Problems with authorities?
Support in cases of problems with authorities
The Austrian Ombudsman Board (AOB) assists citizens if they feel they have been treated unfairly by an Austrian authority – irrespective of their age, nationality or their place of residence. Companies, businesspeople and associations can also lodge a complaint about the public administration with the AOB. The complaint may involve inactivity of the authority, a legal opinion that does not comply with the respective laws or also an act of gross negligence.
Complaints can only be made against Austrian administrative bodies. However, it is not possible for an administrative procedure or a legal procedure to be pending at the same time as the complaint, and any appeals have to have been exhausted. It is only possible to lodge a complaint against courts if the reason for the complaint relates to the excessive duration of the procedure.
The AOB reviews every complaint and assesses whether there has been dysfunction in the administration. However, lodging a complaint with the AOB doesn’t always lead to investigative proceedings. This applies in particular if the Ombudsman board is not or not yet responsible for investigating a complaint. The employees of the AOB are happy to provide general information in these cases.
It is possible to lodge a complaint at any time and there are no costs involved. Each complaint should contain information on who is making the complaint or on whose behalf the person concerned is contacting the AOB. In addition, the reason for the complaint should be clearly indicated and it should also be evident which authority this complaint relates to. All questions and answers relating to complaints to the Ombudsman board can be found here as well as in the section FAQ.
In order to be able to process a complaint rapidly, it is helpful if copies of the required documents are attached. This may relate to business figures, social insurance numbers or correspondence with the relevant authority. All documents and in particular all personal data will of course be treated confidentially. It is not possible for anybody to access the documents of the AOB.
The first step for formal investigative proceedings. Easy access for everybody, free of charge and independent.
You can reach the Austrian Ombudsman Board by telephone, in writing, and personally at any time.
What sorts of complaints can be lodged to the AOB and how? This complaint guide offers an overview of the tasks and responsibilities of the AOB.
Who is able to make a complaint to the AOB?
- All citizens may contact the AOB if they experience problems with Austrian authorities – irrespective of their age, their nationality or their residence.
- Anybody can make a complaint on behalf of others by submitting a power of attorney.
- Companies, businessmen and associations can also contact the AOB if they have any problems with an administrative body.
What sort of complaints can be lodged to the AOB?
- All citizens can lodge a complaint to the AOB about an Austrian authority.
- All citizens can lodge a complaint to the AOB in the event that a court fails in its duties.
- Complaints about Federal administration authorities can be lodged throughout Austria. This may for example relate to problems, potential injustices or cases of maladministration:
- with pension insurance, work accident insurance or health insurance institutions
- with the labour market service (AMS)
- with family allowance or childcare benefit
- with asylum procedures, visas, settlement procedures or the rights of foreigners
- with the police
- with the judiciary
- with the penal system
- with the fiscal administration
- with the public prosecutor’s office
- with water or forestry legislation and with environmental issues
- with the trade licensing authorities
- with school authorities
- with the universities or universities of applied sciences supervision authority
- due to discrimination or unequal treatment as a result of illness, a disability or nationality.
- Complaints about provincial and local authorities can be lodged in all provinces except Vorarlberg and Tyrol. This may for example relate to:
- the means tested minimum income
- long-term care benefit
- the youth welfare office
- applications for planning permission or zoning plans
- provincial or local authority charges (refuse, water, sewage)
- nature conservation issues
- citizenship and settlement procedures
- road traffic and road administration
The AOB is not responsible for:
- ... cases which involve a procedure that has not yet been concluded. Complaints about ongoing proceedings can only be lodged if they relate, for example, to the duration of the proceedings, errors with deliveries, refusal to provide information or gross discourtesy on the part of officials.
- ... court decisions. The judiciary is independent. The AOB cannot set aside or amend any court judgements. This relates to both civil and criminal courts as well as administrative courts.
- ... legal disputes between private individuals.
- ... issues with the local authorities and provincial administration in Vorarlberg and Tyrol. A number of provincial ombudsmen and ombudswomen are responsible here.
- ... the examination of business activities in private companies. The AOB cannot intervene if there are issues between private individuals and companies.
- ... the examination of foreign authorities. The AOB only monitors the Austrian administration.
- ... legal representation. There are lawyers, notaries and tax consultants for this task.
What is the easiest way for me to lodge a complaint with the AOB?
The staff of the AOB can be contacted by telephone and in writing or are available in person.
The staff of the AOB can be contacted by telephone by calling the service number 0800/223 223 free of charge or the telephone number (01) 515 05-0.
You can also reach the AOB by sending a fax to the following number (01) 515 05-150.
The e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also use an electronic complaint form.
Please address your letters to:
Austrian Ombudsman Board, Singerstraße 17, P.O. Box 20, 1015 Vienna.
You can of course also submit your documentation to us in person. The AOB is located in the centre of Vienna. It can be reached in just a few minutes from Stephansplatz underground station. The employees will pleased to assist you weekdays from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm.
You can discuss your complaint directly with the ombudsmen or -women during a consultation day. We ask for your understanding that an appointment must be arranged in advance. All information on this subject and consultation day appointments can be found here.
What information should the complaint contain?
In order to be able to follow up your complaint quickly, the examiners require certain items of information.
- Please state your name. If you are contacting the AOB on behalf of another person, you should also state this person’s name. Please provide us with a power of attorney in this case.
- Please state which authority you are lodging the complaint about.
- Please state why you feel unfairly treated by an administrative body.
- Please provide a copy of important documentation that relates to your complaint. This may relate to business figures, social insurance numbers or official decisions and correspondence with the relevant authority.
- Please state your telephone number. This may be useful for clarifying issues and feedback and saving time.
It goes without saying that the AOB will treat all information submitted by the affected parties confidentially if the affected parties wish us to do so.
Here you find the most frequently asked questions and its answers.
Question: Is a complaint to the AOB subject to a deadline?
No. There is no deadline for a complaint to the AOB.
Question: Are there any costs associated with a complaint to the AOB?
No. A complaint to the AOB can always be lodged at no cost and the service number can also be used free of charge.
Question: What does the complaint procedure involve?
The confidential complaint procedure begins by initiating a formal verification procedure. The AOB creates an overview based on the available documentation and it then confronts the relevant authority with the complaint and asks said authority to release a statement within a specified period. The AOB can gain access to all documents. The authorities must support the AOB in its work. It is also possible for the AOB to call witnesses during the investigative proceedings, have access to documents and to appoint experts.
Question: What is the outcome of the complaint procedure?
If investigative proceedings discover maladministration, this maladministration will be expressly determined by the AOB. In this case the AOB will contact the relevant authority with a specific recommendation for action. The authority then has eight weeks to implement this recommendation or to state its case for why it is not following the opinion of the AOB. If the authority immediately corrects its error after the intervention of the AOB, the investigative proceedings will be stopped.
The maladministration declarations can also be found in reports from the AOB to Parliament or in the reports from the AOB to the relevant provincial parliaments.
These reports are also shown in the media and discussed publicly. The ORF reports on cases of particular public interest in the television programme “Bürgeranwalt”.
If the authority concerned has acted correctly based on the applicable laws, a complaint shall be considered unjustified. In the event that this happens, the AOB resolves any misunderstandings and provides more detailed information on the legal situation.
Question: How long does the complaint procedure last?
It lasts on average around two months until the parties concerned are informed as to whether there has been a case of maladministration. If the investigative proceedings last longer, then information must be provided on the interim results of the procedure. As part of the procedure, the authorities are also given the option to make a statement on the complaint. This also takes some time. The AOB always tries to make the complaint procedure as brief as possible.