When to put on winter tyres | Continental Tyres

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Autumn – time to switch to winter tyres

Winter tyre laws

Winter tyre laws

When do winter tyres become compulsory in European countries? 

  • It’s time to switch to winter tyres when the temperatures drop
  • Generally, it is advisable to switch to winter tyres 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 tyres. You probably know that winter tyres – sometimes referred to as snow tyres – are a mandatory requirement across several European regions, but when and where does the change become compulsory?

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

Map depicting European winter tyre laws

European winter tyre laws vary between countries

Where are winter tyres compulsory in Europe?

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

Albania
Albania
  • Winter tyres are not mandatory
  • Studs not allowed
  • Snow chains for drive axle must be carried in the vehicle
  • On mountain roads, it is recommended to use winter tyres from 1.11.–30.04.
     
Andorra
Andorra
  • Winter tyres are not 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
  • Winter tyre rules vary by conditions from 1.11. – 15.4.
  • Valid up to 3.5 tons vehicle weight
  • M+S marking
  • Min. tread depth: 4.0 mm
  • If summer tyres are fitted chains for one driven axle are mandatory
  • Studded tyres are allowed from 1.11. - 15.4.
  • If studded tyres 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 tyres have to be mounted on all 4 axles
  • Studded tyres can be used as all other winter tyres
  • M+S marking
Belgium
Belgium
  • Winter tyres are not mandatory
  • M+S tyres with lower speed index accepted from 1st October to 30th April (labelling the max speed in the dashboard mandatory)
  • M+S marked tyres with same/higher speed index accepted all the year round
  • Alpine symbol tyres with smaller speed index accepted all the year round (labelling the max speed in the dashboard mandatory)  
Bosnia and Herzegowina
Bosnien-Herzegowina
  • Winter tyres 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
  • Winter tyres are not mandatory
  • Studs not allowed
  • Min. tread depth 4.0 mm mandatory from 01.11. - 31.3. 
Croatia
Croatia
  • Winter tyres mandatory
  • From 15.11. - 15.4.
  • Up to 3.5 tons
  • M+S marking
  • Min. tread depth 4.0 mm
Cyprus
Cyprus
  • Winter tyres are not mandatory
  • Valid up to 3.5 tons vehicle weight
Czech Republic
Czech_Republic

  • Winter tyre rules vary by conditions from 1.11. - 31.3.
  • M+S marking
  • Min. tread depth 4mm



Denmark
Denmark
  • Winter tyres are not mandatory
  • Studded tyres allowed from 1.11. - 15.4.
Estonia
Estonia
  • Mandatory to use winter tyres 1.12. – 1.3.
  • M+S marking
  • Min. tread depth 3.0 mm
  • Studded tyres can be used from 15.10. - 31.03.
  • From 01.12.2022 "Snowflake on the Mountain" symbol required for studded tyres (exception POR tyres)
Finland
Finland
  • Mandatory to use winter tyres 1.12. - 28.02.
  • Min. tread depth 3.0 mm
  • Studded tyres 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
  • Tyres with M+S marking can still be used until November 30th, 2024. Thereafter, only tyres with the Alpine symbol or studded tyres are considered winter tyres
France
France
  • Winter tyre rules vary by conditions in places indicated by road signs
  • 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 tyres are mandatory
  • Valid up to 3.5 tons vehicle weight
  • M+S marking
  • Min. tread depth 1.6mm
Greece
Greece
  • Winter tyres are not mandatory
  • Valid up to 3.5 tons
  • Snow chains allowed, max. speed limit 50 km/h
Hungary
Hungary
  • Winter tyres are not mandatory
Iceland
Iceland
  • Winter tyres are not mandatory
  • Min. tread depth 1.6mm

Ireland
Ireland
  • Winter tyres are not mandatory
  • Valid up to 3.5 tons vehicle weight
Italy
Italy
  • Winter Tyre 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 Tyres 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 tyres mandatory from 01.12. - 01.03.
  • M+S marking
  • Min. tread depth 4,0 mm
  • Studded tyres can be used from 01.10. - 01.05.
Liechtenstein
Liechtenstein

  • No general winter tyre regulations, regional regulations are possible in winter road conditions (f.e Pass-Roads)
  • Min. tread depth for winter tyres 1.6 mm
  • In case of an accident with summer tyres 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 tyres 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 tyres have to be labled with a sticker 80 km/h
Lithuania
Lithuania
  • Winter tyres mandatory from 01.11. - 01.04.
  • M+S marking
  • Min. tread depth 1.6mm
  • Studded tyres can be used as all other winter tyres during the mandatory winter period
  • Min. tread depth 3.0 mm


Luxembourg
Luxembourg
  • Winter tyre rules vary by conditions
  • Valid up to 3.5 t vehicle weight
  • M+S marking
  • Min tread depth 1.6 mm
Macedonia
Macedonia
  • Winter tyres mandatory from 15.11.-15.03.
  • M+S marking
  • Min. tread depth 4,0 mm
  • Studs not allowed
Malta
Malta
  • Winter tyres are not mandatory
  • Valid up to 3.5 tons vehicle weight
Moldova
Moldavia
  • Winter tyre rules vary by 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 tyres mandatory from 15.11. - 01.04.
  • Winter tyres mandatory up to 3.5 tons
  • Min. tread depth 4.0 mm
  • M+S marking
Netherlands
Netherlands
  • Winter tyres are not mandatory
Norway
Norway
  • Winter tyre rules vary by 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 tyres allowed
  • From 01.11. to 1st Monday after Easter in the South
  • From 15.10. to 30.04. in the North
Poland
Poland
  • Winter tyres are not mandatory
  • Valid up to 3.5 t vehicle weight
  • Snow chains only allowed on roads covered with snow and ice.
  • Studded tyres not allowed
Portugal
Portugal
  • Winter tyres are not mandatory
Romania
Romania
  • Winter tyre rules vary by conditions
  • Valid up to 3.5 tones vehicle weight
  • M+S marking
  • min. tread depth 1.6 mm
Russia
Russia
  • Winter tyres 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 tyres, they have to be on all positions
  • Winter tyres have to be mounted on all positions
  • Studs are forbidden from 01.07. - 30.09.
Serbia / Kosovo
Serbia
  • Winter tyre rules vary by conditions
  • From 1.11. - 01.04.
  • Winter tyres are mandatory up to 3.5 tons
  • M+S marking
  • Min. tread depth 4.0 mm
Slovakia
Slovakia
  • Winter tyre rules vary by conditions
  • From 15.11. - 31.3.
  • Valid up to 3.5 tons vehicle weight
  • M+S marking
  • Min. tread depth 3.0 mm
  • Snow chains must be used if signs indicate and can be used if winter condition.
  • Forbidden to use studded tyres
Slovenia
Slowenia
  • Winter tyres 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
  • Winter tyres are not mandatory
  • Valid up to 3.5 tons vehicle weight
  • Min. tread depth 1.6 mm
Sweden
Sweden
  • Winter tyre rules vary by conditions from 01.12. - 31.03.
  • Valid up to 3.5 tons vehicle weight
  • M+S marking
  • Min. tread depth 3.0 mm
  • Studded tyres allowed from 01.11. – 15.4.
Switzerland
Switzerland
  • No general winter tyre regulations, regional regulations are possible in winter road conditions (eg. mountain passes)
  • Min. tread depth for winter tyres 1.6 mm
  • In case of an accident with summer tyres 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 tyres 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 tyres have to be labelled with a sticker 80 km/h
Turkey
Turkey
  • Winter tyres 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
  • Winter tyres are not mandatory
United Kingdom
United-Kingdom
  • Winter tyres are not mandatory
  • Valid up to 3.5 tons vehicle weight

When do you need to change to winter tyres?

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


Man checking air pressure on winter tyres

Air pressure and tread depth is also important for winter tyres

Other compulsory requirements for tyres

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

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