Traveling to Austria during COVID

Updated 1/14/2022

Traveling to Austria during COVID

Austria is currently experiencing a wave of COVID-19 cases due to the omicron variant. On January 14 Austria recorded 16,822 new COVID cases, the highest daily rate since the beginning of the pandemic. The Department of State has issued a Level 4 Travel Advisory for Austria, advising U.S. citizens not to travel to Austria due to very high levels of COVID-19 cases.  U.S. Embassy Vienna has received numerous reports from U.S. citizen visitors who tested positive for COVID-19 just prior to their return flight to the United States, and subsequently ordered to quarantine in Austria until released for travel by Austrian health officials (typically 10-14 days, but can be longer), at their expense.

It is each traveler’s responsibility to weigh the risks to decide whether to travel during this pandemic. U.S. citizens who choose to travel internationally including to Austria should be aware that they may face unexpected challenges related to COVID-19 as they attempt to return to the United States or attempt to travel to a neighboring country.

U.S. citizens who choose to travel internationally should make contingency plans, as they may have to remain in a foreign country longer than originally planned, which will be at their own expense.  The Department of State recommends international travel insurance with coverage for COVID-related trip cancellation and medical benefits, including medical evacuation (medevac) coverage.  In general, Medicare and Medicaid do not cover overseas medical costs, and many U.S. health insurance policies only provide minimal coverage abroad.

U.S. Embassies and Consulates do not provide medical care, and generally do not provide financial assistance except in the most extreme circumstances. U.S. Embassy Vienna cannot intervene in the quarantine, testing or boarding requirements of Austrian medical and immigration officials or airline personnel, and cannot give you permission to enter or exit Austria, or to leave quarantine early.  The penalties for violating Austria’s COVID regulations and quarantine mandates are severe, up to and including fines, detention and charges for endangering the public health.

What to do if you test positive in Austria

If you have COVID-19 symptoms or have already tested positive, dial 1450 from an Austrian phone (or +43-1-1450 from a U.S. phone). If you need assistance in English, stay on the line through the German recording, wait for a live person to answer, then request an English speaker. Your case officer will provide additional information and may schedule a mobile testing team to visit you at your hotel or home to conduct testing and contact-tracing. Please note that due to current wave of omicron variant COVID cases, wait times for phone and in-person assistance are longer than normal.

Persons who test positive for COVID-19 must quarantine in Austria, at your own expense, until cleared by medical authorities. Austrian mobile testing teams will generally visit you every 48-72 hours to conduct a new PCR test to determine your viral caseload and whether you are still contagious. A PCR test cycle threshold of 30 or above is generally considered “fit for travel” and to be released from quarantine. Please note that as a PCR test may show positive results for up to 3 months after infection, your airline may require a negative AntigenSchnell (rapid antigen) test, or a “fit to fly” doctor’s note. Click here for a list of English-speaking doctors in Austria.

If officially instructed, you are permitted to leave your quarantine location after 5 days for the sole purpose of obtaining a new COVID test. You must wear an FFP2 mask the entire time including outdoors during this task. Click here for a list of testing locations or ask your hotel front desk for recommendations.

Obtaining provisions whilst in quarantine: Many Austrian grocery stores, drug stores and apotheke (pharmacies) provide delivery service. Mjam and Lieferando are the two most popular food delivery apps. If you need additional help, click here for provincial COVID care & support hotlines.

Optionally, you may report your case to Consular Section Vienna for tracking purposes. Please send an e-mail to ConsulateVienna@state.gov with the names of all members of your group, dates of birth, your contact information in Austria, and date you entered quarantine.

Further resources and information

The Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs provides country-specific information and advice regarding COVID-19 on each U.S. Embassy’s website.  We update these resources whenever we receive new information and encourage U.S. citizens to review Travel Advisories and U.S. Embassy COVID-19 information pages before travel. U.S. citizens should also enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) for regular updates and follow @TravelGov on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Before boarding a flight to the U.S., all air travelers aged two and older, regardless of nationality or vaccination status, are required to show documentation of a negative viral test result taken within one day of the flight’s departure to the United States, or documentation of recovery from COVID-19.  This includes U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents (LPRs). A negative “AntigenSchnell” (rapid test) or a negative PCR test fulfills this requirement.

In addition, some countries have imposed other travel requirements. These may include quarantine on arrival, mandatory COVID-19 testing requirements, proof of vaccination, travel restrictions, and closed borders. Some countries have also imposed travel restrictions requiring mandatory quarantine for those testing positive on departure, which could delay a traveler’s ability to travel to another country. Foreign governments in any country may implement restrictions with little notice.

U.S. citizens planning to travel overseas or currently overseas and planning to return to the United States should also contact their airline for specific information about testing requirements for travelers. Airlines may adopt and modify their own specific policies to implement the CDC’s testing rule.

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