After Brexit: EU mobile roaming

21.01.2021

The UK’s Brexit deal with the EU does not rule out the re-introduction of roaming charges for using your mobile phone in the EU. Although the UK’s mobile operators have indicated that they will not reintroduce charges, we recommend that you keep up-to-date with the latest roaming charges and advise your customers to check before they travel.

Can I use my mobile in the EU?

Since 2017, UK consumers have, within reason, been able to use their inclusive minutes, texts and data when travelling in the EU without incurring additional charges. The same is true for people from EU countries visiting the UK. Before the roaming rules changed, using a mobile phone in Europe could have been costly, with cases of people returning from trips to find bills for hundreds or even thousands of pounds waiting for them.

Will roaming charges return?

The UK’s trade deal with the EU, which has now come into force, does not prevent the re-introduction of additional roaming charges in Europe. It says that both sides will encourage operators to have “transparent and reasonable rates” for roaming. That means that mobile operators will be able to implement roaming charges if they want to. The government’s guidance says: “Check with your phone operator to find out about any roaming charges you might get from 1 January 2021.”

What are mobile companies planning?

Now that we have left the EU, the charges now depend on agreements between UK operators and their counterparts in EU countries. While they may have such deals in place to prevent charges increasing straight away at the start of 2021, there is no guarantee that they will be able to maintain them indefinitely. The four main operators in the UK declined to comment on the specifics of the commercial deals they have done with other operators, but said they did not plan to reintroduce roaming charges.

O2 said: “We’re committed to providing our customers with great connectivity and value when they travel outside the UK. We currently have no plans to change our roamingservices across Europe.”

Vodafone said it had no plans to reintroduce roaming charges.

EE said: “Our customers enjoy inclusive roaming in Europe and beyond, and we don’t have any plans to change this based on the Brexit outcome. So our customers going on holiday and travelling in the EU will continue to enjoy inclusive roaming.”

Three said it “already offers roaming at no extra cost for its customers in over 70 destinations including the US, Australia and New Zealand. We will retain this great customer benefit regardless of Brexit negotiations.”

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