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Legalities re driving in Germany, Austria and Czech Rep in winter

Legalities re driving in Germany, Austria and Czech Rep in winter

Old Aug 21st, 2008, 04:24 PM
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Legalities re driving in Germany, Austria and Czech Rep in winter

Does anyone know where I can find out what the legal requirements are regarding what a rental car has to be equipped with to drive it in Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic in winter?

I have read recommendations from Fodorites ranging from a vignette and winter tyres (and some say an international drivers' licence - I see that Zeus says this isn't necessary - phew!) for Austria, right through to a whole suitcase of goodies including an orange vest, warning triangle, first aid kit, and goodness knows what else.

One of the car hire companies mentioned by Fodorites told me that if the orange vest, warning triangle and first aid kit were required, I would need to supply them myself as hire cars do not contain them. I hope I'll still have room in my suitcase for some clothes!

I have also found that car hire companies have differing opinions reagrding this.

Should I contact the road police in each country to find out, or does someone know?
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Old Aug 21st, 2008, 04:51 PM
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Sorry - but zeus is incorrect

Quoted from the US Embassy/Vienna website:

A U.S. driver's license alone is not sufficient to drive in Austria. The U.S. driver's license must be accompanied by an international driver's permit (obtainable in the U.S. from AAA) or by an official translation of the U.S. driver's license, which can be obtained at one of the Austrian automobile clubs (ÖAMTC or ARB&Ouml. This arrangement is only acceptable for the first six months of driving in Austria, after which all drivers must obtain an Austrian license.
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Old Aug 21st, 2008, 04:54 PM
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BTW - the rental agency likely will not ask to see your IDP - it is not usually required to rent a car, but it is to legally drive one.
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Old Aug 21st, 2008, 06:10 PM
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Thanks for the info. Do you think the German, Austrian and Czech embassies would be the right place for me to start to find out what the other legal requirements are for driving in these countries (e.g. warning triangles, orange vests, first aid kits, vignettes, etc)?
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Old Aug 21st, 2008, 11:36 PM
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You do need a vest, first aid kit, and triangle in your car when you drive in Germany. But I have yet to rent a car that did not come equipped with all of those. We live in Germany, and typically rent from Sixt. These things have always been included.

I think you should plan on winter tires, as well...for safety, if nothing else. When we first arrived here in January 2004, we had no idea about snow tires, and ended up in a precarious situation trying to drive up the hill to our apartment. This was just a small hill in the Pfalz area. I would not drive in the Alps (or any mountainous area) in the winter without snow tires.

If you want to contact someone to verify the laws, I'd try ADAC. They are like AAA for Europe, and would likely have the information you're looking for.

Have a great trip!
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Old Aug 21st, 2008, 11:53 PM
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Yes, you do need a vest, first aid kit, and triangle in your car when you drive in all these countries. But the rental cars are equipped with these items. Very strange that one rental car company told you to bring these items. Probably an apprentice on the phone.

You also need winter tires. The online booking forms usually have a box to tick for winter tires.
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Old Aug 22nd, 2008, 01:48 AM
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In Austria, you need some type of special sticker on your car to drive or you will incur a large fine. I'm sure someone here on Fodor's can give the details.

Last weekend we accidentally passed through 3 kms of Austria en route to Dachau from Switzerland. We were stopped in a road block and fined 110 Euros. The fine includes "coverage" for 48 hours forward so we don't actually still know how much the sticker costs, and didn't buy one, but it's avail at all the petro stations apparently.

The police told us there were signs in English warning of this on the roadway, but we hadn't seen any. There was heavy rain, but still, not that heavy...Lots of cars were getting pulled over.

Sorry to be so vague. Just wanted to warn you.

gruezi
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Old Aug 22nd, 2008, 02:16 AM
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In Austria, you need a vignette if you are driving the autobahn. Buy the vignette BEFORE you cross the border. It is easily available at gas stations/rest areas near the border.

The price for 10 days is 7.60 EUR.
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Old Aug 22nd, 2008, 04:16 AM
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Hi C,

In Austria, you MUST have an IDP. A vignette is required to drive on major roads.

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Old Aug 22nd, 2008, 06:09 AM
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Thanks everyone for all your advice. I'll contact ADAC as suggested.
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