How to start a freelancing business in 10 minutes

A talk given by Stefan Haslinger
at the Freelancing in Vienna Meetup September 3rd, 2014
online at

This is by no means legal advice...


  • full time
  • view to profit "Gewinnabsicht"
  • no employees (just at the beginning)

Business Licence


  • is a requirement for running a business
  • also known as "Auszug aus dem Gewerberegister"
  • formerly known as "Gewerbeschein"

free business

"freie Gewerbe" (e.g. IT services
"Dienstleistungen in der automatischen Datenverarbeitung")

regularized business

"reglementierte Gewerbe und Handwerke",
at least the CEO / managing director "Geschäftführer" needs:

  • evidence of formal qualification
    "Befähigungsnachweis" or
  • certificate of professional competence
    "Befähigungsprüfung" (fka "Konzessionsprüfung")


  • EU inhabitant or residence permit "Aufenthaltstitel"
  • residence "Wohnsitz" in Austria
  • clean criminal record "Strafregisterbescheinigung"

Most Common Forms

  • one-man business "Einzelunternehmen"
  • open company "Offene Gesellschaft" - OG
  • limited partnership "Kommanditgesellschaft" - KG
  • private limited liability company
    "Gesellschaft mit beschränkter Haftung" - GmbH
  • civil code company "Gesellschaft bürgerlichen Rechts" - GesbR
  • registered association "Verein"
  • registered co-operative
    "Erwerbs- und Wirtsgenossenschaft"


let's not mix up:
  • "Einzelunternehmen" is owned by one person
  • Freelancer ~ EPU is only one person
  • e.U. is a registered company
    (my company's name "Informatom EDV-Dienstleitungen e.U.")


  • full autonomy
  • full responsibility


  • general liability "volle Haftung"
    also with private property
  • full responsibility


  • (be prepared / informed / advised)
  • declare existance "Erklärung der Neugründung" at the local district exchange "Magistratisches Bezirksamt"
  • register your business "Gewerbeanmeldung" to get "Auszug aus dem Gewerberegister"
  • (register at the companies register "Firmenbuch" to get an entry "Firmenbucheintrag")
  • (tell the national insurance "Gebietskrankenkasse" about the emloyees for their insurance)
  • tell the national insurance "Sozialversicherung der Gewerblichen Wirtschaft" aka "SVA" to get your insurance
  • tell the tax office "Finanzamt" to get a tax number "ATU"
  • (tell the city about your location "Betriebsstandort")


  • passport
  • disclosure "Strafregisterbescheinigung"
  • evidence of formal qualification "Nachweis der Befähigung"
  • unlimited residence permit
    "Niederlassungsnachweis" or
    limited residence permit

non Austrian documents have to be notarially certified
"notariell beglaubigt" and therefore translated to German

Obligations 1

The founding itself is for free, but ...

  • social insurance "Sozialversicherung"
    • health insurance "Krankenversicherung"
      7,65% (57 < x < 404 EUR / month)
      + retention "Selbstbehalt" 20% -> 10%
    • accident insurance "Unfallversicherung"
      9 EUR / month
    • public pension scheme "Pensionsversicherung"
      18,5% (127 < x < 987 EUR / month)
    social security payroll tax cap
    "Höchstbemessungsgrundlage" 63420 EUR / year

Obligations 2

  • Taxes "Steuern"
    • income tax
      "Einkommenssteuer" 0...50%
    • value added tax
      "Umsatzsteuer" 20%
  • financial precautions
    similar to legal indemnity / severance pay
    "Selbständigenvorsorge" 1.5% (x < 80 EUR / month)

Another Option

  • side / part-time business
    "Nebenberufliche Selbständigkeit"

my 2¢

I just can't help saying...
"If you are afraid of founding,
you are either not well prepared
or it isn't a good idea anyways."
"Keep your hands off foreign and
venture capital of any kind!"

Language Issues

German is community language "Amtssprache"

  • learn German!
  • practice your German!
  • speak German!
  • think in German!
  • read German (websites, news)
  • listen to German (news)


  • Stay on top of your finances!
  • Hire a bookkeeper!



Stay professional

Do not play any tricks on ...

  • your customers
  • your vendors
  • the finance / the state
  • the community
that said:
All the best for you and your business!

Want to talk to me?

This talk is online at