EU roaming fees are no more

European roaming fees, finally, are no more. The cost of roaming within Europe — using one EU country's SIM card in another — has been growing more affordable for the past three years. But now roaming charges have, for the most part, finally been abolished. "Roam Like at Home" applies to voice calls, texts and data for anyone subscribing to an EU operator and roaming in another member state.

The European Commission says:

Phone calls, SMS and going online with your mobile device from another EU country will be covered in the national bundle. The minutes of calls, SMS and megabytes of data that a person consumes abroad within the EU will be charged the same as at home.As long as a person periodically travels and spends more time in his home country than abroad over any 4-month period, they will fully benefit from Roam Like at Home.

A few caveats apply. For unlimited plans, carriers may set a fair use limit, after which they can charge €7.7 + VAT per gigabyte. (That'll fall to €2.50 by 2022.) Customers might also be asked to pay more if they stay in another country within the EU longer than the country to which the SIM belongs. And a small number of operators in some regions are exempt due to their "very low domestic prices."

It's also worth underscoring that this doesn't apply to roaming within Europe on a SIM card from outside the EU, such as the U.S.

On the whole, it's a win for consumers, particularly tourists, frequent business travelers, and those living in the EU's many border areas — just a few years ago, subscribers faced exorbitant fees when roaming across European borders. The operators themselves have been quick to cash in on an easy PR win — although, of course, under EU law they now have no choice in the matter.

Nobody knows how Brexit will affect UK-EU roaming rates after 2019.

One major wildcard, though, is Brexit — the UK's impending exit from the EU, which must be wrapped up by late March 2019. After Brexit is concluded, in theory, there would be nothing forcing UK operators to abide by EU laws on roaming. That could mean a return to the old days of roaming charges for Brits roaming in Europe, and visitors from EU countries using their SIMs in the UK.

But opinion is split on whether this would actually happen. It'd be unpopular, for sure, and Three UK has already said it won't raise prices post-Brexit. Vodafone CEO Vittorio Colao believes competitive forces will keep roaming fees in check even after the UK leaves. Others are less optimistic.

Nevertheless, cheaper roaming — even if it's short-lived for some — is sure to be welcomed by Europeans traveling within Europe this summer holiday season. In today's news release, European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker described the elimination of roaming charges as "one of the greatest and most tangible successes of the EU."

Alex Dobie
  • For me, my montly payment went up with 20% and I only get 2.5 GB of my 40GB data available in the rest of EU. It should elevate over the next 5 years, but right now, it's not exactly amazing. But I'm so glad they did it.
  • Where in the EU do you live? Dutch providers give you your entire plan free to use EU wide!
  • This is only for calling from any EU country to the country your SIM-card originates. It is still expensive to call to another (EU-) country; those fees weren't included in this regulation.
  • So, if I call from France to a UK number on my UK SIM mobile it's included. But if I call a number a French number in France while in France it's not? How about calling from France to a UK mobile number that is in France (or somewhere else in the EU)? I presume that would be included. No doubt the various network providers will make it perfectly clear in their marketing, and not just the small print, what is or is not included in this arrangement.
  • I think the way they're doing it is treating foreign numbers the same as they would at home, likewise with UK numbers. So to call abroad from the UK charges, hence still being a thing while roaming.
  • Same kind of question: I have a UK SIM (EE). EE texted me to tell me that I can now use my full allowance (calls, data and texts) for free in any EU country. When in France, what if I call or text a French Sim which is in France, or they call or text me? Is it free for both of us? Thanks!
  • The way it works for me is this: My Swedish SIM gives me unlimited free national calls/texts and 40GB data while in Sweden. While I was in Spain this April (my carrier started early) I was able to use 20GB of data per month and all calls and texts anywhere within the EU was included.
  • Lobbyists wattered this reform - it could have been a lot better. But let's not be irritated all the time - at least this is progress. Just not in the UK (soon) ;-)
  • It's great for the principle of the European single market if you're in agreement with the single market, this is heading towards a single telephony market and then consolidation can take place. As a Scottish person, I feel saddened that the rest of the UK voted to leave the European Union and hope Scotland will find its way back to the EU in time.
  • I mean, not everyone in Scotland voted to stay in the EU ;-)
  • Just like not everyone in the UK voted to leave it ;) 62% of Scots voted to remain whilst only 52% of the whole UK voted to leave the EU, a very close margin.
  • That's why us Scots are better off Independent and in the EU. It's tiresome being part of a "democracy" when a majority vote in Scotland barely makes a dent in the UK wide elections.
  • Only in Scotland does the second largest party hold more power over us than the democratically elected Government! It's funny that they allowed us our identity, government, parliament, separate institutions but then say our voice isn't respected...
  • Will that change if you go to the EU? It seems that the EU gives less care about who a country elects, but I could be wrong. Or is it you think the EU gives better benefits now? 
  • In Romania, that data trafic limit applies also for plans with limited data trafic included. I'm on Vodafone Romania and I have a plan with 6 GB of data trafic per month which costs me 10 EUR/month. I will have access to only 2.18 GB/month of data trafic in EU countries + Iceland, Norway and Lichtenstein. After consuming those 2.18 GB additional taxes will incur.
  • Wow for 10€ a month I get unlimited data and 200 free minutes calling and 200 free SMS a month to anyone on the same carrier all over Russia! That's 11 time zones!
  • This plan also gives me unlimited voice calls and text messages (SMS) in Romania. I didn't mention them because I wanted to point out that the data traffic restrictions do not apply only for unlimited data plans. They apply also for limited data plans. Yes it is true that my plan gives me 6 GB of 4G data traffic monthly. If I use all of them then additional charges will incur. Vodafone Romania has other data plans that include a limited quantity of 4G data traffic. After that quantity has been used you have access to unlimited data traffic but at limited speed (I think it is 2G speed).
  • You are actually on an unlimited plan with 6 GB at maximum speed, after which you go down to 64 kbps or 128 kbps. Check your contract.
  • No, I'm not. I've checked my contract. After I have consumed all my 6 GB of monthly traffic I will be charged with 0.6 EUR/100 MB.
  • That's odd, in that case they are not compliant with the requirements. At least in Bulgaria, all operators state that should you be on a limited plan, the entire plan will be available in the EU and EEA.
  • Any mobile operator is allowed to establish so called Reasonable Use Policies. Those policies specify that if you are on a plan with less than 7.7 EUR / 1 GB / month then they can limit your data traffic in roaming to a value computed using the following formula:
    / 7.7 * 2. The result represents how many GB of traffic will be available in roaming without incurring extra charges.
    So for my plan which costs 10 EUR with VAT I have the following:
    - plan monthly cost in EUR without VAT = 10 EUR / 1.19 = 8.403 EUR
    - in roaming I'm allowed to use: 8.403 / 7.7 * 2 = 2.183 GB.
    The price per GB is computed with the formula: / . So for my plan, the price per GB would be: 10 EUR / 1.19 / 6 GB = 1.4 EUR/GB. This value is obviously less than 7.7 EUR.
  • Swisscom will never let ho any Penny this way as they changed the Swiss law not to allow any swiss resident to have a telephone connection nor Internet connection without paying for Swisscom's bluewin tv subscription even one Never use that expensive Bluewin tv subscription, so it is better to Out List Switzerland from these misinformation or disinformation with which Swisscom painlessly benefits from its clients as they will never know how Swisscom is billing them for not understanding differences between Europe and Switzerland laws on this/these !
  • Afaik Switzerland is still not EU, so it's outlisted by default.
  • Yes, I reminded myself the hard way. While travelling to Switzerland I forgot to stop the data roaming and 30 seconds after turning flight mode off I received an SMS letting me know I was at 80% of my 100 EUR credit limit. By the time I stopped the data I received another message letting me know only inbound calls were allowed now. It was quite a shock... damn Switzerland not signing the single market agreement like Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein!
  • Now we face a paradox... when calling an EU country from home it is considered a long distance call, but if outside your own country, the call is considered a part of one's bundled minutes. In some situations it may be cheaper to go close to the border and select the foreign operator in order to call someone in another EU member state.
  • I use a pre-dial number, so if I'm roaming I'll call the pre-dial and the call costs me 1p/1c per minute just as if I was calling from home.
  • One of the greatest successes of the EU? That's really setting the bar low lol
  • I wonder how much money telecom companies had/will have to spend to conform to these new regulations?
  • And will any just simply shutter? Seems like a big government overreach to me, but most EU countries are socialist so this is par for the course.
  • There is no such thing as a free lunch. This only means that the costs will have to be paid from someone else and that someone else is everyone. The cost will be embedded in everyone's charges. So in the true spirit of the European Socialist Union those who do not roam will have to pay for those who do.
  • I suppose you resent having to pay taxes for public services like police and fire as well. As long as you're alright jack.
  • so succinctly sarcastic its almost poetry! and yes, I agree.
  • Actually, it's a question of balance. If you subscribed to an operator in country A, and use your phone in country B, your operator has to pay an operator from country B for every minute you use (that's why that limited according to the price of your subscription). Those fees between operators have been lowered year after year by the EU, to get to this point where it can almost be ignored. As someone from country B can travel to country A too, the balance between both should not be that much unbalanced. And if that's the case for too long the operator can ask for financial compensation.  
    Here in France all operators are going beyond requirements, for 16€ (vat included) I have unlimited calls/sms/mms/data. That's ~13.25€ without VAT, the EU requires that I can use 2 * 13.25 / 7.7 (the 7.7 factor will drop year after year) = ~3.5Go per month for free. But it was anounced that I can use 25Go per month, they know that they'll have to pay for my 25Go, but they'll get paid for someone else using his roaming in France.   The only source of revenue lost for them, is that they can't charge very expensive roaming fees to people who forgot to block roaming while traveling. Many people experienced being charged hundred or thousands of euros because their phone downloaded an app update on a foreign antenna (sometimes they were just near the border, not even traveling abroad) at a 10€/Mo fee.
  • While I sympathize with those that forget about the roaming charges the fact remains that this is a regulatory enforcement, and I would argue unbalanced. In your scenario there is no guarantee that the same number of people visiting from country A will visit country B, and even if they do, that the roamers will use the same network. What you may end up with may seem like a small imbalance in the short term, but when each message or call has an associated cost with it, this can really add up, causing lots of strain on a telcoms network and budget. Additionally, as the user below indicates, certain networks created a competitive advantage by allowing no roaming charges and this advantage is now forcibly gone. I guess all that I am saying is if there was a profitable advantage and enough competition for no roaming charges between countries then companies would provide that service on their own.
  • As I said, if it is too unbalanced, they can ask for financial compensation. If an operator had the competitive advantage of having no charges for that, and its competitors now do the same thing, they can now offer more than required by the EU, that's what's happening in France.
  • Being on the Three network meant I had no roaming charges in most European countries and none in the US as well.
  • Alright, I don't think some people are quite getting how it works.   Let's say you go to Italy. While in Italy, you're allowed to call home (UK) landline or mobile, free of charge. While in Italy, you're also allowed to call Italian numbers free of charge.  If you're in France, you're allowed to call French numbers for free, and also make and receive call from the UK. Basically, wherever you are in the EU (check country list first) you're allowed to call back home and the country you're in for free.  As for data, you'll have to check with your provider exactly how much they'll allow you to use for free while abroad. Everyone understood?    
  • Well, I don't know for sure but most people doesn't travel very much. They end up paying for other peoples roaming expenses because the carriers increase the monthly payment by 20-30% for most of their plans. This means that most people pay more than before, not less, in an average perspective. I ended up switching to a prepaid plan, to be able to pay for what I actually use. I live in Norway.
  • We do travel a lot inside Europe, specially withing the Schengen area. Also, carriers are prohibited by this new set of European Laws to actually increase the prices to pay for the end of roaming (yeah, for once the guys in Brussels saw that coming...' know...this new set of laws actually benefits A LOT the employees of the EU be it Parliament, Council or just administration).   Norway, however, is not part of the EU. So mind you, these laws don't apply to you or your carriers.
  • Except for GB. Probably twice as much with Brexit looming..
  • My understanding is that this "roam like home" applies to the European Economic Area = EU + Lichtenstein, Iceland, and Norway. Switzerland is not part of EEA, but has a slightly different agreement. In some countries, they keep plans which do not allow for free roaming, while you have an option to pay slightly more for a free roaming plan. Typically, the "free roaming" plans allow for phone calls to your home country and locally where you are. So if someone lives in France and goes to Spain, they can call home to France at local French rates, and they can call within Spain at French rates. But if they call from Spain to Portugal, other rates may apply. There is also some provision for blocking people to register phone numbers in the country with cheapest plans (wherever that is)... this is the reason why you have to stay, e.g., more than half of the time of the last 4 months in your home country to avoid added cost. (Or it could be half of the time of the last 3 months, or whatever).
  • Call me crazy, but as someone who works for the roaming department of an American carrier, I can't see this being all it's cracked up to be. Somebody's gonna have to pay... Probably the roamers from non-EU countries. Maybe existing customers. Or maybe folks will pay in reduced data speeds or quality. Over in North America a lot of carriers figured out ways to cheaply or freely cover roaming to nearby countries on their own... (Especially when pressured by each other.) I honestly think this one should have just been left to the market. 
  • No no, only laws make things happen. Evil greedy corporations only squeeze money from us poor defenseless plebs. But seriously, thanks for the perspective. It only makes sense that somehow people are going to have to pay for these charges.
  • Well, ideally we'd make people from outside the EU pay for this. But don't worry, that's not going to happen. European carriers already made it known that THEY WILL reflect the cost of this upon their European customers.   Data throtteling isn't allowed in Europe, though. So the problem you're having with net neutrality won't apply here. Which means we'll just see an increase in our bills overtime (they can't do it immediately because European law saw that happening and preemptively prevented it. However, mobile networks are THE WORST type of corrupts we have in Europe so they'll figure out a way, don't worry).
  • I live in the netherlands but am from Germany and I had 3 sims (work & 2 privat use sim [de, nl]) and had to switch sims when on in either country even with dual SIM l950xl. And now, just in time for my 3 week vacation, KPN not only dropped the roaming completly (no 6week loophole or anything like as far as i can tell from the terms) and not only that, they also almost trippled my data volume from 10gb to 25gb, and with the complete package deal together with my home internet I now have a whooping 50gb for use in whole of EU. I am just absolutely amazed! Once I heard the news, that KPN will do so, I immediately canceled my German SIM.
  • "just a few years ago, subscribers faced exorbitant fees when roaming across European borders"   A few years ago? LAST MONTH Vodafone would charge me 0,50€ per MB of data if I turned on my cellular data in France. So yeah, I'm glad they can no longer rob us (well...sort of. I'm now limited to 3,57GB of data when travelling through Europe. Which, however, is still considerably more than the 100MB of data that they "kindly offered" in my normal plan.   "Jean-Claude Juncker described the elimination of roaming charges as "one of the greatest and most tangible successes of the EU.""   More like one of the only important successes of the EU.   As for Brexit...yeah...IF the United Kingdom leaves - and Theresa May just made that entire processes a whole lot harder with her stupidity - carriers will have to choose between their greed and p**sing off their British customers. I'd honestly fear more a third alternative: them punishing their British customers for voting to leave the EU and dificulting their businesses in Europe. But by the way things are going, the Brexit negotiations won't be done in 2019. In fact...I think that's why the EU is NOT allowing Britain to take their time to sort their internal affairs first. They want a weak and unstable Britain at the negotiations to try and force the hand of the British government to give up the entire Brexit process and taking back Article 50 (which *is* possible at any moment).
  • It is good news. I am a bit apprehensive though. For so long I and many others have learned to be weary of roaming charges in Europe. If not observant of your own data habits across Europe, you're general going to be in for a shock. I think it will take a while for many to get used to the idea. Secondly, I wonder how well it is known and adopted across Europe. The green light is official, but I think in reality I expect to still see some unforseen surprises. It's the way things go in Europe. I am curious what this will mean in terms of provider competition. I think the European sim card plans are going to be an intersting, perhaps even frenzy competition across borders. I think plans could differ greatly between countries. I think a trend for dual sim phones will increase, to profit from the most ideal roaming plans between two countries. I could see the demand for dual sim support for phones grow.
  • Why can't we have this agreement all over the world
  • UK should pay double. Ignorance and stupidity is not an excuse (ask Trump voters)