There are many distribution channels available for importing goods to Austria:
- traditional import trade
- direct import by retailers
- cooperative purchasing associations
- direct import by industry
- own branch operations
- distribution through commercial agents
Sales to Wholesale Importers
Selling to wholesale importers is the most common method of distributing goods in Austria. Many of these traders also deal with exports. Some importers deal in goods from across the globe, other specialize in specific regions or countries.
Import of Goods by Retailers, Industry and Manufacturers
The Austrian Business Code also allows the import of goods by retailers. Large chain stores, mail order houses and department stores are all crucial importers, especially for overseas goods. Some industries and smaller manufacturers also work as importers as well as suppliers.
Imports from Overseas
Austria has a relatively small market, consequently smaller quantities are required. Therefore imports from overseas are often not channelled directly, but instead through an importer from another European country - usually Germany.
Search for Sales Representatives
You're looking for a sales representative in Austria? The website of the Federal Association of Commercial Agents has an on-line database where you can search by branch or place an on-line advert. Advertising opportunities are also available in the quarterly 'Commercial Agent' magazine CONTACT (in German).
You would like to work together with an independent agent? The conditions are good as cooperation with commercial agents is well-established in Austria. The Austrian Commercial Agent Law adopted the EU regulations for this field.
Legal Basis - Agency Agreements
Cooperation terms with an agent should be laid down in an agency agreement. The regulations and responsibilities of both the company and the agency should be clearly specified. The Austrian Commercial Agent Law regulates the minimum requirements of the agent, such as notice periods and redundancy pay.
At the end of the business relationship the agent is free to represent a competitor. This right cannot be modified in any way.
Agency agreements generally last for between one and five years. Termination of the agreement is subject to a notice period, although immediate termination is possible in exceptional circumstances e.g. breach of confidence, fraud, breach of contract.
You can find a sample agency contract, as well as information on EU and Austrian Agency Law on the website of the Austrian Association of Commercial Agents. To download a sample contract (Mustervertrag) in German/ English/ French/ Spanish and Italian please click here:
Austria is an important transit country thanks to its central location. HGVs (Heavy Goods Vehicles) are the leading form of international and domestic transport. Around 30% of all goods are transported by rail, considerably higher than the European average.
Transport of Goods by Road
Austria has a well developed road network of over 125,000km, with about 2,200km of motorways and dual carriage-ways.
Please note the following:
- With the exception of perishable goods, HGVs may not travel during the evening or at weekends.
- A toll is levied on all vehicles weighing over 3.5 tonnes road toll per kilometre.
- The speed limit for HGVs over 3.5 tonnes is 50 km/h in built-up areas, 70 km/h on country roads and 80 km/h on motorways.
- Austria is a member of the TIR convention (Carnet TIR) and the international convention for the import of temporary import of goods under Carnet ATA.
Transport of Goods by Rail
Transport of Goods by Ship
Austria is land-locked and transport by ship is mostly confined to the main waterway, the Danube. The Rhein-Main-Danube canal enables goods to be transported by ship from the North Sea to the Black Sea.
Contact details for freight transport providers can be found on the website of: Ship Austria (in German).
Transport of Goods by Air
Only 0.3% of goods were transported to Austria by air in 2012. The airports do offer a complete service for air freight handling.