Products for Car / Van / 4x4

Autumn – time to switch to winter tires

Winter tire laws

Winter tire laws

When do winter tires become compulsory in European countries? 

  • It’s time to switch to winter tires when the temperatures drop
  • Generally, it is advisable to switch to winter tires between October and April
  • If in doubt, make the change at the time determined by local laws and regulations

As leaves turn brown, days become shorter, and the air feels crisper, you know winter is well and truly on its way. That means it must be time to switch your vehicle's wheels to winter tires. You probably know that winter tires – sometimes referred to as snow tires – are a mandatory requirement across several European regions, but when and where does the change become compulsory?

Find out when you should change the tires on your vehicle – or scroll down to see where in Europe winter tires are legally required.

Map depicting European winter tire laws

European winter tire laws vary between countries

Where are winter tires compulsory in Europe?

When temperatures drop, winter tires ensure far greater vehicle road safety compared to summer tires. You may choose them voluntarily, so you can rely on your tires in snow and icy conditions. However, if you are still unsure about making the switch, the map below shows which European countries have winter tire laws making them mandatory. You can recognize winter tires by special markings on the sidewall. So far, the well-known M+S mark was sufficient as a winter tire label. The 3PMSF symbol (snowflake) is mandatory for winter or all-weather tires produced since January 1, 2018. During the transition period until September 30, 2024, M+S tires are sufficient to comply with winter tire laws as listed below. Select your country from the list to check the exact requirements.

Albania
Albania
  • No winter tires mandatory.
  • Studs not allowed
  • Snow chains for drive axle must be carried in the vehicle.
  • On mountain roads, it is recommended to use winter tires from 1.11.–30.04.
     
Andorra
Andorra
  • No winter tires mandatory
  • M+S and Snowflake-on-the-Mountain symbol
  • Snow chains, indicated by road signs
  • Snow chains must be used if winter condition or signs indicate
Austria
Austria
  • Situationally depending on wintery road conditions from 1.11. – 15.4.
  • Valid up to 3,5 tons vehicle weight
  • M+S marking
  • Min. tread depth: 4,0 mm
  • If summertires are fitted chains for one driven axle are mandatory
  • Studded tires are allowed from 1.11. - 15.4.
  • If studded tires are fitted they are mandatory for all axles (incl. trailer)
Belarus
Belarus
  • Winter tyres mandatory from 1.12. - 1.3.
  • valid up to 3,5 t vehicles
  • min. tread depth 4,0 mm
  • Winter tires have to be mounted on all 4 axles
  • Studded tires can be used as all other winter tires
  • M+S marking
Belgium
Belgium
  • No winter tires mandatory.
  • M+S tires with lower speed index accepted from 1st October to 30st April (labeling the max speed in the dashboard mandatory)
  • M+S marked tires with same/higher speed index accepted all the year round
  • Alpin symbol tires with smaller speed index accepted all the year round (labeling the max speed in the dashboard mandatory)  
Bosnia and Herzegowina
Bosnien-Herzegowina
  • Winter tires mandatory from 15.11.-15.04.
  • valid up to 3,5 tons vehicle weight and not more than 8 seats
  • M+S marking
  • min. tread depth 4,0 mm
  • studs are not allowed
Bulgaria
Bulgaria
  • No winter tires mandatory
  • Studs not allowed
  • Min. tread depth 4,0 mm mandatory from 01.11. - 31.3. 
Croatia
Croatia
  • Winter tires mandatory
  • From 15.11. - 15.4.
  • Up to 3,5 tons
  • M+S marking
  • Min. tread depth 4,0 mm
Cyprus
Cyprus
  • No winter tires mandatory
  • valid up to 3,5 tons vehicle weight
Czech Republic
Czech_Republic

  • Situationally depending on winterly road conditions from 1.11. - 31.3.
  • M+S marking
  • Min. tread depth 4mm



Denmark
Denmark
  • No winter tires mandatory
  • Studded tires allowed from 1.11. - 15.4.
Estonia
Estonia
  • Mandatory to use winter tires 1.12. – 1.3.
  • M+S marking
  • Min. tread depth 3,0 mm
  • Studded tires can be used from 15.10. - 31.03.
  • From 01.12.2022 "Snowflake on the Mountain" symbol required for studded tires (exception POR tires)
Finland
Finland
  • Mandatory to use winter tires 1.12. - 28.02.
  • Min. tread depth 3,0 mm
  • Studded tires can be used from 1.11. - 31.03. or first Monday after Easter, outside this time can be used if "winter" conditions
  • Valid up to 3,5 t vehicle weight
  • M+S marking
  • Tires with M + S marking can still be used until November 30th, 2024. Thereafter, only tires with the Alpine symbol or studded tires are considered winter tires
France
France
  • Situational winter tire obligation in places indicated by road signs depending on winter weather conditions
  • M+S and Snowflake-on-the-Mountain symbol
  • Snow chains, indicated by road signs
  • Snow chains must be used if winter condition or signs indicate
Germany
Germany
  • Depending on winter weather conditions
  • Situational winter tires are mandatory
  • valid up to 3,5 tons vehicle weight
  • M+S marking
  • Min. tread depth 1,6mm
Greece
Greece
  • No winter tires mandatory
  • Valid up to 3,5 tons
  • Snow chains allowed, max. speed limit 50 km/h
Hungary
Hungary
  • No winter tires mandatory
Iceland
Iceland
  • No winter tires mandatory
  • Min. tread depth 1,6mm

Ireland
Ireland
  • No winter tires mandatory
  • valid up to 3,5 tons vehicle weight
Italy
Italy
  • Winter Tire Obligation in places from 15.11. - 15.04.
  • Valid up to 3,5 tons vehicle weight
  • M+S marking
  • Extention: 1 month for mounting (15.10. - 15.11.) and 1 month for dismounting (15.04. - 15.05.)
  • Min. tread depth 1,6mm
  • Winter Tires allowed in summer (16.05. - 14.10.) if the speed index is the same or higher of the one in the vehicle registration paper
Latvia
Latvia
  • Winter tires mandatory from 01.12. - 01.03.
  • M+S marking
  • min. tread depth 4,0 mm
  • Studded tires can be used from 01.10. - 01.05.
Liechtenstein
Liechtenstein

  • No general winter tire regulations, regional regulations are possible in winter road conditions (f.e Pass-Roads)
  • Min. tread depth for winter tires 1.6 mm
  • In case of an accident with summer tires in wintry conditions, be aware of liability issues
  • If authorities announce snow chain obligation, only snow chains are permitted (four-wheel drive may be excluded)
  • Use of snow chains in case of respective road signs and conditions
  • Studded tires are permitted for vehicles <7.5 t GVW between November 1 and April 30 or on snowcovered roads
  • Max speed 80 km/h
  • Vehicles with studded tires have to be labled with a sticker 80 km/h
Lithuania
Lithuania
  • Winter tires mandatory from 01.11. - 01.04.
  • M+S marking
  • min. tread depth 1,6mm
  • Studded tires can be used as all other winter tires during the mandatory winter period
  • min. tread depth 3,0 mm


Luxembourg
Luxembourg
  • Depending on winter weather conditions
  • valid up to 3.5 t vehicle weight
  • M+S marking
  • Min tread depth 1,6 mm
Macedonia
Macedonia
  • Winter tires mandatory from 15.11.-15.03.
  • M+S marking
  • Min. tread depth 4,0 mm
  • Studs not allowed
Malta
Malta
  • No winter tires mandatory
  • Valid up to 3,5 tons vehicle weight
Moldova
Moldavia
  • Depending on winter weather conditions from 01.12. - 31.03.
  • Valid up to 3,5 tons vehicle weight
  • M+S marking
  • Studs allowed from 01.12. - 01.03.
Montenegro
Montenegro
  • Winter tires mandatory from 15.11. - 01.04.
  • Winter tires mandatory up to 3,5 tons
  • Min. tread depth 4,0 mm
  • M+S marking
Netherlands
Netherlands
  • No winter tires mandatory
Norway
Norway
  • Depending on winter weather conditions
  • Valid up to 3,5 t vehicle weight
  • M+S especially developed for winter use and / or 3PMSF
  • Min. tread depth 3,0 mm
  • Studded tires allowed
  • From 01.11. to 1st Monday after Easter in the South
  • From 15.10. to 30.04. in the North
Poland
Poland
  • No winter tire mandatory
  • Valid up to 3,5 t vehicle weight
  • Snow chains only allowed on roads covered with snow and ice.
  • Studded tires not allowed
Portugal
Portugal
  • No winter tires mandatory
Romania
Romania
  • Depending on winter weather conditions
  • Valid up to 3.5 tones vehicle weight
  • M+S marking
  • min. tread depth 1,6 mm
Russia
Russia
  • Winter tires mandatory from 1.12. - 28.02.
  • M+S marking as well as Snowflake-on-the-Mountain symbol
  • Min. tread depth 4,0 mm
  • If using studded tires, they have to be on all positions
  • Winter tires have to be mounted on all positions
  • Studs are forbidden from 01.07. - 30.09.
Serbia / Kosovo
Serbia
  • Depending on winter weather conditions
  • From 1.11. - 01.04.
  • Winter tires are mandatory up to 3,5 tons
  • M+S marking
  • Min. tread depth 4,0 mm
Slovakia
Slovakia
  • Depending on winter weather conditions
  • From 15.11. - 31.3.
  • valid up to 3,5 t vehicle weight
  • M+S marking
  • Min. tread depth 3 mm
  • Snow chains must be used if signs indicate and can be used if winter condition.
  • Forbidden to use spike tires
Slovenia
Slowenia
  • Winter tires mandatory from 15.11.-15.03.
  • valid up to 3,5 tons vehicle weight
  • M+S marking
  • min. tread depth 3,0 mm
  • studs not allowed
Spain
Spain
  • No winter tire obligation
  • Valid up to 3,5 tons vehicle weight
  • Min. tread depth 1,6 mm
Sweden
Sweden
  • Depending on winter weather conditions from 01.12. - 31.03.
  • Valid up to 3,5 tons vehicle weight
  • M+S marking
  • Min. tread depth 3,0 mm
  • Studded tires allowed from 01.11. – 15.4.
Switzerland
Switzerland
  • No general winter tire regulations, regional regulations are possible in winter road conditions (f.e mountain passes)
  • Min. tread depth for winter tires 1,6 mm
  • In case of an accident with summer tires in wintry conditions, be aware of liability issues
  • If authorities announce snow chain obligation, only snow chains are permitted (four-wheel drive may be excluded)
  • Use of snow chains in case of respective road signs and conditions
  • Studded tires are permitted for vehicles <7.5 t GVW between 01.11. 30.04. or on snowcovered roads
  • Max speed 80 km/h
  • Vehicles with studded tires have to be labled with a sticker 80 km/h
Turkey
Turkey
  • Winter tires are mandatory from 01.12. - 01.04.
  • Valid for just commercial vehicles (including taxi, light trucks, trucks, buses)
  • Min. tread depth 1,6 mm
  • M+S marking
Ukraine
Ukraine
  • No winter tires mandatory
United Kingdom
United-Kingdom
  • No winter tires mandatory
  • valid up to 3,5 tons vehicle weight

When do you need to change to winter tires?

Most European countries have some regulations either making winter tires compulsory or requiring situational use of winter tires. As a general rule of thumb, it is recommended to use snow tires between October 1 and April 30, or from Autumn to Easter. However, in some countries, the winter tire laws tell you exactly when to make seasonal tire changes. If you’re unsure, speak to your local tire specialist, they’ll be up to date on the latest requirements and changes.


Man checking air pressure on winter tires

Air pressure and tread depth is also important for winter tires

Other compulsory requirements for tires

Whether you have all-season tires or winter tires, there are other things to consider to ensure optimum vehicle safety and tire performance in snow. Again, every country has slight variations, so check the list or ask your tire specialist. For example, in some areas, winter tire tread depth must be a minimum of 1,6 mm, while in others, tire tread depth should be 4 mm. Always consider the legal regulations of your country and take into account that tire performance, especially on wet surfaces, decreases with tread depth. To ensure reliable traction and excellent grip on snow and ice-covered surfaces, your tires should always have sufficient tread. Additionally, your tires should have the correct tire pressure to ensure your vehicle can brake in snow and ice with good traction, grip and handling.

Winter tires vs. all-season tires

Continental_Winter_World_WintervsAllSeasonTires_Teaser

When are all-season tires the right choice and when do you need winter tires?

Read More

Summer vs. winter tires

When do you need summer tires or winter tires

Choosing between summer and winter tires.

Read More

Prepare your car for winter

Continental_Winter_World_PrepareYourCarForWinter

See our winter car kit checklist to make your vehicle winter ready

Read More