Recently there have been some brand new European Union rules brought forward that will dramatically reduce the costs of using your business mobile or personal mobile in a majority of Europe. However; do not be fooled. This does not mean the end of roaming charges as we know it, there is a lot more to it than that.
The rules will apply from the 15th June 2017, so here are 10 things you need to know about the costs of data roaming in Europe, and the truth about the “Roam Like At Home” rules.
- “Free” does not mean free. You just won’t be charged any extra fees when using your allowance of texts, calls or data when in Europe. It’s pretty simple really; your texts, calls and data will be deducted from your UK allowance as normal. And if you do go over your allowance, you pay exactly what you would do back home. However, there are rare cases of exception.
- You are not required to make changes to your contract. It’s all automatic. Your mobile phone network will apply the changes that need to be made to follow the new EU rules.
- Other countries will benefit from the new EU rules. The 28 EU countries that already have the amended rules will soon be joined by the likes of Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. These are countries that are a part of the European Economic Area, but that still leaves some European countries that won’t have applied the new rules.
Check with your network provider if you are travelling to Andorra, Albania, Belarus, Bosnia, Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, San Marino, Serbia, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine or the Vatican. There may be some differences in charges.
- Calling EU numbers will come from your UK allowance. Say you needed to call a landline to book a table for a restaurant whilst on holiday, calling that restaurant will cost you exactly the same as calling a UK number and come out of your minutes like normal. Making a call to an EU country from your UK phone whilst still in the UK will not be considered roaming and network charges will be the rate your provider charges for an international call.
- You may have a limit on your unlimited data. There are various limitations from each network provider as to how much unlimited allowance can be used until extra charges will kick in. Your texts and calls remain unlimited, but your data may have a cap. For example, Three provide you with 12gb of their data free from extra charges. EE’s fair use policy leaves you with 15gb free from extra charges, whereas Vodafone state they will not set a limit.
- New EU rules apply to people travelling abroad, not moving abroad. Buying a Sim card in the country you plan to move to is definitely the sensible option when it concerns data roaming and extra costs. Networks can charge you extra for being out of the UK for any given four months for at least half of that time.
- You won’t be affected by Brexit. Or at least for the time being. The UK is still part of the EU so the rules still apply, but when we officially leave, they will not. The costs may be kept at a reduced rate, but only time will tell if they suddenly increase.
- Free Wi-Fi is your friend. If you’re abroad and you find yourself wanting to share the many photographs you’ve taken, the best suggestion would be to find a hotel, bar, café or restaurant with free Wi-Fi. This will prevent you depleting your allowance from excessive selfie taking.
- Travelling across a border during a working day will not be considered roaming. If you regularly cross a border for work then you need not worry about roaming costs. As long as your network logs itself into your home country’s network for a short amount of time in your working day then you won’t be considered to be roaming. This will put people at ease who live in places like Kent and find their phones switching to a French network every so often.
- Cruise ships and ferries may be exempt from the new EU rules. It may be wise to simply turn off your data roaming whilst on a cruise ship or ferry holiday. If your network connects to an on-board satellite system to acquire signal then you may be charged a large amount extra. However, if you travel through European seas and connect to an EU network under the new rules then you will be perfectly fine using your UK allowance.
Roaming charges are slowly but surely on their way to disappearing completely, but seeing as that is not the case right now, take your time to check whether your standard UK allowance will be affected by the EU country you are travelling to.