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Winter Driving

Navigating the winter roads in a rental car

Renting a car for a snow trip is convenient and easy. In Australia you can hire a SUV, for peace of mind when driving in snow conditions. Overseas, a hire car can get you from the airport to snow fields quickly and easily.

Tatra Mountain,Poland

Rules and Regulations

Rules and regulations specific to winter driving vary, depending on the country you are driving in. For example in Australia snow chains are mandatory in Victoria, whereas in Austria winter tyres are compulsory when driving in snow conditions.


Extra Equipment

Generally speaking, you can rent snow chains and ski racks in most ski countries. Winter tyres are also available to rent in some locations. Check out our country guides below for information on what you can rent in specific countries.


Where are you travelling?

Australia  |  New Zealand  |  Europe  |  France  |  Italy  |  Austria  | Germany  |  Switzerland  |  Canada  |  USA


Australia

Just a few hours' drive from Sydney you can enjoy some downtime at NSW’s famous ski resorts of Thredbo and Perisher. Pick up a hire car in Sydney or Canberra and make your way to the slopes. In Victoria, you can choose from a number of resorts close to Bright, about 300km from Melbourne.

Can I take a rental car above the snowline in Australia? It depends on the supplier. Some suppliers do not allow rental cars to be driven above the snow line. Other suppliers permit certain types of vehicles to be driven above the snow line if additional insurance (Snow Cover) is purchased.

Snow Cover is an additional charge and ranges from AUD20-30 per day, depending on the supplier. Ask DriveAway Holidays for more details.

Snow Chains are mandatory in Victoria when travelling into an alpine resort and for most vehicles in NSW when entering Mount Kosciuszko National Park. Check with the RMS or Vic Roads for more details.

Snow chains are not offered by any Australian supplier, so you will need to bring your own or rent them close to the ski fields. Note any damages from snow chains will not be covered under insurance and you will be liable for up to the full excess amount.

Ski Racks are not available to rent in Australia.

New Zealand

New Zealand is home to some of the best ski fields in the southern hemisphere and a hire car is a great way to get around. You can pick up your vehicle from Queenstown or Christchurch, with popular ski resorts not too far away. The famous Coronet Peak and The Remarkables are both a short drive from Queenstown, as are Treble Cone and Cardrona near Wanaka. Similarly, Canterbury is a short drive from Christchurch and home to the famous Mount Hutt.

Can I take a rental car above the snowline in New Zealand? Yes however conditions apply, depending on the supplier. Ensure Snow Cover is included in the rental agreement or opt for this upon collection for approximately NZD10 per day. Please advise DriveAway of your intentions to travel above the snow line so this can be requested with the supplier.

Snow Chains Bylaws have been introduced in the Queenstown Lakes District and Milford Sound Road to penalize people without snow chains. If you are planning to drive in these areas in snow season, ensure you carry snow chains in your vehicle at all times as fines can be up to NZD900.

Snow chains are available with some suppliers at no additional charge in snow season (some need to be pre-booked). Other suppliers charge an additional daily fee which ranges from NZD10-25, with some suppliers capping the charge between NZD50-150. A deposit may be required, check at the time of booking. Snow Chains may not be available in the North Island with some suppliers, always check at time of booking.

Winter Queenstown

Ski Racks Some suppliers offer free ski racks if they are pre-booked. Prices range from NZD10-18 per day, with the charge often capped. A deposit may also be required. Always check at the time of booking as ski racks may not be available at all locations, especially in the North Island.

Ski Car Hire Package Look out for Driveway’s ski car hire packages which can be pre-booked and often include ski racks and snow chains, offering better value.

Europe

Winter tyres are a mandatory requirement by law in Austria, Germany & Switzerland from 15 November until 15 April. This also applies if you are driving a car through/in these countries, which you've collected in another country.

For example collecting a car in Paris, driving to Zurich and Frankfurt before returning in Rome. This car will need to have winter tyres as it is travelling through Germany and Switzerland. Please see below for more information and check at time of booking for the most up to date information.

France

The Alps in the east and Pyrenees in the south are the 2 most popular skiing regions in France. Choose from more than 400 ski resorts in the Alps, with heights of up to 3300 metres above sea level. You can pick up your rental car from a number of city, airport and rail stations throughout France such as Chambery, Lyon, Geneva and Grenoble.

Snow Chains Are not readily available in France. Some depots located in the Alps and Pyrenees have snow chains available to request. Prices vary from EUR30-50 per rental, depending on the supplier and vehicle type. Snow chains are often not permitted on one way rentals, so check when booking. You can purchase and fit your own, but full liability is taken by the user if any damage relating to the use of snow chains occurs to the hire car.

Ski Racks Are also available to rent, sometimes on a request basis from EUR25-35 per rental.

Snow Tyres Not available with most suppliers. Please contact DriveAway Holidays for more information.


Italy

Skiers and snowboarders will be spoilt for choice in Italy! The Alps and the Dolomites in the North to the Apennines in the South, you can even ski on the highest mountain in Western Europe, Mont Blanc in the Alps. But at 4810m above sea level, it is not for the faint hearted. You can pick up a rental car at a number of locations throughout Italy including airports, downtown locations and rail stations.

Snow Chains Available to rent from most suppliers. Required by law when travelling in the alps and northern regions in winter. There may be restrictions for select vehicle types, check at the time of booking. Cost varies depending on the supplier but range from EUR30-45 per rental.

Ski Racks Available to rent from the majority of suppliers, some are on a request basis. The cost ranges from EUR30-45 per rental depending on the supplier.

Snow Tyres Not available with most suppliers. Please contact DriveAway Holidays for more information.


Austria

Austria is one of the most popular destinations for skiing in Europe. The provinces of the Tirol, Vorarlberg and Salzburgerland are favourites for avid skiers and boarders. You can collect a rental car from Innsbruck, Salzburg, Vienna or at 15 other locations in Austria.

Snow Chains Are available to rent from the majority of suppliers. Cost is approximately EUR40 per rental, but will vary depending on the supplier.

Salzburg Winter Time

Ski Racks You can rent ski racks from most suppliers in Austria. They are not always available for each vehicle group so always check when you book. Rates range from EUR25-50 per rental. The cost will vary according to the supplier.

Winter Tyres Winter tyres (on all 4 wheels) are compulsory by law when driving in Austria between November and early April. Winter tyres are normally included in the price but you should always check at time of booking.

Winter Packages Some suppliers offer winter equipped vehicles or winterisation packages (on request) which come with winter tyres, snow chains, a ski rack and sometimes an ice scraper. Rates are approximately EUR25 per day and are sometimes capped at about EUR150 per rental.

Supplier Winter Season Winter Tyres Optional Equipment
Budget 1 Nov 2017 - 15 Apr 2018 Included Ski Racks & Snow Chains
Buchbinder 1 Nov 2017 - 15 Apr 2018 Included Ski Racks & Snow Chains
Europcar 1 Nov 2017 - 15 Apr 2018 Included Snow Chains
Enterprise 1 Nov 2017 - 15 Apr 2018 Included Ski Racks & Snow Chains
Global 1 Nov 2017 - 15 Apr 2018 Included Ski Racks & Snow Chains
MegaDrive 1 Nov 2017 - 15 Apr 2018 Included Ski Racks & Snow Chains

Germany

Not to be dwarfed by the larger ski fields in France, Austria or Switzerland, Germany still offers a winter paradise in Bavaria. The Zugspitze, Germany’s highest mountain offers a challenge or in South-west Bavaria the villages of Oberstdorf and Oberstaufen form part of Germany’s largest skiing area. If skiing is not for you, the beautiful Christmas markets are a treat not to be missed. You can collect a car from all the major German cities including Berlin, Cologne, Frankfurt, Hamburg, and Munich. DriveAway has locations at airports, rail stations and various downtown locations.

Winter Tyres Like neighbours Austria and Switzerland, the use of winter tyres is mandated by law from November through to early April. Winter tyres are often included in the rates during these times, however some suppliers do charge for this. The fee ranges from EUR10 per day to EUR17 which at times is capped after a certain duration. Please check at time of booking.

Snow Chains Snow chains are available with most suppliers, on request basis. Cost ranges from EUR8-15 per day. Snow chains should be used when signposted.

Ski Racks Can be requested with most suppliers. Cost ranges from EUR8-15 per day, often capped at around EUR50. Not permitted on one ways. Check the supplier restrictions and fees at time of booking.

Supplier Winter Season Winter Tyres Optional Equipment
Avis 15 Nov 2017 - 15 Mar 2018 Included Ski Racks & Snow Chains
Buchbinder 1 Nov 2017 - 31 Mar 2018 Included Ski Racks & Snow Chains
Europcar 1 Nov 2017 - 31 Mar 2018 Included Ski Racks & Snow Chains
Globalrent 1 Nov 2017 - 31 Mar 2018 Included Ski Racks & Snow Chains
Hertz 15 Nov 2017 - 31 Mar 2018 17EUR + tax per day Ski Racks & Snow Chains

Switzerland

Home of the Swiss Alps, Switzerland’s mountainous terrain makes it perfect for skiing. Zermatt, Davos and St. Oritz are the major destinations for skiers in Switzerland. You can collect a rental car from over 20 locations in Switzerland, including airports, downtown locations and railway stations.

Winterisation Fee This is a mandatory charge for rental cars in Switzerland. All cars in Switzerland must be equipped with winter tyres from November through to early April. Inclusions vary depending on supplier but most include winter tyres. Some suppliers also have snow chains and an ice scraper as part of the winterisation fee. The fee ranges from CHF9-15 per day and is often capped between CHF70-200 per rental, depending on the supplier. Some suppliers include the winterisation fee in the overall rental cost so please check at the time of booking.

Snow Chains Where snow chains are not included in the winterisation fee, they may be available to rent from the supplier. The rental fee is approximately CHF9 per day but varies from supplier to supplier.

Ski Racks Can be rented from the majority of suppliers on request. The rental charge ranges from CHF40-50 per rental.

Supplier Winter Season Winter Tyres Optional Equipment
Dollar 15 Nov 2017 - 31 Mar 2018 Included Snow Chains included. Ski racks
Europcar 15 Nov 2017 - 30 Apr 2018 Included Ski Racks & Snow Chains
Hertz 15 Nov 2017 - 31 Mar 2018 Included Ski Racks & Snow Chains
Unirent 11 Nov 2017 - 15 Apr 2018 Included Ski Racks & Snow Chains


Note: in European countries, gas-line antifreeze is included in the fuel at the pump if needed depending on the weather. This means the fuel is different between countries and is modified to suit the weather conditions.


North America

Canada

Canada is quite possibly the ultimate ski and snowboarding destination. The provinces of British Colombia and Alberta are home to some of the most famous ski resorts in the world including Whistler, Banff and Jasper. The best time to visit is between November and March. DriveAway offers rental cars at over 50 locations in Canada including all major ski resorts.

Snow Chains Snow chains are not common in Canada as most rental cars are equipped with all season tyres. Please check at time of booking.

Rocky Mountains in Winter

Ski Racks Ski Racks are available to rent, although they may not be available from all locations or with all vehicles. Cost ranges from around CAD8-15 per day.

Winter Tyres The majority of vehicles are equipped with all season tyres but always check at the time of booking.

Winterisation Fee Some suppliers include a winterisation fee throughout winter. It often includes a snow brush/ice scraper and a block heater. This should be requested when you book.

Province Regulations
British Columbia Tyres must be a minimum M+S (mud & snow) grade.
Alberta Snow tyres or chains are required by law on Highway 93N/ Icefields Parkway and 93S (Banff & Kootenay National Parks) only
Saskatchewan No requirements
Manitoba No requirements
Quebec Winter tyres required from 15 December until 15 March. Cost ranges from 5CAD - 12CAD p/day + tax
New Brunswick No requirements for cars
Nova Scotia No requirements
P.E.I. No requirements
NW Territories Please refer to local authorities for further information

USA

The state of Colorado located in the Rocky Mountain region of the USA, is highly renowned for skiing. California, Utah and Vermont are also popular for snow holidays. You can collect your rental car from many locations through the USA including airports and downtown locations.

Snow Chains Like Canada, snow chains are not so common in the USA as most vehicle are fitted with all season tyres.

Ski Racks You can rent ski racks in the USA for an additional fee, ranging from about USD5-15 per day. Some suppliers include ski rack hire in the rental charge, so check at time of booking.

Winter Tyres Most rental vehicles in the USA will have all season tyres.


How to book a car with winter tyres or other winter equipment

If you are travelling in Germany, Austria, Switzerland or any other country where it is a requirement by law to have winter tyres, prices often include the winter tyres and winterisation fee. This is indicated by the blue colour, the snow flake symbol and a message:

Winter Tyres Inlcuded

If you wish to add snow chains or ski racks to a booking, these can be added on the second stage of the booking process if available. Hover over the question mark for the price and further information:

Optional Winter Equipment

All equipment is on request basis and needs to be confirmed with the supplier. Unless noted otherwise it is paid for locally at time of collection.

Need More Assistance?

DriveAway Holidays are self-drive experts so we'll be able to answer any questions you may have about driving in winter. One of our friendly reservations experts can help you pick the best car hire option for your trip through a winter paradise so contact us today!

Tatra Mountain, Slovakia

The information provided here should be used as a guide only. Requirements differ per country so please consult the local authorities in the countries you intend to travel to. All information shown is correct at time of printing. Prices and information are subject to change without notice. Please confirm prices and availability of equipment at time of booking. Updated October 2017