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Winter tires and required snow chains in Europe

Austria’s neighboring countries

If you plan to go on vacation during the winter months, it is necessary to know the legal requirements concerning snow tires and snow chain requirements in Austria’s neighboring countries. Here is a short overview:

Germany

There is a situational requirement for snow tires, meaning that snow tires are only compulsory in wintery conditions. Violations (this also applies to vehicles licensed in foreign countries) are fined with 40 Euros; in case of hindrance the fine may be raised to 80 Euro.

Only occasionally is the use of snow chains prescribed through road signs. When using snow chains, the speed limit is 50 km/h.

The use of studded tires is prohibited. Exceptions: within a 15 kilometer zone of the border to Austria (not on highways).

Switzerland

Generally, there is no requirement for snow tires. Snow tires are recommended in wintery weather conditions. In cases of hindrance a fine will be issued; in cases of accidents with summer tires, a joint liability may be considered.

Snow chains (at least on the two tires of the driving tires) are to be used when explicitly requested by a road sign. Exceptions for all-wheel vehicles must be signposted. For vehicles with studded tires, there is a speed limit of max. 80 km/h and while using studded tires the maximum speed needs to be indicated with a sticker on the bumper of the vehicle. For vehicles licensed in foreign countries all matters relating to tires and the duration of their use must be in accordance with the regulations of their home country.

Slovakia

Snow tires are required for vehicles up to 3.5 t (authorized overall weight) on roadways covered with snow or ice (M+S- winter tires with a skid depth of at least 3mm).

Snow chains are only permitted on roadways covered with snow or ice. Studded tires are prohibited.

Slovenia

Between Nov. 15th and March 15th (and additionally in the case of wintery conditions – e.g. falling snow, black ice) vehicles of up to 3.5 t (authorized overall weight) are required to use snow tires on all four wheels (min. skid depth of 3mm). If summer tires are mounted, snow chains need to be available in case of need. In wintery conditions even vehicles licensed in foreign countries must be equipped in a similar manner.

Speed limit with snow chains: 50 km/h. Studded tires are prohibited.

Hungary

There is no general requirement for snow tires, but the usage of snow tires may be imposed through road signs.

The usage of snow chains is only permitted on roads covered with snow. The usage/availability of snow chains in the vehicle may be imposed on specific roads according to special weather conditions. When using snow chains the speed limit is set at 50 km/h. In wintery conditions foreign vehicles may be denied entry if no snow chains are available in the car.

Studded tires are prohibited.

Italy

Winter tires may be required on short notice in applicable weather conditions and on certain roads. In the Aosta valley and in Friaul, winter tires are required in the period time frame from Oct. 15th to April 15th; alternatively snow chains must be available in the car. If snow chains are required, you may drive with winter tires or snow chains. The speed limit for driving with snow chains is set at 50 km/h.

Studded tires are permitted for vehicles up to 3.5 t and are to be installed on all tires (including trailers). The speed limit on highways is set for 120 km/h and 90 km/h on other roads. Splashguards are mandatory, but only recommended for vehicles licensed in foreign countries.

Lichtenstein

No general requirement exists for winter tires. Winter tires are recommended in wintery weather conditions. In case of accidents with summer tires, joint liability may be considered. Using snow chains may be mandated on road signs. It is therefore recommended that you carry along snow chains in the winter season.

Studded tires are permitted for vehicles up to 3.5 t (authorized overall weight). Studded tires need to be installed on all wheels. They are not to be used on highways or expressways. There is a speed limit of 80 km/h for vehicles with studded tires. For vehicles licensed in foreign countries all matters relating to tires and the duration of their use must be in accordance with the regulations of their home country.

Czech Republic

In the time period from Nov. 1st to April 30th, vehicles up to 3.5 t (authorized overall weight) are required on specific roads (on parts of the highway and mountain roads, among others) to be equipped with snow tires on all four wheels (min. skid depth 4mm).

The usage of snow chains is only permitted on roads covered with snow. The usage of studded tires is prohibited.

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