EU mobile roaming charges ban takes effect

15 June 2017

Mobiles users can now use their home allowance in the European Union, as the EU ban on mobile phone roaming charges has come into force today, Thursday 15 June 2017.

Under the new rules, roaming charges for calls, data usage and texts are no longer allowed. Contract customers can now use their monthly allowance anywhere in the EU with no extra charges. Those with pay as you go (PAYG) phones will be charged the same as if they are in the UK.

The move is intended to end “bill shock” when travelling in Europe. This occurs when customers return from a trip abroad and have racked up unexpectedly large charges with their phone provider.

It applies to all 28 EU countries, with three further countries; Iceland, Liechenstein, and Norway, joining the scheme “shortly after” today.

However, fair usage caps will still apply when you use your phone overseas. This means that even if your calls, data or texts allowance is described as “unlimited” you may still be limited in some way. Networks can often slow down your speeds once you use a certain amount of your allowance so check with your provider before you travel.

For example, EE users are able to use anything up to 15GB a month unrestricted abroad but O2 customers are allowed 150MB of data a day before download speeds are limited.

Three lets its customers use 12GB a month overseas while Vodafone users get the same allowance as at home.

What free roaming does my network offer?

The UK’s four biggest mobile phone providers – EE, O2, Three, and Vodafone – all announced updated roaming policies ahead of the ban taking effect. Each of them includes extra countries on top of the 28 they are required to by law.

EE has introduced free mobile roaming in 47 European countries for pay monthly and PAYG customers. This includes the 27 EU member states excluding the UK, plus other countries including Iceland and Switzerland. This applies to all new and existing customers.

O2 offers pay monthly customers free roaming in the 47 countries in its Europe Zone. This includes all countries in the European Union plus non-member states located in Europe. However, PAYG customers are limited to 42 locations and will be charged extra to roam in Guernsey, Isle of Man, Jersey, Monaco or Switzerland.

Three customers have the most comprehensive roaming allowance. It offers free roaming in 60 countries, including those not in Europe. This includes Brazil, Singapore, and the United States. However, those on the Essential Plan will not have free roaming in the full 60 countries; use the Three country checker to see what is included in your specific package.

Vodafone offers free roaming to all customers who signed up or upgraded on or after 12 April and took out an Essentials, Red Extra, Red Enternatinment or Sim-only pay monthly plan. It’s roaming extends to 50 countries – the 27 EU member states besides the UK, plus an additional 23 countries including Turkey.

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