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Do you know the latest rules around winter tires and snow chains?

Jan 24, 2024
5 min reading time

Cold winters are becoming increasingly rare in the Netherlands. Snow and sleet seem to be less frequent, so not every motorist changes their summer tires for winter tires as soon as the season begins. Winter tires are also not mandatory in the Netherlands. Are you going on a winter trip by car? Then winter tires may be necessary, as different rules apply in each country. To make sure that you are well prepared for your trip, we have gathered below the rules regarding winter tires and snow chains in the most popular winter sports destinations.

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The different rules by country

With summer tires, your car has less grip and the braking distance is longer. As a result, without winter tires you run a greater risk of an accident in winter conditions. This is why winter tires are mandatory in some countries. The chart below shows the rules for each country. Look not only at the rules in your destination country, but also in the countries you are traveling through!

Country Winter tires Snow chains
Belgium Not required Allowed only if roads are covered with snow or ice
Germany Mandatory in winter conditions Mandatory if indicated by a sign
France Mandatory during the winter period (from 1-11 to 31-3) in certain areas. This is indicated by a sign Mandatory during the winter period in certain areas. This is indicated by a sign
Italy Mandatory during the winter period (from 15-11 to 15-4) in certain areas and on certain roads, unless snow chains are present. This is indicated by a sign. In the Aosta Valley, however, there is a general requirement for winter tires Mandatory in the winter period (from 15-11 to 15-4)
Luxembourg Mandatory in winter conditions Allowed only if the road is covered with snow or ice
Netherlands Not required Forbidden
Austria Mandatory in winter period (from 1-11 to 15-4) in winter conditions Mandatory if indicated by a sign and the road is covered with snow or ice
Switzerland Not mandatory, but recommended because you risk a fine if you cause inconvenience by using tires with too little grip Mandatory if indicated by a sign and the road is covered with snow or ice

Winter tires, summer tires or 4-season tires?

In addition to winter tires and summer tires, there are also 4-season tires. With 4-season tires, also called all-season tires, you can drive all year long. The big advantage of these tires is that you don't have to change them. Because the 4-season tires combine the properties of summer and winter tires, they cannot be compared to winter tires. In the Netherlands, you can use the 4-season tires just fine, but if you go on winter sports with your car, winter tires are a must anyway. This is because on snowy roads, winter tires have more grip than 4-season tires. Note, do your 4-season tires have a symbol with a snowflake and is the tread depth at least 4mm? Then they are officially approved as winter tires and you can use them for winter sports.

Am I insured without winter tires?

In the Netherlands and Belgium, winter tires are not mandatory. Therefore, this does not affect liability damages and just the rules of your normal coverage apply. In countries where winter tires are mandatory, you can be held liable as the driver of the car without winter tires if you cause an accident under winter conditions. This can mean that you have to pay (a larger part of your) own damage or that of the other party. Also, in some countries, such as Switzerland, you risk a fine if you cause inconvenience on the road by using tires with insufficient grip, even though winter tires are only recommended here and are not mandatory.

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