Certificate of competence means that the trade professional must render evidence to the effect that he has all professional, commercial and legal knowledge, skills and experience required to independently pursue a regulated trade or partial trade.
In addition to proof that all general personal requirements are fulfilled when the business is registered or a managing director under trade law is appointed, the competence or qualification must be documented.
Certificate of competence as a requirement for a business licence:
- Regulated trades: Certificate of competence applicable in each case must be produced for these trades when registering the business.
- Unregulated trades: No certificate of competence is stipulated for these trades.
- Businesses which perform industrial operations: With the exception of some trades (e.g. builders, arms industry), no certificate of competence is required.
Who is required to provide a certificate of competence?
The proprietor of a sole proprietorship must provide certificate of competence or appoint a managing director under trade law. Companies/partnerships (OG, KG, GmbH, AG) must appoint a managing director under trade law who must provide certificate of competence on behalf of the company.
What constitutes a certificate of competence?
The following certificates are eligible for consideration as supporting documents:
- certificate confirming successful completion of the examination for master craftsperson or other certificate of competence examination,
- certificate confirming successful completion of the final start-up business examination,
- certificate/diploma of graduation from a university degree,
- certificate of graduation from a technical university, school or course,
- certificate of the successfully passed final apprenticeship examination,
- certificate of a professional activity,
- certificate of an executive position, company director or self-employed work.
The Federal Minister for Digital and Economic Affairs in an ordinance for each trade specifies the proof – individually or in combination – that meets the specific requirements for access to a regulated trade.
Special regulations apply to persons who had their professional training in an EU/EEA member state or practised their profession there.
Requirements for taking the master craftsman’s examination or competence examinations
The only requirement for taking the master craftsman’s examination or competence examinations is that the applicant be of legal age. The same applies to the entrepreneur examination.
Only a person who has passed the master craftsperson examination may call themselves “Master Craftsperson” or use such designations as “Master Craftsperson Shop”.
Likewise, these persons are entitled to use the designation “Master Craftsperson” in front of their name in abbreviated form (“Mst. Cfpn.”) or in full and to demand its entry equal to an academic degree in official documents. Use of these designations is not permitted if a craft has been professionally joined in any other way (e.g. attendance of an appropriate school of higher education [HTL] or professional practise). Anyone who has successfully passed a certificate of competence examination may precede their professional title with "state-certified” .
Companies whose owner or managing director under trade law has passed a master craftsperson examination or state certificate of competence examination may use the seal of approval “Master Craftsperson Shop" or "state-certified" in connection with their name and designation of their business premises.
Foreign examination certificates of competence in a profession corresponding to a regulated trade are to be treated as equal to Austrian examination certificates when laid down in treaties (e.g. recognition of certain German master craftsperson examinations) or else by way of ordinance of the Federal Minister for Digital and Economic Affairs.
The Federal Minister for Digital and Economic Affairs decides on a case-by-case basis and upon application whether the skills and knowledge required for the pursuit of a regulated trade have been acquired by way of certificates from a foreign university, school or course.
Foreign employment certificates must in principle be recognised if a professional activity can be inferred from them that is comparable to Austrian use. The trade authority, however, can demand proof that the issuer of the certificate actually exists.
Assessment of individual qualification when formal certificate of competence is not presented
In the event that certificate of competence cannot be provided as described above, an individual qualification can be assessed. Appropriate evidence for the skills, knowledge and experience required for the respective trade must be provided for this purpose to the trade authority (district administrative authority; in Vienna: Municipal Department 63).
The option of “individual qualification” does not apply to certain activities of builders and wood construction builders, i.e. the planning, calculation and supervision of high buildings, underground constructions and similar constructions. For these activities, a certificate of competence must be provided in the way prescribed by the certificate of competence ordinance.
In individual cases, the authority can restrict the individual qualification to a partial activity of a trade or make it conditional upon an adjustment period or aptitude test.
The designations “Master Craftsperson” or “Master Craftsperson Shop” may not be used in the case of individual qualification.
Appointment of a Managing Director under trade law when certificate of competence is lacking
If a natural entity does not provide certificate of competence, not even in the form of individual qualification, a regulated trade can nonetheless be registered (with the exception of chimney sweeps and insurance brokerage) when a suitable managing director under trade law is appointed. This managing director under trade law must work at the business for at least half of the normal weekly working hours and must be an employee who is fully subject to social insurance contributions.