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Consumer Skills

Michael
08th June 2022

EU Exit: Mobile roaming

Information on the impact EU Exit has had on Mobile data roaming charges.

Last updated: 8 June 2022

Roaming Charges

Have data roaming charges changed since Brexit?

Yes  Since 1 January 2021, the guarantee of free roaming for UK mobile users in 47 destinations in the EU including Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein has ended.

It is up to each individual phone operator to decide what they will charge for cross border calls and data usage. You should find out from your operator if you will experience roaming charges when travelling in the future.

Regardless of where you travel, when you enter another country, your mobile operator must send you an automatic message notifying you of basic pricing information (unless you have opted out of receiving such messages).

If you are travelling abroad, you can limit any roaming charges by turning off your mobile data roaming and using Wi-Fi where possible. Streaming live television or sending video clips (MMS) could be expensive since they use large amounts of mobile data.

Visit the GOV.UK website for more information. 

What are the current EU data roaming charges from phone operators?

EE

EE are changing their roaming charges from the 3 March 2022. Customers who joined or upgraded from 7 July 2021 will pay £2 per day to use their usual allowances while roaming in EU countries. This charge will not apply if you travel to the Republic of Ireland (ROI) unless you exceed your allowance.

O2

O2 roaming charges are included in a customer’s allowance, so you can use your normal data allowance and texts at no extra cost when travelling within the EU (including ROI). If your UK monthly data allowance is over 25GB, however, you’ll have a Roaming Limit of 25GB when using your device in Europe. You can still use all of your total UK monthly allowance of data if you exceed this limit, but you will be charged £3.50 per GB used above 25GB.

Three

Three are now introducing roaming charges to their customers. These charges will begin on 23 May 2022 for any customer who has taken out a new contract, or upgraded their contract after 1 October 2021. Three customers will now be required to pay a daily rate of £2 per day to access their monthly allowance of minutes, texts and data while travelling in the EU (including ROI).

Vodafone

Vodafone changed their roaming charges from 31 January 2022. This means if you have joined or upgraded from 11 August 2021, you will pay £2 per day to use their usual allowances while roaming in EU countries. This charge will not apply if you travel to the Republic of Ireland.

Virgin Mobile

Virgin Mobile roaming charges are included at no extra cost within your data allowance. You can use your device wherever you go in the EU (including ROI) and pay no more for your texts, data and minutes than you would in the UK.

Giff gaff

Giff Gaff customers can continue to use their devices in the EU (including ROI) at no extra cost. However a fair use roaming limit does apply up to 20 GB of data. Additional charges will apply if this cap is exceeded.

Sky Mobile

Sky Mobile have now introduced roaming charges to their UK customers. These charges will begin on 3 May 2022. Sky mobile customers will be required to pay £2 per day to access their UK data plan. This charge excludes travel to the Republic of Ireland.

BT Mobile

BT Mobile customers can use their devices in the EU (including ROI) with no additional charge. ‘Roam Like Home’ is available to all BT Mobile customers at no extra cost. However, a surcharge may be applied if you use more than 15GB while roaming in a single bill cycle.

Tesco Mobile

Tesco Mobile customers can use their devices in the EU (including ROI) at no extra cost. They have said there are no plans to introduce roaming charges for customers travelling to the EU.

Are there limits to what can be charged?

Yes – currently a £45 per month limit could be charged for using mobile data abroad before having to opt into further use.

Phone operators are also required to inform consumers when they reach 80 per cent and 100 per cent of data allowance.

The UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement states that parties shall “cooperate on promoting transparent and reasonable rates” for international roaming services. Details on this can be found on the GOV.UK website.

Northern Ireland Border charges

Of the phone providers to issue plans for roaming charges, only Three will apply these charges for roaming in the Republic of Ireland (ROI). Three allow for refunds for inadvertent roaming (see Three’s inadvertent roaming policy). However, if you are with Three and cross the border on a regular basis you may need to contact them to see how their roaming charges may impact you.

EE, Vodafone and Sky mobile have stated that ROI shall be exempt from the charges to be introduced in 2022.

The government has passed legislation to make sure operators continue to make information available to their customers on how to avoid accidental roaming in border regions. Operators will be required to take reasonable steps to protect their customers from paying roaming charges for inadvertently accessing roaming services.

More information is available on the GOV.UK website.

Tips to avoid roaming charges

  1. Check for charges – Check if your mobile operator will be introducing roaming charges and contact them to check if they will apply to you under your current contact.
  2. Check for roaming bundles – A number of mobile providers offer roaming packages and cheaper alternatives to their £2 per day flat fee. Contact your network to see if this could apply to you.
  3. Turn off - If roaming charges apply you can turn mobile data and data roaming off and use free Wi-Fi whenever possible. Many hotels, bars and restaurants offer Wi-Fi free of charge.
  4. Preparation is key – Download any must have music, movies or apps while on Wi-Fi before you travel to avoid roaming.
  5. Consider switching – If you travel frequently to the EU you may want to consider switching networks to avoid roaming charges.