Winter driving laws across Western Europe

It is important to be aware that in some European countries it is a legal requirement to have winter tyres. Here is some extra information for a few of the most popular European countries for Brit’s to visit. If you have any questions about these or any other countries not featured, tweet us @ContiUK and we’ll come back to you.

Austria

When driving in Austria it is compulsory for a vehicle to be fitted with winter tyres – which have a minimum tread depth of 4mm (1st November – 15th April) and at times outside these dates when there is snow, slush or ice on the roads.

Studded tyres may be used from the 1st October until the 31st May, and special local regulations may extend this period.

For vehicles not using the above during the winter season, a fine up to €5,000 could apply and, also, if the vehicle is involved in an accident without the tyres, the insurance is deemed void.

Speed limit for vehicles with snow chains is 31 mph (50 km/h). Vehicles with studded tyres must not exceed 62mph (100 km/h) on motorways and 49mph (80 km/h) on other roads.

Belgium

Winter tyres are not compulsory but recommended from the 1st October – 30th April. Vehicles can use studded  tyres from the 1st November – 31st March with snow chains only permitted when roads have ice or snow.

Speed limit with studded  tyres shouldn’t exceed 37mph (60 km/h) and vehicles using these tyres must  also display a white disc bordered with red showing the number ‘60’ to alert other drivers.

France

Winter tyres – with a minimum 3.5mm tread depth are recommended when roads are covered with ice or snow. Snow chains – must be fitted to vehicles using snow-covered roads in compliance with the relevant road sign. Maximum speed limit 31 mph (50km/h)

Luxembourg

Tyres on a car must all be of the same type either summer or winter tyres but not mixed.
Studded tyres can be used from 1st December – 31st March. Snow chains can also be used in when roads have ice or snow.

Speed limit during rain or snow is 68 mph (110 km/h.) For vehicles with studded tyres speed limit is 43 mph (70 km/h).

Cyprus

Studded tyres and snow chains can be used when driving on mountain roads during the winter.

Denmark

Studded tyres – which must be on all wheels – can be used from 1st November -  15th April.

Finland, Estonia and Latvia

In Finland, Estonia and Latvia vehicles must be fitted with winter tyres from 1 December to 28/29 February and may be used as early as November until April. Minimum tread depth is 3mm but in poor conditions 5mm.

Studded tyres and snow chains may also be used, studded tyres from November – April on all wheels and snow chains only during bad weather conditions and you must avoid damaging the road surface.

From October – March, speed limits for private vehicles without trailers (may vary, always look out for signs):
•    In built-up areas 19 mph (30 km/h)
•    Outside built-up areas 37 mph (60 km/h)
•    No minimum speed on motorways but please keep a safe speed (no more than 62 mph,  100 km/h), especially during adverse conditions

Germany

It is compulsory to use winter tyres during winter conditions such as snow, ice and slush. Not using these tyres could mean a €40 fine and may not be allowed to continue your journey until appropriate tyres have been fitted.
During bad weather conditions where visibility is poor and when using snow chains, the speed limit is 31 mph (50 km/h).

Studded tyres are prohibited.

Greece

Snow chains may be used from November – March, speed limit is 31 mph (50 km/h).

Italy

The use of winter tyres or snow chains is regulated by local traffic signs from 15th October – 15th April or outside these dates as conditions dictate. Provinces can introduce their own legislation making the use of winter tyres or snow chains compulsory.
Speed limit using snow chains is 31mph (50 km/h).

Norway

It is advised that winter tyres or snow chains are used during the winter season (November – April). Fines could apply to vehicles not fitted with winter tyres on all wheels.
If there is snow or ice covering the roads then winter tyres or any tyres with chains must be used.

If snow chains aren’t on the wheels or in the vehicle during border checks, drivers will have to purchase a set.

Studded tyres fitted on all wheels can be used from November – April but will be charged a fee by Oslo and Bergen, with stickers available for one day, a month or year depending on duration of visit.

Portugal

It is prohibited to drive vehicles fitted with studded or winter tyres.
Snow chains can be used during bad winter weather conditions.

Spain

Snow chains can be used and are recommended during snowy conditions.
Speed limit for vehicles using snow chains is 31 mph (50 km/h).
Studded tyres are prohibited.

Sweden

It is compulsory to use winter tyres in winter road conditions from 1 December – 31st March with a minimum depth of 3mm . Winter conditions include ice, snow or a wet surface combined with temperatures around or below 0 degrees. As weather conditions cannot be predicted the use of winter tyres is strongly advised.

You must also have antifreeze and a shovel to clear snow. Studded tyres on all wheels can be used from October – 15th April but look out for signs as they may be banned on some roads.

Snow chains can also be used if required.

Switzerland

As indicated by road signs it is compulsory to use snow chains during the winter season And these must be fitted to at least 2 driven wheels.Although not compulsory, it is recommended to use winter tyres to be able to travel through the roads during winter weather conditions as fines could apply if vehicles are not properly equipped.
Studded tyres are prohibited on motorways and semi motorways except for certain parts of the A13 and A2.

Turkey

It is recommended to use winter tyres during winter weather conditions and that snow chains are carried.

Studded tyres and snow chains can be used but only where they will not damage the road surface.

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