There are 2 markings on a tyre sidewall that are relevant to driving on ice and snow, the general location is illustrated in the image above.
These legal markings were introduced into EU tyre regulations in 2012. M+S has been used on all winter tyres since while the 3PMSF marking can only be used when the tyre passes a minimum performance requirement on snow.
In Australia some mountain resort regions have made it mandatory for a car to be fitted with tyres that have either of these markings on their tyres to be permitted to drive in the Alpine region during the snow season without snow chains. Please check the regulations of the mountain area you are entering before making the trip.
Mud + Snow Marking
The official logo shows M+S however depending on age and brand of tyre the marketing can be represented as M.S or M&S.
This marking is not related to a minimum performance requirement but is widely used to indicate products suitable for winter conditions.
Tyres with the M+S symbol have a tread pattern, tread compound or structure that is engineered to deliver better performance in snow conditions than a regular tyre, especially in terms of its ability to initiate or maintain vehicle motion.
3 Peak Mountain Snow Flake (3PMSF) Symbol
The Alpine symbol identifies winter tyres according to UNECE
The snow performance of these winter tyres must be proven by objective tests and meet or exceed defined limits.
These tyres provide high performance with regards to safety and control on snow, on icy roads and in general at low temperatures.
Compared to M+S marked tyres, 3PMSF tyres offer improved braking and cornering performance on wet ice and soft or hard packed snow. It is important to note that these tyres are not a true substitute for full winter tyres as regulated in some European countries.
Continental recommends using winter tyres with the 3PMSF symbol on the sidewall and a minimum tread depth of 4mm in winter conditions for safe driving.
Tyres available from Continental Tyres of Australia that carry suitable M+S and/or 3PMSF symbols for winter conditions: