Winter Tyres: EU Laws & Legislation
In many countries within the European Union, the legal ramifications around the use of Winter Tyres are far stricter than in the UK. In fact there are a number of countries where motorists are unable to drive during the winter months without winter tyres fitted to their vehicle.
If you are planning on taking a trip abroad during winter, it is highly advised that you research the laws of the country and make sure that if you are driving your own car in a country, you have winter tyres fitted if this what the law requires.
To help you out, we have compiled this list of countries where there is either a law in place or where there are certain regional laws that require winter tyres to be fitted.
In Austria, the law states that between 1st of November and the 15th of April, a car - that has a maximum weight 3.5 tonnes - can only drive in winter conditions (i.e. snow, ice, slush, etc) as long as winter tyres have been fitted. If an all-season tyre bears the "M + S" mark on the sidewall, these will be considered as an adequate alternative.
If you do not follow these laws, you risk a fine of around €5,000 as well as losing your vehicle to the impound lot.
There are also major ramifications to your insurance. If you are in an accident during the winter and you do not have winter tyres fitted to your car, then your policy will be deemed null & void.
The motorists of Bosnia Herzegovina are required to fit winter tyres onto their vehicle from the 15th of November to the 15th of April. However, if a driver uses snow chains on their ‘normal’ summer tyres, then this is seen as an acceptable alternative.
During winter, Denmark experiences some very low temperatures. For this reason, the Government strongly recommend the use of winter tyres; however, Danish law does not require drivers to change to winter tyres.
Finland suffers from some serious winter weather and as such the fitting of winter tyres is compulsory from the 1st of December to the end of February. When defining what constitutes a winter tyre, the law states that it must have the M&S symbol on its sidewall.
As a general rule, the fitting of winter tyres is not compulsory. There are however, certain regions in the mountains that will indicate when the use of winter tyres is necessary.
Recently, Germany added new rules to their Highway Code. According to the law, motorists must have winter tyres (that bear the M+S symbol) if they are driving on snow, black ice or roads covered in frost.
If you are caught driving in these conidtions withouth the appopriate tyres fitted, you are likely to be fined €40. This amount will be doubled if you are the reason for any delays to traffic. You will also lose one point on your driving license.
Fitting winter tyres is not a legal requirement. However, a vehicle must have snow chains onboard in case winter driving conditions become extreme.
When arriving at a border point, if there are signs up which indicate that snow chains must be fitted, only vehicles with satisfactory snow chains onboard is allowed to enter the country.
From the 1st of November up to 14th of April winter tyres are compulsory in Iceland. These dates are subject to change and if you are planning on visiting Iceland, you should check this out before driving during the winter.
Winter tyres are not compulsory in Italy. However, if local signs indicate that snow chains should be carried in the vehicle, you are required to do so.
One region which differs is the Val d'Aosta area (in the north-west of the country). From the 15th of October to the 15th of April vehicles must be either fitted with winter tyres or snow chains.
The use of winter tyres is not compulsory. However, tyres which are deemed to be inappropriate for winter conditions are used then you could – and you are involved in an accident – then you could face fines as much as €145.00 as well as receiving the blame for the accident.
You do not need to fit winter tyres according to Polish law. However, they are highly recommended by the Government, especially in rural areas. This is because there is very little in the way of snow clearing on the smaller country roads.
Surprisingly, winter tyres are not compulsory here. That is unless there is ice or snow covering the roads. In this case winter tyres or tyres with snow chains fitted must be used.
There are no specific laws in Slovakia concerning the use of winter tyres. However, in the case of an accident, if a motorist does not have winter tyres fitted to his/her vehicle they have a far greater chance of receive the responsibility of any damage incurred from the collision.
Winter tyres are mandatory from the 1st of December until the 31st of March. The winter tyres must also have a minimum tread depth of 3mm and the marking M&S on their sidewall.
When driving in Spain, you will need to have winter tyres fitted if you spot a traffic sign indicating that winter tyres (or snow chains) are compulsory in that area.
There are no specific laws in Switzerland concerning the use of winter tyres. However, in the case of an accident, if a motorist does not have winter tyres fitted to his/her vehicle they have a far greater chance of receive the responsibility of any damage incurred from the collision.
In certain areas there is a requirement to use winter tyres. Road signs are used to indicate to a driver whether or not they are on a road that winter tyres must be fitted.
Please Note:This page had been created as a general guide to EU winter tyre laws and is not to be used as basis for legal requirements – always check with the appropriate Governmental Institution to ensure your compliance with current legislation.