Help in Emergency Situations
If you - an Austrian citizen - are in need of help in cases of an emergency, please do not hesitate to contact the Consulate General. However, the Consulate can neither replace nor substitute for the local police, ambulance, medical aid, and court & legal institutions.
If you call us in an emergency, please have the following information ready:
a) Last and first names
b) How to contact/reach you (phone, cell, fax, e-mail)
c) What did happen when, where, and 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 Austria Foreign Ministry in Vienna (Phone: 01143 501150 4411) at any time (24/7). Further, if you need immediate assistance, there is an officer-on-duty at the Consulate General who can be reached by phone at any time (310 4474639 for emergencies only).
The Consulate General can be reached at 310 444 9310 during office hours.
If you seek advice in legal or medical matters, you may also contact the Consulate's legal adviser or its physician respectively (please ask in advance if there will be any fees involved):
Dennis Fredricks (Law Office of Fredricks & Von der Horst)
12121 Wilshire Blvd. Suite 525
Los Angeles, CA 90025-1176
Tel. (310) 820 3600
Fax. (310) 820 1832
Dr. Hans E. Weber
Tel. (310) 487 6980
A. Arrest & Imprisonment in the United States
If you (an Austrian citizen) are arrested by US police and put into custody, insist on the police notifying the Consulate (the USA have entered into an international agreement which gives foreign citizens the right to contact their embassy or consulate).
The Consulate can then help you both notify your family and friends (in Austria) and find an attorney (here in the US). Further, consular officials have the right to visit you in prison and to write letters to you.
The Consulate, however, can neither represent you nor act on your behalf in legal matters before a court or any other legal institution.
B. 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 a local police station and file a police report immediately. Do not forget to call your bank and credit card companies to report your lost or stolen cards (ATM, credit card).
The Consulate General (in general) does not have funds at its disposal to borrow you money for an continuing stay or 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 then 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 valid for up to six months. It usually takes at least 24 hours before such a passport will be issued.
In addition, the Consulate recommends that you make a copy of your passport before leaving Austria and take this copy with you on your trip. If need be, you can show your copy to the staff at the Consulate. Further, you must present to the Consulate 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 a.t.l.). Three passport pictures and the passport application form (filled out and signed) 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).
C. Death of an Austrian Citizen in the US & Probate and Estate Issues
If an Austrian citizen dies in the United States, the Consulate General can help you with the administrative proceedings following the death of an individual abroad (how to obtain a death certificate, disposition of remains etc.). However, the Consulate can not legally represent you.
If the deceased has received retirement benefits from Austria, please do not forget to inform the Austrian Pension and Retirement Agency of his/her death.
Austrian and US estate laws are based on different law traditions and therefore structured differently. Austrian estate law focuses on the citizenship of the deceased whereas US estate law (which may well vary from state to state) both concentrates on the deceased's last residence and distinguishes between real and personal property.
Taking effect on January 1, 2005 (see BGBl. I 112/2003 of December 12, 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 in Austria
b) personal property of Austrians (having resided in Austria or abroad) and of foreigners having resided in Austria before their death if property in Austria
c) personal property of Austrians having resided in Austria if property abroad
Real property of Austrians (when property is located abroad) is never dealt with by an Austrian probate or surrogate's court.
Depending on both where the property concerned is located (in Austria or abroad) and which court (Austrian or US) is charged with handling the probate/estate, different tax regulations come to bear (Austrian or US tax laws). In order to avoid double taxation, Austria and the US have entered a double taxation treaty covering estate and gift taxes.
In short, estate law gets pretty complicated once estate laws of at least two countries are involved. It is therefore highly recommended that in such cases you contact an attorney in both Austria (called "Notar") and the United States. The Consulate General is not in the position to help you deal with probate and estate issues.