Ban on face coverings

Since 1 October 2017 a ban on face coverings has been in force throughout Austria. The Anti-Face Veiling Act is intended, among other things, to enable interpersonal communication, which is necessary for peaceful coexistence in a democratic, constitutional state. The law applies to everyone residing in Austria.

Generally speaking, it is usually an offence punishable by law to

  • cover or conceal facial features
  • in public places or in public buildings
  • in such a way that the facial features are no longer recognisable.

Covering the face using items of clothing or any other items is an offence. Any public space (on the street, etc.) is considered a public place. Public buildings include etc. official buildings, schools, kindergartens, universities, railway stations, airports, all business premises, shopping centres, indoor swimming pools, fitness centres, etc.

Exceptions to the ban

Verbot der Gesichtsverhüllung

Graphic: APA; Source: APA/BMI

It is not an offence to cover your face in the following situations:

  • when complying with a legal requirement
    for example wearing a crash helmet on a moped or motorbike (helmets can also be worn while refuelling)
  • When doing so as part of artistic, cultural or traditional events
    for example wearing carnival costumes or Halloween costumes, during Perchtenläufe, giving theatrical performances, etc.
  • when coverings are worn for health reasons
    (such as to protect against infection, air pollution or weather-related factors)

    for example wearing protective face masks that cover the mouth and nose, respiratory masks; Covering the face to protect it against frostbite
  • Where coverings are required for work-related reasons
    for example due to occupational health and safety, hygiene or safety regulations
  • When practising certain sports
    such as motorsport or fencing

Whether a face covering is exempt from the ban must be assessed by police officers on a case-by-case basis.

Consequences of an offence

Anyone who violates the ban on face coverings is committing an administrative offence. Such offences are punishable by an administrative penalty of up to EUR 150.

Each offence will be assessed on an individual basis. Police officers have discretionary powers in this regard, and can decide to issue a simple formal warning.

As a first step, the police officer will speak to the individual involved and explain the prohibition against face coverings. You must remove a face covering immediately and on the spot if requested to do so. If the person involved refuses to remove the face covering despite a warning, if they try to repeat the offence, or if their identity cannot be established, they can be taken to the police station by the police officer.

Further links

Legal basis

Anti-Gesichtsverhüllungsgesetz

Certified Translation
Last update: 3 March 2022

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