Categories: News

Taking the car to a German Christmas market? Be alert to these 8 things -

Anyone who loves Christmas and everything surrounding it should definitely visit a Christmas market in Germany. In addition to the most beautiful Christmas decorations, you will also find delicious bratwurst, hot-smoked salmon and heart-warming mulled wine. Are you going by car? Then take advantage of these 8 tips to avoid fines and hassle.

1. Winter tire obligation in winter weather

After a number of mild winters, the winter tire hype in the Netherlands is over. There are no special rules regarding winter tires in our country. In Germany it's a different story. If there are winter conditions, you are obliged to drive with winter tires. This applies not only to Germans, but also to Dutch and Belgians. According to German law, winter conditions are: black ice, slippery conditions due to snow, snow mud or slippery conditions due to ice or frost formation.

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2. Fines if you don't have winter tires

If you do not comply with the German rules regarding winter tires, you can expect a fine of 60 euros. And if you hold up traffic because you are not driving on the right rubber, the fine is 80 euros.

3. Not all winter tires are winter tires

In this context, it is also important to know that German regulations regarding winter tires have changed. Until January 1, 2018, you were still allowed to drive on all-season tires or winter tires with only an M+S marking in winter conditions in Germany.

The rules have been stricter since January 1, 2018. Only (all-season) tires that, in addition to the M+S marking, also bear the snowflake symbol or 'three mountain symbol' are still considered full-fledged winter tires. There is still a transition phase until September 30, 2024. If you purchased the M+S tires before January 1, 2018, you will be allowed to drive them in winter conditions. The difficult thing is that you have to be able to prove that you purchased them before January 1, 2018.

4. German environmental zones

Germany has a long list of cities that have an environmental zone (Environmental zone) hanteren: Berlijn, Bonn, Bremen, Darmstadt, Dortmund, Duisburg, Düsseldorf, Essen, Frankfurt am Main, Gelsenkirchen, Hanover, Heidelberg, Karlsruhe, Keulen, Krefeld, Leipzig, Magdeburg, Mainz, Mannheim, Mönchengladbach, Munich, Münster, Neuss , Neu-Ulm, Oberhausen, Osnabrück, Stuttgart, Wiesbaden and Wuppertal.

If you want to visit a Christmas market in one of these cities, purchase an environmental sticker. The same environmental stickers are used for the entire country: green and yellow. The former red sticker no longer allows you to enter an environmental zone and it is therefore no longer for sale. Most online providers charge one German environmental sticker between 12.50 and 14.95 euros.

5. Traffic rules in snow

If it snows heavily, in Germany you are obliged to turn on your low beam or fog lights. In heavy snowfall and visibility of a maximum of 50 meters, you may not drive faster than 50 km/h. If you go to a Christmas market a little further south in Germany and the circumstances require the installation of snow chains, please know that you are also allowed to drive a maximum of 50 km/h.

6. Parking at the Christmas market

German Christmas markets are popular and therefore busy. Avoid parking stress and find out in advance where it is best to park in the city where you will visit the Christmas market. It is often difficult to find a spot in the center during the Christmas market. A transferium on the outskirts of the city can be a good and stress-free alternative. After you have parked your car here, you can usually easily get to the center by public transport.

7. Warm up the engine while idling verboten!

Many Dutch people see no problem in letting their car engine warm up while idling while scratching the ice. This also warms up the interior nicely... In Germany, however, letting your car idle unnecessarily is prohibited. If you get caught, you could be fined 80 euros!

Just like in the Netherlands, it is not permitted in Germany to drive with windows insufficiently cleared of ice or snow. Depending on the danger setting, fines ranging from 10 to 35 euros can be issued.

8. Be careful with mulled wine!

It's the Christmas market, it's cold, what could be better than warming up your body a little with mulled wine? We understand the temptation, but depending on the recipe, one cup of mulled wine can sometimes result in a blood alcohol level of 0.3.

In addition to the potential danger to which you expose yourself, your passengers and fellow road users by getting behind the wheel while drinking, you risk hefty fines. If you are stopped with 0.3 per mille of alcohol in your blood due to 'remarkable' traffic behavior or cause an accident, this will result in a severe sanction. From 0.5 per mille you can count on a fine of more than 528.50 euros. And with a second cup of mulled wine you already cross this line.

This post was last modified on December 5, 2023 10:28 am


Dreamer is what I am, but unlike many, I struggle to make my dreams come true. I own, seo, admin and site editor. I am a father, married, Christian, Northeastern/Brazil and Libran. I love cars <3

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