Nursery school

In some regions, you can register your child for a nursery school using online nursery pre-registration tools.
You should check whether the online system is available in your area.

General information

Nursery schools have long been recognised as institutions with real educational value providing a wide range of activities beyond simple childcare.

The frameworks governing nursery schools in Austria are determined at provincial level. Therefore, the number of nursery schools, when they are open, and the fees they charge may vary depending on you local area.

At the beginning of the 2009/2010 nursery school session, half-day (20 hours per week, with no lunch provided) nursery provision was made free of charge for children in their final year before starting school. This initiative is known as the free nursery school year, or Gratiskindergartenjahr scheme.

Most of Austria's provinces go beyond the minimum requirements imposed under this scheme, as the table below shows:

Free nursery school provision by province:

Burgenland

No parental contributions for half- or full-day attendance of 0- to 6-year-olds in elementary educational institutions

Carinthia

Reduction of 66 per cent of average parental contributions for 0-6 year olds in elementary educational institutions

Lower Austria

No parental contributions for half-day attendance of 2.5 to 6 year-olds in elementary educational institutions

Upper Austria

No parental contributions for half-day attendance of 2.5 to 6 year-olds in elementary educational institutions

Tyrol

No parental contributions for half-day attendance of 4-6 year-olds in elementary educational institutions

Vienna

No parental contributions for full-day attendance of 0-6 year-olds in elementary educational institutions

Advice

For detailed information about your local nursery school, contact the organisation that runs it. The City of Vienna provides information on its website about continuing contributionsGerman text for parents and children who are not ordinarily resident in Vienna.

To help you cover the cost of childcare, you can apply for a means-tested childcare allowance.

To find out about the other forms of support available to you, contact your local council offices (Gemeindeamt) or Magistrate (Magistrat).

Half-day nursery education (defined as at least 20 hours a week between September and June) is mandatory (except during the school holidays) for all children who reach their fifth birthday by 31 August of the same year. In addition to the school holidays and other days when the school is closed, children may take up to a maximum of five weeks' holiday during term-time.

Children who have started school early (before their seventh birthday) are exempted from this requirement, as are children who, for whatever reason, cannot be reasonably expected to attend nursery school (for example because they would have to travel inordinately long distances to attend) or who have to be cared for at home by parents or carers, for example because of illness or disability. Applications to exempt children from the requirement to attend nursery school must be made in writing by their parents and/or legal guardians. They will be assessed on the basis of the child's right to an education, the legitimate interests of the parents/guardians and the burden that attendance might place on the child concerned.

When choosing a nursery school for your child, you should ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is their approach to education the one I want for my child?
  • Do the location and opening hours meet my, and my child's, personal needs and requirements?
  • Are class sizes such that the nursery will be able to give every child individual attention and encourage their physical, mental and spiritual development in a manner that is appropriate to their age?
  • Are the classrooms bright and welcoming? If the nursery also has a garden and/or an outdoor play area, this is another major advantage.

You can choose between:

State nurseries

You can usually register children for state nurseries at your local council office or magistrate's office, and some nurseries will accept registrations at the nursery itself.

In some local authority areas/cities, fees are means-tested on the basis of the parents' income.

Caution

The peak registration period for local-authority-run nursery schools in Vienna is in November and December (for the next nursery school session). Parents can register their child online, by e-mail, by fax, by post or in person at the Nursery School Service Centres, which are government offices. When you register, you register with the city council, and not a specific nursery. However, you can express any preferences you may have as to the location of your child's nursery school and the activities it provides.

If you need to register a child during the school year, you can do so at any time. Staff at the service centres for nursery schools in Vienna will do their best to ensure your child is offered a place immediately.

In Vienna, you can also register online for a place in a council-run crèche, nursery or daycare centre. Please note this online service is currently only available in German.

Further links

Private nurseries

If you are considering enrolling your child at a private nursery, it is recommended that you visit the nursery in question yourself and take the time to meet the headteacher/operator in person.

You will be able to register your child at the nursery itself, or via the organisation that operates it.

Workplace nurseries

Workplace nurseries are generally located on or near work premises, and are open to the children of company employees.

If you are considering sending your child to a workplace nursery, contact the Works Council representative, your HR department or the manager in charge of your company nursery.

Tip

Speak to your colleagues or people working for other companies nearby to find out whether they need access to a workplace nursery/childcare scheme.

Further links

Certified Translation
Last update: 4 February 2022

Responsible for the content: Federal Chancellery