If you - an Austrian citizen - are in need of help in an emergency, please do not hesitate to contact the Consulate General. However, the Consulate cannot replace nor substitute the local police, ambulance, rescue services, court or legal institutions.
If you call us in an emergency, please have the following information ready:
a) First and last names
b) Contact details (phone, cell, fax, e-mail)
c) What happened, when, where, how
d) Whom to contact in Austria
Austrian Citizen Service and Officer-On-Duty
In case of an emergency, feel free to call the Austrian Citizen Service at the Austrian Foreign Ministry in Vienna (Phone: 01143 501150 4411) at any time (24/7). Furthermore, if you need immediate assistance, there is an officer-on-duty at the Consulate General who can be reached by phone at any time (1 312 218 4110).
Legal Advisor and Physician recommended by the Austrian Consulate General
If you need advice on legal or medical matters, you may also contact the Consulate's legal adviser or physician (please enquire in advance whether there will be any fees involved):
Dr. Klaus Thiedmann
Thiedmann & Edler
525 W. Monroe Street, Suite 2360
Chicago, IL 60611
Tel: (312) 831-4440
Fax: (312) 831-4447
Elisabeth I. Wallner, M.D.
Northwestern Memorial Hospital
676 N. St. Clair Street, Room 2250 (22nd floor)
Chicago, IL 60611
Tel. (312) 926 0888
Fax: (312) 926 0889
Arrest & Imprisonment in the United States
If you (an Austrian citizen) are arrested by U.S. police and placed in custody, insist on the police notifying the Consulate (the U.S. has entered into an international agreement which gives foreign citizens the right to contact their embassy or consulate).
The Consulate can then help you to both notify your family and friends (in Austria) and find an attorney (here in the U.S.). Furthermore, consular officials have the right to visit you in prison and to contact you by letter.
The Consulate, however, can neither represent you in legal matters nor act on your behalf before a court or any other legal institution.
Theft or Loss of Documents and/or Money in the United States
If you have been robbed or have lost your money and / or documents, please go to the local police station immediately and file a police report. Do not forget to call your bank and credit card companies to report your lost or stolen cards (ATM, credit cards).
The Consulate (in general) does not have funds at its disposal to lend you money for your stay or for a return flight to Austria. Please contact relatives and friends in Austria and ask them to send you money either via Western Union (money can be picked up at any Western Union branch) or, if this is not possible, via the Austrian Foreign Ministry (money is then given to you by a consular officer at the Consulate General).
For your trip back home to Austria, the Consulate General can provide you with an emergency passport which is valid for up to six months. It usually takes at least 24 hours before such a passport can be issued.
The Consulate recommends that you make a copy of your passport before leaving Austria and take this with you on your trip. If need be, you can show your copy to the staff at the Consulate. You must also present the Consulate with a copy of the police report you filed and you must prove your citizenship and your identity (by means of a friend, relative, driver's license etc). Three passport pictures and a completed and signed passport application form must also be submitted.
Please note that you have to present your emergency passport to the Austrian authorities (in Austria, or at an embassy or consulate abroad) in order to have them cancel it (deadline = expiration date of passport).
Death of an Austrian Citizen in the U.S. & Probate and Estate Issues
If an Austrian citizen dies in the Unites States, the Consulate General can help you with the administrative proceedings following the death (how to obtain a death certificate, disposition of remains etc.). However, the Consulate cannot legally represent you.
If the deceased had been receiving retirement benefits from Austria, please do not forget to inform the Austrian Pension and Retirement Agency of his / her death.
Austrian and U.S. estate laws are based on different law traditions and therefore structured differently. Austrian estate law focuses on the citizenship of the deceased whereas U.S. estate law (which may well vary from state to state) concentrates on the deceased's last residence and distinguishes between real and personal property.
Taking effect 1 January 2005 (see BGBl. I 112/2003 of 12 December 2003), Austrian law states that an Austrian court handles the probate / estate in the following instances:
a) real property of Austrians and foreigners if property is in Austria
b) personal property of Austrians (who resided in Austria or abroad) and of foreigners who resided in Austria before their death if property is in Austria
c) personal property of Austrians who resided in Austria if property is abroad.
Real property of Austrians (when property is located abroad) is never dealt with by an Austrian probate or surrogate's court.
Depending on where the property is located (in Austria or abroad) and which court (Austrian or U.S.) is charged with handling the probate / estate, there are different tax regulations (Austrian or U.S. tax laws). In order to avoid double taxation, Austria and the U.S. have entered a double taxation treaty covering estate and gift taxes.
In short, estate law becomes complicated once the estate laws of at least two countries are involved. It is therefore highly recommended that you contact an attorney in both Austria (called "Notar") and the United States. The Consulate General is not in a position to help you deal with probate and estate issues.