The legal side of the work of a tour guide


Independent trader

The self employed tour guide operates a regular business, conforming to the guidelines from §§ 94 Z. 21 and 108 GewO 1994. This must be earned upon passing a strict and officially approved examination which verifies the proof of ability. The tour guides are identified through official certification.  Through the nationally oriented examination and its trade rights, the tour guide may conduct tours throughout Austria. 

The officially registered tour guide is a legal member of the Chamber of Commerce Organisation representing the service branch’s economic interests, and therefore is categorized under the department, Recreational Trade Association, within its respective state body.  As a nation-wide holding organization, the Recreational Trade Association within the Austrian Chamber of Commerce shares the common interests of the tour guide. The Chamber of Commerce is an international association, through which its membership combines the Tour Guide Associations and the European Tour Guide Association.

Job outline

A tour guide’s duty is to lead groups of people, showing them a wide assortment of Austria’s important historical and natural riches.  These includes, among many others: the highlights within the city and countryside (e.g. especially public squares and buildings, monuments and commemorative towns, collections, museums, churches, monasteries, theaters and recreational parks, exhibits, landscape features, from flora & fauna, industrial and economical centers) the social and political situation on a national and international cohesion, as well as explaining and pointing out other cultural, sports and social events. In individual cases, the tour guide also assumes other duties and responsibilities of a tour leader (tour guide) including transfers or accompanying travel groups abroad.  The tour activities of a certified Austrian tour guide differ from other types of professions which are allowed to give explanations, as determined through the trade organization or according to other legal requirements (such as travel group leader, palace, castle and building guides hiking and mountain guides, and also information that is explained in licensed transport vehicles, such as a horse drawn coach or taxi driver), but not legally required to be officially qualified.

Tour guides from EWR-region are only allowed to offer tours in Austria if their equivalent professional qualifications are approved by the Federal Ministry of Commerce & Labor in an equivalence proceeding, according to the GewO (EU-Freedom of Service).

Training/qualification

The admissions pre-requisites for professional qualification which regulate the tour guide industry are in the Tour Guide Ordinance BGBL II Nr. 46/2003, effective as of 28.01.2003. This is intended so that the professional qualification for the tour guide industry is furnished through a certificate for having successfully completed a course and passing the Austria Tour Guide examination.

The required tourism education includes partaking in a comprehensive training course with at least 250 teaching hours at an officially recognized training facility, e.g. the Institute for Economic Development through the Chamber of Commerce.  This training will include the following: sufficient knowledge about ancient history, the monarchy and Austrian history, culture and art history, native culture and folklore, economics and social studies, political science, bookkeeping, business administration and legal studies, tourism and economic geography, tourism education and first aid, as well as practical training for giving tours in foreign languages, in addition to rhetoric and behavior strategies. 

The commercially independent tour guide practices a regular business, conforming to the guidelines from §§ 94 Z. 21 and 108 GewO 1994. It must be earned upon passing a strict government approved examination which serves as proof of ability. The tour guides are identified through official certification.  Due to the nation-wide oriented examination and its trade rights, the tour guide may operate tours throughout all of Austria. The officially registered tour guide is legally a member of the Chamber of Commerce Organisation representing the service branch’s interests in the economy, and therefore is categorized under the Department of Recreation industry within its respective state body.  As a nation-wide holding organization, the Recreational Trade Association under the Austrian Chamber of Commerce shares the common interests of the tour guide. In some ways, membership of the Chamber of Commerce is an international association, joining the Tour Guide Associations and for the European Tour Guide Association.