What is the Winterisation Car Hire Fee?

27th December, 2021, in Car Hire Help, Travel Advice & Guides

The winterisation car hire fee may be a new one to you and may add to the confusion when looking at hiring a car abroad.  What is it and why is it so important?

What is it for?

When hiring a vehicle it is the duty of the company you are using to provide you with a car that is safe to drive. What constitutes a safe and compliant car can vary though due to where you are hiring the car and the type of weather you are likely to encounter. If you are hiring a car in the winter months and driving in a country where snowfall may be common and quite high, the company will provide you with the equipment necessary to drive safely such as tyre chains, winter tyres, or snow socks. It does come at a cost though and that varies between nations and rental companies.

How do I know if I need it?

Before hiring a car it is worth doing some background research on whether the country you are travelling to has specific legal requirements about vehicles on the road in particular weather types. For example, in Austria, winter tyres must be used between 1st Nov and 15th April. Similarly, in Germany if your car becomes stuck in hazardous conditions due to having unsuitable tyres you can be fined.

For countries where it is compulsory, the cost is usually added to your hire fee automatically, although it may also show up as an additional charge. If you are unsure, always ask.

Countries where winterisation is compulsory:

  • Austria
  • Bosnia
  • Finland
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • Sweden

Other nations simply recommend it and whilst it is an additional cost you may want to avoid; we would always suggest winterisation as something worth considering at this time of year.

Can I choose not to pay it?

Where this fee is not compulsory you can request the ‘winterisation’ of your hire car which will obviously incur some charges. However, if you do not want it and the rental company state it as optional it is your decision. They will always state that it is compulsory if the country you are visiting has it as law.

How much does it cost?

The prices for this can vary by country and by rental firm but will always be fully explained to you and either indicated separately on your invoice or included in your hire fee as part of the total price. Sometimes the fee is paid for upon collection of the vehicle, especially if extreme weather has been forecast and winterisation was not initially expected to be required. A recent survey showed that an average cost can be about £40.

I’m travelling to a Country where winterisation is compulsory but haven’t paid for it

Earlier in this post we mentioned how costs can usually be included, especially if visiting a country where the charges are compulsory. This will often be included in the total car hire fee so check through the small print and see if you have missed anything. If you are still unclear, when you collect your vehicle you may find that the charge is added on then and payable at the desk. If not, simply ask and you will be given the relevant information by your hire company.


This isn’t the only thing to be aware of when driving a hire car so we have compiled a set of top hire car tips to ensure everything runs smooth from collection to drop off.

Stay safe driving your hire car during winter and ensure you are covered from any excess fees. We have cover available for both European and World travel. Find out more by contacting us today or get your quote now for both worldwide insurance car hire excess and european excess car hire insurance to policies keep you fully covered on the road.



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