Founding an association

General information

According to Austrian law, founding an association [Verein] is a two step process. Associations have to be formally constituted [errichtet] before they become officially established [entstanden].

Constituting an association

An association is deemed to have been formally constituted once its statutes have been formally agreed in the form of a foundation agreement [Gründungsvereinbarung]. The association's founders or appointed official representatives must then report the fact they have constituted the organisation to the Associations Authority [Vereinsbehörde].

Officially establishing an association

Once the Associations Authority has been informed that an association has been constituted, it will check the statutes to ensure they are in compliance with the law. If they are, the association will be permitted to commence operational activity.

Requirements

In order for an association to be constituted, its statutes (the foundation agreement) must be agreed by at least two people.

All statutes must be written in German and clearly worded.

Associations can be founded by natural persons or legal entities. Natural persons (individuals) do not need to be Austrian citizens in order to found an association in Austria.

Founders and/or any bodies of the association with mandates to adopt resolutions to amend its statutes are free to structure and organise the association as they wish within the applicable laws.

Deadlines

The relevant Associations Authority must conduct its initial checks within four weeks from the date on which it receives notification that an association has been formally constituted. If the initial checks give rise to any indication that the association's purpose, name or organisational structure may be contrary to the law, the Associations Authority may extend this deadline to a maximum of six weeks in order that such questions may be clarified by means of an appropriate preliminary investigation. The Associations Authority must provide notification of its decision to extend the deadline.

The Associations Authority may issue a decision within the four or six-week deadline rejecting the application to found an association. This decision must be accompanied by a formal ruling, which must be issued by the end of the day of the applicable deadline. A decision will be deemed to have been duly issued provided that an attempt is made to deliver the decision to the office named in the original notification that an association has been constituted prior to the relevant deadline.

If the Associations Authority does not declare the foundation of the association concerned to be contrary to the law by the time the four or six-week deadline expires, the association will be recognised as a legal entity once this deadline expires.

If the Associations Authority invites the association to take up its activities before the deadline expires, the association will be recognised as a legal entity as soon as the Authority's decision is delivered.

Competent authority

The functions of the Associations Authority are carried out by the local branches of the following government bodies:

Procedure

When an association is constituted, this must be reported to the Association Authority in writing.

This report must be submitted in the form of a notification of constitution [Errichtungsanzeige], signed in person by the founders or the organisation's appointed representatives.

A copy of the association's previously drafted statutes should be enclosed along with the signed notification of constitution.

If the documentation is not complete, the Associations Authority will ask the association to provide the missing documents. If there are any other problems with the application (for example if there is a risk the new association could be confused with an existing one), the Associations Authority will ask the association to rectify this, and set a reasonable deadline for it to do so.

The Associations Authority will check the statutes to ensure they are in compliance with the law. If the association's purpose, name or organisational structure is found to be contrary to the law, the Associations Authority will issue a decision rejecting the application to establish an association.

If the new association passes this initial check it may assume its activities

  • following the expiry of the four or six-week deadline for objections, as applicable, or
  • prior to the expiry of the deadline if the Associations Authority's decision confirming the association has been legally established is accompanied by an explicit invitation for it to begin its activities.

Once it has passed the Associations Authority's initial checks, the association will be formally recognised as a legal entity.

The Associations Authority will enter the relevant details of the association in the local Register of Associations [Vereinsregister]. These details will then also appear in the Central Register of Associations [Zentrale Vereinsregister - ZVR]. The Associations Authority will send the association the following documents:

  • An informal invitation for the association to assume its activities or (if applicable and/or following an application to this effect by the founders or the appointed representatives) a formal decision that the association may assume its activities
  • A copy of the now formally recognised statutes (provided free of charge)
  • A first copy of the association's extract from the Central Register of Associations (ZVR), also free of charge

Required documents

  • The notification of constitution,
    signed in person by the association's founders or appointed representatives, and the following details of the individuals concerned:
    • Full name
    • Date of birth
    • Place of birth
    • Correspondence address
  • A copy of the statutes
  • Where applicable, notification of the appointment of the association's official representatives

Appointed representatives are also required by law to provide notification of their function within the association and the date of their appointment. If the association already has a correspondence address, the Associations Authority must be informed of this address.

Costs and fees

  • Fee for the notification: Federal administration fee of 14.30 Euro
  • Fees for additional enclosures (for enclosed statutes): 3.90 Euro per sheet (up to a maximum of 21.80 Euro)
  • Copy of the recognised statutes and initial extract from the Register of Associations: Free of charge
  • Fee for a formal decision inviting the association to assume its activities (following an application):
    • If the decision is issued: 6.50 Euro federal administration fee
    • If the decision is not issued: Free of charge

Fees must be paid following the conclusion of the procedure. A payment slip will usually be sent for this purpose.

Further information

Individuals will be held personally (jointly and severally) liable for any action taken on behalf of the association before it is formally established. Rights and obligations substantiated by an association's founders or appointed representatives will apply to the association from the point in time at which it is formally established, with no need for any further approval by the association's bodies or creditors.

The association's appointed representatives must normally be appointed within a year of the association being formally established, if they have not already been appointed when the association is founded. Associations can apply to extend this deadline.

Legal basis

sections 3, 11, 12, 13 of the Vereinsgesetz (VerG)

Link to form

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Last update: 1 February 2022

Responsible for the content: Federal Ministry of the Interior