New: Mandatory electronic delivery of documents for businesses in Austria since 1 January 2020
Since 1 January 2019, businesses in Austria have been able to participate in a scheme for electronic delivery of official documents. Since 1 January 2020, all businesses (with limited exceptions) are now required to participate.
The background to this requirement is Section 1 of the Austrian E-Government Act (E-GovG), which entered into force on 1 January 2020. Under the Act, federal authorities must enable electronic delivery of documents (‘E-delivery’ ) to federal authorities . Businesses are now required to use E-delivery and must implement the necessary (technical) measures within the company (e.g. registration for the business service portal ‘USP’, mobile phone signature, etc.).
When did participation in the E-delivery scheme become mandatory?
The requirement entered into force on 1 January 2020.
Whom does it apply to?
For the purposes of the Act, the Austrian legal term Unternehmer (meaning owners of businesses and entrepreneurs) is broad in scope and includes legal persons (e.g. GmbH, AG), legal partnerships, associations as well as independent contractors and the self-employed, if the latter derive their income from one of the following sources:
- Agriculture and forestry
- Trade and commerce
- Rental and leasing
(For further details, see § 1b (1) E-GovG in conj. with § 3 (20) Austrian Federal Statistics Act 2000.) Under certain circumstances, natural persons may be subject to mandatory participation in the E-delivery scheme.
Are certain businesses exempt from the E-delivery scheme?
Businesses with revenues below EUR 35,000 which are not required to submit monthly VAT returns (small businesses) can opt out of E-delivery. It is important to note that businesses must actively decline to participate in E-delivery (by de-registering the business from the list of participants and thus from electronic delivery).
What steps must be taken to participate in E-delivery?
On the business service portal, you will find an electronic mailbox called MeinPostkorb, which is where electronic deliveries are received. Companies need to take the following steps:
- Set up an account on the business service portal (Unternehmensserviceportal, USP)
- Allocate rights to use the service, to be completed by the administrator of the business service portal
- Name one or more mailbox administrators
- Name one or more authorised mail recipients*
- Register in the list of participants**
- Receive E-deliveries via the MeinPostkorb page
*External representatives can be entered as ‘additional users’ and the role of ‘authorised mail recipient’ can be allocated to them.
**Businesses which were already registered on FinanzOnline or for electronic legal correspondence (ERV) and have not declined to participate in E-delivery and have provided an email address were automatically included in the list of participants in E-delivery in July 2019. Please note that in certain circumstances businesses may still need to register/obtain approval to receive registered deliveries.
***As soon as an official document is delivered to the electronic mailbox MeinPostkorb, a notification is sent by email (to all email addresses entered in the list of participants). If a registered E-delivery is required, and if a message/document is not collected from MeinPostkorb within 48 hours, a further notification is sent by email.
Important note: To view and open registered deliveries in MeinPostkorb, the authorised mail recipient must sign into the system using a mobile phone signature or citizen card. If the mailbox is not accessed using a mobile phone signature/citizen card, but instead using a login for the business service portal or FinanzOnline, only non-registered E-deliveries will be shown in MeinPostkorb!
Are there any types of E-delivery which are not sent via MeinPostkorb?
Yes, documents from the Austrian tax authorities will continue to be sent via FinanzOnline. The MeinPostkorb function in the business service portal only provides a notification that a document may be collected in FinanzOnline. When provided via the business service portal USP, receiving this information does not count as delivery.
What are registered or non-registered deliveries?
Registered deliveries are the equivalent of the RSa and RSb letters. The sender receives a notification that the document has been delivered and collected, or a notification that the deadline for collection has passed and the document was not received.
Non-registered delivery refers to ‘standard’ messages/documents, for which evidence of successful delivery is not required. The sender does not receive notification of delivery.
When is a message deemed to have been delivered?
Registered deliveries are deemed to have been delivered on the first working day after transmission of the email notification, and in any case when the message/document is collected from MeinPostkorb. A message/document is deemed to have been delivered as soon as MeinPostkorb has been accessed and the list of messages in the mailbox has been displayed.
Non-registered deliveries are deemed to have been delivered as soon as the document is made available for collection in the electronic mailbox MeinPostkorb.
Further deadlines are determined based on the date of delivery.
How long are messages stored for?
Registered deliveries must be collected from MeinPostkorb within 2 weeks and are available in MeinPostkorb for a further 8 weeks before they are automatically deleted. The total time documents are ‘held’ for is thus 10 weeks.
Non-registered deliveries are available for collection for 70 days. After the end of this period, they are automatically deleted from MeinPostkorb.
What can you do if you are away?
An option on the site can be used to enter a period of absence of up to 28 days. During this period, no E-deliveries will be made. Please note that an absence entered in MeinPostkorb has the result that documents are sent by post instead (provided that you have not also notified the postal service of your absence – this should be taken into account in the case of scheduled business holidays).
Can a company ‘outsource’ E-delivery to PwC?
At present, it is unfortunately not possible for another person, such as a representative, to set up a mailbox for a client as the authorised mail recipient on the business service portal, or to receive correspondence for the client there. Setting up E-delivery on the business service portal is therefore currently unavoidable for all businesses required to participate in the scheme. Once the mailbox has been set up, it is subsequently (also) possible to appoint an external authorised mail recipient.
 The special feature for ERV users, which enables forwarding to ERV, is not discussed in this entry.