The action items must be dealt with immediately upon your arrival in Austria:
Registration with local authorities
Please note: Registering with the local Austrian authorities and securing your residency permit are two seperate issues and are handled by seperate authorities!
Within three working days of entering Austria, you (and your dependants) are technically required to register with the appropriate authorities. In Vienna, you register with the Magistratisches Bezirksamt. Elsewhere in Austria you register with the local Magistrat or Gemeindeamt. For registering with the Austrian authorities, you will need:
A signature on the Meldezettel from your landlord/landlady
Your passport (and supporting documents if applicable)
Fill out the Meldezettel form and have it signed by the person renting you your accommodation or by the owner of the house you are living in (UnterkunftgeberIn or landlord/landlady) in Austria. Once you have collected your landlady's or landlord's signature (bottom left-hand corner of document) on the Meldezettel, your form is ready for the registration office.
Be sure to bring your passport and any other relevant documents (e.g. marriage license for spouses) with you to the appropriate office. The authorities record your personal data, passport number, and current and home addresses and assign you a twelve digit "central registration number" (Zentrale Melderegister-Zahl or ZMR-Zahl), which you will use in any further official business to identify yourself. It is important to register for a Hauptwohnsitz not a Nebenwohnsitz.
Please note that this number will be used to ascertain if you have a valid residency permit as whether your permit has expired. The Meldezettel is an important document for identification purposes, so it is a good idea to keep a copy of your Meldezettl in your wallet at all times, along with a copy of your passport. Furthermore, you are required to de-register with the authorities at the end of your stay in Austria using a similar form and procedure.
It is important to arrive before the orientation seminar and finalize your housing arrangements. In some areas in Austria it is difficult to find suitable accomodation over the internet. In such cases it is advisable to scout out possible housing options in person. Also be sure to contact your school(s) and their current TAs to ask if they can be of assistance.
Finalizing Residency Permit Procedures
As soon as you have registered with the local authorities and obtained a Meldezettel, contact the immigration authorities about your residency permit. The immigration authorities will ask for the Meldezettel, your passport and the remaining fees (if you did not pay the full amount as a front-end fee in the United States). At this point you will be fingerprinted as well. The actual residency permit card should be ready for pick-up within about ten days of being fingerprinted.
Opening a Bank Account
Your monthly salary will be automatically deposited into your Austrian bank account at the middle of each month. Unfortunately, your October paycheck will not arrive until in mid-November. Be sure to bring enough money with you to cover living expenses, security deposit, etc. from your arrival until mid-November.
Make sure to open up an Austrian bank account as soon as you arrive in Austria and inform your school(s) immediately as to which bank you are using and what your account details are. Your bank account MUST be a Gehaltskonto, otherwise your employer (the school) will be unable to direct-deposit your paycheck. When opening your Gehaltskonto, tell the bank that your employer is the Landeschulrat, or if you work in Vienna, the Stadtschulrat. Open your account and inform your school as soon as possible to make sure that you get paid on time!
Monthly income is about € 1,300 (it varies, depending upon available funding, from year to year), and deductions for social security (including health insurance) and income tax result in a net take-home pay of about € 1,100.
Health Care Coverage
During the period of their assignments in Austria (note: not beforehand, and for 6 weeks after the end of contract), teaching assistants are covered as “employees” by the health and accident insurance program of the BVA – Versicherungsanstalt öffentlich Bediensteter. For detailed information on the conditions and extent of coverage, teaching assistants should consult the BVA website at www.bva.at or call the BVA Hotline at 05 04 05.
Approximately one month after starting work, you should receive an electronic insurance card (E-Card), which looks like a credit card, and an insurance number (Sozialversicherungskarte, Sozialversicherungsnummer) from the BVA. Bring your e-card with you whenever you need treatment. It has all relevant data for the physicians and insurance agency.
Coverage includes treatment for illness and injuries, eye examinations, some basic dental care, pregnancy, some medication, therapeutic and laboratory services (if prescribed by a physician), medical supplies, hospitalization, etc. Many Austrian physicians or hospitals have contracts with the BVA. Make sure that the health care provider you consult has a BVA contract before going in for treatment. Health care providers bill the BVA directly for the costs of treatment, and the BVA bills you for 20% of the total. This insurance has a 20% deductible (Selbstbehalt) for out-patient treatment; in-patient treatment (hospitalization) is covered in full.
Austrian medical insurance also covers most medication. A prescription fee (Rezeptgebühr) of € 4.90 is collected for each medication prescribed. The physician responsible for prescribing the medication must be consulted if additional medication is needed, and he/she will issue another prescription. Note: birth control medication is not covered by your insurance, and typically runs € 10-€ 20 per month.
If you go on vacation outside Austria, you may request an Urlaubskrankenschein (also called Auslandsbetreuungsschein) in the event that you become ill while away from your place of residence. Austrian health and accident insurance is valid in EU countries as well as in Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Iceland. Check that your e-card has Europäische Krankenversicherungskarte written on the back (above the signature) and take your card with you when travelling.
NOTE: The insurance coverage for US teaching assistants is not valid in the United States. Should you visit the US in the course of your assignment, you must provide for adequate insurance coverage yourself either by contacting a U.S. insurance company or a local Austrian insurance company that will provide you with a moderately priced Reiseversicherung. Before traveling outside of the European Union you should inquire if there are insurance reciprocity agreements between Austria and the countries you will be visiting. The BVA currently has bilateral agreements with Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Serbia, Montenegro und Turkey.
Health insurance for accompanying dependents: Children are insured free of charge under the auspices of parental insurance. Spouses may be insured free of charge if they are exclusively engaged in child-care. Otherwise, insurance premiums must be paid to insure accompanying spouses. The rate of premium is 3.4% of the gross salary of the primary insurance carrier.
If you fall ill...
If you get ill and are unable to work, it is important to call in sick at your school or schools immediately on the first day to let them know that you will not be coming to work. You are required to get a note from your doctor (Krankenstandsmeldung) that you are ill, which has to be forwarded to the BVA. Please inquire at your school whether you are required to bring a confirmation from a physician (this may depend on the duration of your illness).
Transportation Costs: If you are working in two schools which are located in different cities, you may be reimbursed for the cost of transportation between the two schools. This usually happens via an agreed-upon raise in your monthly salary, equivalent to the cost of public transportation between the two cities. This is handled differently in the various Bundesländer, so contact your BetreungslehrerIn, school administrators and the Landeschulrat for more information.
A useful tip provided by former teaching assistants is the purchase of a discount train card (Vorteilskarte) which is issued by the Austrian Railway Company (ÖBB) and can be applied for at Austrian train stations. Please remember to take an ID and a passport photo with you. This card is valid for one year and reduces the costs of train rides by up to 50%. If you are under 26, the card will cost you € 19.90; otherwise, it will cost € 99.90. It is also possible to receive a 25 % reduction on travel in most European countries with your Vorteilscard. There are an increasing number of discount fares offered by the ÖBB to neighboring EU countries (sometimes as low as € 29 for a seat on a night train). More information on the Vorteilscard and the Austrian Railway System can be found online at: http://www.oebb.at
Inquire at the local transportation services about available monthly/annual tickets that might save you some money.
You may want to check with the US Social Security Administration about the possibility of counting your time spent working in Austria toward your social security requirements (their calculations of your total time as a working citizen) in the US.
Tax Returns: The taxes deducted from your paycheck are based on a yearly salary. Therefore you will pay more taxes than you actually owe. You should file for a tax refund at the end of the year. The necessary forms are available at your local Finanzamt.
Salary statements: TAs receive a monthly salary statement, or Gehaltszettel, which shows the gross income and the various deductions. In most cases you will see the information on the bank statement of your Gehaltskonto.