In order to form a partnership, two or several persons join by way of agreement, the aim being to pursue a joint purpose through carrying out any given activity. Typical partnerships under Austrian law include the Gesellschaft bürgerlichen Rechts (GesbR) (civil-law partnership), the Offene Gesellschaft (OG) (general partnership) and the Kommanditgesellschaft (KG) (limited partnership). Other existing forms are the Stille Gesellschaft (silent partnership) and the European Economic Interest Grouping (EEIG).

These corporate forms differ, amongst other things, as to their legal capacity, meaning whether the company may exercise rights and duties, whether the company as such, and not just the partners, may acquire assets, sue and be sued. Also, there are differences regarding the liability of the partners, but also whether registration in the companies register is mandatory or whether there is a duty to prepare and file the accounts.

In terms of liability, partnerships differ from an association or a GmbH in that at least one partner is liable with his/her full private assets for the debts of the company (exception: GmbH&Co.KG).