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Your Business Start in Austria: Start as a Sole Proprietor or Limited Liability Company in Austria, Your Attorneys in Austria

The easiest way to establish a business is to set up as a sole proprietor. This means that a natural person forms a business and operates that business as its sole owner. This owner has full personal liability.

Foreign investors also favour the Limited Liability Company (GmbH: Gesellschaft mit beschränkter Haftung); and/or Joint Stock Corporation (AG: Aktiengesellschaft) as vehicles for investment in Austria or as a platform for business in the European Union, Eastern Europe, Russia and Central Asia. In addition to operational and business activities, these corporate vehicles can be used for holding purposes and for acting as regional headquarters.

The law of the limited liability company is governed by the Limited Liability Companies Act. A GmbH is created by one or more shareholders drawing up Articles of Association in the form of an Austrian notarial deed and the registration of that deed with the Company Registry kept at the Commercial Court or the High Court of the relevant district.

Once entered into the Register, the GmbH becomes a legal entity of its own. The Company Registry is a public register open to inspection by the general public. It is kept electronically and can be accessed over the internet by registered users for a nominal fee.

A GmbH is a suitable vehicle for a foreign investor who either uses a nominee shareholder or has no problem with publication of name, date of birth and address. In view of the limited reporting requirements, a GmbH can keep its business activities to a great extent confidential and away from public attention. This might be of particular relevance where the Austrian company is to act as an international holding company, regional headquarter or group head.

Regarding the type of business activities a GmbH may have any purpose.

The GmbH is a legal entity and has its own legal personality. Any individual or legal entity may be a shareholder of a GmbH. Furthermore, neither Austrian citizenship nor a place of residence in Austria are required. The shareholders in general are not personally liable for the liabilities of the company.

The name of the company must be suitable for identifying the Company and must have a distinctive character. The GmbH needs a name, followed by the designation “GmbH”. The name has to be either the name of one of the shareholders or a description of the business to be carried out by the company or a fantasy name combined with the name of a shareholder or the business objectives. The name must not conflict with the name of an existing company, must not interfere with existing IP rights and, above all, the name has to be true.

The GmbH requires at least one director. He/she is appointed by resolution of the shareholders signed in the presence of an Austrian notary public.

Your Attorneys in Austria, Law Experts Attorneys Austria - Wiesflecker, Attorney at law Austria


Law Articles - Your Business Start in Austria: Start as a Sole Proprietor or Limited Liability Company in Austria