Winter tyres in Germany - rules for driving with summer tyres in the winter

Germany has had following regulation regarding driving with summer tyres:

  • It is prohibited to drive a car with summer tyres with winter conditions on the roads in Germany

This flexible rule of winter tyre usage in Germany means, in theory, that is it allowed driving a car with summer tyres all year round, but if you do not let the car stay put during days with snow, freezing weather and icy roads, you will with unerring certainty find yourself driving illegally.

In reality, the rules of winter tyres in Germany mean that you should change from summer tyres to winter tyres in the end of October at the very latest, to be on the safe side. Around the month of March is it okay to change back to summer tyres.

Ford explorer 4 wheel drive

Ford Explorer 4-wheel drive does not give up that easily when facing snowy roads

The rules of winter tyres in Germany apply for all vehicles on the German roads - including foreign-registered cars.

It does not matter, how high the temperature is in the definition of winter conditions on the roads in Germany. Winter conditions can also occur with temperatures above the freezing point.

Please note, when driving with a trailer, that there are no rules, stating that winter tyres are required on the trailer.

M+S tyres in Germany
It is permitted to drive with all-year-round tyres in Germany - which is also allowed when driving in winter conditions.

All-year-round tyres used for driving in winter conditions must, however, be labelled with M+S (for mud & snow) on the sidewall - otherwise they will not be considered approved all-year-round tyre.

Some cars can be ordered new with the M+S tyres already fitted, but most cars are delivered with summer tyres fitted as standard.

You may encounter all-year-round tyres, which have a snowflake symbol - or both the M+S label and a snowflake symbol.

Continental winter tyres

Continental winter tyres 245/45 R17

Fines for lack of winter tyres in Germany
If you are stopped in winter conditions and do not have winter tyres fitted on your car, German police will typically fine you with £35 (€40) as of 2018.

If you are involved in an accident or are a danger to the traffic due to lack of winter tyres, the fine may be heavier.

If you, in winter conditions, are stopped for obstructing the traffic (caused by lack of winter tyres) German police is allowed to issue a fine of £70 (€80). Besides from that you risk getting a ban on driving until winter tyres are mounted or the weather has changed.

Please note that the German police also can fine you for lack of antifreeze windshield wash.

Studded tyres in Germany - not permitted
Driving with studded tyres (spikes) in Germany is illegal all year round.

In winter conditions, it is permitted to fit snow chains in Germany and it may, in some mountain areas, be be indicated by signage that snow chains are required. The speed limit with snows chains is 50 km/h (31 mph) in Germany.

German regulation made easy to remember: Von O bis O
In Germany, most motorists are familiar with the winter tyre regulation, which has been in force since year 2010. The rule of thumb for putting snow tires on the car is the following (in German language): “von O bis O.”; the term “from O to O” referring to October (Oktober) and Easter (Ostern).

It is not the authorities’ official recommendation that cars are equipped with snow-tires/winter tires or as a minimum all weather tires from October to Easter. In fact, Easter will move around a bit in the calendar from year to year, but in any case, Von O bis O makes the winter tires rule in Germany easier to remember.

Winter tyres in Germany - rules for driving with summer tyres in the winter
Article: Winter tyres in Germany - rules for driving with summer tyres in the winter
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