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.
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 Alpine symbol (3PMSF*) 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.
* 3PMSF symbol stands for 3 Peak Mountain Snowflake symbol
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.
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.