/ Travel & Leisure

Will you benefit from the ban on EU mobile roaming charges?

Mobile phone holiday

A ban on mobile roaming charges in the EU comes into force on 15 June. The new ‘Roam at Home’ rules should bring savings for consumers and businesses alike. But it’s not quite a blanket ban. So will you benefit from the new rules?

Some of us use our holidays as an opportunity for a digital detox when phones will remain switched off.Others find themselves a comfy spot in the hotel lobby to log-in to the free wi-fi and plot out the next day of activities.

Whatever your preference, it’s certainly welcome news that from Thursday you’ll be able to make calls, texts and get online on your mobile phone while in the EU and will be charged exactly the same price as when you’re at home.

But, before you celebrate the end of holiday bill shock, there are exceptions to the rules that are worth knowing about.

Roaming charges

*Warning* the ban on roaming charges in the EU doesn’t mean completely free roaming.

While this EU regulation says that you can’t be charged more for using data, minutes and texts, if you go over your usual monthly phone bundle, for any of these items, you’ll be hit with the same charges as you would be at home.

And the chances are that when you’re travelling around on your holidays – whether that’s scoping out restaurants, mapping routes or calling hotels and car hire firms – you’re more likely to reach or exceed those limits. Those out-of-bundle charges can come with a bit of a bite too and vary across mobile phone providers.

Interestingly, despite being in the EU while in the UK you’re not technically roaming… so for those of you who might have friends and family living elsewhere in the EU, it’s worth knowing that calls and texts sent from the UK to EU mobiles will incur additional charges. Calling Spain from the UK, for example, can cost 9p with Giffgaff, but £1.50 per minute with O2.

We also found that mobile providers include different countries in their roaming territories and this can vary depending on whether you’re pay-as-you-go or pay monthly.

For example, Vodafone includes Turkey as a roaming territory, but Turkey isn’t in the EU. Also, if you’re an O2 pay as you go customer you’ll continue to be charged in the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man, Monaco and Switzerland whereas O2 pay monthly customers won’t.

Holiday plans

So, if you plan to use your mobile phone while on holiday this year it’s important to check your tariff with your provider before you go to avoid unexpected charges.

These new roaming rules will apply to the UK for the duration of our EU membership. But, nobody wants to be in the situation where for next couple of years we can roam with our mobiles, posting pictures on Instagram or Facebook and texting our friends while on holiday, and then find that we go back to a scenario where we’re back to having bigger phone bills. That’s why we want the government to fight for this in Brexit negotiations.

Should a ban on EU mobile roaming charges be maintained as part of the government's Brexit negotiations?

Yes (92%, 1,395 Votes)

Not sure (4%, 65 Votes)

No (4%, 63 Votes)

Total Voters: 1,523

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In the meantime, I still plan to use my holidays as an excuse for a digital detox (sorry Which? Convo community). However, these changes will certainly be helpful next time I’m away – whether that’s to call the hotel, send a photo to friends and family or simply to check in on the weather 🙂

Have you experienced bill shock after returning from a holiday? Do you think you’ll benefit from free EU mobile roaming? Or do you think you’ll be sticking to the free hotel wi-fi?


From one of the links:
What about calling the EU from the UK?
Despite being in the EU, you aren’t technically roaming while you’re in the UK, which means providers are free to charge what they like for calls made to EU nations.

Can anyone explain what the significance of this is likely to be?


I see Roger Helmer agrees with you Wavechange he tabled an amendment on this legislation saying -quote- lower prices for jet-setters will mean higher domestic charges ,its good for MEP,s and bad for voters. It is also speculated that to compensate those countries outside the EU will cost much more in call charges. If the calling charges from the UK to the EU countries has not changed then legally you will be charged as an International call. If the called person is not in his home country they too will be charged an International rate , if he is standing right next to you he will still be charged an International rate.


I see. Thanks Duncan. Here’s another question, if I may. What happens if you call a mobile number from a mobile, unaware that the user is away on their holidays? I tend to call landlines when keeping up with friends but an increasing number of the people I know have ditched their landline phone.


From a UK user of a mobile phones perspective when you call a UK mobile phone number when they are abroad they are the ones that get charged extra not you Wavechange.


Thanks again. I have been told this before but have always been wary. No doubt this is why friends are keen for me to use Skype or WhatsApp when they are abroad.

Ian says:
26 June 2017

The simple rule for telephone call costs is that the caller pays for a call based on the number that was dialled.

If it is a mobile number and the owner of that number takes their mobile phone to a different location, this has absolutely no effect on what the caller pays.

Additionally, if the owner of a landline or mobile number decides to forward calls onwards to a different number, they pay the additional charges for that.

The only time that the caller pays additional charges to pay for the call-forwarding is when it is a premium rate number starting 070, 084, 087, 090, 091, 098 or 118. Except for numbers starting 070, the additional charge is declared as the Service Charge.


“But, nobody wants to be in the situation where for next couple of years we can roam with our mobiles, posting pictures on Instagram or Facebook and texting our friends while on holiday, and then find that we go back to a scenario where we’re back to having bigger phone bills.” Nobody, apart from the 52% who voted for Brexit, who didn’t mind/care/begin to think about it among many other things that really should have dawned on them/other?

They seem to have problems too in other parts of the EU. My mum and my sister both stay in France and have French mobile numbers. My mum’s contract (blanket Orange pay monthly contract for broadband, wifi, landline, mobile) allows her to communicate with me (British number) via eg WhatsApp, whereas my sister’s pay monthly contract doesn’t. She can receive my messages but can’t reply. I don’t see this improving when/if (can’t help but hope we don’t until we do) we come out of the EU.


Watch out Sophie you might get tarred with the same brush as me– too political. I will try to get you some genuine answers to your point as it is a good one. That didn’t take long Sophie (if you know what websites to visit ) –BAD news – Legally if we “Brexit ” then its ——back to the bigger charges , which will please Vodaphone who put extra charges on travellers to the EU to try to compensate for a loss of revenue. But there again – is TM going to pull one out of the hat or even-is she still going to be in office ?