Are winter tyres compulsory for hire cars in Europe?

I know you’re a fan of winter tyres, and you mention that they are very commonly used in mainland Europe. When I go on skiing holidays, I look for winter tyres on the car I’m hiring, but they are a very expensive option, often costing half or two thirds as much as the basic price of hiring the car. I do wonder if they’re fitted as standard to all hire cars in alpine regions and I’m being an idiot in specifying them and paying the extra. Are the car hire companies just ripping us off? Or is it an extra cost that’s justified and worthwhile?

Asked on 26 January 2013 by ML, London, N1

Answered by Honest John
If you went skiing in Austria they would have to be because winter tyres are compulsory from November to March. You also have to carry a set of chains. In Germany, winter tyres are only compulsory in snowy or icy winter conditions. In France they only insist on chains.
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