Winter tyres: EU law and legislation

If you are planning to drive into Europe this winter, make sure you know the law surrounding the use of winter tyres from country to country. Even if your destination country does not require winter tyres to be fitted by law, you may be passing through others that do. Below is a list of countries that both require and recommend the use of winter tyres.

Andorra

Winter tyres are recommended throughout the winter months in Andorra and snow chains must be used where road signs indicate they are necessary.

Austria

Austrian law dictates that between 1 November and 15 April all vehicles must be fitted with winter tyres with a minimum tread depth of 4mm. If snow, slush or ice occurs outside of these date’s drivers must use either winter tyres or all-season tyres with mud and snow markings.

Failure to follow these laws could result in a €5,000 fine and your vehicle becoming impounded. If you are involved in an accident and are found to have the incorrect tyres fitted, your insurance policy will be deemed void.

Bosnia Herzegovina

Winter tyres are a legal requirement on all vehicles between 15 November and 15 April. However, snow chains placed on top of summer tyres are seen as an acceptable alternative.

Denmark

Danish law does not require the use of winter tyres. However, they are strongly recommended due to the very low temperatures experienced during the winter months.

Finland

The use of winter tyres is compulsory between 1 December and the end of February. In practice, though, winter tyres are recommended between November and April. The minimum tread depth for winter tyres is 3mm, increasing to 5mm in difficult weather conditions.

France

The fitting of winter tyres is not compulsory. Snow chains must be fitted to vehicles using snow-covered roads where signs dictate necessary.

Germany

Since 2010 it has been a legal requirement for all vehicles to have winter tyres fitted when there is frost, snow, ice or slush on the roads. If you and your vehicle become stuck during the winter months because of unsuitable tyres, you are liable for on-the-spot fines. If you are causing obstruction or aggravation to other traffic this fine is likely to be doubled and your vehicle impounded.

Hungary

Winter tyres are not a legal requirement but snow chains must be carried at all times in case winter driving conditions become extreme. When entering through a border point at which signs indicate that snow chains must be fitted, only vehicles carrying satisfactory snow chains will be allowed into the country.

Italy

Winter tyres are not a legal requirement in Italy. However, you are required to carry snow chains in certain areas between 1 November and 1 April. The only exception to the law is the Val d’Aosta area in the northwest of the country, where from 15 October to 15 April the use of winter tyres or snow chains is mandatory.

Luxembourg

The use of winter tyres is not a legal requirement. However, tyres deemed inappropriate for winter conditions could result a fine of €145 if you are involved in an accident. You will also receive sole responsibility for the accident.

Poland

Winter tyres are highly recommended, especially if travelling in rural areas due to the lack of snow-clearing operations on country roads.

Norway

Winter tyres or the use of snow chains are compulsory if there is snow or ice covering the roads. During these times all vehicles will be checked at the border to ensure drivers have either winter tyres fitted on all wheels with a minimum tread depth of 3mm or snow chains in the vehicle.

Slovakia

Winter tyres are not a legal requirement in Slovakia. However, if you are involved in an accident and do not have winter tyres fitted you are more likely to receive sole responsibility for all damage incurred.

Spain

Winter tyres only need to be fitted when driving in areas with winter tyre signs. Snow chains are an acceptable alternative.

Sweden

In Sweden from 1 December to 31 March it is a legal requirement that all vehicles are fitted with winter tyres. These winter tyres must have a minimum tread depth of 3mm.

Switzerland

Winter tyres are not a legal requirement but in the case of an accident if you do not have winter tyres fitted you are more likely to receive responsibility for any damage incurred. In certain areas of the country snow chains or winter tyres are compulsory and road signs will indicate if winter tyres must be fitted.

Please note that this page has been created as an overview to EU winter tyre laws and should be used as reference only. Before leaving the UK make sure you check the appropriate country’s official advice to travellers to ensure you are compliant with current legislation.