s personal life:

  • duration of residence;
  • location of the place of work or education institution;
  • starting point of the route to the place of work or education institution;
  • place of residence of family members (particularly children), and
    • place of their gainful employment
    • place of their education/training
    • location of school or nursery
  • positions in public and private bodies

‘Secondary residence’

In contrast to the main residence, the fact that a person merely has a personal life link to this accommodation, such as studying or working there or regularly spending free time there, is sufficient for this accommodation to be classified as a ‘secondary residence’. The intention behind it may be proven or be apparent from circumstances. With regard to duration, it is sufficient if a connecting factor exists at least for a given period of time (‘until further notice’). Overall, it is possible to establish as many ‘secondary residences’ as desired.

Multiple places of residence

If multiple places of residence are held, only one may be a main residence at any one time.

If the characteristic feature of a main residence, namely the ‘focal point of personal life’, applies to multiple places of residence, the one to which a person personally believes they have the closest association is regarded as the main residence. In this case, the deciding criteria are not only whether the person in question deems the place of residence to be the main residence, but also what emerges from an overall consideration of a person’s professional, economic and social personal life. Not all of the criteria need to be fulfilled, in any case. For example, a person may have their main residence at a location where they are not pursuing their professional activity, if other criteria (such as familial and economic relationships) are fulfilled and given a greater weight overall, such as if partners and/or minor children reside at the location designated as the ‘main residence’ and the person required to register is staying there for a given period. When examining economic relationships, whether or not the accommodation is a house, a flat or a room, and whether this is owned, rented or merely being used free of charge, are also of relevance.

From ‘secondary residence’ to main residence

The nature of the place of residence may change over time, and this means it would be necessary to change the status of main residence and secondary residence. If, for example, people retire, and now predominantly reside at (what has up to now been) a holiday home (‘secondary residence’), and (what has up to now been) the main residence in the city will only continue to be used for visits by adult children, caring for grandchildren, and for cultural events, the focal point of personal life may change from (what has up to now been) the main residence to (what has up to now been) the secondary residence. Therefore, while there are still family ties to the place of residence in the city where the profession was previously practised and where children were raised, these ties may perhaps only exist to a lesser extent.

Consequences of distinguishing a main residence/‘secondary residence’

The use of a place of residence as a main or secondary residence has an effect on various domains:

  • Voting: in most state parliamentary elections and local elections, the right to vote assumes that the person in question is registered at a main residence in the federal province in question. In European Parliament elections, citizens from other EU countries with main residence in Austria have the right to vote locally. Further information about the right to vote and active voting rights in European Parliament elections can be found at www.oesterreich.gv.at
  • Attending schools and nurseries: the main residence of a child in the school catchment area may be the determining factor for admission to a school. In Vienna, a fee‑free nursery place may only be claimed if the child and at least one parent have registered a main residence in Vienna for the entire period during which the child will attend nursery.
  • Local residents’ right to park: in Vienna, for example, the main residence is given priority for a residents’ parking permit in the residential district.
  • Subsidies from a federal province are often assigned to the main residence. Further information about subsidies and financing in the federal provinces (of residential properties)
  • Potential correction: if the nature of the place of residence is disputed, the municipal mayor may request a declaration of place of residence from the persons registered in their municipality and clarify in objection proceedings whether they rightly have their main residence or ‘secondary residence’ in the municipality.

Further information about registration, de‑registration, change of status and confirmation of registration can also be found at www.oesterreich.gv.at

Legal basis

Section 1  Abs. 6, 7, 8 and Sections 15a, 17 of the Meldegesetz (MeldeG)

Translated by the European Commission
Last update: 1 February 2021

Responsible for the content: Federal Ministry of the Interior