News article

Brexit: Mobile roaming after EU exit

2 October 2019

How leaving the EU will affect mobile roaming in EU and EEA countries

While the UK is in the European Union (EU), you can travel in the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway with guaranteed surcharge-free mobile roaming.

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 UK leaves the EU.

If there's no Brexit deal
In the event of a no-deal Brexit, surcharge-free roaming when you travel to the EU and EEA countries will no longer be guaranteed.

Some mobile operators (Three, EE, O2 and Vodafone) have no plans to change their mobile roaming policies after the UK leaves the EU. You should, however, check the roaming policy with your mobile operator before you go abroad.

Your mobile operator may propose to reintroduce surcharges for roaming, or change the terms on which it offers roaming. If this is the case, you should:

  • be aware of your rights to switch mobile operator
  • be aware that Ofcom rules allow cancellation of your contract free-of-charge if your operator makes certain price increases
  • know how to turn off your mobile data roaming on your mobile device if you're worried about being charged for data usage in the EU
  • ensure you understand the alternatives to using mobile networks abroad (eg Wi-Fi)
  • understand which services might be expensive to use (eg streaming live TV or sending large videos)

The government has legislated to protect consumers from unexpected charges if there is no Brexit deal. The legislation requires mobile operators to apply a financial limit on mobile data usage while abroad.

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 if there is no Brexit deal, 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 if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.

For more information, see guidance on mobile roaming if there is no Brexit deal.