I will drive from Germany to Bulgaria through Austria, Hungary and Serbia. I will drive mainly on highways and I don't expect to need snow chains as the roads are usually in good conditions. Am I required to carry snow chains in any of the countries above?

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    Related: travel.stackexchange.com/q/38718/22140
    – JoErNanO
    Dec 16, 2014 at 10:46
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    The question linked by JoErNanO makes mention of it, but I'll make it explicit here: aside from snow chains you also need to check if you will require Winter-rated tires (with a snowflake or "M+S" symbol). In some countries these are required during winter months/winter weather (chance of snow/ice) or during winter conditions (actual snow or ice). Assuming you're renting a car in Germany, it's likely to have those tires but double-check with the agency or car owner if you're not renting. Not using winter tires may carry fines or may have dire consequences for insurance coverage in an accident.
    – Lilienthal
    Dec 16, 2014 at 22:51

3 Answers 3


There is no common legal standard and in most countries also no common obligation to have them with you - provided that you do not drive on a road that explicitly requires them. Those however are normally only mountain passes, not highways.

There is generally a rule that you are only allowed to drive with chains on 100% snow-covered roads so you do not damage the road. So as long as you stay off those, you are prohibited from using chains, rather than forced to use them.

Here is a complete list and more details (sorry, in German), but the gist of it is: If you drive through Bulgaria between 1 November and 31 March, you will have to carry them with you. Regarding the other countries: If you drive on ice/snow covered roads, Austria forces you to use chains. All the other countries you'll drive through do allow them on ice-covered roads and mandate them where signs so indicate. Otherwise they are allowed, mostly subject to speed limits, and in Germany you then need to cover all four wheels unless you have a 4WD. Hungary can require you to carry snow chains on entry to the country if the conditions are known to be bad. This is however not a permanent requirement but rather changes according to road conditions.

Please note that for trucks the rules are different - there is often an obligation at least to have them with you - but I assume you drive a normal car.

  • according to hometyre.co.uk/tyre-information/… I need snow chains in Hunagry and Bulgaria..
    – Dirty-flow
    Dec 16, 2014 at 10:36
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    @uncovery you might want to note in your answer that there is a significant difference between 'using' and 'carrying' snow chains! Some provinces in Italy for instance have very particular rules on when it is mandatory to carry snow chains, based solely on season and regardless of actual conditions!
    – greyshade
    Dec 16, 2014 at 10:40
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    @Dirty-flow Hungary only requires you to have them in case there is already a snow condition present. If you look at this newbulletin, you will see that the immigration will only require those if the road ahead is covered.
    – uncovery
    Dec 16, 2014 at 10:42
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    March 32? Surely you meant March 31, but I don't have the rep here to make "trivial" edits.
    – user
    Dec 16, 2014 at 12:12
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    Technically in Austria it's only appropriate equipment that's required, so winter tires or snow chains on summer tires (the latter are only allowed if the road is completely covered in snow or ice). It's never required to have snow chains per se.
    – Relaxed
    Dec 16, 2014 at 12:42

Winter-Equipped Cars in EU

This page provided by Europcar is one of the few centralised information sources I could find on the topic. I also found this tool from Continental, allowing you to mouse-hover over different countries to check for regulation.


Quoting from Europcar:

There is no legal requirement for the use of snow tires.

You should carry snow chains when travelling in Bulgaria during 1 November and 31 March as road signs across Bulgaria indicate when a snow chain is compulsory.


Quoting from Europcar:

There is no legal requirement for the use of snow tires.

There is a legal requirement to carry snow chains when travelling in Hungary. If you fail to do so your vehicle will not be permitted to travel in Hungary.


Quoting from Europcar:

Whilst travelling in Serbia it is compulsory to use snow tires.

You should carry snow chains when travelling in Serbia.

Austria Requires Winter Tyres

Austria requires your vehicle to be fitted with winter tyres, between the 1st November and the 15th April, if the road is in wintry conditions. This means that snow chains in the trunk are not enough to be compliant with the regulation. Quoting from the Austrian Ministry for Transport, Innovation and Technology webpage:

When there is snow, slush or ice on the roads, private cars and goods vehicles up to 3.5 tonnes must be equipped for winter driving conditions with winter tyres fitted on all four wheels. Please remember that as the temperature falls, a road surface that is simply wet can turn into black ice, in which case the winter tyres requirement applies.

  • I have winter tyres, the question was only about snow chains
    – Dirty-flow
    Dec 16, 2014 at 10:52
  • @Dirty-flow Then you will be compliant with the road regulations, when driving through Austria.
    – JoErNanO
    Dec 16, 2014 at 10:54
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    I can confirm for Serbia.
    – mpet
    Feb 18, 2015 at 1:33

You can often rent snow chains from automobile clubs (e.g. ADAC in Germany, or ÖAMTC in Austria). So if you know that you will not need them again it might be cheaper to rent than to buy. This assumes of course that you will return in order to give them back.

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