EU roaming charges: How Much Does It Cost to Use Your Phone in Europe?

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EU (Parliament Politic Magazine) – Have you ever come back from a vacation only to be shocked by an exorbitant phone bill? Recent research conducted by the UK communications regulator, Ofcom, has unveiled that nearly 20% of holidaymakers are oblivious to the existence of roaming charges while traveling.

Furthermore, the study has shown that over 80% of individuals depend on notifications from their network providers regarding roaming charges. However, it is important to note that these alerts are no longer obligatory.

Understanding EU roaming charges and the countries to which they apply can be quite perplexing, particularly in light of the Brexit situation. However, fear not! We have compiled a comprehensive guide to equip you with all the necessary knowledge about EU roaming, its coverage, and invaluable tips to steer clear of exorbitant phone bills during your European adventures.

How Does EU Roaming Work?

The research conducted by the UK communications regulator, Ofcom, has shed light on a concerning issue faced by many travelers. It appears that a significant portion, approximately one in five, of holidaymakers are blissfully unaware of the potential financial burden they may face due to roaming charges upon their return from a delightful vacation.

The study has revealed that a staggering majority, more than four out of five individuals, rely on notifications from their network providers to stay informed about roaming charges. However, it is crucial to highlight that these alerts are no longer compulsory, leaving many travelers vulnerable to unexpected expenses.

EU countries, along with Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein, have established an agreement that grants residents the privilege to ‘roam like you’re at home’. This remarkable arrangement enables individuals to utilize their domestic allowances of minutes, texts, and data while traveling within these countries.

For those who opt for pay-as-you-go services, the rates charged will remain consistent with those in their home country. This encompasses both making and receiving calls, as well as sending texts between EU countries.

Does EU Roaming Include the UK?

The cap on additional charges has been in effect since 2017 and was recently extended until 2032. Nevertheless, there are certain limitations on the amount of data you can utilize while traveling abroad, known as ‘fair use’ limits. These limits vary depending on the type of contract you hold.

The European Union (EU) currently imposes a limit of €2 per gigabyte for additional data charges. However, this cap is set to decrease to €1 starting in 2027.

Β It is important to note that the EU roaming rules, which regulate the cost of using mobile services while traveling within the EU, do not extend to Monaco, Switzerland, Turkey, and several other countries.

Prior to Brexit, British citizens also enjoyed the advantages of EU roaming. However, UK mobile phone companies are no longer required to offer roaming services in the EU without additional charges.

To address this issue, temporary safeguards were implemented after Brexit, including a monthly cap of Β£45 (€52) on involuntary data charges and notifications regarding data charges and usage.

Unfortunately, these protections expired in June 2022, relieving mobile phone companies of their obligation to comply with them. As a result, British travelers in the EU may now face unexpected charges for using their mobile phones, making it essential for them to be aware of the potential costs involved.

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Which UK Phone Providers Allow EU Roaming?

Several UK phone providers continue to offer fee-free EU roaming as a standard service. As of now, this includes Asda Mobile and GiffGaff, which provide up to 5GB of data, unlimited calls, and texts. Additionally, BT Mobile, Lebara, and O2 also offer this benefit.

However, it is worth noting that a few UK providers have recently reintroduced charges for EU data roaming. This applies to EE, Three, and Vodafone, unless you have been a customer with them since specific dates in 2021.

In spring 2023, Tesco Mobile implemented a new policy of charging new customers for EU data roaming. Similarly, TalkMobile started charging customers who joined or upgraded in March 2023. Additionally, Sky Mobile has now extended roaming charges to all its customers.

Numerous mobile providers in the UK offer prepaid add-ons that enable you to access data at discounted rates while traveling abroad.

Beth Malcolm

Beth Malcolm is Scottish based Journalist at Heriot-Watt University studying French and British Sign Language. She is originally from the north west of England but is living in Edinburgh to complete her studies.