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DRIVING

Driving in Denmark: When should you change to winter tyres?

Autumn has arrived in Denmark, and with it the annual change from summer to winter tyres. But not everyone knows the rules and recommendations which apply to the switchover.

New winter tyres at a Danish workshop in 2019. Motorists in Denmark tend to switch tyres when the season changes in October.
New winter tyres at a Danish workshop in 2019. Motorists in Denmark tend to switch tyres when the season changes in October. Photo: Ida Guldbæk Arentsen/Ritzau Scanpix

Although winter tyres are not a legal requirement in Denmark, they are recommended by FDM, the Danish membership organisation for motorists.

Neighbouring Sweden, Norway and Germany – where many Danish residents head on skiing and other holidays during the colder months – all have rules requiring winter tyres, meanwhile.

What are winter tyres?

Winter tyres should be able to cope with icy, wintery conditions including snowy and wet roads. The tyres must also comply with traffic laws relating to tread depth.

Tyres which qualify as winter tyres are marked “M + S”, which stands for “Mud and Snow” and have a mountain and snowflake symbol.

The legal requirement for tread depth is 1.6 millimetres – the same as for summer tyres. However, once your tread is under 3 millimetres, you will find tyre centres recommend you change them, as does FDM. That is because their grip will be significantly worse than that of a new tyre, which will have at least 8 millimetres of tread.

While Danish law does not require you to use winter tyres (but it is recommended), you do have to have matching tyre types. So it is illegal to, for example, keep normal tyres on the front of your car and just change the rear tyres in the winter.

Winter tyres grip the roads more aggressively than summer tyres, which can normally be recognised by the 3-4 parallel grooves that run through the tread. These are absent on winter tyres, which have blocky treads. The rubber compound used in winter tyres is designed to maintain its properties at low temperatures.

Summer (also known as ‘normal’) tyres can need up to twice as long to brake in freezing winter conditions as winter tyres. However, you should be aware that winter tyres can need a slightly longer braking distance than normal tyres in dry conditions. The two types perform comparably on wet roads.

When should I change from normal to winter tyres?

It is common in Denmark to hear the ‘autumn holiday’ or efterårsferie in the second half of October – the week we are currently in at the time of writing – referred to as the ideal time to switch to winter tyres.

Conversely, most people switch back to summer tyres at Easter, although this depends a little on when Easter falls in a given year.

FDM writes on its website that winter tyres should always be used on what it defines as winter road conditions: ice, snow and wet winter weather. Summer tyres should not be used in these conditions.

If you get your tyres changed by a local garage or mechanic (many motorists in Denmark make use of ‘tyre hotels’ to store their tyres out of season), it’s worth doing this in good time – the arrival of the first bout of cold winter weather can often create queues at tyre companies.

It’s also fine to change your tyres yourself, provided your winter set is on its own set of rims and you’re confident using a jack and wrench. There are plenty of how-to guides in English and Danish for this available online, but make sure you have the correct tools and always put safety first. If in doubt, go to a professional.

Member comments

  1. Is it not more sensible to make change to winter tyres based on temperature? I understand that winter tyres are recommended, and I fit mine, when the temperature stays below 7 deg C.

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DRIVING

How and when should I exchange my foreign driving licence for a Danish one?

Foreign residents of Denmark are required to exchange their foreign driving licence for a Danish one after moving to Denmark.

How and when should I exchange my foreign driving licence for a Danish one?

The rules for when a foreign driving licence must be exchanged for a Danish licence depend on the country which issued the original licence.

You must change your foreign licence for a Danish one within 90 days of moving to the country (meaning the date on which you arrived in Denmark with the purpose of staying).

At the time of writing, the 90-day deadline is extended to 180 days due to delays caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

EU and EEA countries

If you have a driving licence issued in the EU or EEA (Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein), you can use it in Denmark. You can freely exchange the licence for a Danish licence without having to take an additional driving test.

Australia (Capital Territory only), Brazil, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, Russia, Switzerland and Ukraine

Driving licences issued in the above countries and territories can also be exchanged for Danish licences without taking any additional test.

In addition to your existing licence, you must also submit a medical declaration from your doctor and a signed written declaration that you have not been disqualified from driving within the last five years. Your licence must not be restricted or issued under special conditions.

It should be noted that the above only applies for category B driving licences. This is the category for driving a normal car. For other types of category such as motorcycle or HGV licences, it is necessary to take an additional test in order to exchange your foreign licence for a Danish one.

Singapore, United States, Canada, Australia, Chile, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, New Zealand, Isle of Man (UK) and Israel

For the above countries and territories, the same conditions apply as for the non-EU/EEA countries listed further above.

Additionally, you must also submit a declaration that you have two years’ effective (reel) in Danish driving experience. In other words, you must have driven regular for at least two years and not had a driving licence for five years or more without having done any driving.

United Kingdom after Brexit

The UK does not neatly fit into any of the above categories because the applicable rules depend on whether your licence was issued before or after the UK left the EU.

In short, you can exchange your licence in line with EU rules if it was issued before Brexit, but UK licences issued after January 1st 2021 are treated as “third country” driving licences.

The rules for exchanging UK driving licences in Denmark following Brexit are set out in more detail in this article.

Other foreign driving licences

Driving licences issued in all other countries can be used to drive in Denmark for up to 90 days after you are registered as living in the country.

Danish rules permit the use of foreign driving licences printed in English (or French) with Latin letters, or if it is accompanied by an English, French or Danish translation. If your licence does not meet this, you may be required to obtain an international licence before driving in Denmark.

You will be required to take what is termed in Danish a kontrollerende køreprøve (“control driving test”) to be able to exchange your foreign licence for a Danish one.

What is a ‘control driving test’?

The Danish Road Traffic Authority website states that a control driving test or kontrollerende køreprøve consists of a theory and practical element. Driving lessons are not mandatory for the test, unlike with the regular driving test given to new drivers.

Drivers taking the test must supply their own vehicle and applications are made via their home municipality.

Where do I go to exchange my licence?

The application form for exchanging to a Danish driving license can be found on the Local Government Denmark (KL) website.

The form must be handed in at a municipal Borgerservice (“Citizens’ Service”). Check the website of your local municipality to find out where the Borgerservice is located in your area. You may be required to make an appointment (or it might be better to do so to avoid a queue).

You’ll need to bring your existing licence, passport and a photo (see here for the photo specifications) when you hand in your licence for exchange. You’ll also need your Danish residence permit.

More information on the application process can be found on the Danish citizen and residents’ platform Borger.dk.

A fee of 280 kroner is charged to exchange a foreign driving licence for a Danish one.

Sources: Færdselsstyrelsen, Borger.dk

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