4 February 2020
How leaving the EU affects mobile roaming in EU and EEA countries
You can travel in EU and European Economic Area (EEA) countries with guaranteed surcharge-free mobile roaming during the Brexit transition period until 31 December 2020.
This means you can use your mobile devices to make calls, send texts and use mobile data services for no more than you would be charged when in the UK.
This surcharge-free roaming will be guaranteed until the end of the transition period.
From 1 January 2021 onwards
Surcharge-free roaming when you travel to EU and EEA countries may no longer be guaranteed from 1 January 2021. This would include employees of UK companies travelling in the EU for business.
The mobile operators (Three, EE, O2 and Vodafone) have stated that they have no current plans to change their mobile roaming policies.
The government has legislated to protect consumers from unexpected charges from 1 January 2021. This is to ensure that obligations on mobile operators to apply a financial limit on mobile data usage while abroad is retained in UK law.
The limit has been set at £45 per monthly billing period (currently €50 under EU law). This means you cannot continue to use mobile data services when roaming unless you actively chose to continue spending. The government has also legislated to continue to ensure that consumers receive alerts when they are at 80 per cent and 100 per cent data usage.
Inadvertent roaming charges in Northern Ireland
People living or working in border areas of Northern Ireland should be aware of 'inadvertent roaming'. This happens when the signal from a domestic UK network is weak or unavailable and a phone picks up a stronger signal from a network in the Republic of Ireland. In these cases, users may accidentally incur expensive international roaming rates.
To help address this issue, the government has passed legislation requiring operators to continue to:
- make information available to their customers on how to avoid inadvertent roaming in border regions
- take reasonable steps to protect their customers from paying roaming charges for inadvertently accessing roaming services
If you live or work in the border regions, you should check the roaming policies of your mobile operator.
For more information, see guidance on mobile roaming after the UK leaves the EU.