On Thursday, October 12, Austria announced that the order allowing for temporary border controls, initially set to expire on November 12, has been extended and will remain place until at least May 12. Austrian authorities cited the heightened risk of terrorism and the ongoing migrant crisis as justification for the extension.
Travelers crossing the border are expected to face more scrutiny, could be subject to vehicle inspections, and will likely be required to present valid travel/identification documents. Potential travel delays caused by these extra measures at the border crossings should be anticipated in the coming weeks and months.
Austria is one of 26 European countries included within the "Schengen Area," all of which have agreed to passport-free travel and the elimination of border controls at their mutual borders. Border controls can be reintroduced on a temporary basis if the country wishing to do so cites a "serious threat to public policy or internal security."
Since 2015, millions of migrants from the Middle East and North Africa have crossed Europe in the hope of obtaining asylum. Their arrival prompted the beginning of the "refugee crisis," which continues to be a divisive issue in EU politics and society. This ongoing humanitarian and immigration crisis has coincided with a heightened terrorist threat across Europe, following a series of deadly attacks in major European cities in recent years, including Barcelona, Paris, London and Brussels.
Travelers are advised to always travel with proper documentation (passport, visa, etc.), to expect longer wait times at Austrian border controls, and to monitor developments to the situation.