These rules and regulations also apply to all traders from EU Member States operating in Austria.
A websiteGerman text is essential for online shop operators. It must firstly be registered in order to be found on the internet by ‘users’. It is registered under an address, which is known as a domainGerman text.
In Austria, the registration of ‘.at domains’ is carried out by NIC.at GmbH.
The rules and regulations of copyright and competition law must be observed when designing the website!
General information requirements for commercial websites
In addition to the specific information requirement that must be complied with only in dealings between traders and consumers, online shop operators must also provide general information on their website. This information must be easily and directly accessible and relate to
- the name of the online shop operator or his/her company,
- the geographical address at which the company is established,
- information to enable users to contact the online shop operator quickly and directly, and his/her email address,
- if available, the commercial register number and the court that keeps the commercial registerGerman text,
- if the activity is subject to regulatory supervision, the competent supervisory authority,
- in the case of online shop operators subject to legislation relating to the trade or profession concerned, the chamber, trade association or similar institutions to which the online shop operator belongs,
- the professional title and the Member State in which the professional title was awarded,
- an indication of the applicable trade or professional legislation and a means of accessing that legislation,
- if available, VAT identification numberGerman text,
- the location to which the business license applies, if the undertaking is not registered in the commercial registerGerman text.
In addition, online shop operators whose undertakings are entered in the commercial register must comply with further information requirements. These can also be found at USP.gv.at, in the section ‘commercial documents and order formsGerman text.’
Legal noticeImpressum) and publication
Online shop operators are subject to the publication requirement under the MediengesetzGerman text. This extends in its scope further than a legal notice (Impressum). The legal notice requirement applies to electronic media distributed at least four times per calendar year in a comparable format, e.g. electronic newsletters.
More detailed information on the ‘Legal notice (Impressum) requirement’ can also be found at USP.gv.atGerman text and on the ICT Security Portal (IKT-Sicherheitsportal). The Austrian Federal Economic Chamber (Wirtschaftskammer Österreich) offers traders the opportunity to fulfil the legal requirements by entering their company data on its homepage and creating a link to it.
The publication requirements under the Mediengesetz are commonly referred to as the Impressum in Austria!
A distinction is made between ‘large’ and ‘small’ websites for the purposes of the publication requirement. If a website does not contain any information content that goes beyond a presentation of the media owner’s personal sphere or a presentation of the media owner and is capable of shaping public opinion, it is a ‘small website’. In such cases, the publication requirement is limited to
- the name or company name of the media owner,
- the object of the company,
- the place of residence or registered office (establishment) of the media owner.
Therefore, websitesGerman text that are limited to a presentation of the company or to products or services of the company are ‘small websites’. An online shop without editorial contributions is therefore regarded as a ‘small website’.
The publication information can be provided together with the general information requirements for commercial websites. If the media owner and online shop operator are identical, only the object of the company needs to be published, because the rest of the information is already covered by the general information requirements for commercial websites.
An online shop is regarded as a ‘large website’ if the website also contains contributions that are editorial in nature or capable of shaping opinion. In addition to the aforementioned publication requirements, the following information must be provided for ‘large websites’:
- names of the media owner’s bodies authorised to represent the media owner (e.g. managing directors)
- if a supervisory board exists, also the members of that board
- for all persons having a direct or indirect participating interest in a media owner, the structure in terms of the respective ownership, participation, shareholdings and voting rights
- any silent participations in the media owner
- fiduciary relationships for each level
- in the case of participating interests held by foundations, the founder and the respective beneficiaries
- in the case of an association, the board and the purpose of the association
- a statement regarding the fundamental orientation of the medium or website, referred to as the ‘Blattlinie’ in Austria.
More detailed information on the publication requirement for a ‘large websiteGerman text’ can also be found at USP.gv.at. Additional information requirements of online shop operators can be also be found at USP.gv.at, in the section ‘Specific information requirements towards consumers’.
New rules for online shops – Geo-blocking Regulation
Since 3 December 2018, access to an online shop cannot be denied on account of the origin of the user (nationality, habitual residence, delivery address, IP address). Automatic redirections are permitted only if the visitor has expressly consented to them, e.g. by actively clicking on a field, and such a selection can be cancelled at any time.
However, the trader is free to determine the delivery area and is not obliged to ship the goods to every country. The delivery area should be clearly indicated on the website.
In the event of a dispute with a consumer, the place of jurisdiction is the country towards which the online shop is oriented. If there is no specific orientation towards a single country of the European Union, Austrian law and Austrian jurisdiction applies to Austrian traders.
Price differentiation on the basis of nationality, domicile or habitual residence is prohibited unless there is objective justification for doing so. There is objective justification in the case of different VAT rates, for example.
In principle, there must also be no differentiation with regard to the possible means of payment on the basis of nationality, domicile or habitual residence unless there is objective justification.
In the area between two companies, these rules apply only if the buyer is not a reseller.
- Wirtschaftskammer Österreich (→WKO)German text
- Website ECG- und mediengesetzkonform gestalten (→WKO)German text
- Offenlegungspflicht – IKT-Sicherheitsportal (→BMF)German text
- →NIC.atGerman text
- E-Commerce-Gesetz (ECG)
- Mediengesetz (MedienG)
- Gewerbeordnung (GewO)
- Verordnung (EU) 2018/302 des Europäischen Parlaments und des Rates vom 28. Februar 2018 über Maßnahmen gegen ungerechtfertigtes Geoblocking und andere Formen der Diskriminierung aufgrund der Staatsangehörigkeit, des Wohnsitzes oder des Ortes der Niederlassung des Kunden innerhalb des Binnenmarkts und zur Änderung der Verordnungen (EG) Nr. 2006/2004 und (EU) 2017/2394 sowie der Richtlinie 2009/22/EG
responsible for content: Federal Ministry of Justice